Assassination Bares The Other Face Of `Moderate' Iran
BY using its ``influence'' to help gain the release of two American hostages, Iran is presenting to the world a more mildly moderate face. But there is no sign of moderation in the image the government of Iran presents to Iranians it considers enemies and traitors.Skip to next paragraph
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Specifically, there are indications of official Iranian complicity in the assassination of a prominent Iranian opposition spokesman in Switzerland last month.
Dr. Kazem Rajavi was the brother of Massoud Rajavi, the leader of the People's Mojahedin of Iran, which opposes the current Iranian regime. His car was cut off on a road outside Geneva and he was shot in the head at close range by gunmen who sped away and escaped.
Long exiled from his homeland, and out of favor with both the regimes of the Shah and the Ayatollah Khomeini, Dr. Rajavi had taught at the School of Law at Geneva University, where he held a professorship for nearly 10 years.
However he was vocal in the campaign against repression in Iran and represented the Mojahedin in various international assemblies. Each year he headed the Mojahedin delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. He had been particularly outspoken against the report of a United Nations human rights investigator earlier this year which appeared to whitewash various Iranian atrocities. It was this opposition that may have cost him his life.
Associates say that he had been publicly warned by Siroos Nasseri, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, and had sought protection from the Swiss police. Ambassador Nasseri, who is said by Iranian opposition leaders to be a prot'eg'e of President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is accused by the Mojahedin of masterminding the assassination of Dr. Rajavi.
Also implicated in the murder are Mohammad Hossein Malaek, the Iranian ambassador to Switzerland, and Karim-Abadi, Iran's consul-general in Geneva. Malaek was one of the student leaders who seized the American embassy in Tehran in 1979 and is known to have interrogated many of the American hostages. Karim-Abadi is said by the Mojahedin to have served as interrogator and torturer in a number of Iranian political prisons before becoming a diplomat.
Nasseri is accused of having controlled the two-man assassination squad. Karim-Abadi's role was to provide sanctuary for them at the Geneva consulate after the killing until their departure later that day on an Iran Air flight for Tehran. The flight was apparently held for an hour to ensure that the assassins were safely aboard.
The Mojahedin claim to have a tape of a telephone call from Karim-Abadi to Tehran after the Rajavi assassination declaring that ``everything had gone right.'' The tape has been turned over to the Swiss authorities.
The Swiss have identified two Iranians as the suspected gunmen in the murder, but they are no longer in Switzerland and the Iranian diplomats involved in the plot are presumably, with their diplomatic immunity, beyond the reach of the Swiss police.
Other Iranian officials identified by the Mojahedin as being involved in the plot include Hassan Mashhadi Ghahvechi, Sadeghi Meibodi, and Ravankhah.
Ghahvechi is alleged to be an undercover secret-police officer ostensibly representing the Iranian regime in the United Nations Disarmament Committee. He boasts about his past ``achievements,'' which include his participation in an attack on a Mojahedin base in 1982 where Mrs. Ashraf Rajavi, Mr. Rajavi's wife, was killed.
Meibodi is alleged to be an undercover intelligence officer whose activities have been the subject of discussion in the Swiss press.
Ravankhah is apparently an intelligence agent working in the Iranian consulate in Geneva. He is said to be a former interrogator and torturer in Tehran's prisons.
If the evidence is confirmed of the involvement of these Iranian diplomats, it is clear proof of Iran's continuing use of officially-sponsored terrorism, however much it may protest its readiness to use its influence in releasing American hostages.