Despite Reports of ‘Moderate’ Gains, Elected Iranians Include Men Implicated in Terror, Assassinations

By Patrick Goodenough | February 29, 2016 | 4:12 AM EST

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his ballot in Iran's parliamentary and Assembly of Experts election on Friday, February 26, 2016. (Photo: Office of the Supreme Leader)

(CNSNews.com) – Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday hailed Iran’s “glorious” elections for parliament and the Assembly of Experts, a powerful body that will pick his successor, declaring that the turnout showed “the brilliant face of religious democracy to the world.”

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), meanwhile, called the election participation – the regime reported a turnout of more than 60 percent – “devastating for [Iran’s] enemies,” led by the United States.

“There is no doubt that those chosen by the nation will subjugate the global hegemony and arrogance to their perceptiveness and alertness,” it said in a statement.

Many international media outlets are highlighting the strong showing, in Tehran in particular, of so-called “reformists” allied to President Hasan Rouhani, characterizing it as a show of support for the nuclear deal negotiated with the U.S. and other powers.

But opponents of the regime called the exercise a “sham,” noting the prior disqualification of thousands of aspirant candidates and drawing attention to the controversial records of some of the men who will sit on the Assembly of Experts – including those affiliated with the Rouhani camp.

Ahead of the election the Guardian Council, a small body appointed by the supreme leader, disqualified around four-fifths of the Assembly of Experts candidates, including prominent “reformists,” approving just 166 – all men – out of more than 800 hopefuls.

The same body ruled out almost half of the candidates for parliament, approving only some 6,300 out of more than 12,100 applicants.

National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) leader Maryam Rajavi, speaking in Paris, dismissed the election as “a competition between the incumbent and former officials in charge of torture and executions.”

Many of the more controversial figures elected onto the 88-member Assembly of Experts were in fact endorsed by the Rouhani-led “reformist” bloc. Among the successful candidates:

--Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former Iranian president often portrayed as a “moderate” or “pragmatist,” who was implicated by Argentinian investigators in a 1994 suicide truck bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in which 85 people were killed.

During Rafsanjani’s presidency (1989-1997), he was accused of ordering the killings of prominent dissidents, including the assassination in 1992 of four Iranian Kurdish dissidents in a Berlin restaurant called Mykonos.

A German court in 1997 ruled that the Iranian regime was directly responsible for the Mykonos killings, a finding which the State Department at the time hailed as proof that Iran was a terrorist state.

--Ali Fallahijan, former intelligence minister (1989-1997), wanted by authorities in Argentina in connection with the 1994 AMIA bombing, and implicated by a German court in the 1992 Mykonos assassinations.

--Qorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi, also a former intelligence minister (1997-2000), during whose term ministry officials assassinated reformist activists, intellectuals and journalists in what became known as the “chain murders.” He was forced to resign when the killings were revealed.

--Mohammad Mohammadi Reyshahri, another former intelligence minister (1984-1989), who while served as military revolutionary tribunal chief judge sentenced many political dissident to death.

--Ali Razini, another military revolutionary tribunal judge, implicated in the execution of dissidents in the 1980s, and a key supporter of the supreme leader.

--Mohammad Emami-Kashami, an ayatollah who after the London terrorist bombing in 2005 called al-Qaeda the “illegitimate child” of the U.S. and Israel.

--Mohsen Qomi, the former director of the supreme leader’s representative office in Iran’s universities.

--Mohammad Ali Movahhed-Kermani, an interim Tehran Friday prayers leader and leader of the Combatant Clergy Association, a conservative party whose founding members included Khamenei and Rafsanjani.

--Mahmoud Alavi, the incumbent intelligence minister and a member of the hardline establishment known in the Iranian lexicon as “principalists.”

--Ahmad Jannati, an ayatollah and secretary of the Guardian Council who frequently rails against America.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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