Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Nov. 03 Irans President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad handpicked an old-time colleague from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to head the countrys anti-contraband task force. Iran Focus
Tehran, Iran, Nov. 03 Irans President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad handpicked an old-time colleague from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to head the countrys anti-contraband task force.
Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Naghdi, who was appointed by the Iranian president as the head of the Office to Combat Smuggling, has a notorious reputation as a key figure in the shadowy security organisations of the Revolutionary Guards and the paramilitary police.
Political dissidents have accused the Iraqi-born Naghdi of being an interrogator and torturer in Irans prisons in the 1980s. In the 1990s, he worked under IRGC deputy commander, Brigadier General Mohammad-Baqer Zolqadr, when a secret cell composed of Revolutionary Guards and Intelligence Ministry officers was assigned to murder several prominent dissidents in Iran.
Naghdis cousin, Mohammad-Hossein Naghdi, defected from the Iranian regime in 1982, when he was the countrys charge daffaires in Rome. He joined the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran and became the groups high-profile representative in Rome. Mohammad-Hossein Naghdi was assassinated by gunmen outside his Rome office in March 1993. A senior defector from Irans Ministry of Intelligence and Security later told investigators that Mohammad-Reza Naghdi played a key role in the assassination of his cousin.
After long years of service in the Revolutionary Guards and the State Security Forces, Naghdi moved to the Office of the Supreme Leader following the student riots that swept the country in July 1999, where he was given the task of organising Islamist vigilante groups to suppress and terrorise students and dissidents.
One of Naghdis active gangs called itself Kabir. Its armed members would patrol the streets and round up young people suspected of anti-government activities. The detainees were taken to secret safe-houses in Tehran for interrogation.
The gangs members, including Naghdi, later faced an internal inquiry over the systematic rape of dozens of girls, who were arrested on bogus political charges. Naghdi himself was charged with the rape and murder of 12 women and 36 counts of armed robbery in the Iranian capital and several other cities. On the orders of the Supreme Leaders office, however, the charges were dropped.
The rehabilitation of Brigadier General Naghdi by President Ahmadinejad has caused grave concern among human rights observers and political activists in the Iranian capital.