Below is the fourth of several parts of a summary of prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s much longer report on the 1994 bombing of the AMIA center in Buenos Aires, which was released at the end of May. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies issued the 31-page summary (pdf) when the larger report was published. (Previously: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)
This section discusses the recruitment strategy of Iranian intelligence in Latin America, which includes the practice of sending zealous pupils to Qom in Iran for further religious instruction — that is, for indoctrination and training in violent jihad.
The proselytism developed by Iranian extremists is aimed at the recruitment and/or conversion of individuals to their principles. Its final goal is to co-opt those who are easily influenced by the regime’s interests, so they can be functional to perform activities required by the intelligence station. This has been stated by Abolghasem Mesbahi: “The religious activity of the Mullahs consists in doing infiltration work in the local communities, surveillance of dissidents and recruitment of people that will be used in the future and who may even kill in the name of religion“.
Thus, Rabbani distorted his role of religious educator in order to transmit extremists’ ideas to the students who attended his classes. This has been proved by the statements made by a witness who asserted: “… during the year 1990, three students told him that Rabbani had explained to them that they should export the Revolution and told them ‘everybody is Hezbollah’ […] Rabbani made these statements to his students as part of the indoctrination imparted during their study. The witness added that Rabbani carried out this indoctrination with all the students that attended the mosque. The meaning of the expression ‘everybody is Hezbollah’ was used by Rabbani as a way to make the students understand the violent meaning he granted to the export of the Revolution“.
This same duality was replicated in Guyana, as it has been indicated by the agent Addonizio: “… in the Islamic centers that he [Abdul Kadir] directed, propaganda about Islam was made and they tried to convert people so that they would join the Shia movement in Guyana. In that search, persons of adequate profile were sought after, that is to say, that had the necessary level of commitment to be sent to Iran to complete religious instruction…“.
The indoctrination itself does not only consist in the study of Islam in the students’ home countries but also its continuance in the city of Qom, for which the candidates have to be sponsored and also approved a rigorous selection in which it is examined their religious knowledge and mainly, their commitment to the principles of the Islamic Revolution. It is interesting to mention a concrete example whose main characters are precisely, Rabbani and Kadir. In a letter dated March 20th 1999, Kadir answered Rabbani about the “mission” that the last one had entrusted him. He had to assess the aptitudes and commitment of certain members of the local Muslim community.
Therefore, it should be noted that the indoctrination imparted at Qom, Iran, is a key aspect of the export of the Revolution. When characterizing these schools, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary, Saeed Jalili, expressed: “Qom and the seminars are Iran’s arsenal in the area of soft warfare“. Attention must be paid to the fact that he openly admits that the seminars in Qom are used to cultivate the ideological loyalty of thousands of Shiites and, thus, to continue sustaining the principles of 1979 Revolution. Moreover, Mehdi Khalaji, former student at Qom and Shiite theologian, explained that “the seminar became the ideological arsenal of the revolutionary regime“. In addition, it should be considered the publication made by Farzad Razi in 2006, of a list of the terrorist training centers in Iran, which included Beit-Ol-Moqaddas University of Qom.
The active presence of the Iranian intelligence office in the schools of Qom was observed by the then Colombian National Director of Intelligence, Lieutenant Colonel Luis Gilberto Ramirez Calle, who explained: “As it has been established, the MOIS usually uses the scholarships [for students] as a way to take potential agents to Iran in order to recruit and train them“.
So, what starts as a cultural and religious instruction, in certain cases, ends up in the training of extremist fighters, who may be involved in terrorist operations. Assad Hussein Berro, suicide bomber who crushed a truck full of explosives against a convoy of Israelis soldiers in southern Lebanon in August 8th 1989, was religious and ideologically formed in Qom. The Tunisian Fouad Ali Saleh, convicted for the terrorist attacks in Paris in 1985 and 1986, was a student of religion in Qom; and Mohsen Rabbani, who was in charge of the local logistics in the AMIA bombing, is a professor at Qom.
Therefore it is not odd that the terrorist organization Hezbollah Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah, had been a student at Qom and gave, at least, one speech in the mentioned schools. It should be reminded that this person declared: “there are a thousand suicide commandos ready to strike Israel all over the world“.
The close ties between Hezbollah and Iran does no longer need to be clarified. It has been openly admitted by Nasrallah himself when in February, 2012 stated: “Since 1982, we received moral, political and material support in all possible means from the Islamic Republic of Iran… In the past, we have only talked about the moral and political backing, without mentioning that they had also helped us militarily, to avoid embarrassing Iran. But today, we decided to speak out“.
Once again, the prosecutor makes a clarification in order to avoid any misunderstanding regarding this indictment. The office is not censuring in any way, and it would not be able to do so, the religious instruction that thousands of well-intended students received in the Qom’s seminars. Objectively, it was remarked the common background that many terrorists shared by having studied Islamic religion in that city, along with the recruitment that the Quds Forces carried out among students, manipulating their religious passion and severely harming the reputation of those schools. Hassan Nasrallah, Mohsen Rabbani, Assad Berro, Fouad Saleh and many other more are a clear example of what it has been stated here.
Next: Intelligence Stations
Hat tip: Fausta.