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Tape: Iranian drove into crowd to punish U.S.

| Tuesday, March 7, 2006

CHAPEL HILL -- A University of North Carolina graduate accused of running down nine people on campus told an emergency dispatcher he wanted to "punish the government of the United States for their actions around the world," according to a 911 recording released Monday.

Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, a 22-year-old native of Iran, called 911 to surrender Friday a few minutes after a sport utility vehicle sent students scurrying to escape. No one was seriously hurt.

Taheri-azar was later charged with nine counts of attempted murder and nine counts of assault, and his bail was set at $5.5 million.

University police Chief Derek Poarch said Taheri-azar told investigators he intentionally hit people to "avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world."

At his first appearance yesterday in Orange County court in Hillsborough, Taheri-azar told the judge he planned to represent himself and was "thankful for the opportunity to spread the will of Allah." He was assigned a public defender, but ignored the lawyer's advice to stop talking.

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