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Review

God's assassins
The Lebanese Hezbollah and the fundamentalist regime ruling Iran

 

July 16, 2006
iranian.com 

The Lebanese Hezbollah is intimately linked with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and their personnel have been stationed in joint camps and headquarters in the Bekka Valley in Lebanon and in Iran. In 1983 the Lebanese Hezbollah suicide bombers attacked the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people including 17 Americans. Six month later, Lebanese Hezbollah suicide bombers attacked U.S. Marine barracks killing 241 U.S. Marines.

Moreover, Lebanese Hezbollah kidnaped numerous journalists, scholars, and other non-combatants in Lebanon in the 1980s, with the support of the fundamentalist regime. In the 1980s the Lebanese Hezbollah kidnaped 18 Americans; three of the of kidnaped were killed and the rest released after the Iranian regime told them to release them after making secret negotiations with the U.S. in what became known as the Iran-Contra affair.[1]

Lebanese Hezbollah was also responsible for hijacking of a Kuwaiti civilian airliner. The fundamentalist regime in Iran has also given harbor to Imad Mugniyah, a leader of Lebanese Hezbollah and the mastermind of several terrorist actions including the hijacking of the TWA jetliner in 1985, and the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut.[2]

The fundamentalist regime does not deny its financial and strategic support and alliance with the Lebanese Hezbollah, but it regards it to be a guerrilla organization and not a terrorist organization. Imad Mugniyah, however, who had been residing in Iran, reportedly quietly left Iran after 9/11.

The fundamentalist regime has denied that its agents have engaged in terrorism, although in many Western European courts, its agents have been arrested and convicted and imprisoned for assassination of Iranian dissidents. The regime has also used its proxy, the Lebanese Hezbollah, in assassinations in Europe.

One infamous case is the Mykonos assassinations in Berlin where a German court convicted officials of the fundamentalist regime for the murder of four Iranian dissidents. According to Parviz Dastmalchi, who survived the assassination attempt and is regarded as one of the foremost scholars on the event:

"In the weeks following the assassinations, several persons were arrested, among them one Iranian and four Lebanese citizens. The arrested person who was the main organizer of the terror is Kazem Darabi Kazerouni who was sentenced to life in prison and in currently in a prison in Berlin. Kazem Darabi Kazerouni is a member of VEVAK [the Ministry of Intelligence and Security of the Country] and a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. ...The liaison between Kazem Darabi Kazerouni and the VEVAK in the country [Germany] was a person in Bonn named Hassan Javadi who was a diplomat. He [Hassan Javadi] left the country in October 1989 and was replaced with Morteza Gholami.

Also Kazem Darabi Kazerouni was in contact with Mr. Amani Farahani, the Consul-General in Berlin whose main duty was to gather intelligence on Iranian opposition and other related intelligence work. Mr. Darabi was a member of the Muslim Student Association in Europe, in the Berlin branch. The Muslim Student Association was one of Hezbollah organizations in Europe that the intelligence organizations of the regime hired its agents from among them.

Other colleagues of Darabi in this group were Farhad Diyanat Sabet Gilani and Bahman Berenjian, both of whom were also members of VEVAK. Mr. Darabi in 1982 along with 85 members of Hezbollah of Iran and Lebanon attacked a dormitory occupied by Iranian students in West of Mainz, which resulted in the death of one person and injury of several others. Darabi was arrested then and convicted and sentenced to 8 months imprisonment and expulsion from Germany. But with the intervention of Iran’s Ambassador in Bonn, he was released.

The terror team stayed in Darabi’s house for two days and then stayed in a second house belonging to Bahman Berenjian....

Another person who was arrested is Mr. Abbas Rayel who is Lebanese. This is the person who shot the last bullets to finish off the murder victims. In the years 1985 and 1986 in a camp belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards close to Rasht, he was given terrorist training for six months and he was a member of Lebanese Hezbollah. He was convicted in the court and sentenced to life and is currently in prison.

Another person who was arrested is Youssef Amin who was guarding the entrance door of the restaurant (the terrorist who closed the door and stood in front of the door). This person, like Abbas Rayel, is also a member of Lebanese Hezbollah and received terrorist training close to Rasht. He was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.

Two other persons were also arrested. One is Mr. Mohammad “Idris” and the other one is Mr. Ataollah Ayad, the first one a member of Lebanese Hezbollah and the other one a member of Shia Amal of Lebanon. These two were in the organizing section of the operations. There was one other person who is a member of Lebanese Hezbollah whose name is Ali Sabra who was responsible for buying a car. Sabra was able to escape Germany and go back to Lebanon and currently is one of the personal security guards of Sheikh Fazlollah, the leader of Hezbollah of Lebanon.

Another person is Abu Jafar also known as Abu Heydar who was also a member of Lebanese Hezbollah, which was created in 1982 with budget and training of its cadres by the Islamic Republic. He was the driver of the get-away car of the terrorist who carried out the operations at Mykonos restaurant. After the operations, he escaped to Lebanon and then to Iran and is currently employed in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

But the most important of them all was the person who was not arrested was a person with the name Abdol-Raham Bani-Hashemi who was also know as Abu Sharif. He was the main person with machine gun who was leading the operational team. He is a highly trained terrorist who works directly under Fallahian [then Minister of Intelligence]. On August 18, 1987, he had assassinated an officer of Iranian air force pilot named Talebi in Geneva. After the assassination in Berlin, Abu Sharif goes to Iran through Turkey and was awarded a Mercedes Benz. In addition, he is given shares of several factories belonging to VEVAK and other bonyads....

At the court it was brought out that none of the assassins knew the murder victims and did not have any personal animosities. Therefore, they were given a mission from someone or some ones. In the court proceedings, and after the witness accounts of Mr. Abol-Qassem Mesbahi, who was one of the senior officials of VEVAK and the Director of Terror Network in Western Europe, it’s become clear (he provided testimony) that these terrors both inside and outside Iran were ordered directly by Ayatollah Khomeini as long as he was alive, and after his death, a committee was established called Special Committee. This Special Committee would make decisions on who should be eliminated in the opposition inside Iran and outside Iran.

The head of the committee is the Supreme Leader Ali Khamanehi and includes President, Minister of Intelligence, Foreign Minister, Head of Council of Guardians, and Head of IRGC. The decision to assassinate is made by the Special Committee and then can be carried out with the consent of the Supreme Leader. For implementation, the order is forwarded to another committee called Qasr Firooz Committee. The Qasr Firooz Committee draws up a plan for the implementation of the murders and a copy is sent to Supreme Leader for his approval and another to the President for his approval. [3]

The use of Lebanese assassins to kill Iranian opposition members was not new. In 1981, the regime has used Anis Naghash, a Lebanese, to assassinate Dr. Shapour Bakhtiar. The would-be assassin failed in his attempt to kill Bakhtiar, but in the process killed a French policewoman and a French bystander. Ali Akbar Velayati, the IRI’s Foreign Minister, heavily lobbied the French government, which agreed to extradite the convinced killer to Iran.

The fundamentalist regime death squad, however, succeeded in their second serous attempt ten years later. On August 6, 1991, three members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ death squad killed Dr. Bakhtiar and his assistant, Mr. Soroush Katibeh in their Paris residence. One of the assassins was arrested, convicted and imprisoned in France; two other members of the assassination team, Fereydoun Boyerahmadi and Mohammad Azadi, succeeded in escaping to Iran.

About
Masoud Kazemzadeh is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. He is the author of Islamic Fundamentalism, Feminism, and Gender Inequality in Iran Under Khomeini (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2002).

Notes
[1] Dana Priest and Douglas Farah, “Terror Alliance Has U.S. Worried: Hezbollah, Al Qaeda Seen Joining Forces,” in Washington Post, June 30, 2002.

[2] James Risen, “U.S. Traces Iran’s Ties to Terror Through a Lebanese,” in The New York Times, January 16, 2002.

[3] Interview with Parviz Dastmalchi in “Joziyat Kostar Restorant Mykonos az Zaban Yeki az Bazmandegan Fajeh,” may be accessed on the Internet here. My translation from Farsi original.

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