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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Who is Mohammad Mohammadi Reyshahri? Why Did He Come to New Zealand?

According to an Iranian news report, a very senior Iranian official and his entourage recently visited New Zealand.

From Islamic Republic News Agency

Ayatollah Mohammadi Ray-Shahri and his entourage visited Malaysian Hajj Organization and its Investment Fund here on Friday and discussed issues of mutual interest with the Malaysian officials.

In a meeting with the Malaysian Hajj Investment Fund officials, they expounded on services of the organization especially the financial support given to the pilgrims.

Malaysia has an annual quota of 26,000 pilgrims for Hajj and 190,000 candidates are awaiting their turn.

Ayatollah Ray-Shahri and his accompanying delegation, who arrived in Malaysia Thursday evening from New Zealand, will stay there until Tuesday.


I have found no other record of this man's visit to New Zealand. An extremely high-ranking figure in Iran, I would have thought there would have been at least some media comment.

Who is this Ayatollah Ray-Shahri? Why did he come to New Zealand? Why might it be significant?

Ray-Shahri is also known as Rayshahri and Reyshahri. I will use the most common spelling, Reyshahri.


Reyshahri was born Mohammad Mohammadi Nik in 1946 in the city of Ray, near Tehran. In 1960, he entered Burhaan Theological School in Ray.

He finished his seminary studies in Qom just before the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

Reyshahri married the nine-year old daughter of Ayatollah Ali Meshkini in 1968. It was Ayatollah Meshkini who first called him "Reyshahri" (of the city of Ray).

After the Islamic Revolution's victory, Reyshahri held various positions in public office, including chief judge of the Military Revolutionary Tribunal in the immediate post-revolution period.

He was also the first Iranian Minister of Intelligence under Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi. The Iranian parliament passed legislation on creating an intelligence agency in 1983 and the Intelligence and Security Ministry was established the next year in an effort to eliminate competition between numerous institutions and committees. Reyshahri headed the ministry from 1984 until 1989. He later served as prosecutor of the Special Court for the Clergy.

In Iranian dissident circles Reysharhri is regarded as one of the Iranian revolutions most senior criminal/politicians.

Here is his file from the the National Council of Resistance of Iran Website

Name: Mohammad
Family Name: Mohammadi Rayshahri

POSITION IN 1988:
Minister of Intelligence

CURRENT POSITION:
Representative of Supreme Leader Khamenei for the pilgrimage to Mecca.

OTHER POSITIONS:
Judge of the Special Court for the Clergy; judge in the Revolutionary Tribunal ;President of the Military Tribunals; founder of the Ministry of Intelligence.

CHARGES RELATED TO THE MASSACRE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS IN 1988:

-1 Appointment of the death committees, each consisting of three members, in Tehran and the provinces. These committees interviewed all prisoners and decided who should be executed. Montazeri reveals that the committees were dominated by the Intelligence Ministry representatives, who insisted on the highest number of executions.

-2 Rayshahri headed an oversight committee in Evin Prison. On the first day of the massacre, this committee drew up details for the execution of more than 10,000 political prisoners in Tehran on Khomeini's orders. Other members were Raissi, Nayyeri, Mortazavi, Mohseni-Ezhei, Mobasheri. and Pourmohammadi.

-3 The arbitrary detention of thousands of former political prisoners and young supporters of the Mojahedin and the re-arrest of thousands of released political prisoners. His ministry organized the execution by firing squads of these victims along with political prisoners.

OTHER CHARGES:

-1 Ordering the execution of dozens of people during the years 1979 through 1981 as a roving Revolutionary Judge in Gachsaran, Dezful, Behbahan, Khorramabad and Borujerd.

"-2 Purges" of thousands of dissident military personnel as chief judge and prosecutor of Military Tribunals from 1980 through 1984. He personally ordered the execution of several hundred servicemen during this period.

-3 Detention of many dissident clergymen and the execution of several of them.

-4 As the founder of the Intelligence Ministry, he was responsible for institutionalizing torture, kidnapping, murder, sexual assault on women detainees and an endless list of crimes committed by the Intelligence Ministry agents under his command.

REMARKS:

Several former personnel of the Ministry of Intelligence and Evin Prison are ready to give eyewitness testimony about Rayshahri's crimes against humanity in any trial.


According to Wikipedia;

Most famous achievements of Reyshahri has been the discovery of two abortive coups: Nozheh coup, which was supposed to happen on July 8, 1980 by supporters of Shapour Bakhtiar, and was reported to Reyshahri by Saeed Hajjarian, and the Ghotbzadeh coup, which led to the execution of Sadegh Ghotbzadeh and the removal of Ayatollah Kazem Shariatmadari from being a marja by the Society of Teachers of the Qom Hawza, and his later death (of cancer) in April, 1986.


Others have implicated Reyshahri in ordering the machinegun assassination of leaders of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, Sadeq Sharafkandi, Fattah Abdoli, Homayoun Ardalan and their translator Nouri Dehkordi at The Mykonos Restaurant, Berlin in 1992.

The delegates of the PDKI were in Berlin for a conference of the Socialist International, held from September 15th to the 17th of that year.

The Berlin Supreme Court trial, which concluded in April 1997, convicted one Iranian and four Lebanese for the murder of the four men. The German judge said that the order to assassinate the Iranians came from Tehran.

From the IranHuman Rights Documentation Centre

The origins of the Mykonos attack can be traced to the decision by the IRI’s Special Affairs Committee to appoint Hojjatoleslam Ali Fallahian, then Iran’s Minister of Intelligence, to oversee the elimination of PDKI's leadership.

The Special Affairs Committee was established after Ayatollah Khomeini’s death in 1989 to make decisions on important matters of state. The committee's existence is not provided for by the constitution. The fact that the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is the head of the committee, and that the IRI's “guardianship of the jurist” doctrine endows the Supreme Leader with extraordinary powers, effectively places the committee above both the government and the parliament.

At the time of the Mykonos assassinations the other permanent members were Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, then President; Ali Fallahian, then Minister of Intelligence; Ali Akbar Velayati, then Foreign Minister; Mohammad Reyshahri, a former Minister of Intelligence; Mohsen Rezai, then General Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard; Reza Seifollahi, then head of the Islamic Republic of Iran's police; and Ayatollah Khazali, a member of the Guardian Council.

One of the issues handled by the committee was the suppression and elimination of political opposition to the Islamic Republic. Assassinations both at home and abroad were ordered directly by Ayatollah Khomeini while he was alive.

After Khomeini’s death, the responsibility for recommending individual assassinations fell to the Special Affairs Committee. Once the committee's recommendation was approved by the Supreme Leader, an individual committee member would be charged with implementing the decision with the assistance of the Ministry of Intelligence’s Special Operations Council

The council’s operational commanders received a written order signed by the Supreme Leader authorizing an assassination.

Documents of the Mykonos Case] 171-2 and 194-5 (Mihran Payandih et al. trans. 2000). 25Mesbahi noted, “I myself, in another case, saw such an order with Khomeini’s signature, although I was not the operational commander. This case regarded Khusru Harandi (Hadi Khursandi).

Mohammad Musavizadih, the Deputy of Mohammad Reyshahri, then Minister of Intelligence and Security, came to Dusseldorf with a copy of the order. There, me and him[Musavizadih] met with the head of the hit team and his deputy….I was their interpreter and translated the order from Farsi to French.”


Ironically New Zealand temporarily cut diplomatic relations with Iran over the assassinations.

In 1991, Reyshahri became leader leader of the Iranian delegation to the Hajj pilgrimage. Reyshahri founded the Society for the Defense of Values of the Islamic Revolution in 1996 and stood as its candidate in the 1997 presidential election. He came 4th out four "approved" candidates.

Why would a leading member of the Iranian elite-steeped in intelligence experience-leave it all to promote religious pilgrimage?

This January 2006 article from the official website of Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei hints at Reyshahni's possible role.

The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei received a group of officials and executives in charge of the hajj pilgrimage on Saturday, January 28.

Speaking at the meeting, Ayatollah Khamenei referred to the mental and spiritual development of Muslims as the most important goal pursued by the hajj pilgrimage.

The Leader stated that the precious opportunity provided during the hajj season should be utilized in an appropriate manner. He also advised the officials and executives in the charge of the hajj pilgrimage to provide the pilgrims with the necessary facilities so that they may derive the most spiritual and cultural benefit from their pilgrimage.

Further in his statements, Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out that the increasing inclination on the part of Muslim nations toward the Islamic Republic of Iran stems from the nature and character of the Islamic Revolution and the thoughts and views of the Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, late Imam Khomeini.

The Leader of the Islamic Republic also hinted at the explicit stances taken by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the important issues of the Islamic world and toward the United States, describing these stances as instrumental in raising the Muslim nations' inclination to the Islamic Republic.

At the meeting, the Leader’s representative for the hajj affairs and caretaker of the Iranian hajj pilgrims, Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Mohammadi-Rayshahri, presented a report on the great hajj congress. He also referred to the holding of a glorious ceremony marking the disavowal of infidels and seven international seminars with the participation of intellectuals and scholars from the Islamic world during the hajj season.

Hojjatoleslam Mohammadi-Rayshahri further said that the increasing inclination expressed by Muslim pilgrims from other countries to the Islamic Republic of Iran and their rising hatred of the United States were among the points worthy of attention during the hajj season this year.


Reyshahni's role obviously goes well beyond the religious. Are the Iranians are attempting to use the Haji pilgrimage to propagandise Muslims to support the Iranian line against the United States and the West?

According to this irna news report of April 22nd 2006? from Mecca;

The leader of the Iranian hajj pilgrims, hojjatoleslam Mohammad Mohammadi Rayshahri, told a seminar of Afghan people here on monday that "jihad and unity of words were two important elements which will help Afghanistan emerge out of the present crisis."

Hojjatoleslam Rayshahri stated that "all the misery and tragedy which has befallen the Afghan nation is due to the unsuccessful attempts of the enemies to unfold their conspiracies in the war torn nation in order to take full advantage of the situation.


Several obvious questions arise;

Did Reyshahni visit New Zealand as reported?

If so, why was a man with his alleged past and openly jihadist views allowed into this country?

Who did Reyshahni meet with in New Zealand?

Was he promoting the Hajj to local Muslims?

Is there a danger that New Zealand Muslims could be steered towards Iranian style extremism, by Reyshahni and his operation?

Perhaps some of our MSM journalists could find some answers to these questions?

7 Comments:

Blogger Andy Moore said...

All Christchurch is encouraged to make the time to attend the Public March To Protest Anti-Smacking Bill.

When? Wednesday 28 March 12pm
Where? Victoria Square (close to Cathedral Square
Speakers: Simon Barnett and Gary McCormick from MoreFM's show Si&Gary, Ali Jones from NewsTalk ZB.

www.politik.co.nz has all the information plus a map of where to meet.

This is quite likely the most significant protest march you will ever attend - do not miss it. We must show the Government - who have been ignoring the public - exactly what us Kiwis do think on this crucial issue.

Good parents will be criminalised if Bradford's bill becomes Law.

Make sure that it doesn't by supporting the march!

There will be marches also in Wellington, Nelson and Fielding. www.politik.co.nz has all the information on these marches, plus news updates, polls to vote in, petition forms and info on how to email the MPs.

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How long was this dude in NZ for?

Surely the the SIS and the CIA would be monitoring his movements.
Dirk

10:48 AM  
Blogger Trevor Loudon said...

Not even 100% sure he was here Dirk. Just relying on an iranian news report.

I'm sure the SIS would have had an eye on him, if he was here.

I'd be very interested to know what he was up to, if anyone else has any info.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can say on the matter is the local authorities in my area are bending over backwards to appease the muslim minority. No one wants to be seen as a muslim-phobe.
Which allows some things which should be questioned, to go unchallenged for fear of having the finger pointed. Easy for bad things to happen in those circumstances.
Wasnt but a couple of years ago a Massey intellectual questioned the Holocaust and had his otherwise excellent career destroyed and saw him reduced to a broken man. The sytem takes no prisoners
Dirk.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Ma Evans said...

Careful you guys.No doubt Iran is currently a tyrannical theocratic dictatorship,and is engaging in an alarming display of geopolitical brinkmanship,but don't allow that to become yet another reason to blindly bash Muslims.This is exactly what those whose aim is to engineer a nuclear "clash of civilisations" are working towards.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Trevor Loudon said...

Ma Evans-I have never criticised Muslims per se and have no intention of doing so.

My beef with iran is political, not religious.

In fact I most despise the iranian regime for exploiting genuine religious belief for political ends.

10:51 PM  
Anonymous ma evans said...

Thanks for that clarification Trevor.
A great blog,keep it up.

7:22 AM  

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