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MUSAD during the Islamic Revolution (1977-1978)

From the beginning, the relations between Iran and Israel were faced with oppositions among political-social circles. At the same time with the expansion of the relations between the two countries during the 1960’s and 1970’s, the opposition against...

Mozafar Shahedi

 

From the beginning, the relations between Iran and Israel were faced with oppositions among political-social circles. At the same time with the expansion of the relations between the two countries during the 1960’s and 1970’s, the opposition against Israel influence in Iran increased by the dominion’s political opponents especially the clerics. For this reason, the clerics and Muslim groups were more pursued than other political groups and were prohibited from opposing Israel.

The clerics and religious scholars condemned any kind of relation with the Zionism regime from the last years of 1940’s when efforts began in starting unofficial political relations between Iran and Israel. Of course the process of the clerics and Islamists’ opposition continued with some fluctuations. In the first years of the 1960’s a new wave of opposition against Israel began on the part of the clerics guided by Imam Khomeini. At the same time SAVAK and other security and legal systems, warned the anti-government clerics to not utter any word regarding opposition against Israel and its relations with the Pahlavi regime. The Pahlavi regime and SAVAK’s sensitivity towards people’s opposition against Israel’s presence in Iran did not decrease during the years of 1960’s and 1970’s. This was such that the opponents were prohibited from using words like bani-Israel which is mentioned in the Quran. Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei writes in part of his memoirs:

Unfortunately in other countries the people are not given the chance to at least talk about their grief regarding these great events upon the Islam nation. Look at the Arabic countries where there are many people who heartbroken due to events regarding compromise with the Zionist enemy but they can’t say anything as our situation in the previous regime when we were heartbroken but could not speak.

Before the revolution I had said some things to my students while interpreting some verses of Quran regarding bani-Israel at the beginning of Baqarah surah. Then in one of my detainments I was interrogated and questioned as to why did I utter the word Israel? Because I had talked about bani-Israel and the discussion was related to the verses about bani-Israel! They said: why did you utter the name Israel?!  I mean to say at that time a person who interpreted the Quran had no right to talk a word about bani-Israel lest the ally of that lewd and evil regime(Pahlavi) (who had intimate relations with Israel at that time) becomes upset.  Today in many Islamic countries the same situation prevails.

Opposition against Israel was not limited to the clerics and religious scholars. Some other political groups also condemned this country’s extensive relations with the Pahlavi regime while criticizing its aggressive policies in Palestine.

In addition to political-religious opponents, the general atmosphere of the society regarding Israel was unfriendly andcontradictory. Savak’s severe supervision over different economic, cultural and commercial Israeli and Jewish people, institutes and organizations in Iran indicated the general unfriendly atmosphere among Iranians regarding Israel. An obvious example of SAVAK’s severe security precautions regarding Israel occurred during Asian games in Tehran and presence of Israeli sportsmen in Tehran when SAVAK arrested about ten thousand students and suspects. Even though, people of Tehran revealed overt anti-Israeli feelings for the football competition between Iran and Israel national teams in which Israel was defeated.

MUSAD had overt and covert participation with SAVAK in fighting against the political opponents of Iran dominion. In 1950’s and 1970’s with the expansion of political-religious oppositions, various partisan groups joined the opponents of the dominion and MUSAD had a notable role in recognizing and pursuing the dominion’s opponents. many of the political opponents of Iran’s dominion who were related to some anti-Israeli and Palestinian groups were identified and pursued in different Arabic countries (especially Lebanon, Syria and to some extent Egypt) with the joint participation of SAVAK and MUSAD.

At the same time as the increase of political opponents’ activities, the status of the Pahlavi regime inside the country and also in international domains was faced with problems and criticisms regarding the performance of dominion and the ever increasing pressure on the opponents reached world mass media and different human rights groups and the like. In this period MUSAD tried to present a successful and favorable view of the Pahlavi regime through the media and press under his control. The trend of these participations increased during the 1970’s and further accelerated during the premiership of Jimmy Carter which coincided with Iran nation’s revolutionary movement. despite such measures, during the middle years of the 1970’s, the Pahlavi regime’s status was more rocky than to be saved with advertising-media antidotes, even at the international and global level. Synchronous with the spread of political oppositions, Israel’s status in Iran was attacked by the revolutionists too.

During the revolution, Israel was hated and despised by the revolutionarists. MUSAD seriously followed the developments of Iran revolution and did not spare ay effort in supporting the Pahlavi regime. Unlike CIA who noticed Pahlavi’s inability to survive very late in the course, MUSAD and the political representative of Israel in Tehran who was directly related to SAVAK, had warned their respective government that the Shah of Iran would not survive long against the oppositions and his downfall is definite. Meanwhile, Israel used any chance necessary to cheer up the Shah and the necessity to resist against the opponents. Such as Isaac Robin, then Israel prime minister, who followed the peace negotiations with Egypt at that time, sent messages on 16th and 17th September 1978 to the Shah of Iran, expressing his sympathy for the current events and emphasizing that he will do anything to defend his dominion.

At the same time as the spread of Iran nation’s revolutionary movement, MUSAD also added to his activities in Iran. Israel’s political representative in Tehran further coordinated his steps and policies with MUSAD and SAVAK in order to find a way to control political unrest. Also, MUSAD engaged in further strengthening the defense, educational, invasive and intelligence power of SAVAK to perform more efficiently than before against the revolutionists and the Shah’s opponents. Also MUSAD tried to control the Pahlavi regime’s opponents in Arabic countries and so sent more mutual spies to Arabic countries. MUSAD was prepared to use all his facilities and potential and actual capabilities in order to find a way to save the Shah from definite overfall. as MUSAD and the collection of Israeli decision makers had correctly understood, the Shah’s falling would import an irreparable blow to the interests of Israel in Iran and the Middle East and weaken their status against the Arabic and Muslim countries.Hatred from Israel and MUSAD among the opponents increased during the revolution when it was rumored that the MUSAD officers in Iran opened fire on the demonstrators and united with SAVAK and other military and security forces of the Pahlavi regime in directly oppressing the people of Iran. Until Israel became known as Iran nation’s executioner. And on October 22nd 1978, some news agencies published the news of MUSAD officers being involved in the revolutionary killings:

In such circumstances, through a statement today, the Iran Student Confederation (German Federation) asked for more attention of general public regarding Iran’s status. In this statement it is mentioned that the number of martyrs in the past weeks in Iran has reached 500 thousand people and the government [Iran] has kept the reality of the events in Iran and the people’s uprising a secret with the help of imperialistic governments like the US and also by involving the Israeli soldiers in killing of the demonstrators. The Confederation has once more held SAVAK responsible for the massacre at Abadan Rex Cinema and condemned the German mass media who are influenced by the propaganda by organizations related to Iran.

Despite all these conditions, the movement of Iran Muslim nation which was led by Imam Khomeini was more clamorous than to be prevented by the Shah’s foreign supporters like MUSAD and Israel. The last step said to have been though of by MUSAD to prevent final downfall of the Shah of Iran was to participate in the Shah’s army coup and assassination of Imam Khomeini in Paris. Mostafa Alamouti recounts in this regard from Ari Ben-Menashe, a high commissioner of MUSAD:

In April 1978, my chiefs accepted my opinion about Iran’s events and the forthcoming revolution and in a conference in which the CIA representatives were also present, an American analyst (CIA member) believed my opinion to be unfounded and claimed that what is going on in Iran is only child’s play and will soon be elevated. In December 1978 a plan was prepared by the Israeli Prime minister’s advisor on counter-terrorism (Rafi Eitan) to assassinate Khomeini in Paris.

CIA also agreed on sending an Israeli terrorist team to Paris and to assassinate Khomeini and return.

To attack Khomeini’s residence in Neauphle-le-chateau and injuring Khomeini, Assef Heftez’s commando team, Chairman of the Special Guard of Anti-terrorism police was chosen.

It is evident that this team wasable to perform the assignment successfully and return to Israel without a problem. But obstacles in the deployment of the plan lied elsewhere. Uri Lubrani, Israeli political representative in Iran was assigned to notify the Shah of the matter. The Shah promptly disagreed and said he will not let blood streams flow in the country. He believed that if the generals gain power massacre is inevitable and he thought that he can control the crisis without such an action. Lubrani then informed the Israeli intelligence organization that the shah cannot stay in power and the generals cannot perform a coup either. The country is practically ruled by the religious leaders…

With the downfall of the Pahlavi regime the new chapter in participation between MUSAD and SAVAK ended and some of the senior and high ranking officers and operators of SAVAK sought refuge in Israel.

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