Iran Cleric Who Founded Hezbollah Dies Of COVID-19



DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, a Shiite cleric who as Iran’s ambassador to Syria helped discovered the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and misplaced his proper hand to a e book bombing reportedly carried out by Israel, died Monday of the coronavirus. He was 74.

A detailed ally of Iran’s late Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Mohtashamipour within the 1970s shaped alliances with Muslim militant teams throughout the Mideast. After the Islamic Revolution, he helped discovered the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in Iran and as ambassador to Syria introduced the power into the area to assist kind Hezbollah.

In his later years, he slowly joined the reason for reformists in Iran, hoping to vary the Islamic Republic’s theocracy from the within. He backed the opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi in Iran’s Inexperienced Motion protests that adopted the disputed 2009 re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“If the entire individuals change into conscious, keep away from violent measures and proceed their civil confrontation with that, they are going to win,” Mohtashamipour mentioned on the time, although Ahmadinejad in the end would stay in workplace. “No energy can stand as much as individuals’s will.”

Mohtashamipour died at a hospital in northern Tehran after contracting the virus, the state-run IRNA information company reported. The cleric, who wore a black turban that recognized him in Shiite custom as a direct descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, had been residing within the Shiite holy metropolis of Najaf, Iraq, during the last 10 years after the disputed election in Iran.

Iranian Ali Akbar Mohtashami, a former Interior Minister and widely recognized as one of the founders of Lebanese Hezbollah,

Iranian Ali Akbar Mohtashami, a former Inside Minister and widely known as one of many founders of Lebanese Hezbollah, attends the opening session of the nationwide convention of Damascus-based Palestinian teams within the Syrian capital, 23 January 2008. (Picture credit score ought to learn RAMZI HAIDAR/AFP through Getty Photos)

Iran’s present Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised Mohtashamipour for his “revolutionary providers,” whereas President Hassan Rouhani mentioned the cleric “devoted his life to advertise Islamic motion and realization of the revolution’s beliefs.”

Laborious-line judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, now thought of the main candidate in Iran’s presidential election subsequent week, additionally provided condolences to Mohtashamipour’s household.

“The deceased was one of many holy warriors on the best way to the liberation of Jerusalem and one of many pioneers within the combat towards the usurping Zionist regime,” Raisi mentioned, in keeping with IRNA.

Born in Tehran in 1947, Mohtashamipour met Khomeini because the cleric remained in exile in Najaf after being expelled from Iran by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Within the 1970s, he crisscrossed the Mideast talking to militants teams on the time, serving to kind an alliance between the long run Islamic Republic and the Palestinian Liberation Group because it battled Israel.

As soon as arrested by Iraq, Mohtashamipour discovered his strategy to Khomeini’s residence in exile outdoors of Paris. They returned triumphant to Iran amid the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

In 1982, Khomeini deployed Mohtashamipour to Syria, then below the rule of dictator Hafez Assad. Whereas ostensibly a diplomat, Mohtashamipour oversaw the tens of millions that poured in to fund the Guard’s operations within the area.


Lebanon, then dominated by Syria, which deployed tens of 1000’s of troops there, discovered itself invaded by Israel in 1982 as Israel pursued the PLO in Lebanon. Iranian assist flowed into the Shiite communities occupied by Israel. That helped create a brand new militant group known as Hezbollah, or “the Social gathering of God.”

The U.S. blames Hezbollah for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that killed 63 individuals, in addition to the later bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks within the Lebanese capital that killed 241 U.S. troops and one other assault that killed 58 French paratroopers. Hezbollah and Iran have denied being concerned.

“The court docket finds that it’s past query that Hezbollah and its brokers acquired huge materials and technical assist from the Iranian authorities,” wrote U.S. District Decide Royce Lamberth in 2003.

Lamberth’s opinion, quoting a U.S. Navy intelligence official, instantly named Mohtashamipour as being advised by Tehran to succeed in out to the nascent Hezbollah to “instigate assaults towards the multinational coalition in Lebanon, and ‘to take a spectacular motion towards the USA Marines.’”

An IRNA obituary of Mohtashamipour solely described him as “one of many founders of Hezbollah in Lebanon” and blamed Israel for the bombing that wounded him. It didn’t talk about the U.S. allegations about his involvement within the suicide bombings focusing on Individuals.

On the time of the assassination try on him, Israel’s Mossad intelligence company had acquired approval from then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to pursue Mohtashamipour, in keeping with “Rise and Kill First,” a e book on Israeli assassinations by journalist Ronen Bergman. They selected to ship a bomb hidden inside a e book described as a “magnificent quantity in English about Shiite holy locations in Iran and Iraq” on Valentine’s Day in 1984, Bergman wrote.

The bomb exploded when Mohtashamipour opened the e book, tearing away his proper hand and two fingers on his left hand. However he survived, later turning into Iran’s inside minister and serving as a hard-line lawmaker in parliament earlier than becoming a member of reformists in 2009.

Related Press author Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.


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