On November 18, the United States imposed sweeping new sanctions against Tehran’s key arms of suppression and terrorism. In this respect, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Islamic Republic Mostazafan Foundation or Bonyad Mostazafan, simply Bonyad, as the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei-owned entities. New sanctions also include the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) due to its crucial role in the deadly crackdown on anti-establishment protests in November 2019.
Bonyad Mostazafan’s Role in Terrorism and Warmongering
Mostazafan Foundation is a leading patronage network for Khamenei, which has activities in critical sectors of Iran’s economy, including finance, energy, construction, and mining. Contrary to its mandate, the Bonyad confiscates properties of ethnic and religious minorities, as well as dissidents who had been compelled to leave the country due to their political beliefs.
Mostazafan is also an immense conglomerate of around 160 holdings and subsidiaries. The Bonyad is one of the main pillars of Khamenei’s economic empire, whose wealth is estimated at over $200 billion.
The Supreme Leader directly supervises the Bonyad’s functions and personally appoints its chief. Parviz Fattah, the current chief, and several of his predecessors like Mohsen Rafighdoost (September 1989-July 1999), Mohammad Foruzandeh (July 1999-July 2014), and Mohammad Saeedi-Kia (July 2014-July 2019) are among senior commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). All the Mostazfan’s chiefs directly responded to the Supreme Leader.
In 1983, then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini contributed significant benefits to the Bonyad, including tax exemptions, to use its huge properties according to his opinion. Iranian authorities exploit the Bonyad to manage their illicit transactions.
For instance, Fattah previously admitted that the former chief of the IRGC-Quds Force (QF) Qassem Soleimani had sought Fattah’s assistance to finance Fatemiyoun Brigade, an IRGC-QF-led Afghan Division fights against Syrian dissidents.
On the other hand, the Mostazafan Foundation coordinates with the judiciary to raid and confiscate poor people’s properties and belongings. For instance, on August 20, the Bonyad collaborated with the local court and dispatched the State Security Forces (SSF) to Hazrat-e Abolfazl Village, suburb of Ahvaz city in Khuzestan province, southwest Iran.
On August 9, head of #Mostazafan [deprived] Foundation #ParvizFattah criticized individuals & entities, including former presidents, Khamenei's advisor, & #IRGC, for illegal seizure of public property.
However, this "anti-corruption" figure retracted his remarks 10 days later. pic.twitter.com/C7962oWWBi
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) August 19, 2020
“[Mostazafan Foundation and] its holdings are expropriated from the Iranian people and are used by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to enrich his office, reward his political allies, and persecute the regime’s enemies,” U.S. Treasury Department stated.
MOIS’s Role in Suppressing and Assassinating Dissidents
The department also blacklisted Mahmoud Alavi as Iran’s Minister of Intelligence and Security. Alongside the IRGC and the SSF, the MOIS is in charge of a bloody crackdown on dissidents and protesters.
However, the MOIS’s crimes are not restricted to its agent committed against demonstrators in November 2019. For many years, MOIS officers are employed as interrogators in the Islamic Republic’s dungeons and notorious jails.
The ministry directly controls several safe homes across the country to torture dissidents and extract information. John Sano, former Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service (CIA), described the MOIS agents as the most vicious officer around the world.
However, the MOIS’s main target is the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). In this respect, the ministry uses any means to strike the MEK physically or psychologically.
In 2018, MOIS agents orchestrated two bomb plots against the MEK in Albania and France. Albanian authorities expelled Iranian ambassador Gholamhossein Mohammad-Nia and several intelligence officers, including Mostafa Roudaki, chief of Tehran’s intelligence station in Albania.
Nonetheless, German authorities detained Assadollah Assadi, the mastermind of the bomb attack against the annual gathering of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The MOIS had disguised Assadi as the third secretary of Iran’s embassy in Austria to cover-up its terror activities under a diplomatic coverage. However, Assadi was detained, and now he and his operative cell await a trial in Belgium.
The MOIS is also responsible for detaining, torturing, and executing thousands of MEK members, family members, and relatives. The ministry also masterminds a misinformation campaign against dissidents, particularly the MEK. MOIS agents have also kidnapped or assassinated many dissidents in European states.
In conclusion, the designation of Bonyad Mostazafan and the MOIS is a meaningful action that deteriorates the Iranian government’s oppressive and aggressive capabilities. On the other hand, it sends a crystal clear message that the world hears their cries. In this respect, in parallel with adopting the UN 67th resolution against human rights violations in Iran, the world must show its solidarity with the Iranian people’s desire for freedom, justice, and the rule of law by punishing human rights abusers in Iran.
“The horrific slaughter of protesters in November 2019 and the massacre of 30,000 defenseless political prisoners, which the regime’s current leaders were involved in and continue to brazenly defend, are the most manifest cases of crime against humanity,” tweeted the NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi.
“The lack of action vis-à-vis the clerical regime’s continuing crimes against humanity is a scar on the conscience of humanity. As such, an investigation into these horrific mass murders & the prosecution of those responsible is the litmus test before the international community,” she added.
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) November 18, 2020