Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Iran: Toll of Iran-Linked Assassinations Rising in Europe and Middle East

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Iran: Toll of Iran-Linked Assassinations Rising in Europe and Middle East

Article excerpt

Iran: Toll of Iran-Linked Assassinations Rising in Europe and Middle East

The February extradition from Paris of two "hit men" traveling on Iranian diplomatic passports, and the Jan. 29 discovery in Turkey of the tortured and mutilated body of an Iranian opposition figure, spotlight the continuing assassination campaign being waged throughout the world by the Iranian regime of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Western media attention has focused on author Salman Rushdie's so far successful attempt to evade self-appointed "executioners" seeking to carry out the death sentence pronounced upon him by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini for blasphemous passages in Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses. What is less known, however, is the steady toll of successful assassinations not only of Iranian opposition figures, but also of journalists and political figures in Muslim countries who have been critical of Iran or of the extremism it attempts to export.

Incidents aimed at destroying Egypt's tourism industry and bringing the government of President Hosni Mubarak to its knees have provoked an Egyptian government crackdown in neighborhoods of Cairo and areas of Upper Egypt where support for Islamic radicalism is believed to be concentrated.

The government of Turkey, which is equally dependent upon tourism for much-needed foreign exchange, has been slower to acknowledge the secret war being waged within its borders. A dramatic incident occurred on Oct. 19, 1988, when Turkish customs agents heard strange noises coming from the luggage compartment of an automobile with diplomatic plates waiting to cross the border from Turkey into Iran.

Occupants of the car from the Iranian Embassy in Ankara cited diplomatic immunity to prevent Turkish border personnel from opening the compartment to investigate the noises. A Turkish official, however, forced open the car's trunk.

Inside was Abdolhassan Mojtahedzadeh of the People's Mojahedin of Iran, a major opposition group, bound and gagged for an involuntary journey back to his homeland for probable torture and execution.

Not every Mojahedin member has been as lucky as Mojtahedzadeh. Last June 4, Ali-Akbar Ghorbani, also known as Mansour Amini, a Mojahedin activist who had been granted political asylum by France, was seized in front of an apartment where he was staying in Istanbul. Although the day-light kidnapping was witnessed by neighbors, the terrorists escaped with their victim. The following day, bombs were placed under two cars belonging to Mojahedin activists in Istanbul.

The Iranian opposition group turned over to Turkish police documents linking the kidnapping and explosions in Turkey to Brig. Gen. Hossein Mosleh, an Iranian government official who also was said to have supervised the bombings of barracks of U.S. Marines and French troops in Beirut in 1983. However, the Turkish police were unable to find any trace of the kidnapped Ghorbani.

Then, on Jan. 24, an investigative reporter for the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, Ugur Mumcu, was killed outside his Istanbul home when a bomb exploded as he got into his automobile. Eighteen Islamic radicals, including four Iranians, were arrested in connection with the Turkish journalist's murder.

Four days later, on Jan. 29, one of the suspects in Mumcu's assassination, a member of an underground group called Islamic Action, led police to a shallow grave in a resort 28 miles southeast of Istanbul. …

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