Iran: Old Guards Return

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Ministry of Intelligence and
Security (MOIS), two groups whose names are synonymous with Iranian
repression and terror, are making a comeback under President

As noted in the WEA RLC News & Analysis report entitled “The Islamic
Revolution is now complete” (29 August 2005), “Iran’s President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has flooded the Majlis (parliament) with former
Revolutionary Guards while Ayatollah Khamenei has made key changes
in security structures and strategies to entrench the Revolutionary
Guards’ hegemony over all law enforcement agencies.”

Now Iran’s MPs are purging their domains of Khatami-era officials
and replacing them with heavy-handed hardliners, including many
former senior secret police from the Ministry of Intelligence and
Security (MOIS) who were complicit in the serial murders of
dissidents and intellectuals that took place in the late 1980s and
throughout the 1990s. President Khatami’s sensitivity to
international relations led to these murderers being removed from
positions of public authority, but now under President Ahmadinejad
they are making a comeback. For this regime, a proved track record
in brutality, assassination and inflexible hard-line Islamic
ideology makes an ideal prerequisite for a government job. In fact,
having hands that are stained with the blood of Christian martyrs
appears to be a perfect prerequisite for a senior position in the
Ministry of Interior.


On 22 November, Pastor Ghorban Dordi Tourani (53) was kidnapped from
his home and stabbed to death, allegedly by an unnamed group of
fanatical Muslims. His body was later dumped back at his home.
Pastor Tourani, a convert from Islam, was pastoring an independent
fellowship of convert Christians in Gonbad-e-Kavus, northeastern
Iran. He is survived by his widow and four children aged between 3
and 23yrs.

Compass Direct ( ) reports, “Within
hours of the November 22 murder, local secret police arrived at the
martyred pastor’s home, searching for Bibles and other banned
Christian books in the Farsi language. By the end of the following
day, the secret police had also raided the houses of all other known
Christian believers in the city.

“According to one informed Iranian source, during the past eight
days representatives of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security
(MOIS) have arrested and severely tortured 10 other Christians in
several cities, including Tehran. All the detainees have since been

“In addition, MOIS officials have visited known Christian leaders
since Tourani’s murder and have instructed them to warn
acquaintances in the unofficial, Protestant house fellowships that
‘the government knows what you are doing, and we will come for you
soon’.” (CD, 28 Nov 2005)


Hojjatoleslam Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, a Shiite cleric who was the
Deputy Minister of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) for some 13
years during the late 80s and throughout the 90s has been appointed
as Iran’s Interior Minister. Iran Focus reports, “Critics charge
that Pour-Mohammadi is replacing Interior Ministry officials with
former colleagues from the secret police, thus creating another
security apparatus.” (Link 1)

Two of Pour-Mohammadi’s appointments to senior positions in the
Interior Ministry are: Mahmoud Saeedi, the former director of MOIS
in Isfahan province, who has been appointed as Director General of
the Interior Ministry; and Shahab Goodarzi, the former deputy
director of MOIS in Isfahan, who has been appointed as Director of
Security in the Interior Ministry.

It is of great concern that Iran’s Interior Ministry, a ministry
that has control of the security forces and is responsible for
preserving political stability, is to be run by men who were senior
MOIS officials during Iran’s dark and bloody days of the serial
murders of dissidents and intellectuals. Iranian Christians may feel
an especially cold chill, as Saeedi comes into the Interior Ministry
with the blood of Christian martyrs on his hands.

Iran Focus reports, “A former senior official in Iran’s dreaded
secret police, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), who
personally oversaw the gruesome murders of two Christian bishops and
a priest in Iran in the 1990s, has been appointed as the new
Director General of the country’s Interior Ministry.

“Mahmoud Saeedi, who formerly headed the MOIS department in Isfahan
Province, was removed from his position in 1999 under mounting
pressure on the Iranian government after it became clear that his
agents had carried out the brutal murder of three Anglican Church
figures in Iran.”

Investigations by dissident investigative journalist Akbar Ganji
(now imprisoned) revealed that MOIS was responsible for the serial
killings of dissidents and intellectuals that took place through the
1990s, and that the murders of Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr, Bishop
Tateos Michaelian, and Reverend Mehdi Dibaj were ordered by Deputy
Intelligence Minister Saeed Emami and carried out by a team under
the command of Mahmoud Saeedi.

According to Iran Focus, after Mahmoud Saeedi was removed from MOIS,
he went to work with other former senior MOIS officials in the
Special Security Office of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei. Iran Focus reports that Saeedi’s boss in Khamenei’s
Special Security Office “was Hojjatoleslam Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi”.

So Iran’s Interior Ministry, which is responsible for maintaining
internal stability and security, is now being led by old guard MOIS
officials who have already demonstrated their willingness to
persecute and assassinate dissidents, intellectuals and Christian


Former Revolutionary Guard, Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi, Iran’s
new Minister for Culture and Islamic Guidance, is also purging his
subordinates. He is determined that books, journalism, visual arts,
film, music and all cultural pursuits must conform to and re-enforce
Iran’s Islamic ideology and the strictest of Islamic values.

Most interestingly, the Iran Press Service reports, “Masha’allah
Shamsolva’ezin, spokesman for the Tehran-based Association for
Advocating Freedom of Press, said that state pressure on journalists
has increased since [President] Ahmadi Nezhad took office. According
to Shamsolvaezin, the culture ministry, in cooperation with
intelligence and security forces, has in recent weeks called in many
journalists for questioning without apparent reasons. The goal
clearly is to intimidate them. Many of those pressing journalists
are former employees of the Ministry of Intelligence [MOIS] who were
fired under Khatami for their involvement in killing intellectuals
and political activists.” (Link 2)

The article at link 2, entitled, “Tehran renews war on culture”
gives details of measures to control, police and further Islamise
journalism, book publishing, musical performances, women’s dress,
and universities. This Islamic “war” against Persian culture will
doubtless continue until Persians deci
de they want their Persian
culture back.


President Ahmadinejad is committed to preparing Iran for what he
firmly believes is the inevitable, even immanent return of the
“hidden 12th Imam”. I (EK) have to confess that I am not exactly
sure what is required to hasten the Imam’s return, but I think it
might be a pure Islamic Iran surrounded by a world in chaos. If
Ahmadinejad is pursuing this scenario, then that is disturbing on
several fronts.

A few interesting articles on the religious motivations of President
Ahmadinejad can be found at link 3. This is a subject that deserves
closer attention, because Ahmadinejad’s faith in and expectation of
a messiah-style immanently returning 12th Imam reduces his devotion
to the Guardian Council, expunges his interest in international
opinion, but increases his zeal for an uncompromising, aggressive
and authoritative Revolutionary Guard and MOIS to help usher in his

Elizabeth Kendal
[email protected]


1) Iran appoints murderer of Christian bishops to key position.
22 Nov 2005

2) Tehran renews war on culture
By Mahdi Khalaji, 26 November 2005

3) Iran president paves the way for Arabs’ imam return
By Paul Hughes, Reuters,17 Nov 2005

Second coming for imam is first concern for Iranian president
By Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Gareth Smyth.
Financial Times. 9 November 2005

Shi’ite supremacists emerge from Iran’s shadows
Asia Times On-line. 9 Sept 2005

Religion Versus Reality
By Richard Ernsberger Jr. Newsweek International. 12 Dec 2005

President of Iran: Hallucinations of a psychopath. 3 Dec 2005
By Bahman Aghai Diba, PhD International Law – Persian Journal

**WEA Religious Liberty News & Analysis**
[email protected]>

Please feel free to pass this along to others giving attribution to:
“World Evangelical Alliance – Religious Liberty News & Analysis.”

To subscribe for Religious Liberty News & Analysis, please send
your request to Elizabeth Kendal <
[email protected]>.
Please include your name and country or state of residence.

For more information on the World Evangelical Alliance, please see:
For the Religious Liberty Commission of the WEA, see:
All WEA RLC material is archived at <>.

PRAYER: For those of you who would like more detailed information on
situations for prayer and intercession, we recommend that you
subscribe to the WEA Religious Liberty Prayer List. Each week a
different nation or situation is highlighted. To subscribe, send an
empty e-mail to <
[email protected]> with any or no subject.

Advocates International <>
serves as the legal and judicial advisor to the RLC. Advocates
International links many Christian lawyers and judges around the
world and has been involved in religious liberty issues for many

The Religious Liberty News & Analysis mailing list provides reports
on the state of religious liberty and persecution around the world
with those with a special interest in the field. Most members are
involved in church-based religious liberty advocacy, academic
research, missions leadership, creative-access missions, religious
media, or have prayer networks supporting these groups, although
anyone is welcome to join. Postings average one or two per
week. Information shared does not necessarily reflect the opinion
of World Evangelical Alliance, or of the WEA Religious Liberty