The leading contender of the "reformist" camp in Iran's presidential elections, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi Khameneh, was a founder of Hezbollah and a key architect of the Islamic Republic's dreaded intelligence services, Iranian political activists and scholars tell Newsmax.
His wife, Zahra Rahnavard, is making campaign appearances with him wearing an Iranian-style Islamic veil. Some in the West are even calling her the "Michelle Obama" of Iran. And yet, a recent photograph from an official Iranian news agency shows her stomping on an American flag.
Is Mousavi really a "reformer" who, if elected on June 12, will change significantly the way the Iran treats its own citizens and deals with the outside world?
Or is he just the latest smiling face being put forward by the regime to raise false hopes among Iranians and beguile the West, just as Mohammad Khatami managed to do in 1997?
Well, he's no reformer, in the eyes of the spokesman for the hard-left People's Fedai Guerillas of Iran, who uses the nom de guerre "Bahram'."
"He believes in the most radical ideology of the regime, but he sometimes appears more logical than the other candidates," Bahram told Newsmax. "No one should expect more freedoms in Iran if he is elected."
Mousavi was "one of the architects of the Ministry of Intelligence and Information" when it was established in 1984, Bahram said.
That ministry, also referred to as MOIS, was modeled closely after the KGB and was established with the help of Soviet advisers.
Like its predecessor, SAVAK, the MOIS plays a key role in suppressing domestic dissent. It recruits informers, arrests critics of the regime, and tortures them brutally in special political prisons.
MOIS also has been involved in murdering Iranian dissidents overseas and has been cited as a key player in terrorism cases from Germany to Argentina. In 2007, Interpol issued its third arrest warrant for former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian on terrorism charges. Fallahian is an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
A former Iranian intelligence officer, Abdolghassem Mesbahi, tells Newsmax that he used to work for Mousavi when Mousavi headed the regime's intelligence services as Iran's prime minister. Today's reformer was yesterday's terrorist, he says.
"Mir Hossein Mousavi was one of the founders of Hezbollah. Ayatollah Khomeini put him on the Hezollah leadership council when the group was created in 1982-1983. "
In an interview with Payane Enghelab magazine in 1981, Mousavi called for the creation of an Iranian-controlled Lebanese militia to spearhead a military confrontation with Israel.
"We are ready to participate with an armed force to fight Israel," he said. "We have repeatedly announced that we are ready to have an actual, real and military presence in Southern Lebanon and on the borders of the occupied Palestinian lands," a euphemism for Israel.
Once Iran created Hezbollah in 1983, Mousavi coordinated the financing for it as the head of the Bonyad Mostazafan, which he chaired as prime minister.
"For example, working with Mehdi Hashemian, a deputy oil minister, Mousavi set up a scheme so that Hezbollah would get a share of Iranian oil sales," Mesbahi said. Hashemian is a cousin of then-parliament speaker Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. Under the scheme, Hashemian established front companies for the oil transactions in France, Germany, and Cyprus, "and the banks would do the rest, putting commissions into the Hezbollah accounts under fictitious names," Mesbahi said.
The Bonyad-e Mostazafan, known in the West as the Foundation of the Oppressed, or the Alavi Foundation, was created from the vast real estate and corporate holdings of the former shah of Iran, and is under the direct control of the supreme leader.
The Bonyad-e Mostazafan "makes purchases for several hundred companies in Iran and buys equipment for the Iranian nuclear weapon, chemical/biological weapon and missile programs," according to the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control.
Western intelligence agencies have cited the foundation, and a sister organization known as the Martyrs Foundation, as a major funding source for Iranian-backed terrorist groups.
For many years the Martyrs Foundation was run by Hojjat-ol-Eslam Mehdi Karoubi, another self-styled "reformist" candidate in the presidential election.
Mir-Hossein Mousavi comes from a large clan, and is said to be a younger half-brother of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
The Mousavi family originally was Arabic and claims to descend from the seventh of the 12 Shiite imams, Musa al-Kazim ibn Jafar as Sadiq.
The founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini, was also a member of the extended clan, as was Abbas Mousavi, a Hezbollah secretary general killed in Lebanon in an Israeli missile strike on Feb. 16, 1992.
Mousavi was prime minister at the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988 when tens of thousands of political prisoners were murdered in cold blood on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini.
Students would like to debate Mousavi on the 1988 massacre at an election rally," said Roozbeh Farahanipour, a leader of the student uprising in Iran in 1999.
Farahanipour sent Newsmax photographs of banners on display during Mousavi's election rally on May 21 that read, "We Want Revolution Again."
In a cell phone video recording, the students can be heard interrupting Mousavi with chants, "Death to the Dictator."
Pro-democracy groups, including Farahanipour's Marzeporgohar Party, have called on Iranians to boycott the elections, with one saying, "This is a selection, not an election."
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