Mohtashamipur is a Twelver Shi'a Hojatoleslam cleric
who was active in the 1979 Iranian
Revolution and later became interior minister of the Islamic Republic
of Iran He is "seen as a founder of the Hezbollah movement
in Lebanon" and one of the "radical ... elements, advocating the
export of the revolution,"
in the Iranian clerical hierarchy.
In an assassination attempt targeting Mohtashemi, he lost his right
hand when he was opening a book loaded with explosives.
studied in the holy city of Najaf Iraq, where
he spent considerable time with his mentor the Ayatollah Khomeini. After the revolution he served as Iran's
ambassador to Syria and later
became Iran's Minister of the Interior.
While ambassador to
Syria, he is thought to have played a "pivotal role" in the
creation of the Lebanese radical Shia organization Hezbollah
, working "within the framework of the
Department for Islamic Liberation Movements run by the Iranian
Pasdaran." Mohtashemi "actively supervised" Hezbollah's creation,
merging into it existing radical Shi'ite movements: the Lebanese al-Dawa
Association of Muslim Students; Al-Amal al-Islamiyya. In 1986, when
the Office of Islamic Liberation was reassigned to Iran's Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, and his "close supervision" of Hezbollah was
cut short. He is also described as making "liberal" use of the
diplomatic pouch as Ambassador, bringing in "crates" of material
In 1984, after the Beirut bombings, Mohtashemi received a parcel
containing a book on Shia holy places. As he opened the package it
detonated, blowing off his hand and severely wounding him.
Mohtashami was medevaced to Europe and survived the blast to
continue his work. The identity of the perpetrators of the attack
In 1989 the new Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Mohtashemi from the Lebanon desk of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, replacing him with Rafsanjani's brother Mahmud Hashemi.
This was seen as an indication of Iran's downgrading of its support
for Hezbollah and for a revolutionary foreign policy in
In August 1991 regained some of his influence when he became
chairman of the Defense committee of the Majlis
(parliament) of Iran.
More controversially, Mohtashami is thought
to have played an active role, with the
Syrian military intelligence, in the supervision of Hezbollah's
suicide bomb attacks against the American
embassy in Beirut in April 1983, the American and French contingents
of the MNF in October 1983 and the American embassy annex in September
and to have been instrumental in the killing of Lt. Col. William Higgins
, the American Chief of the
Nations Truce Supervision Organization
's (UNTSO) observer group
in Lebanon who was taken hostage Feb. 17 1988 by Lebanese
pro-Iranian Shia radicals. The killing of Higgins is said to have
come "from orders issued by Iranian radicals, most notably
Mohtashemi," in an effort to prevent "improvement in the
Mohtashemi was a strong opponent of Western influence in the Muslim
world and of the existence of the state of Israel, he was also
a supporter and advisor of reformist Iranian president Mohammad Khatami who was famous for
championing of free expression and civil rights.
was in the Western news again in 2000, not as a hardline radical
but for refusing to appear in court in Iran after his pro-reform
- Ranstorp, Magnus, Hizb'allah in Lebanon : The Politics of
the Western Hostage Crisis, New York, St. Martins Press,
- Wright, Robin, Sacred Rage, Simon and Schuster,