This article is a part of a series of posts about the Iranian supreme leader “Ali Khamenei’s Economic Empire” that explores the real scope of national resources seized by Khamenei-affiliated companies when Iran is in severe need to counter natural and manmade crises like the novel coronavirus.
The Astan-e Quds Razavi is the largest endowment organization in Islam’s world, whose custodian is directly appointed by the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. This organization is also considered the longest-lasting organization since the martyrdom of Imam Reza about 1200 years ago.
Astan-e Quds’ formal resource is the people’s endowments and tithes. However, following the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of the religious government, this organization expanded its financial activities, making it the wealthiest institution after the oil company.
Furthermore, the organization became tax-exempt according to the first Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini’s decree. In fact, Khomeini’s order paved the path for the Astan-e Quds to engage in underground and illicit activities with impunity. It also permitted Iranian authorities to use the institution’s mind-blowing revenue for funding terrorism and warmongering abroad.
Chiefs of Astan-e Quds Razavi
Abbas Vaez-Tabasi was an influential figure in the Islamic Republic. Due to his loyalty to Khomeini, he appointed him as his trustee above the Astan-e Quds conglomerate. He benefited from the huge wealth of the organization until he died in 2016.
In March 2016, Ebrahim Raisi, current judiciary chief, succeeded Tabasi and hold office until April 2019. Using the Astan-e Quds’ properties and reputation, Raisi entered the presidential campaign in 2017.
Many observers name him as the Supreme Leader’s required President. However, his notorious background in the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 and public hatred compelled Khamenei to refrain from appointing him as President.
Two years later, Khamenei promoted Raisi as the judiciary chief in April 2019. Subsequently, Ahmad Marvi succeeded Raisi. Marvi is another Khamenei’s trustee who has served in the Supreme Leader Office, responsible for contacts and communications with religious seminaries for many years. He currently heads the Astan-e Quds.
Exploiting huge revenue earned by endowments of Iranian citizens and Shiite Muslims across the globe, the organization’s board engaged in enormous economic activities that real scope is mysterious.
According to official statements, Astan-e Quds manages dozens of companies and institutes in the publication, cultural and educational, financial, health care, construction, and real estate sectors. However, the ayatollahs pursue their nefarious activities behind the cloak of Astan-e Quds organization and its subordinates.
Tehran’s Espionage Operation Behind Astan-e Quds Razavi’s Religious Activities
The organization is one of the major financiers of the New Horizon seminars and meetings used to recruit foreign agents for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force.
In such meetings and seminars, the ayatollahs’ agents gather from across the globe. According to reports obtained through the Iranian government, these agents provide security intelligence from different countries, particularly Western states, to Iran. The ayatollahs and their security apparatuses use the information for terror attacks.
Foreign agents also play a crucial role in Tehran’s misinformation campaign against dissidents, especially the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), which will be used to justify terror attacks against the PMOI/MEK.
Monica Witt, who now goes by Fatemeh Zahra, was one of those Western agents invited to a “Hollywoodism” conference in January 2012 and radicalized. By August 2013, she had moved to Iran to continue her work for Tehran, providing the ayatollahs with classified information, including the real names of U.S. intelligence sources.
Astan-e Quds Razavi Involvement in Terrorism
The organization is also one of the massive sponsors for the ayatollahs’ terrorism across the globe. The current judiciary chief and former head of Astan-e Quds had scheduled meetings with high-ranking Lebanese Hezbollah officials such as Hassan Nasrallah and Imad Moghnieh.
He also frequently met heads of Iraqi Shiite militias such as Akram al-Kaabi, leader of the Iraqi Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, and Qais al-Khazali, leader of the terrorist group of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq in Iraq.
Tehran also recruits the organization to circumvent sanctions and finance its terror activities. “The Iranian regime uses foundations such as Astan-e Quds to circumvent sanctions and fund its oppressive and terrorist policies,” the Iranian coalition opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) wrote on November 8, 2019.
“Subsequent to the blacklisting of the IRGC and the expansion of U.S. sanctions aimed at cutting off the regime’s economic resources, the regime has utilized Astan-e Quds Razavi and similar entities to circumvent the sanctions and to finance its repressive and terrorist policies,” the NCRI added.
The next piece will focus on the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, another pillar of Khamenei’s empire of wealth.