By Kayhan Life Staff
On June 19, security personnel at the Makki Grand Mosque in Zahedan, the capital of the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, reportedly foiled a plot by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) intelligence wing to kill Mowlavi Abdelhamid Esmaeilzahi, the spiritual leader of Sunnis, Haalvsh news agency said.
“Security at the Makki Mosque identified and arrested a person in seminarian clothes who was sent by the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization [SAS] to assassinate Mowlavi Abdelhamid Esmaeilzahi with poison,” Haalvsh news agency, which reports on events and developments in Sistan and Baluchestan regions said on its Telegram Channel.
“The individual is a Baluchi, who lives in Baluchestan’s Delgan area,” Haalvsh explained, quoting unnamed sources. “The person wore seminarian clothes, posing as an ascetic. He had been praying and sleeping in the mosque for some time. [The security] arrested this person who planned to assassinate Mowlavi Abdelhamid with a biological [substance].”
“The person confessed to planning to assassinate Mowlavi Abdelhamid using the poison given to them by the SAS,” Haalvsh noted. “The person also said they were paid a weekly salary of 15 million tomans [nearly $300] since the start of the operation.”
“It is noteworthy that Mowlavi Mohammad Omar Mollazehi, a prominent religious leader in Baluchestan, was assassinated in this manner on March 13, 2007,” Haalvsh added.
The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence prevented Mowlavi Abdelhamid Esmaeilzahi, the Sunni Friday Imam of Zahedan, from traveling to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage last week.
“He made plans well in advance for his Hajj pilgrimage. However, authorities prevented him from visiting the holy land and his plan to fulfill his Hajj obligations,” a statement by Mowlavi Abdelhamid’s communication office said.
Without naming Abdelhamid Esmaeilzahi, the Tehran-based Tasnim news agency, reported on June 17 that a certain Mowlavi (a learned teacher or doctor of Islamic law) in the country’s eastern region had “used fake documents and permit for making the Hajj pilgrimage.”
“The Mowlavi mentioned above, who has been speaking much about law and rights recently, and who under the guise of promoting human rights have defended Zionism and Bahais, astonishingly tried to make the Hajj pilgrimage, using fake documents and permit,” Tasnim, with close links to the IRGC, said quoting an unnamed “reliable source.”
Mowlavi Abdelhamid Esmaeilzahi’s office released a statement on June 19, refuting Tasnim’s report.
“After authorities prevented the Exulted Shaykh Al-Islam Mowlavi Abdelhamid from making his Hajj pilgrimage, some state media outlets published fake reports,” the statement said. “They accused him of using fake documents and permits without naming him.”
“All documents relevant to the trip are at the Hajj Administration Office,” the statement explained. “Despite this, many media outlets, closely linked to the state, are trying to manipulate public perception, justify the state’s shortsighted and wrong actions, and promote the critics’ malicious views.”
Mowlavi Abdelhamid Esmaeilzahi is the most influential Sunni leader in Iran. He has been an outspoken critic of the Islamic Republic’s oppressive rule. He has condemned the regime for its brutal crackdown on recent protests sparked by the death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini in the custody of morality police in September 2022.
Mowlavi Abdelhamid called for the release of women and political prisoners during his Friday prayer sermons at the Makki Grand Mosque in Zahedan on June 16.
“Women lament the loss of their status, dignity, and respect today,” Mowlavi Abdelhamid said. “You cannot silence their cries until they have regained their rightful place. There is no point in dealing with the problem until the cause is removed.”
Mowlavi Abdelhamid also criticized the regime for its treatment of Baha’is.
“Although Baha’is are not Muslims, they are citizens and human beings, and their cemetery should not be destroyed, or their remains not released to their families and buried in secret at another location.” Mowlavi Abdelhamid said.
Three days later, Tasnim refuted Mowlavi Abdelhamid’s remarks about the mistreatment of Baha’is, describing them as “untrue and contrary to the country’s national security.”
Mowlavi Abdelhamid is one of the few religious leaders who have supported the people and the nationwide protests in the past few months.
In the days leading to the current Iranian new year, Nowruz (starting on March 21), Mowlavi Abdelhamid said: “Nowruz should be a time for celebration, but many people start this new year by crying at the graves of martyred protesters. Although the protests have subsided, many injured hearts are still aching,” Mowlavi Abdelhamid lamented.
“The Islamic Republic has appointed unqualified people in various departments,” Mowlavi Abdelhamid noted. “Family ties are the criterion for selecting managers.”