Ali Akbar Mohtashami-Pur

Ali Akbar Mohtashamipur
Leader of Association of Combatant Clerics
Assumed office
15 August 2010
Deputy Majead Ansari
Preceded by Mousavi Khoeiniha
Minister of the Interior of Iran
In office
19 August 1985 – 3 August 1989
President Ali Khamenei
Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi
Preceded by Nategh-Nouri
Succeeded by Abdollah Nouri
Personal details
Born 1947 (age 66–67)
Tehran, Iran
Political party Association of Combatant Clerics
Religion Shia Islam

Ali Akbar Mohtashamipur or Mohtashami (Persian: علی‌اکبر محتشمی‎) (born 1947) is a Shia cleric who was active in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and later became interior minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran.[1] He is "seen as a founder of the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon"[2][3] and one of the "radical ... elements, advocating the export of the revolution," in the Iranian clerical hierarchy.[4]

In an assassination attempt targeting Mohtashami, he lost his right hand when he was opening a book loaded with explosives.[5]


Mohtashemi studied in the holy city of Najaf Iraq, where he spent considerable time with his mentor the Ayatollah Khomeini.[6] He also accompanied Khomeini in the exile period in both Iraq and France.[6] He cofounded an armed group in the 1970s with Mohammad Montazeri, son of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, in Lebanon and Syria, aiming at assisting liberation movements in Muslim countries.[6]

Following the revolution he served as Iran's ambassador to Syria from 1982 to 1986.[7] He later became Iran's minister of 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; the Association of Muslim Students; Al Amal al Islamiyya.[8][9][10] In 1986 his "close supervision" of Hezbollah was cut short when the Office of Islamic Liberation was reassigned to Iran's ministry of foreign affairs.[11] He is also described as making "liberal" use of the diplomatic pouch as Ambassador, bringing in "crates" of material from Iran.[12]

The US Defense Intelligence Agency alleges that Mohtashamipur paid US$10 million for the 1988 bombing  of Pan Am Flight 103

In 1989[13] the new Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani ousted Mohtashami from the Lebanon desk of the Iranian ministry of foreign affairs, replacing him with Rafsanjani's brother Mahmud Hashemi.[14] This was seen as an indication of Iran's downgrading of its support for Hezbollah and for a revolutionary foreign policy in general.[15]

In August 1991 he regained some of his influence when he became chairman of the defense committee of the Majlis (parliament) of Iran.[16]

More controversially, Mohtashami is thought

to have played an active role, with the Pasdaran and 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 1984.[17][18]

and to have been instrumental in the killing of Lt. Col. William R. Higgins, the American Chief of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization's (UNTSO) observer group in Lebanon who was taken hostage on 17 February 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 U.S.-Iranian relationship." [19]

While Mohtashemi was a strong opponent of Western influence in the Muslim world and of the existence of the state of Israel,[20] he was also a supporter and advisor of reformist Iranian president Mohammad Khatami who was famous for championing of free expression and civil rights.[21] Mohtashemi 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 newspaper, Bayan, was banned.[2]


In 1984, after the Beirut bombings, Mohtashami received a parcel containing a book on Shia holy places when he was serving as Iranian ambassador to Damascus.[22] 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 is unknown.[23]



  • Ranstorp, Magnus, Hizb'allah in Lebanon : The Politics of the Western Hostage Crisis, New York, St. Martins Press, 1997
  • Wright, Robin, Sacred Rage, Simon and Schuster, 2001

External links

  • Analysis: Iran Sends Terror-Group Supporters To Arafat's Funeral Procession 12 November 2004
  • How Hezbollah Founder Fell Foul of Iranian Regime 8 July 2010
Political offices
Preceded by
Ali Akbar Nategh Nori
Interior minister of Iran
Succeeded by
Abdollah Nouri
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha
Leader of Association of Combatant Clerics
Succeeded by
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