The son of the late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri has accused senior commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) of planting explosives in the luggage of unwitting Iranian Hajj pilgrims traveling to Mecca, Saudi Arabia in a failed 1986 terrorist plot.
Speaking to the privately produced but officially endorsed Khesht-e Kham internet TV show in late September, Ahmad Montazeri said his father told him six IRGC commanders who worked for then Parliament Speaker Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani hid the explosives in the bags of up to 100 unsuspecting Hajj pilgrims. The plot was foiled by Saudi security forces, who found the explosives before any harm was done.
Rafsanjani, who was once considered one of the most powerful men in the Islamic Republic, died in January 2017 at age 82 under mysterious circumstances while swimming in a pool. His son, Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, has called Montazeri’s accusation “irrational and immoral.”
Radio Farda’s Hossein Ghavimi interviewed Montazeri, and asked him to explain his allegations. His father was heir to Khomeini in the 1980’s but was pushed aside by other influential politicians, headed by Rafsanjani, who later engineered Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s appointment as Supreme Leader.
Radio Farda: Where did this charge originate?
Ahmad Montazeri: The case has been fully covered in my late father’s memoirs. In 1986, he wrote a letter to [then Supreme Leader] Ruhollah Khomeini informing him that the IRGC was involved in the plot. The brother of Montazeri’s son-in-law, Mehdi Hashemi, was later accused of organizing it. My father did not mention Mr. Rafsanjani’s name, and for some reason he didn’t even mention that the IRGC commanders who planted the explosives were under Rafsanjani’s supervision. Out of those six commanders, whose names I do not know, one who was trusted by my father told him that they were operating under Rafsanjani’s direct supervision but forced instead to blame Mehdi Hashemi of being in charge of the failed attempt.
Radio Farda: Rafsanjani’s son counters that you have no evidence for this accusation. What is your response?
Montazeri: He has not thoroughly heard my comments. There should be a special truth finding commission composed of impartial ministers and MPs. My comments are based on what was told to my father by an IRGC commander, whose name I do not know.
Nevertheless, it is a proven fact that Iran’s authorities were involved in the plot. Well, if the [failed] operation was a mistake, let them say so. Let them also admit that attacking the Riyadh Embassy in 2016 in Tehran was a mistake; let them announce that they have decided to atone for such mistakes. Admitting a wrong doing does not hurt one’s dignity, yet these officials insist on denying any mistakes.
Radio Farda: The official story is that Mehdi Hashemi confessed to leading the plot, and he was executed for it in September 1987.
Montazeri: Such confessions exist, but sadly we do not have an impartial center in Iran to find the truth and publicly present its findings. Everything has been dominated by a particular group who are after suppressing whoever dares to differ from the official versions of the events.
Radio Farda: Reportedly, Rafsanjani’s son wrote you a letter protesting your comments on his father. What did he write?
Montazeri: I believe he has not carefully listened to what I have said. I did not talk about ‘a team’ working for Mr. Rafsanjani, I just said that there were six IRGC commanders working alongside him. They carried out the plan and failed. Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani has also insisted that I do not have any evidence to prove my remarks. What evidence he is asking for? I’m not in charge on the Intelligence Ministry and I don’t have access to documents and evidence.