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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Tracking Number:  216665

Title:  "Iran Exports Fundamentalism, Says Resistance." Iran is making a concerted effort to export its brand of Islamic fundamentalism, with a focus on North Africa and the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. (920225)

Date:  19920225


02/25/92 * (PAO ADVISORY) IRAN EXPORTS FUNDAMENTALISM, SAYS RESISTANCE (North Africa, Central Asia are current targets) (810) By Berta Gomez USIA Staff Writer WASHINGTON -- Iran is making a concerted effort to export its brand of Islamic fundamentalism, with a focus on North Africa and the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union, according to resistance leader Mohammad Mohaddessin.

Radical fundamentalism is like an "octopus...with its heart in Teheran," he said during a February 25 meeting with reporters. "We believe it is this heart that has to be targeted today."

Mohaddessin is the director of international relations for the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran -- a group which he described as being committed to the overthrow of the Teheran regime and to the promotion of democracy in Iran.

Citing information obtained "from inside Iran," Mohaddessin outlined Teheran's efforts to gain influence and promote radicalism in African countries such as Algeria and Sudan. Since the fall of Moscow, Teheran has also allocated an "unlimited budget" for similar activities in the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union, Mohaddessin warned.

On another front, the Iranian government is strengthening its conventional and nuclear capabilities, he added.

He called on the world community to refrain from buying oil or selling arms to Iran. The government of that country, he said, "is much more deserving" of such a boycott than some other countries that have been placed under embargo.

Teheran's interest in spreading its style of radicalism, Mohaddessin said, grew out of the realization that after the death of the Ayatollah Khomeini, "the only way his successors could survive was to export fundamentalism."

Three elements buttressed this policy: the reduction in Arab nationalism in the wake of the Gulf war; the fall (and thus the departure from the scene) of the Soviet Union; and the relative "flexibility" of the West with regard to Teheran and its export of terrorism.

"This flexibility" said Mohaddessin, "created an excellent opportunity for the mullahs to fill up the vacuum" with Islamic fundamentalism -- or, as he calls it, "Khomeinism."

An integral part of this policy has been a steady strengthening of the Iranian conventional arsenal, as well as the country's nuclear capabilities, he charged.

According to the People's Mojahedin Organization, Iran has acquired $13,000 million in conventional weapons from China, North Korea and various parts of the former Soviet Union, including "at least" 350 military planes. China is the "main supplier" of conventional weapons to Iran, selling as much as $5,000 million dollars in weaponry in the past three years, including 72 F-7 fighters, 30 MiG-29's and a number of M-11 rockets, Mohaddessin said.

Moreover, the Teheran government operates six centers in Iran for nuclear research, and has at least tried to obtain nuclear-related help from China, Pakistan and a number of other countries. Most recently, Mohaddessin added, Teheran succeeded in purchasing a cyclotron -- an apparatus used to initiate nuclear transformations -- from Belgium.

"All of this," he stressed, "is for exporting fundamentalism to the Arab world."

To illustrate the depth of Iran's commitment, Mohaddessin noted that following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs created a department for the sole purpose of promoting Iranian influence in the Central Asian republics, Mohaddessin said.

Since September 1991, Teheran has spent $540 million out of an "unlimited" budget for intervention in those Muslim republics, dispatching 1300 mullahs and preachers to the area, Mohaddessin said. The Central Asian recruits are "dispatched" to four centers in Iran for training and further indoctrination and later returned to their native countries. "In this way, the mullahs are organizing fundamentalist cells" in these republics," he warned.

For North Africa, the Iranian government has created a secret division -- the "Africa Corps" -- which has sent 2,000 Revolutionary Guards to Sudan to train activists. It has paid $300 million to China for delivery of weapons to Sudan, Mohaddessin added.

In the past year, Iran has "stepped up" its activities in Algeria, noting (in a document obtained by the People's Mojahedin and read by Mohaddessin) that events in that country could have "great influence" on neighboring Egypt and Tunisia.

Mohaddessin also stressed that the activities of the Iranian mullahs are not limited to Central Asia and North Africa, but look also to the Gulf and to what he called the "Arabic Middle East," which includes Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Although Iran considers Saudi Arabia to have "the greatest strategic importance," obstacles -- including U.S. "sensitivities" -- mean that Teheran will instead focus its efforts on North Africa, he said.

Mohaddessin dismissed as "erroneous" suggestions that the Shi'a Muslims of Iran cannot successfully influence the mostly Sunni Muslims of Central Asia and the Middle East. He claimed that Iran itself made the distinction between Shi'a and Sunni Muslims to disguise the extent of its own influence and ambition.


File Identification:  02/25/92, NX-214
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Keywords:  IRAN/Politics & Government; IRAN/Economic & Social; ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM; AFRICA/Economic & Social; SELF-DETERMINATION; NUCLEAR WEAPONS; TERRORISM; CENTRAL ASIA/Economic & Social
Thematic Codes:  1NE; 1ME
Target Areas:  NE
PDQ Text Link:  216665
USIA Notes:  *92022514.NXE

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