Seyyed Mahmoud Alavi implicitly accepted the government’s role in the assassination of several opponents in Europe. He considered the assassinations as a sign of the Islamic government’s power and threatened that government opponents abroad will not remain safe.
In a detailed interview conducted by the Islamic Republic’s official news agency (IRNA), Seyyed Mahmoud Alavi, the former Minister of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic during Hassan Rouhani’s government, confessed to kidnapping opponents abroad and transferring them to Iran.
On January 6, a day after the disqualification of Mahmoud Alavi, the former Minister of Intelligence as a candidate for the twelfth parliamentary elections, IRNA published an interview with him. In it, Alavi, while listing instances of kidnapping government opponents abroad and assassinating two Iranians in the Netherlands, considered these as a sign of the Ministry of Intelligence’s authority during his tenure. Regarding domestic politics, he talked about deceiving truck drivers to break their strike and mentioned the November 2019 uprising following the announcement of the gasoline price hike, saying:
“If our warnings in the government had been heeded in 2019, we would not have faced those problems and issues.”
Referring to the assassination of Mohammad Reza Kolahi (Ali Motamed), accused of the June 28, 1981 bombing at the office of the Islamic Republic Party and killed on December 15, 2015 in front of his house in Almere, Netherlands, Alavi said:
“The fact that a country has a strong service and claims that we know Iran’s hand was in this, but we can’t prove it, is a big deal.”
Kidnapping opponents abroad and transferring them to Iran is another topic of Alavi’s discussion. He says:
“Our strategy was to bring anti-security elements into the country alive, as much as possible, with complex intelligence tricks, so that any fair person observing would greatly appreciate the Ministry of Intelligence at that time.”
He mentions Habib Asiod (Habib Farajollah Chaab), an Iranian-Swedish Arab activist, who was kidnapped in Turkey by Iranian security forces and executed in Iran in May 2023:
“Habib Chaab was brought alive into the Islamic Republic, and bringing him alive into the Islamic Republic was done with very complex intelligence trickery.”
Another kidnapped Iranian is Jamshid Sharmahd, an Iranian-German citizen. He was kidnapped in the summer of 2020 in Dubai by security agents. Alavi says about this:
“They brought this man, blindfolded him, and opened his blindfold in the middle of Chabahar. He looked around, instead of seeing signs in Urdu and Pakistani, it was written ‘Governorate of Chabahar,’ and then he realized the trick played on him and they told him: ‘Mr. Sharmahd, welcome to the Islamic Republic!'”
Jamshid Sharmahd is imprisoned in Iran and in court, accused of “corruption on earth through planning and directing terrorist actions” and has been sentenced to death. The Supreme Court confirmed his death sentence in February 2023.
Assassination in the Netherlands: “They Say We Can’t Prove It”
Two of the opponents Alavi mentioned were assassinated within two years in the Netherlands.
In the matter of the assassination of several opponents in Europe, Alavi specifically refers to the assassination of Mohammad Reza Kolahi, accused of bombing the office of the Islamic Republic Party 1981, who lived in the Netherlands under the alias Ali Motamed with his family as a political refugee, and Ahmad Mola Nissi, an Arab political activist and one of the founders of Al-Ahwazia. He implicitly accepts the role of the Islamic Republic government in the assassination of these two. He considers these assassinations as a sign of the power of the Islamic government and threatens that government opponents abroad will not remain safe.
Alavi, referring to the assassination of Ali Motamed (Mohammad Reza Kolahi), said:
“After thirty-something years, the perpetrator of the martyrdom of Martyr Beheshti and his martyred companions reaches hell, even in a country like the Netherlands, which has a strong intelligence service. They claim that we know, Iran’s hand was in this, but we cannot prove it. The fact that a country with a strong service claims to know Iran’s hand was in this but cannot prove it is a big deal.”
Mohammad Reza Kolahi (Ali Motamed) was accused of bombing the office of the Islamic Republic Party on June 28, 1981. He was killed in front of his house in Almere, Netherlands, at the age of 56 in 2015.
Two years later, Ahmad Mola Abu Nahid, known as Ahmad Nissi, one of the leaders and founders of the “Al-Ahwaz Liberation Movement,” was shot in the head and killed in front of his house in The Hague on Wednesday, November 8, 2017.
Dutch media, quoting Ahmad Nissi’s acquaintances, wrote that apparently, the Islamic Republic was after him. Those who were in contact with Ahmad Mola Abu Nahid (Ahmad Nissi) told the police that the Islamic Republic was trying to return Nissi to Iran through Interpol but failed, and therefore resorted to assassination.
Later, two ministers of the Dutch government (Stef Blok, the Foreign Minister at the time, and Kajsa Ollongren, the Minister of the Interior at the time) wrote in a letter to the Dutch Parliament that the Islamic Republic had a hand in the assassination of Mohammad Reza Kolahi and Ahmad Nissi. The basis of the letter was a report by the Dutch Intelligence Service (AIVD) on the role of the Islamic government in the assassination of these two.
The assassinations led to tensions in relations between the Dutch government and the Islamic Republic government, resulting in the expulsion of two Iranian embassy staff from the Netherlands and the summoning of the Dutch ambassador in Iran. However, the Dutch prosecutor’s office later announced in the course of investigating the case of Ali Motamed’s assassination:
“No evidence has yet been found of the Iranian government’s involvement in the murder of Mohammad Reza Kolahi. However, it has been revealed that the killers did not know the identity of the victim and the reason for his murder.”
According to the Dutch prosecutor’s office, two suspects received 130,000 euros for this murder. But the question is: from whom?
In November 2019, the Dutch Intelligence and Security Organization published a detailed report titled “Iran’s Long Arm in Europe,” addressing a series of attempts by the intelligence services of the Islamic Republic of Iran in various European countries to assassinate and kidnap political opponents.
The report states that the Dutch Intelligence and Security Service has solid evidence and documents that the Iranian government was behind the assassination of Ahmad Nissi and Mohammad Reza Kolahi.
Alavi says that their knowing it’s the Iranian government but not being able to prove it is “a big deal” and “knowingly or unknowingly suggests that a terrorist element will never be safe.” – Does this not translate to threatening government opponents abroad, especially those whom the government calls “terrorists”? Shouldn’t they be worried about these statements?
The Role of the Ministry of Intelligence in Ensuring “Internal Security”
As the interviewer says, much of Alavi’s talk is “whispered” and not publishable for security reasons. In the published parts, Alavi, by listing instances of kidnapping and killing opponents abroad and planning to prevent truck drivers’ strikes, tries to show his “cleverness and superiority” in suppressing protesters and killing opponents to rival factions in security apparatuses. He also demonstrates the government’s power to government opponents outside Iran’s borders.
He says that during the peak of truck drivers’ protests and when they intended to sit-in, they predicted the instances where truck drivers wanted to sit-in and provided solutions for it. Alavi says:
“We said there are a number of tires in the port in a container, and this number of tires is also available in such-and-such place,… There were numerous instances of various issues. If our warnings in the government had been heeded in 2019, we would not have faced those problems and issues.”
At the time of the interview, Alavi was not yet a candidate for the twelfth parliamentary elections. In another part of his interview, while emphasizing his role in the “security of the country,” he says:
“In the year 2019, when the issue of gasoline [price hike] came up, I said in the government that if we want to increase the price of gasoline, we must first secure the country.”
Alavi, referring to the November 2019 uprising, says:
“If we had paid attention to our warnings in the government, we would not have faced those problems.”
He also talks about his role in the “security of the country” during the 2009 post-election events:
“In 2009, when the sedition happened, I was not in the Ministry of Intelligence, but I was in the Supreme National Security Council. I had a significant role in controlling the situation.”
Regarding the role of the Ministry of Intelligence in ensuring internal security, Alavi says:
“The Ministry of Intelligence has a very important role in ensuring the security of the country. This ministry, with its intelligence and security measures, can prevent many security incidents.”
“In the year 2019, we had predicted that if the price of gasoline increased, we would face security issues. Therefore, we had taken measures in advance.”
Alavi, in another part of his interview, while referring to his efforts to prevent the truck drivers’ strike, says:
“We had predicted the places where truck drivers intended to strike and had provided solutions for it.”
“For example, we said that there are a number of tires in the port in a container, and this number of tires is also available in such-and-such place. We had numerous instances of various issues. If our warnings in the government had been heeded in 98, we would not have faced those problems and issues.”
Alavi, in this interview, while emphasizing his role in the “security of the country,” tries to show his “cleverness and superiority” in suppressing protesters and killing opponents to rival factions in security apparatuses. He also demonstrates the government’s power to government opponents outside Iran’s borders.