The Tragedy of June 28, 1981
The Tragedy of June 28, 1981
Trying to show that the Islamic Republic is unstable, the MKO entered the armed phase and designed several terrorist operations. The MKO leaders concluded that if they eliminate the leaders of the Islamic Republic, they would certainly destroy the future of the regime. One of these leaders was Dr. Ayatollah Beheshti, who by Imam Khomeini’s interpretation was a “nation” and by the leaders of the organization, a “great theorist” of the Islamic Republic. Thus, killing him equated with destroying future of the regime.
Since the beginning of the revolution, the MKO has penetrated its forces as spies in various government offices, and through this way they have gained a lot of information which led to many assassinations by MKO. One of the most important and historical events which is the darkest part of the organization’s terrorist works, was the assassination of 28th of June (1981) in which Dr. Ayatollah Beheshti, the head of the judiciary, and a large number of regime officials (MPs, executives, and several ministers) were killed.
Mohammad Javad Ghadiri, a member of the organization’s central cadre, and one of the main designers of the Abazar Mosque blast, “on the 24th of June, tells his friends with certainty that on the 28th of June, their work will end.” 1 He also before Escaping from the country on 27th of June said to some of the defendants (members of the organization) who were arrested again that tomorrow is the end of the Islamic Republic.” 2
The explosion in the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party was the biggest blow by terrorism to the Islamic Republic after the revolution. Although the MKO’s motives and acts were clear to the people even before the investigation, the MKO did not take responsibility of the explosion for its internal and international consequences. But at the same time, the leaders of the organization attributed it to themselves with a metaphor clearer than an explicit sentence.
The American Muslim Students Association, which played the role of headquarter of MKO in the United States in 1981 and 1982, wrote in its announcement: “… the explosion of the headquarter of the party [Islamic Republic] and killing of Beheshti… Beheshti’s death was actually the right of people.” 3
Rajavi and Musa Khiyabani, the second order personality in MKO, in their statements after 20 June, 1981 had used the expressions: “the deadly blow” and “the first blow”. Referring to the beginning of the armed struggle by MKO after 20 June, 1981, Khiyabani said about the explosion of the Islamic Republic Party:
“… The sound of blast rose right at 9 o’clock in the evening of June 28th, a sound that resonated not only across Iran, but around the world, and perhaps the next day, the Khomeini regime is dead.”4
He then likened the MKO to a young man who slapped to the Islamic Republic on 28th of June.5 Also, in an organizational conclusion in September 1981, the tragedy of the 28th of June is interpreted as “an irreparable hit on the body of reactionary regime as a new stage of the struggle, in which the regime will not be able to revive itself.”6
The MKO Leaders’ References to the Positions they had in the Assassination
In a one-year summary, Massoud Rajavi, with many remarks and emphases, commented that the organization had committed the June 28 terrorist operation. He said about the staging armed conflicts against the Islamic Republic:
“In the first step, it was the turn of the political leaders. First of all, the main authorities were in target.7 We started with a great action during the first phase of our invasion, and at the top of all, the historical operation of “Allah-o-Akbar” which already was named such. Where is Musa to see we succeeded in the first step. Which step? The step for destroying future of the regime and the loss of its stability. In a word: no one could do this work… It was totally planned. 8”
In March 1983, the editorial of the Mojahed magazine revealed that “from the 20th of June of 1981 at the political office of the organization” the discussion and decision on “the first great act” were started and “the objectives of the operation” had a religious identity and appearance.9 These gestures make it quite clear that the June 28 bombing was discussed and ratified in the MKO political office, and regarding Rajavi’s statement about the operation, one could guess that the role of Kheyabani in carrying out this operation was more important than others.
Several other confessions of the organization to carry out the June 28 terrorist operation are as follows:
1. The Mojahed magazine, which was closed after June 25, 1981 and published a year and a half later in December 1982, wrote in its first number on the strategy of armed struggle and the assassination of the country’s leaders, entitled “First Blows”:
“In the first phase of this strategy, we set the first-decisive blow or the first blows and an aggressive phase-invasion at any price-and the formation of an alternative on the agenda… In the first stage… the quality of the operation, due to the complexity, was the responsibility of top officials of the MKO.”10
2. In an analysis, the Mojahed magazine explained the July 28 operation as follows:
“… the disappearance of 70% of the leadership and government bodies (of Islamic Republic) in different parts of the country and the absolute destruction of the regime was precisely the product of the armed resistance, especially its first strategic phase… He (Ayatollah Beheshti) was the only important person who could ensure the future of the regime -and this is where the revolutionary and critical magnificence of the first phase becomes clear- … Massoud Rajavi, in a one-year summit of armed struggle, said that the Mojahedin did not allow the regime to stabilize itself at their first blow.”11
3. Massoud Rajavi, in an interview with Al-Vatan al-Arabi in January 1983, which its translation was published by the organization, said:
“Our first year’s achievement of our armed struggle was so great that today there is no future for the regime. All the post-Khomeini leadership candidates, the authorities who could take over the leadership of the current regime after Khomeini, and in addition to them, two thousand other clerics and regime officials … have been killed.”12
4. The State Department’s report on the MKO, published in 1994, explicitly attributed responsibility for the July 28 bombing to the Mojahedin:
“The Mojahedin began a wave of bombings and assassinations against Khomeini’s regime, which resonated to this day. The most striking attack took place on June 28, 1981, when two bombs exploded at the center of the Islamic Republic Party and led to the death of 74 senior regime leaders, including the Leader of the Islamic Republic Party, Ayatollah Beheshti, four ministers and 27 parliamentarians.”13
5. Ali Ferasati, a long-time and isolated member of the MKO, said in an explanation of how the organization carried out the July 28 bombing:
“The explosion of the Islamic Republic Party on June 28, 1981 was a shock to the regime, and the Soviet government proclaimed America as the source of the blast.” (The book of the Soviet Union and Revolutionary Iran, written by Aryeh Yodofat, London, 1984, p. 116). This Mojahedin’s action, did not help themselves, but unintentionally helped the Soviet strategy … In an investigation by the US Criminology Institute, it was found that the bomb used to blow up the headquarters of the Islamic Republic party was a “dense gas” that was recently discovered by Americans but Soviets were able to achieve it. Making such a bomb with that complex formula was not absolutely in the power of a guerrilla group, and the only possibility was that it would reach the Mujahedin through the Soviet Union. It should be noted that Massoud Rajavi confirmed in private meetings in Paris in 1981 that the MEK did not possess the technology of that bomb.”14
But the news of the bombing at the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party in the American media clearly showed the satisfaction of the Americans, and if the Soviets were involved, it was in harmony with the United States. Because the interests of these two superpowers at that time were tied together in the weakening and destruction of the Islamic Republic.
The Times wrote that Ayatollah Beheshti was “the main hope for the continuation of the Islamic Revolution.”15
The Washington Star described him as “the most powerful and strategist” of the Iranian clerics 16, and the Christian Science Monitor insisted that the June 28 blast “destroyed fundamentalists’ hope for a religious state after the overthrow of Bani-Sadr.”17
The Agent Identity
A week after the explosion, the identity of the agent was identified and, in a statement issued by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, it was asked from people to help for arresting him. Mohammadreza Kolahi, a member of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, was introduced in the IRGC announcement as the agent of the terrorist operation.
Mohammadi Rayshahri, the first intelligence minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, presented in his memoirs the latest and most complete information on Mohammadreza Kolahi:
“Mohammadreza Kolahi Samadi joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guards after the revolution in 1979. Initially in the Islamic Association of Students at the University of Science and Technology, and after a while with the organization’s guidance entered the Islamic Republic Party.
Kolahi was at the party’s headquarters in a position that was aware of all the important affairs of the party and the country, and was also responsible for invitations to conferences and meetings. In addition, he was responsible for protecting the salon. Kolahi was directly under the supervision of one of the people of the central circle of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq called Hadi Roshan Ravani, under the pseudonym of Moghadam.18
A few days before the party blast, Kolahi changed his baggage and carried a larger one with himself. Since his going to the party was high throughout the day, he was less likely to be inspected. He fled after the explosion of the Islamic Republic Party to the Mojahedin’s team houses and eventually transferred to Iraq by the agents of the MKO through the western border of the country.
It is said that in 1991 Kolahi had a problem with MKO and separated from the organization two years later and escaped from Iraq to Germany in 1993.19
The ultra-secret Confession of Masoud Rajavi
After the collapse of Saddam’s Ba’athist regime in Iraq, tape recordings of Rajavi’s ultra-secret meetings were discovered with the intelligence and security authorities of this regime, and some of them were published in Europe. The written text of Rajavi’s five meetings between 1991 and 2001, along with his video and audio CD in 2004, was published in a book attached to the CD in London.
At one of these meetings, Massoud Rajavi spoke explicitly about the organization’s responsibility in the July 28 bombing. In a meeting with General Taher Jalil Haboosh, head of the Iraqi intelligence alliance, in 1999, when referring to the history of previous relations with the United States and France, he said:
“As you know, I was in Paris from 1981 to 1986. In those years …they did not call us terrorists, although the White House and the Elysee Palace, which we were in contact with it, knew that who blew up the Republican Party in Iran … they knew, but they did not describe us as a terrorist group.”20
It should be noted that the video recording of this meeting and other discussions between Rajavi and security officials of the Iraqi Ba’ath regime was secretly carried out by the Iraqi intelligence service. These videos were discovered by a group of Iraqi people and militant forces who had captured the intelligence services.
The part of the tapes released in London, as outlined in the introduction to the text of the book, has been withdrawn from Iraq by a prominent European Parliament representative, Baroness Nicholson21 , and has been made available to its publishers.22
The MKO Changes Its Position after the Explosion
The vast presence of the people at the funeral and commemoration of the June 28 martyrs and the emotional atmosphere throughout the country, increased the support of the Islamic Republic and caused more hatred of the MKO’s terrorist organization.
On June 30, 1981, images of the funeral of the June 28 martyrs was published on the front page of newspapers:
“The anger of millions of people against the United States in the funeral of 72 great martyrs of revolution.”23
Vali-Allah Safavi, an arrested military officer of the organization, emphasized that the MKO’s forces were aware of the “June 28” operation, but after the widespread reaction by people the central leaders ordered to the members to deny their responsibility for the supporters:
Following the explosion, the members received a guideline from the central leaders that the explosion was done by the MKO and it was as a way to launch a military movement by the fans and you should announce it to all people. But after the funeral of victims in which many people participated, the MKO changed its position and ordered to don’t tell the fans until the social reactions become clear.24
After the important speech of Imam Khomeini in a meeting with the families of the martyrs of June 28, which analyzed the American nature of the MKO and its covert and obvious groups and introduced them as supporters who are responsible for this terrorist acts of MKO, Kayhan newspaper, headed by Mohammad Khatami wrote in an editorial entitled “The Main Causes of the Recent Explosion”:
“… In a few enlightening speeches, Imam Khomeini insisted that political currents such as Bani-Sadr, the Freedom Movement, the National Front, in opposition to the revolution, were responsible for the political issues of the operations and currents such as MKO and its descendants like Paykari or minority guerrillas, have been responsible for the operational issues.”25
In response to public awareness about the political groups and their role in creating insecurities in the country, some of these groups declared their aversion toward the 28th of June terrorist operation. Militant Moslem movement and Mujahedin movement (the group of Meysami), with separate notifications, condemned the June 28 terrorist operation and expressed their loyalty and faith to Imam’s leadership.26