RAFSANJANI ESCAPES ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT – 26/09/1988

[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 86

SEPTEMBER 26 1988

“You do not fight in the name of Allah, but you fight to further your own interests. You do not fool me when you say that you have the interest of Islam at heart. You fight for power, and I know it. You always want more power. None among you is content with his own carpet, and each one among you seeks to stretch his legs on his neighbor’s carpet.”

Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini – Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Rafsanjani may have found powerful allies in his struggle for political power in the persons of Ahmed Khomeini, the son of the Supreme leader, and Velayati, the Foreign Minister, but the powerful Parliament Speaker has also made a few very dangerous enemies.

epa03610273 Iran's former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani attends the annual meeting of the Experts Assembly in Tehran, Iran, 05 March 2013. The assembly is the highest clergy body in the country which is even authorized to supervise the activities of the country's supreme leadership.  EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

Iran’s former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

Today (26/09/1988), a commando led by Mir Lohi attempted to assassinate Rafsanjani as he was leaving the parliament. Rafsanjani escaped but four of his Afghan bodyguards were killed and several others wounded.

Lohi is a former cohort of Mehdi Hashemi, the man who exposed the Irangate, as well as a known agent of Mohtashami Pur, the Interior Minister.

The assassination attempt, probably organized by Mohtashami Pur himself (perhaps with the help of Prime Minister Mir Hussein Moussavi) is widely perceived as a way to prevent a rapprochement with Washington.

In a similar manner, the killing of Lt. Col. William Higgins is also alleged to have been ordered by Mohtashami Pur in order to prevent the rapprochement of Syria with the US and again to derail attempts by Rafsanjani to better the relations of Iran with America.

The satanic verses

Today(26/09/1988), Salam Rushdie released his book: The satanic verses. On Feb.14 1989, Khomeini will issue a fatwa calling for the death of Rushdie and his publishers. Surprinzingly, Khomeini did not give the legal reasoning for his judgement. [1]

“In the name of God the Almighty, we belong to God and to Him we shall return. I would like to inform all intrepid Muslims in the world that the author of the book Satanic Verses, which has been compiled, printed, and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Qor’an, and those publishers who were aware of its contents, are sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, where they find them, so that no one will dare to insult the Islamic sanctities. Whoever is killed on this path will be regarded as a martyr, God willing. In addition, if anyone has access to the author of the book but does not possess the power to execute him, he should point him out to the people so that he may be punished for his actions.”

On 7 March 1989, the United Kingdom and Iran broke diplomatic relations over the Rushdie controversy.

The summer 1988 massacre. Was There a Hidden Agenda?

“And why in 1988, with the war over, the Mojahedin soundly defeated, and the prisoners wholly demoralized after years of imprisonment and torture,” asks Harvard Law School Kaveh Shahrooz speaking of the summer 1988 massacre.

“Although multiple theories exist, no survivor or observer has been able to provide a completely satisfactory explanation,” concluded Shahrooz in 2006, who nevertheless seemed to have embrassed the views of Professors Abrahamian and Afshari. [2]

“The most sensible theories are those put forth by Professors Abrahamian and Afshari, both of whom locate the impetus for the executions in the government’s own inner workings. Abrahamian writes that after the ceasefire, Khomeini realized that “he had lost the most valuable glue holding together his disparate followers . . . . He also realized that his ailing health would soon remove him from the scene and thus leave his followers without a paramount leader.”

Along with the Salman Rushdie fatwa, which, in Abrahamian’s view, erected a “formidable—if not insurmountable—obstacle in the way” of relations with the West, Khomeini pursued the execution of prisoners to “test the true mettle of his followers . . . [weeding] out the half-hearted from the true believers, the wishy-washy from the real revolutionaries.”

“Afshari also considers the regime’s internal dynamics, citing the effort to target the more liberal Ayatollah Montazeri, under whose command the prisons had become less repressive.When considered in the context of Iran in the late 1980s, it seems plausible that the executions may simply have been part of the regime’s inner power struggles. With Khomeini’s death expected, various factions contended bitterly for control of the future of the Islamic Republic. The main faction seeking power was affiliated with then-Parliament Speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani, and its success depended, in large part, on forcing rivals such as Ayatollah Montazeri out of power. Mehdi Hashemi, an ally and relative of Montazeri, had already been tortured and executed in 1987 for revealing Rafsanjani’s role in the Iran-Contra scandal.The execution of political prisoners, whose rights Montazeri and his supporters had attempted to defend for a number of years, may have been yet another maneuver in this ongoing struggle against Montazeri’s faction. If decreasing Montazeri’s power within the government was the goal of the prison massacre, then the strategy proved immensely successful. As a result of Ayatollah Montazeri’s conscientious objection to the killings, Khomeini effectively sidelined him and thus allowed Rafsanjani’s faction to emerge victorious.”

In the case of the fatwa against Rushdie, there is indeed evidence that the Supreme Leader wanted his judgment to be irreversible.

“Even if Salman Rushdie repents and becomes the most pious man of all time, it is incumbent on every Muslim to employ everything he has got, his life and wealth, to send him to Hell,” Khomeini had warned.

NOTES AND REFERENCES

1. The judgment is thought to be based on the ninth chapter of the Qur’an, called At-Tawba, verse 61: “And those who annoy the Messenger of Allah shall have a grievous punishment.”

2. With revolutionary rage and rancor: a preliminary report on the 1988 massacre of Iran s political prisoners.

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