Joint Committee for Special Operations
The Joint Committee for Special Operations (JSCO; also referred to as the Special Affairs Committee or Komitey-e Omour-e Vizheh), created after Ayatollah Khomeini's death in 1989, consisted of Iran's president, its top religious authority (the Supreme Leader), and other senior security officials, including representatives of the Pasdaran (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Security and Intelligence. It was responsible for coordinating activities devoted to gathering intelligence and special weapons technology abroad, as well as activities within the Iranian exile community. The creation of the Committee is not provided for in the Iranian Constitution, and was understood to be a part of the broad powers of the Supreme Leader. Any decision made by the Committee must be approved by the Supreme Leader, after which a member of the committee would be in charge of executing the order with the help of the Ministry of Intelligence's Special Operations Council.
One example of the coordinated efforts of Iranian intelligence was found in Iran's diplomatic mission in Bonn at Godesberger Allee 133-137, which was the headquarters of the Iranian intelligence services in Europe. Some 20 staff members worked for the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and representatives from other agencies also used the embassy's specially secured third floor, where six offices and a radio room were reserved for the agents. From the six-story building in the government district the services monitored the 100,000 Iranians living in Germany, harassed undesirable opposition members, and attempted to procure technology in Germany for the production of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. In the German language area alone, there were as many as 100 firms allegedly under Iranian influence for the procurement of such sensitive technology. Other bases of operations included the consulates in Frankfurt and Hamburg, and the "Imam-Ali Mosque" in Hamburg, said to be one of the largest Muslim religious center outside the Islamic world.
Iran's relations with Germany and to a larger extent with the EU were strained by the trial regarding the Mykonos murders in Berlin, which starting in 1992. On the day of 17 September 1992 the Secretary-General of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (PDKI) Dr. Mohammad Sadegh Sharafkandi, the PDKI's primary European envoy Fatah Abdoli, one of the PDKI's local representatives Homayoun Ardalan, and their translator Nourrollah Mohammadpour Dehkordi, were assassinated inside the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin. It was believed that this killing was ordered by the Joint Committee for Special Operations, chaired by, among others, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, former President Hojjatoleslam Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, former Minister of Intelligence Hojjatoleslam Ali Fallahian, a previous Minister of Intelligence Mohammad Reyshahri, former General Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Mohsen Rezai, former head of the Islamic Republic of Iran's police Reza Seifollahi, and Ayatollah Khazali, a member of the Guardian Council.
The German court also said that the highest levels of the Iranian government, through its Committee for Special Operations, had been involved in the slaying of three Kurdish dissidents and their translator at the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin. On 10 April 1997, a German court found Mr. Darabi and his chief accomplice, Abbas Rhayel, guilty of murder and and sentenced the two men to life in prison. Two other men, Youssef Amin and Mohammed Atris were given terms of 11 years and 5 years and three months. A fifth man, Atallah Ayad, was acquited. Other individuals such as the President of Iran, Iran's Supreme Leader and the Minister of Intelligence were charged, but Iran refused to extradite those suspects to Germany. The members of the European Union at that time (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom), all removed their ambassadors in Iran, but returned them within three weeks. No sanctions were imposed by any nation against Iran and the event was ignored by the United Nations Security Council. The Iranian government denied that it took part in the Mykonos murders.
Iranian intelligence agencies were also reportedly mounting extensive operations in Bosnia to gather information and counter Western influence. As of late 1997 more than 200 Iranian agents had insinuated themselves into Bosnian Muslim political and social circles, and infiltrated the US program to train the Bosnian army. Iranian was collaborating with a pro-Iranian faction in Bosnia's intelligence service, the Agency for Investigation and Documentation. Iran's intelligence operations extended far beyond the training program, and were aimed at influencing a broad range of Bosnian institutions.
The JSCO was also implicated in various assassinations of Iranian dissidents and others critical of the Islamic Republic after 1989. Iranian authorities had openly admitted to organizing operations to eliminate Iranians in exile and others opposed to the Islamic regime abroad first immediately following the 1979 revolution. Iranian authorities publically claimed responsibility for a number of assassinations and offered refuge to the perpetrators of those not believed to have had direct Iranian involvement. The Special Affairs Committee has also been linked to the bombing of PanAm Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 (though this would have been before its reported creation), and the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1994.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|