Fall-out from a secret war
Trial backlash: Killers 'not acting on specific orders but as part of long conflict against Kurds'
Saturday 12 April 1997
European ambassadors are being withdrawn from Tehran - and Bonn and Tehran have each expelled four diplomats - after judges at the trial of an Iranian and three Lebanese found guilty of murdering four Kurdish opposition figures in 1992 blamed Iran's leadership for ordering the deaths. "It's a misunderstanding of how these things happen," the very well-connected source told the Independent in Beirut yesterday. "These liquidations are not carried out on the specific orders of President Rafsanjani or the spiritual guide Ali Khamenei - there are long-standing orders to neutralise all armed opposition wherever it is, even in Europe. They come from the Pasdar (Revolutionary Guard) committee and they are not going to change, whatever Europe does."
The Iranians regard their war with the Kurds as an undercover campaign in which dozens of deaths go unrecorded by both sides. "I was in Oroumieh (in Iranian Kurdistan) and my Iranian guide told me we could go no further because six Pasdars had been murdered by armed Kurds the previous week," the man told me. "I said I hadn't heard this news. He said that five or six Iranian Pasdars were killed every week or so, maybe a hundred in a year - the Kurds come across from Iraq. It's a secret war, you see - the Iranians don't give their own casualty figures for security reasons."
As for the Iranian leadership, the source said, they would hear news of assassinations and "make inquiries as to what had been happening and they would be told why such-and-such an event took place. These liquidations will carry on - they don't care. Their most important aim is the security of the regime. Maybe methods will change but the regime's security will always come first and that means killing opponents who use violence."
In the early days of the Islamic Republic, the regime's enemies might be targeted by individuals who sought the leadership's support for their actions. This was the case in the first assassination attempt against the Shah's last prime minister, Shahpour Bakhtiar. The idea to kill him in Paris was first suggested by a pro-Iranian Lebanese and it now transpires that Ayatollah Khomeini himself expressed scepticism as to whether the assassins could be successful. Assured that they could - although they subsequently failed in their attempt - Khomeini did personally agree to let the hit-team try to kill Bakhtiar. No such decisions were any longer taken by the leadership.
The man closely associated with Iran in these matters was deeply cynical about Europe's reaction to the Berlin murders. "What about Greenpeace when the French sunk the ship in New Zealand and killed a man?" he asked. "Was that a 'green light' from the French defence ministry or the Elysee? What about the Israeli assassination of Ali Ayash, the Hamas activist (and bomber) by the Israeli intelligence last year? Did the green light to murder him come from Israeli intelligence or from (then prime minister) Shimon Peres? It must have come from Peres - but you didn't debate that. What we do is to neutralise our armed enemies. The Israelis were neutralising their armed enemies."
In northern Lebanon, a mysterious murder in Tripoli has still not been forgotten by those involved in the ruthless intelligence war. Anxious to kill a Lebanese close to the pro-Iranian Hizbollah called Hassan Moussawi, the source claims that a French DGSE (intelligence) team - anxious to eliminate those who were killing French troops of the multinational force in Beirut in the early 1980s - was sent to kill Moussawi as he lay in a hospital bed in Tripoli. Hassan Moussawi was indeed assassinated - but he was a peasant who happened to have the same name as the Hizbollah associate, who is still alive today. Those close to Iran believe that Moussawi's murder was sanctioned by the Elysee Palace.
"This diplomatic crisis will last three or four months," the source said, reflecting an Iranian view of the affair which will change if Europe decides to isolate Iran to the degree President Bill Clinton has been demanding. "Maybe the Iranians will think about the fact that Europe is showing that it all stands together. But I don't think it means anything in the long term. It will blow over. In the end, the regime's security remains first and foremost. The CIA openly states that it has $20m to destabilise Iran and Iraq - and it supports the armed Kurds who want to destroy the Tehran regime. So why shouldn't Iran fight back?"
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
Bubonic plague-carrying fleas found on New York City rats
London property boom built on dirty money
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...
£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...