A week after anti-establishment protests targeted the ruling clergy in Iran, Prosecutor-General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri has accused a CIA official of being the mastermind of the uprising across the country.
Parroting the establishment’s claims that the United States and other “hostile governments” were responsible for the uprising, the mid-ranking cleric boasted of revealing the main source of the protests against skyrocketing prices and the ruling system in Iran.
Montazeri referred to “an operations room” in the United States, claiming it had been laying the groundwork for protest rallies across Iran since 2014.
“The mastermind of the project was an American named Michael D’Andrea, former chief of the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center [current head of the agency's Iran Mission Center], and an operations room composed of three sides, namely the United States, Zionist regime and Al Saud, was formed for leading the unrest," Montazeri said.
“The project was funded by Saudi Arabia and mainly planned by D’Andrea and an intelligence officer affiliated with [Israel's intelligence agency] Mossad”, he claimed.
Montazeri also claimed that Iranian royalists, the anti-establishment group Mujahedin Khalgh Organization (MKO), a number of nationalists, and leftists were involved in this effort.
State-run Mehr News Agency quoted Montazeri as saying, “The planning room conducted years of research and finally decided on launching campaigns inside Iran under the banner of ‘no to price hikes,’ ‘no to paying bills,' and the campaign of reitiress and those who lost their money in bankrupt financial institutions."
When D’Andrea was appointed head of the CIA's Iran Mission Center, the New York Times referred to him as a “chain-smoking convert to Islam” and reported in June 2017, “He is known as the Dark Prince or Ayatollah Mike, nicknames he earned as the Central Intelligence Agency officer who oversaw the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the American drone strike campaign that killed thousands of Islamist militants and hundreds of civilians."
However, the New York Times admitted at the time that “Mr. D’Andrea’s personal views on Iran are not publicly known. It is also not his job to make policy but to execute it, and he has demonstrated that he is an aggressive operations officer."
In his first comments since the outbreak of protests on December 28, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also accused the "enemies of Iran" of meddling in the country's affairs through their "money, weapons, politics, and intelligence services," without any reference to the “operations” or “planning room” claimed by Montazeri.
"The enemy is always looking for an opportunity and any crevice to infiltrate and strike the Iranian nation," Khamenei was quoted as saying in a post on his official website on January 2.
Iran's permanent envoy at the United Nations delivered a letter to the UN’s Security Council on January 3 complaining of “acts of intervention” by the United States, citing Trump’s Twitter posts voicing support for the protests.
In contrast to what prosecutor Montazeri has claimed, according to President Hassan Rouhani’s allies, the unrest was initiated by the city of Mashhad’s ultraconservative Friday Prayer leader, Ayatollah Ahmad Alam al-Hoda, and his son-in-law, Rouhani’s main challenger in last May's presidential election, to undermine the government.
The chief-commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mohammad Ali Jafari, and Rouhani adviser Hessameddin Ashena implicitly accused former President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and his allies of fomenting dissatisfaction and organizing the protest rallies.