Sadra Cognitive Research Center: where SPND gets their freak on
No villainous organization, factual or fictional, is truly complete without a part-time penchant for the truly weird. The Nazis had an obsession for finding the Spear of Destiny and Holy Grail. Spectre had a volcano lair and chinchilla cats.
SPND ( سپند), the Iranian defense research organization that holds the ageing expertise from Iran's nuclear weapons program, is no exception. When SPND wants to get its freak on, it calls on one of its subsidiaries: the Sadra Cognitive Defense Science Center (مرکز علوم شناختی دفاعی صدرا or مرکز علوم شناختی و دفاعی صدرا or مرکز پژوهشی صدرا or مرکـز مطالعات علوم شناختی دفاعی صدرا).
The Sadra Center has been around for a few years, but its status as a component of SPND was only revealed publicly in March 2019 in a US government sanctions list. Since then, a short article from a corporate intelligence company, Kharon, has provided some extra details on Sadra. Today, we want to provide even more evidence on the connections between SPND and Sadra, and some juicy details on just what Sadra is up to.
And to delve into Sadra's weird side, of course!
Sadra Research Center - just the facts
At first glance, it's not at all obvious who runs the Sadra Research Center. You'll find no mention of SPND on the Sadra Center website, nor any mention of who Sadra's staff are. There's not even a contact email or phone number.
But with a little open source research you can find all of that information - and conclusive proof that the Sadra Center is part of SPND.
Just take this letter from Sadra, which we found posted on the website of Allameh Tabataba'i University (ATU or دانشگاه علامه طباطبائی).
We've annotated a copy of it for you with all the good bits translated:
Hopefully that logo is enough evidence to conclusively demonstrate that Sadra is part of SPND. But let's tease out some more details from that letter.
If you ever want to visit Sadra HQ, we've made a map showing where it is. As stated in that letter, Sadra's office is at the Shahid Haj Amini Industrial Group (گروه صنعتی شهید حاج امینی) complex, formerly known as Battery Sadr (باتری صدر), Battery Saba (صبا باتری) and Battery Niru (باتری سازی نیرو). It's near to SPND's other main campuses at Sanaye Street (خیابان صنایع) and Mojdeh Street (خیابان مژده), and is right next door to to Malek Ashtar University's Elites Institute of Combined Science and Technologies (پژوهشکده علوم و فناوری های ترکیبی نخبگان). Here it is:
As that letter shows, Sadra's head is Ahmad Marashi (احمد مرعشی ). Marashi has no research record to speak of, unless he's the same Ahmad Marashi who wrote the little-read Farsi textbook "Gods and Geniuses". We dare say he's probably not the same Ahmad Marashi who wrote "The adventures of David Cameron", which probably never troubled the bestseller lists. Consider Mr Marashi something of a dark horse.
Sadra - the freaky side
The US government really undersold Sadra when they sanctioned them. According to the lawyers at the US Treasury, Sadra "specializes in cognitive sciences and has studied ways to mentally improve Iran's elite military personnel."
We almost fell asleep typing out that sentence. Sadra is much freakier than the US government says. As proof, let's get into some of Sadra's wacky research, which we've gleaned from a review of some rather obscure scientific publications.
Straight up, if you're a non-human primate, don't ever venture near Sadra HQ. If you do, chances are you'll be involuntarily enlisted in Sadra's next wacky experiment on the effect of electromagnetic waves on the cognitive behavior of monkeys. That's all detailed in this 2018 paper by Sadra's Seyed Mohammad Mahdavi (سید محمد مهدوی) and Mohammad Naseh Talebi (محمد ناصح طالبی), where some unfortunate monkeys were zapped with electromagnetic radiation. Spoiler alert: the monkeys didn't enjoy it very much! Who would have thought being stuck in a cage at SPND wouldn't be very enjoyable.
Ethics forms not required
In medical science, animal experimentation - unfortunate as it is - is a necessary precursor to trials on humans. Unless you're a researcher from SPND! In that case, you run the monkey and human experiments simultaneously. Here's another paper from 2018 from the same authors, and it's some seriously crazy stuff. Here's the summary of it in full:
We're not experts on medical ethics here at Redline, but this smacks of indefensibility from an ethical perspective. Putting aside ethical questions, it's basically shoddy research on human mind control - like something from a dubious MKULTRA experiment of the 1950s.
Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage at SPND
Pity those monkeys? Mahdavi zapped rats as well.
Get on up out of that K-hole
If you're among the luckier rodents at SPND, you'll be treated with a nice dose of ketamine. That's what Sadra's Arash Khanegheini (آرش خانقینی) did to some mice in 2017 in this study, which made the groundbreaking finding that ketamine affects the brain's ability to spatially orient the body. Basically it took months of research and thousands of words to show this:
Desperately Seeking Sadra Students
We've seen evidence that Sadra has reached out to several Iranian universities to try and recruit talented researchers, including the Iran University of Science and Technology (دانشگاه علم و صنعت ایران), Alzahra University (دانشگاه الزهراء) and of course Allameh Tabataba'i University (دانشگاه علامه طباطبائی).
We hope that any student who is tapped by Sadra knows exactly what they're getting into - ethically questionable research, with dubious objectives, for an organization dedicated to the production of nuclear weapons.