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Murder at Mykonos: Anatomy of a Political Assassination

political opposition to clerical rule. The IRI pursued PDKI activists in Iraq, Germany, Austria, Turkey, Sweden and Denmark mounting a number of fatal attacks. Prior to the Mykonos murders, the most prominent of these occurred in July 1989 when Dr. Abdol-Rahman Ghassemlou, who had been Secretary- General of the PDKI since 1973, was murdered in Vienna, Austria, in a meeting that had been ostensibly arranged by Iranian officials to discuss a peace settlement.20

4. Planning and Execution

4.1. Ordering the Assassinationn

The origins of the Mykonos attack can be traced to the decision by the IRI’s Special Affairs Committee (Komitey-e Omour-e Vizheh) to appoint Hojjatoleslam Ali Fallahian, then Iran’s Minister of Intelligence, to oversee the elimination of PDKI's leadership.

The Special Affairs Committee was established after Ayatollah Khomeini’s death in 1989 to make decisions on important matters of state. The committee's existence is not provided for by the constitution. The fact that the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is the head of the committee, and that the IRI's “guardianship of the jurist” (Velayat-e Faqih) doctrine endows the Supreme Leader with extraordinary powers, effectively places the committee above both the government and the parliament.21 At the time of the Mykonos assassinations the other permanent members were Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, then President; Ali Fallahian, then Minister of Intelligence; Ali Akbar Velayati, then Foreign Minister; Mohammad Reyshahri, a former Minister of Intelligence; Mohsen Rezai, then General Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard; Reza Seifollahi, then head of the Islamic Republic of Iran's police; and Ayatollah Khazali, a member of the Guardian Council.

One of the issues handled by the committee was the suppression and elimination of political opposition to the Islamic Republic. Assassinations both at home and abroad were ordered directly by Ayatollah Khomeini while he was alive.22 After Khomeini’s death, the responsibility for recommending individual assassinations fell to the Special Affairs Committee. Once the committee's recommendation was approved by the Supreme Leader, an individual committee member would be charged with implementing the decision with the assistance of the Ministry of Intelligence’s23 Special Operations Council (Shoray-e Amaliyat-e Vizheh).24 The council’s operational commanders received a written order signed by the Supreme Leader authorizing an assassination. 25

[20] See PETER PILZ, ESKORTE NACH TEHERAN (1997).
[21] Witness statement of Abolghassem Mesbahi (witness C) on Sep. 26, 1996. SYSTEM-I JINAYATKAR:ASNAD-I DADGAH-I MIKUNUS[Criminal System: Documents of the Mykonos Case] 171 (Mihran Payandih et al. trans. 2000).
[22] Id. See also PARVIZ DASTMLACHI, RISHIHAY-I IDIULUZHIK TERURISM-I VELAYAT-I FAQIH VA ASNAD-I MYKONOS [The Ideological Roots of Terrorism of the Velayat-i Faqih and Mykonos Documents], 56 (1997), quoting Abdolhassan Banisadr’s testimony to the Mykonos court..
[23] Different documents have referred to this Ministry as MOIS (Ministry of Intelligence and Security), Ministry of Information and Security, or VAVAK (Vezarat-e Ettela'at Va Amniyat Keshvar). IHRDC believes that the name of this entity is the IRI Ministry of Intelligence (Vezarat-e Ettela'at ) but uses the other names whenever quoting from original sources.
[24] 24 Witness statement of Abolghassem Mesbahi (witness C) on Sep. 26, 1996. SYSTEM-I JINAYATKAR:ASNAD-I DADGAH-I MIKUNUS [Criminal System: Documents of the Mykonos Case] 171-2 and 194-5 (Mihran Payandih et al. trans. 2000)
[25] Mesbahi noted, “I myself, in another case, saw such an order with Khomeini’s signature, although I was not the operational commander. This case regarded Khusru Harandi (Hadi Khursandi). Mohammad Musavizadih, the Deputy of Mohammad Reyshahri, then Minister of Intelligence and Security, came to Dusseldorf with a copy of the order. There, me and him [Musavizadih] met with the head of the hit team and his deputy….I was their interpreter and translated the order from Farsi to French.” Witness statement of Abolghassem Mesbahi (witness C) on Sep. 27, 1996. SYSTEM-I JINAYATKAR:ASNAD-I DADGAH-I MIKUNUS [Criminal System: Documents of the Mykonos Case] 187 (Mihran Payandih et al. trans. 2000).

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Political Killings, Assassinations, Political Freedom