By Sara Akrami for The Huffington Post
Assassination has been always one of the outreach tools of the ayatollahs and their government in Iran since the early days of the Revolution. When the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979, it had two strategies to eliminate its opponents. At home, it killed its internal opponents by using techniques many totalitarian regimes have employed, such as, mass executions, tortures, disappearances, and “accidents.”
Abroad, it used its embassies to host killers and sent them out after prominent critics. Many of these critics living overseas were intellectuals and activists who had escaped from Iran after the establishment of the regime and opposed Ayatollah Khomeini’s theocracy. The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the world’s most significant sponsors of terrorism. During its 34 years of existence, it has continually instigated violence elsewhere and pursued indirect war through the use of terrorism throughout the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and both North and South America.
One of the significant terrorist attacks by Iranian government agents occurred in a Berlin restaurant named Mykonos on September 17, 1992. As a result of this terrorist plot, Dr. Sadegh Sharafkandi (the Secretary General of the Party Democratic Kurdistan of Iran), Fattah Abdoli, Homayoun Ardalan, and Nouri Dehkordi were murdered. On April 10, 1997, a Berlin court announced the assassination was plotted by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Iran’s Supreme Leader), Ayatollah Akbar Rafsanjani (then Iran’s president), and Ayatollah Ali Fallahian (Iran’s former minister of intelligence and security).
This attack was coordinated by Iran’s secret services in Bonn — which were instrumental in enabling terrorist attacks against Iranian dissidents across Europe during the late1970s and 1990s. The Berlin court found Kazem Darabi (the main organizer of Berlin Assassination, Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security agent, a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) and Abbas Rhayel (Lebanese, a member of Hezballah organization, trained by the Iranian government, the person who shot Dr. Sadegh Sharafkandi and Homayoun Ardalan) guilty.
Furthermore, Yousef Amin (Lebanese, a member of Hezballah organization, trained by the Iranian government), Mohammad Atris (Lebanese), and Atallah Ayad (Lebanese) were convicted of participating in this crime. Both Darabi and Rhayel were sentenced to life imprisonment. Later, the Berlin court issued an international arrest warrant for Ali Fallahian, Iran’s former minister of intelligence due to his involvement in decision-making and planning the assassination along with Khamenei and Rafsanjani. Although the Mykonos Restaurant Assassination created a diplomatic tension between the Iranian government and several European countries, Kazem Darabi and Abbas Rhayel were later released from prison on December 10, 2007 and were sent to their countries.
In my recent interview with Mr. Parviz Dastmalchi, the Iranian survivor of Mykonos Restaurant Assassinations, I asked him about the reason that motivated the Iranian government to plot this assassination. Mr. Dastmalchi says,
“after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Iranian government had a political plan in order to break the Kurdish political and organizational structure, especially the Party Democratic Kurdistan of Iran. Because the Party Democratic Kurdistan of Iran opposed the theocracy in Iran and they were Sunni unlike the Islamic Republic of Iran that was a Shia-based government. Furthermore, when it came to Iranian Kurdish leaders’ assassination, the Islamic Republic of Iran was frightened by the overseas union of the Kurds and this was possible by Dr. Abdolrahman Ghassemlou (The former Secretary General of the Party Democratic Kurdistan of Iran who was also assassinated by the agents of the Iranian government on July 13, 1989 in Vienna.)”
I also asked Mr. Dastmalchi about the role of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its external branch, the Qods Force in 1992 Berlin Mykonos Restaurant Assassination. Mr. Dastmalchi says, “Kazem Darabi who was the main organizer of Berlin Mykonos Restaurant Assassination was a member of both VAVAK (Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security) and the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps). In addition, Abdolrahman Bani Hashemi, who first started shooting Dr. Sadegh Sharafkandi, Fattah Abdoli, Homayoun Ardalan, and Nouri Dehkordi, and later was able to escape to Iran, was one of the leading operational figures of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
One of the significant objectives of the Islamic Republic of Iran by organizing political assassinations outside Iran during the late 1970s until the early 1990s was to strengthen and maintain its political power. The leaders of the Iranian government thought by killing political leaders and activists or in other words, by killing the intellectual members of society, they can eliminate the opposition voices. However, after all these crimes inside and outside Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran has not achieved its goal.
Sara Akrami is an Iranian Kurdish political activist and commentator on Iranian affairs. She is a student of politics at the University of York in Canada.