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November 23, 2020 7:01 am

The Ayatollahs’ Men in Europe

avatar by Potkin Azarmehr

Opinion

Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a live televised speech marking Quds Day (Jerusalem Day), in Tehran, Iran, May 22, 2020. Photo: Official Khamenei Website / Handout via Reuters.

The ayatollahs in Iran have established a vast network of mosques and other organizations across Europe to export and organize their nefarious activities. Take Norway, for example.

Norway’s Police Security Service (PST) reportedly has asked for the imam of the Imam Ali Shia mosque in Oslo to be expelled. The unnamed imam’s expulsion is pending a decision by Norway’s judiciary, but the reason to expel him has been reported as “based on national security interests.”

Who is this Iranian imam in Oslo and why is he considered a national security risk for Norway?

Iranian sources who have followed the case in Norway identify this imam as Hojjatol Islam Seyyed Mostafa Motahari, who arrived in Oslo from Iran in 2016.

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The imam allegedly works for Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence, and has connections with an Iranian-Norwegian dual national, Mohammad Davoudzadeh Loloei, who was found guilty by a Danish court in June of collecting information about Iranian exiles in Denmark. Loloei gave the information about one of the subjects “to a person working for an Iranian intelligence service for use by the intelligence service’s plans to kill the exile,” the court said.

Davoudzadeh entered Norway eight years ago as a bogus asylum seeker and then obtained Norwegian citizenship.

Motahari’s mosque website is in Persian, and its Norsk and English links are broken. Its About Us mentions no names of mosque leaders and claims it is “an independent public and religious institution with no ties to any government.”

A simple google search in Persian, however, proves otherwise.

The hajj.ir website affiliated with the Iranian Supreme Leader’s representative office for Hajj pilgrimage mentions Motahari as the head of the Imam Ali Mosque in Norway. In an interview published on its website three years ago, Motahari says he is delighted about the number of Arbaeen marches taking place throughout European cities.

Arbaeen marks the 40th day of mourning for the prophet Mohammad’s grandson Hussein, the holiest Shia Islam figure, killed in a battle in Karbala in 680 CE. A public mourning ceremony was until a few years ago unheard of in Europe; but it has been used by the Iranian regime as a political protest throughout Europe in the last few years, similar to the annual Al-Quds march.

Motahari says in the interview that “the newly awakened youth in Europe by taking part in the Arbaeen ceremony are showing their solidarity with the Islamic resistance.”

Thousands turned up for the Arbaeen march in London this year, waving flags of the Hashd Al-Sha’bi — the Iran-backed Shia militia in Iraq responsible for kidnapping and killing British soldiers and civilians.

Later in the interview, Motahari displays his total devotion and affiliation to Iran’s Supreme Leader by praising Ali Khamenei’s letter to the youth of Europe.

Motahari is referring to Khamenei’s 2015 open letter, which was promoted on his website and Twitter account. In the letter, Khamenei blames Western powers for violence against Muslims.

And as usual no opportunity is missed by Khamenei to portray Israel as the most brutal regime in the world: “A Palestinian family is not secure even in its own home from the Zionist regime’s death and destruction machinery,” he wrote. “What kind of atrocious violence today is comparable to that of the settlement constructions of the Zionist regime?”

Motahari ends his interview by saying how the Arbaeen marches in Europe will help galvanize the resistance to sanctions against Iran.

Motahari’s devotion and affiliation to Iran’s Supreme Leader is also evident in his previous official posts. Prior to being appointed as the imam of the mosque in Oslo, Motahari worked with the Dar-ol-Hadith institution, which was established in 1995 at Khamenei’s direct orders as one of the subordinate bodies of the Al-Mustafa International University, one of Iran’s main arms for disseminating Khomeinist ideology abroad.

This is all in stark contrast with the Imam Ali Mosque website’s claim that it is “an independent public and religious institution with no ties to any government.”

The Imam Ali mosque receives 600,000 NK annually in Norwegian taxpayer money. Other European governments also contribute to Iran’s Islamic centers and mosques. Iran’s leaders must laugh, knowing they can spread their influence in Europe and radicalize European youth with their poisonous Khomeinist ideology at public expense.

Iran continues to exploit European Union guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion by spreading its complex network of mosques, Islamic centers, and cultural and educational centers under the disguise of religious worship — but with the real intention of spreading the Khomeinist ideology of political Shia Islam.

Norway’s counter-intelligence chief, Hanne Blomborg, has also confirmed this. “I can say that we see in Europe how Iran uses religious centers and mosques as a platform for intelligence and surveillance of opposition figures,” she said. “We have also seen this in Norway.”

In subsequent articles, we will show that Norway is not alone, and that other European security agencies have failed to properly check the backgrounds of people that the Supreme Leader sends to Europe.

Investigative Project on Terrorism Senior Fellow Potkin Azarmehr is a London-based investigative journalist, business intelligence analyst, and TV documentary maker who was born in Iran. He regularly contributes to several newspapers and television stations on Iran and Middle East-related news. You can follow him @potkazar.

This article was originally published by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

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