NewsSpecial WireIran president-elect’s role in 1989 attack “part of pattern”

Iran president-elect’s role in 1989 attack “part of pattern”

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Iran Focus: London, Jul. 2 – An Austrian newspaper reported on Saturday that Austrian authorities have classified documents showing that Iran’s new president may have played a key role in the 1989 slaying of a prominent Iranian dissident in Vienna. The information comes after Iran Focus revealed last month in a detailed biography of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he had been involved in the assassination of Iranian Kurdish leader Abdorrahman Ghassemlou in Vienna. Iran Focus

London, Jul. 2 – An Austrian newspaper reported on Saturday that Austrian authorities have classified documents showing that Iran’s new president may have played a key role in the 1989 slaying of a prominent Iranian dissident in Vienna.

The information comes after Iran Focus revealed last month in a detailed biography of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he had been involved in the assassination of Iranian Kurdish leader Abdorrahman Ghassemlou in Vienna.

The daily Der Standard reported that Austria’s Interior Ministry and the public prosecutor’s office are in possession of documents pointing to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s alleged involvement in the attack. An Interior Ministry spokesman said the case has not yet been investigated. “”But that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be one in the future”, Reuters quoted spokesman Major Rudolf Gollia as saying.

Information obtained by Iran Focus from sources inside Iran and Iranian exiles shows that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad played a direct role in the assassination.

In 1989, the Iranian government lured Ghassemlou to his death by offering to negotiate an autonomy agreement for Iranian Kurdistan. Ghassemlou, 59, readily accepted the offer and arrived in Vienna on July 11, 1989, to meet high-level emissaries of the Iranian government, who turned out to be commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

The next day, at about 7:30 p.m., Vienna police discovered the bullet-riddled bodies of Ghassemlou and his two associates in a flat. Within hours, the police had recovered the murder weapon, detained two suspects and identified a third.

The two detainees were Mohammad Jaafar Sahraroudi, a brigadier-general of the Revolutionary Guards and commander of the Guards’ Ramezan Garrison in western Iran. The second suspect was Amir Mansour Bozorgian, an under-cover officer of Iran’s secret police, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).

Under pressure from Iran, Austria decided to take the easy route: rather than investigate the murders and put the assassins on trial, the Austrian authorities sent the two suspects to Tehran on the next flight. They were even escorted to Vienna airport under police protection. Tehran rewarded Vienna with more favourable trade deals.

Bozorgian was later sent to Rome to assassinate another Iranian dissident, Mohammad-Reza Naghdi, in March 1993, according to Italian prosecutors. Bozorgian is being tried in absentia in the criminal court of Rome and Italian prosecutors have said in their indictment that he was in charge of the hit squad that assassinated Naghdi. Naghdi had angered the Iranian authorities when he defected as Iran’s charge d’affaires to join the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran. At the time of the assassination, he was the council’s representative in Rome.

It was Brigadier General Sahraroudi who had recruited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a team leader in the assassination. While Sahraroudi commanded the “on-site” team that carried out the killings in the flat where the talks with the Kurdish delegation were being held, Ahmadinejad was leading the support team that took care of logistics and escape routes. He received the weapons and ammunition for the operation from the Iranian embassy in Vienna, after they were smuggled to Vienna in diplomatic pouches.

Ahmadinejad’s official biography notes that he was stationed in Ramezan Garrison near Kermanshah, western Iran, from 1986, as an officer of the Revolutionary Guards and later joined the Special Brigade of the Guards, an elite force trained to carry out attacks beyond Iran’s borders.

In a separate development, Austrian Green Party leader Peter Pilz has said that he wants a warrant issued for the arrest of Ahmadinejad. Pilz said he had received information showing that Ahmadinejad allegedly traveled to the Austrian capital a few days before the slayings to deliver the murder weapons to the commandos who carried out the attack, the Associated Press reported.

Austrian authorities have said the gunmen apparently entered the alpine country with Iranian diplomatic passports.

Pilz said an Iranian journalist was contacted in 2001 by one of the alleged gunmen, described as a former revolutionary guard who has since died in a drowning accident.

“The descriptions of the informant contained details of the scene (of the slayings) which could only have come from someone who was there,” Pilz said. He said the gunman’s account, which included “very convincing” evidence implicating Ahmadinejad, was turned over at the time to Austria’s federal counterterrorism agency.

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