NewsSpecial WireOnce expelled from Turkey, Iran’s FM makes a comeback

Once expelled from Turkey, Iran’s FM makes a comeback

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Iran Focus: London, Nov. 27 – Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will travel on Wednesday to Turkey, a country that once expelled him for his involvement in terrorism when he was the Islamic Republic’s ambassador to Ankara. Iran Focus

London, Nov. 27 – Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will travel on Wednesday to Turkey, a country that once expelled him for his involvement in terrorism when he was the Islamic Republic’s ambassador to Ankara.

Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported the planned trip on Sunday.

Mottaki, 52, has been accused of involvement in a series of terrorist attacks in Turkey in the late 1980s, according to Iranian exiles and defectors from the theocratic regime.

Turkish authorities had asked him to leave the country in 1989, when he was Iran’s ambassador in Ankara, after his role in several terrorist incidents in Turkey became known.

Abolhassan Mojtahedzadeh, chairman of the Brussels-based Association of Victims of the Iranian Regime’s Terrorism, said his group was consulting Turkish lawyers to find legal avenues to have Mottaki arrested in Turkey.

Mojtahedzadeh himself was abducted in Istanbul in 1988 and taken to the Iranian consulate, where he was tortured. Several days later, Turkish police miraculously found him in the boot of an official Iranian embassy vehicle only a few kilometres from the Iranian border, as Tehran’s diplomats were trying to smuggle him to Iran.

According to Simon Bailey of the London-based Gulf Intelligence Monitor, Ankara’s decision to host Mottaki will not help the government’s image as it tries to prove its democratic credentials to be admitted to the European Union.

“Ankara has been taking a very lenient approach to Iran’s excesses”, Bailey said. “Turkish police arrested an Iranian man, Masoud Amiri, in Istanbul back in July, because there was an international arrest warrant for him over his role in the bombing of the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994. But when Iran made some threatening gestures, the Turks let him go”.

Mottaki is a former Deputy Foreign Minister and served as Iran’s ambassador to Japan.

As a radical Islamist in his student days in India’s Bangalore University, Mottaki was a fervent supporter of Ayatollah Khomeini. He returned to Iran during the revolution and joined the ranks of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) soon after the fall of the Shah’s regime in 1979. After taking part in the bloody campaign against Kurdish dissidents, Mottaki moved to the Foreign Ministry, where for some time he was the IRGC liaison officer.

Mottaki was appointed Iran’s ambassador to Turkey in 1985 and it was during his tenure in Ankara that the Revolutionary Guard-turned-diplomat became involved in a number of terror attacks and assassinations of dissidents, according to Iranian opposition figures and defectors. In the 1980s and the early 1990s, at least 50 Iranian dissidents were kidnapped or assassinated in Turkey by Iranian secret agents often working closely with diplomats from Iran’s embassy and consulates.

On Mottaki’s watch, the Iranian embassy in Ankara and the consulate-general in Istanbul were turned into safe houses for agents of Iran’s notorious secret police hunting down Iranian dissidents, according to exiles.

The Turkish authorities ordered Mottaki to leave Turkey in October 1989 for his role in assassinations and kidnappings in that country. The expulsion was couched in diplomatic terms, and Turkey agreed to allow Iran to avoid public embarrassment by withdrawing its ambassador.

Mottaki later became Vice-president of Islamic Cultural and Communications Organisation, an agency created by the Supreme Leader for export of Islamic revolution to other parts of the Muslim world.

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