ANALYSIS: Unveiling the secrets of Iran’s 1988 massacre

Ali Fallahian, Iran’s intelligence minister during the tenure of Rafsanjani’s presidency back in the early 90s, is a name most notoriously known for his role in a series of chain murders across the country that saw the elimination of many dissidents.

Fallahian has recently been heard making shocking revelations in reference to mass executions, especially targeting members and supporter of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

A German court raised charges against Fallahian for his direct involvement in the September 1992 assassination of Iranian Kurdish dissidents in Berlin. In 2007, Interpol placed Fallahian on its most wanted list for his role in the 1994 bombing the AMIA in Buenos Aires Jewish center that left 85 killed.

The 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly MEK members and supporters, has in the past year inside Iran become a major issue for the general public, especially the younger generation who are beginning to demand answers.

Fallhian’s remarks, aired in a recent interview, have caused quite a stir in social media inside Iran and amongst Iranian communities living abroad. In this interview, Fallahian sheds light on his role in the Iranian regime’s die-hard enmity against the MEK as the only opposition truly threatening their rule.

Q: “Can we blame only the MEK for taking up arms, or did we also make mistakes… for example, attack their gatherings, pressure their members and supporters…?”
Fallahian: “They had such an analysis. [Iranian opposition leader Massoud] Rajavi had maybe written 36 articles against armed conflicts.” (Khazar website – July 18) This is Fallahian acknowledging the fact that the MEK had sought to continue their peaceful political activities. The mullahs’ regime, however, dispatched their forces to attack, arrest, torture and kill MEK members. Fallahian moves on to discuss the 1988 mass executions across Iran.

Q: “Did the Intelligence Ministry suggest the 1988 executions to [Iranian regime founder Ruhollah] Khomeini?”
Fallahian: “Khomeini himself ordered it… saying the ruling for all moharebs [term used for MEK members, meaning enemies of God] is execution. There were discussions in this regard back then. Mr. Mousavi Tabrizi believed there was no need for prosecution, arguing prosecuting those who are at war with us has no meaning. Others believed those arrested should be prosecuted… however, [Khomeini] constantly emphasized to beware they don’t slip out of your hands… [Khomeini] would always say be careful in this regard… how? For example, if there was a confusion about someone being a murderer or not, execution would not be the first option of punishment. However, about the MEK [Khomeini] would say an opposite approach is needed. I know them, he would say, they must not slip away and their rulings are execution. This was his constant ruling, before and after the 1988 issue…

“… there are discussions and some are asking why were those sentenced to prison terms again condemned to death? First of all, keep in mind their rulings are execution, even if a judge hadn’t ruled for an execution, he had violated the law… If an armed mohareb was arrested, his/her ruling would be execution, even if he/she hadn’t killed anyone… the ruling for a hypocrite (another term used for MEK members) and mohareb is execution. This was [Khomeini’s] fatwa. There was no discussion in this regard. In 1988… the discussion reached the point that all of them must be executed, even those not sentenced to death. [Khomeini] would ask why have you still kept them alive.”

It is worth noting that the Iranian opposition has for the past year launched a justice movement shedding light on the 1988 massacre both inside Iran and across the globe. These efforts went into full gear weeks prior to Iran’s May 19th presidential election, forcing Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to sack his plans of engineering election results as he desired.

Conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, known to be Khamenei’s preferred candidate to replace the incumbent Hassan Rouhani as president, suffered a major defeat due to revelations of his role in the 1988 massacre. Raisi was a member of the notorious four-man “Death Commission” appointed by Khomeini himself to facilitate and hasten the execution process.

Q: “Raisi was in the commission. Who were the other members?”
Fallahian, however, refrains from naming other Death Commission members and begins discussing the process which political prisoners were executed and the summer 1988 massacre. He placed all the blame on Khomeini, emphasizing he had issued the execution and massacre ruling long before.”

Fallhian: “Yes, the poor guy [referring to Raisi] insisted he hadn’t issued the ruling, the ruling was issued in advance… but no one would listen, and they would also think the executed were innocent… if we hadn’t killed them there would be no country today. These are not my words, they are the words of [Khomeini]…”

The reporter seeks to make a reference to a groundbreaking sound file unveiled last September of Khomeini’s then successor, the late Hossein Ali Montazeri, in which he sheds light on unknown aspects of the 1988 massacre.

Q: “What was Mr. Montazeri’s mistake?”
Fallahian: “He came in disagreement with [Khomeini]… [He] believed history would judge these executions against us and Islam. He would say it would be better to refrain, as when the enemy begins to write, they won’t cite us harshly. However, [Khomeini] ordered to carry out your religious duty and don’t wait for history’s judgement.”

Q: “Were all those executed arrested while armed?”
Fallahian: “No, not all of them were involved in the armed revolt. However, many of them were living in team houses. We would go there and find only one or two weapons, or arrest them on the street without any arms.”

Q: “So how were they linked to the armed revolt?”
Fallahian: “Well, they were part of the organization.”

Q: “Wasn’t it necessary for each individual to have taken up arms to be convicted of being a mohareb?”
Fallahian: “No, when someone is a member of an armed current, the individual being armed or not, their ruling is mohareb.”

Q: “Even if they are arrested with a newspaper?”
Here the interviewer is referring to the fact that many MEK members and supporters were arrested, and eventually executed, for the mere fact of having a pro-MEK newspaper at their possession.
Fallahian: “Yes. They were part of that organization and were operational. Now, its possible someone would merely buy bread for those living in ‘team houses’, another would, for example, procure other necessary items. They were all involved.”
On a side note, Fallahian referred to the extensive MOIS role in dispatching its spies abroad under various pretexts.

“… we do not dispatch an intelligence officer, let’s say to Germany, the US or Russia, and there he would say, ‘well, I am from the Ministry of Intelligence, please provide me your information.’ (They would do it) under the cover of business or media jobs. Many journalists are intelligence agents … A journalist is not paid well, so he needs to work with an intelligence service.”

Revelations and shocking remarks about the 1988 massacre are made by numerous senior Iranian officials recently. What has made these figures acknowledge the nature of the mullahs’ regime of carrying out such massacres and mass murders?

This has been the true, yet unfortunately cloaked, nature of the mullahs ruling Iran. Nearly three decades after that horrific summer of 1988, the efforts placed by the Iranian opposition through its vast network of brave activists inside the country and abroad have forced the mullahs to literally confess to their role in these killings.

It is now high time for the international community to demand a fact-finding mission, and bring to justice all perpetrators of the 1988 massacre and all the atrocious human rights violations throughout the past 38 years.

Blacklisting of Iran’s Terrorists Long Overdue

US President Donald Trump sent a very strong message in his ordering of a volley of cruise missiles targeting an airbase of Bashar Assad’s military in Syria. While there are many parties involved in the Levant mayhem, the main target of this message was the regime in Iran, as it has been Assad’s most crucial ally during the past six years of war.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been stationed in Syria from early on, buttressing Assad’s regime years before Russia began its campaign of supporting the regime in Damascus.

Parallel to its meddling throughout the Middle East and even beyond, the IRGC has also spearheaded the mullahs’ deadly crackdown of the Iranian people in their endless pursuit of freedom, democracy and due civil liberties.

For the second time during the Trump administration, the State Department has reportedly decided to certify that Iran is complying…

The IRGC began its foreign meddling from the very early days of the mullahs’ rule in Iran. Seeds were planted in Lebanon by grouping a variety of Shiite terrorist groups under one leadership, known as the Lebanese Hezbollah. The IRGC was, and is today, behind financing, training, arming and directing all Hezbollah activities.

In October 1983, a Hezbollah suicide bomber guided a heavy truck into a US Marine barracks in Beirut and staged a massive blast that took the lives of 241 American servicemen. In response, the Reagan administration in 1984 designated Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. This classification stands ground as we speak.

The Quds Force, known as the spear of the IRGC’s international efforts, was also blacklisted in 2007 by the Bush White House. The Quds Force played a major role in launching proxy groups in Iraq targeting American and other coalition forces.

Today, Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani has become a critical figure for the Iranian regime, resembling the face of Iran’s reach abroad. He is known to lead Iran’s efforts in Iraq and Syria, especially, in a campaign aimed at fortifying Tehran’s interests. The Quds Force is specifically fueling sectarian mentalities, pinning Shiites against Sunnis and launching the most horrific massacres amongst peoples who were living in peace alongside each other for centuries.

Iran’s terrorism reach expanded far beyond the Middle East, including the September 1992 Mykonos restaurant assassination of dissidents in Berlin and the 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.

Domestically, the IRGC is also the main entity enforcing the mullahs’ crackdown on a restive society, described as a powder keg, demanding true freedoms, civil liberties and to live under an actual democracy.

July 8th marked the passage of 18 years from the 1999 student uprising in Iran that rocked the very pillars of the mullahs’ rule. Orders were issued to the IRGC paramilitary Bassij thugs to pour into the streets and attack the protesting college students. Many were killed, thousands injured, scores more arrested and tortured in prisons. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, then secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council, personally ordered the crackdown.

Today, the same oppressive machine is behind a massive execution spree across the country. Rouhani’s first term as president was riddled with over 3,000 executions. 238 executions have been registered in the first six months of 2017. This period has witnessed 12 public executions, including seven women and three individuals arrested as juveniles at the time of their alleged crimes.

129 of these executions have been based on drug charges and it is worth noting that 5,000 inmates are currently on death row under similar circumstances. These executions are in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In the second half of 2017, we will most likely and unfortunately witness a more horrendous wave of executions. The first five days of July already bore witness to 22 executions, two being in public.

The IRGC’s role in domestic crackdown dates back to the very early days of the mullahs’ foundation. The most horrific episode can be described as the summer 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners. Victims consisted mostly of members and supporters of Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

To this end it is high time for US, European Union, United Nations and all Middle East and Islamic countries to designate the IRGC based on its true characteristic: a terrorist organization.

The IRGC is a proven threat to global security and stages ruthless attacks against Iranians inside the country. As a result, the terrorist designation of this entity is long overdue.

Iran after Rafsanjani

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By Amir Basiri

Dying at the age of 82 from a heart attack on Sunday, former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had a long record of guiding the regime’s lethal measures domestically and abroad, including suicide bombings and eliminating exiled dissidents. Such an image is far from the “moderate” that Western media found in him.

Rafsanjani was known for his central role in Iranian politics. From the 1979 revolution forward, he placed himself amongst the inner circle of regime founder and first supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini. He served as the regime’s parliamentary speaker in the 1980s, while in parallel acted as Khomeini’s envoy to supervise operations in the Iran-Iraq War.

As Khomeini died and the war wound down, Rafsanjani assumed the mantle of presidency in 1989 and played a significant part in Ali Khamenei’s rise as Khomeini’s successor. Rafsanjani continued his political life by chairing the Assembly of Experts — in charge of appointing the supreme leader and acting as an oversight body over his role — and move on to the Expediency Council before his death, both advising Khamenei and finalizing conflicts between the ultra-conservative Guardian Council and the parliament.

Following eight years of Mohammad Khatami’s presidency, in 2005 Rafsanjani made an effort to reclaim this position. This campaign ended in humiliation as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assumed the presidency. For the next eight years Rafsanjani publicly criticized and denounced Ahmadinejad’s policies and actions, distancing himself from the hardliners and further attempting to portray himself as a “reformist” favoring warm relations with the West.

Despite serious differences and rivalry over power and influence, Khamenei fully comprehended his need for Rafsanjani as a stabilizing factor and could never fully eliminate him. Rafsanjani’s death is now evaluated as the loss of a significant pillar for the entire regime, as explained by Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Rajavi declared in a statement on Sunday defining Rafsanjani’s death as the downfall of “one of the two pillars and key to the equilibrium of the religious fascism ruling Iran.”

“Rafsanjani, who had always been the regime’s number two, acted as its balancing factor and played a decisive role in its preservation. Now, the regime will lose its internal and external equilibrium,” she added, also predicting the “approaching overthrow” of the mullahs’ regime.

For 38 years Rafsanjani “played a critical role in suppression at home and export of terrorism abroad, as well as in the quest to acquire nuclear weapons,” Rajavi underscored.

In 2006 Argentine federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman filed suit against Rafsanjani for his role in one of the deadliest Iran-supported terrorist attacks abroad — the 1994 suicide truck bombing targeting the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. The massive blast leveled entire buildings and resulted in the death of 85 people with hundreds more wounded. The investigators specifically issued arrest warrants for Rafsanjani and seven other senior Iranian regime figures.

Rafsanjani also ordered numerous assassinations of dissidents in exile, including former Iranian ambassador the United Nations and prominent human rights activist Dr. Kazem Rajavi. Iranian assassins murdered him in 1990 near his Geneva home. Swiss investigators raised charges against Tehran and authorities issued an arrest warrant for Rafsanjani’s spy chief Ali Fallahian.

The March 1993 assassination of 42-year-old NCRI Rome envoy Mohammad Hossein Naghdi in the Italian capital and the February 1996 murder of the NCRI’s refugee envoy Zahra Rajabi in Istanbul were also ordered by Rafsanjani.

He also had a particular enmity against the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the central entity in the NCRI umbrella group.

“Four rulings are a must for [MEK members]: 1– Be killed. 2 — Be hanged. 3 — Arms and legs be amputated. 4 — Be separated from society,” Rafsanjani is quoted in saying back in 1981. As Khomeini’s right hand, he also presided over the summer 1988 massacre, sending over 30,000 political prisoners to the gallows throughout Iran.

Rafsanjani has been a balancing factor through the course of the past four decades. The regime in its entirety has suffered a major defeat and will significantly decline down the road.

Khamenei’s focus will be to prevent this development from sparking into an uncontrollable turn of events for the entire establishment. Considering this regime’s past approach, there is a high probably of Tehran’s mullahs resorting to enhancing their effort to spread violence, exporting extremism and terrorism, and promoting Islamic fundamentalism across the region and beyond.

Amir Basiri is a human rights activist and analyst. He tweets at @amir_bas

Originally published in American Thinker

The Future Of Iran Following Rafsanjani’s Death

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Former Iran’s president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, speaks during Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran on Friday May, 26, 2006. (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

Originally published in Forbes

By Heshmat Alavi

The regime in Iran suffered a major setback after former president and figurehead Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died of a heart attack on Sunday. He was 82.

Following the 1979 revolution, Rafsanjani played an influential role in structuring the regime’s policies, and his death will leave a significant power vacuum, coming less than four months prior to significant presidential elections.

Known for his persuasive role in shaping the regime’s politics following the 1979 revolution, Rafsanjani will leave a power vacuum in his wake.

During the past four decades Rafsanjani preserved a top role in the regime’s domestic crackdown, exporting Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism and extremism, and spearheading Iran’s effort to acquire nuclear weapons through an underground program.

“The death of Rafsanjani, one of the pillars of the religious fascism ruling Iran and its balance factor collapsed, and the regime in its entirety is closer now to its overthrow,” said Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

Following the Iran-Iraq War from 1980 to 1988, serving as Parliament Speaker and deputy commander of armed forces, Rafsanjani reached the presidency in 1989 and held this post until 1997. After two years of the so-called “reformist” Mohammad Khatami as president, Rafsanjani attempted to run for the office once again in 2005, only to succumb to hothead Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Recently Rafsanjani gained a reputation for his aggressive challenge against Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, while playing the role model for Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s so-called “moderate” president.

Of course, Rafsanjani was definitely considered part and parcel to the religious establishment in Iran, bearing in mind his special ties to regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini, who died back in 1989. However, appeasement advocates in the West dubbed him as a “pragmatic conservative” willing to work with the outside world, especially the “Great Satan.”

While Rafsanjani’s power diminished noticeably in recent years, he continued to enjoy a final post as chief of the Expediency Council, assigned to seemingly resolve disputes between the Guardian Council and parliament. The former is an ultra-conservative body closely knitted to Khamenei and known to screen all electoral candidates according to their loyalty to the regime establishment.

Rafsanjani sought last to take part in the 2013 presidential elections as a “reformist,” only to be disqualified by the Guardian Council. Angered at being purged, Rafsanjani lashed back by criticizing the measure as ill-informed.

Parallel to his rivalry with the Supreme Leader, Rafsanjani went on to place his weight behind Rouhani in 2013 when the latter assumed authority as president.

Alongside his political campaign, in the past decades Rafsanjani also used his post to slice his entire family an economic fortune from the country’s organs and natural resources.

“One brother headed the country’s largest copper mine; another took control of the state-owned TV network; a brother-in-law became governor of Kerman province, while a cousin runs an outfit that dominates Iran’s $400 million pistachio export business; a nephew and one of Rafsanjani’s sons took key positions in the Ministry of Oil; another son heads the Tehran Metro construction project (an estimated $700 million spent so far),” states a 2003 Forbes analysis.

The report also mentions billions stashed by the Rafsanjanis in overseas bank accounts.

“Some of the family’s wealth is out there for all to see. Rafsanjani’s youngest son, Yaser, owns a 30-acre horse farm in the super-fashionable Lavasan neighborhood of north Tehran, where land goes for over $4 million an acre. Just where did Yaser get his money? A Belgian-educated businessman, he runs a large export-import firm that includes baby food, bottled water and industrial machinery.”

Despite canvasing as a reasonable negotiator to the West, Rafsanjani was in fact shoulder to shoulder with his “hardline” partners in quelling dissident voices, specifically members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the leading opposition group gaining reputation after being the first to blow the whistle on Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.

“Four rulings are a must for the [PMOI]: 1. Be killed; 2. Be hanged; 3. Arms and legs be amputated; 4. Be separated from society,” Rafsanjani said back in 1981. He also played a dominant role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners in jails across the country.

As president, Rafsanjani supervised a slate of dissident assassinations abroad, such as renowned human rights advocate Dr. Kazem Rajavi, former Iranian ambassador to Italy Mohammad Hossein Naghdi and Iranian Kurdish leader Abdulrahman Ghassemlou.

Continuing this string of terrorist attacks, Rafsanjani has also been indicted for his part in the 1994 Buenos Aires AMIA bombing that left 85 killed and hundreds more wounded.

Rafsanjani has, through the past four decades, acted as the regime’s No. 2 figure and a balancing component, always preserving the regime’s higher interests. His death will considerably weaken the entire regime and spark major disturbances throughout the regime’s ranks and files. If the past is any sign of the possible road ahead, the mullahs will most probably resort to additional violence and the export of extremism, terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism to avert this latest crisis from escalating beyond control.