Originally posted on Humanitarian Intervention Center
By Majeed Mohades
While in most countries, criminal records prevent people from taking up government posts, in Iran, human rights violations, terrorism, and suppression of opposition members are forms of proving fealty to the rulers. It is through such heinous acts that one can curry favour with the ruling mullahs, and climb the ladder of power in the outdated, medieval hierarchy of their despotic regime.
Tehran’s newly appointed representative to the United Nations is living proof that such a career path is a successful one, and lately has become the source of much controversy and debate. Evidently, Rouhani’s selection of Hamid Aboutalebi – a member of the radical student group that stormed the American embassy in Tehran in 1979 – as his new UN envoy is not helping the “moderate” image he has sought to cultivate for his presidency. Obama’s failed policy of rapprochement with Iran now faces yet another major challenge, especially in light of information the Iranian resistance has revealed regarding Aboutalebi’s criminal record.
As it happens, there is more to Aboutalebi than his role in the 444-day-long hostage crisis. According to astatement issued by National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) on 2 April 2014, he has a long history of cooperation with the Iranian regime’s notorious intelligence services.
Mohammad-Hossein Naghdi, the representative of the NCRI in Italy, was murdered by agents of the Iranian regime in 1993. An Italian police investigation and eyewitness accounts later proved that Aboutalebi, who had served as the Iranian regime’s ambassador in Rome from 1988 to 1992, was the key organiser and architect of this crime, and had returned to Italy with forged documents at the time of Naghdi’s assassination.
Later on, based on formal reports of the Italian Judicial Police in 2003, Hamid Aboutalebi was banned from entering the Schengen Area as a recognised criminal suspect.
Former hostages were outraged by Rouhani’s decision to appoint Aboutalebi, calling it “really stupid” and ironic for the Iranian regime to pick someone associated with taking diplomats hostage to become its top diplomat at the UN, and a disgrace for the US if the government grants Aboutalebi a visa.
The gesture has also raised the ire of US lawmakers, especially in the Senate.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “The very idea [that] Iran would appoint someone to represent them at the United Nations in New York, who was connected in such a direct way to the American embassy takeover in 1979, says a lot about the regime and the so-called moderation of President Rouhani.”
Meanwhile, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent Secretary of State John Kerry a letter demanding that Aboutalebi take his rightful place on a visa blacklist; Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced a bill banning known terrorists from entering the US on visas; and 29 senators wrote a letter to President Obama, urging the denial of a visa to Aboutalebi.
The US State Department has admitted being troubled by the appointment, although it has stopped short of taking any action.
The Iranian regime’s diplomats are notorious for conducting terrorist and espionage activities against opposition members abroad, and Aboutalebi is no exception. What will be the implications of admitting a diplomat-terrorist to New York?
The fact of the matter is that Aboutalebi is not the first person in Rouhani’s government with an evident criminal and terrorist history. He is merely one of the many criminals and terrorists employed by the mullahs today, whether in Iran or abroad.
Hossein Dehghan, Rouhani’s defence minister, has a long history with the terrorist group Hezbollah, and was directly involved in the 1983 Beirut bombing of American marines and French paratroopers in their barracks.
Rouhani’s justice minister, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, was one of the founders of the Iranian regime’s infamous Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), and a member of the “Death Committee”, a board of high-profile clerics that sent 30,000 political prisoners to the gallows in the summer of 1988.
There are no new lessons to be learned here; just another reminder that moderation in the mullahs’ regime is a delusion, and that Rouhani is no more trustworthy than his predecessors when it comes to dealing with Tehran. The signs and facts have been in plain sight all along, and they are becoming harder to ignore with every passing day.
Under no circumstances should a hostage-taker and a terror-master be admitted to the United States, let alone to the United Nations. Aboutalebi should face the International Criminal Court instead of being received at the United Nations.
Majeed Mohades is a member of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), the main opposition to the clerical regime in Tehran. He lives in Iraq.