A notorious retired commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Saeed Qassemi, has been summoned to court for recent comments about disguising himself as an Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) aid worker while on a military mission in the 1990s in Bosnia, a spokesman for the Iranian judiciary announced on April 23.
In his first press conference, newly appointed spokesman Gholam-Hossein Esmaeeli said the IRCS was officially suing Qassemi for the remarks, and the judiciary would look into the matter “with firmness and inflexibility.”
Previous lawsuits against Qassemi's peers, however, who have the support of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have never been successful.
In an interview with state-approved Internet TV program Aparat, the former commander of the IRGC had boasted of his role and that of his comrades in the Bosnian civil war while they were wearing the aid organization’s uniform.
"In Bosnia, in the heart of Europe, there were many new developments. We were side by side with Al-Qaeda. The members of Al-Qaeda learned and copied 'our style.' From all over the world, mujahedin were pouring into Bosnia, and there was a new development; [i.e.] Muslim jihadi units were established," Qassemi recalled.
Referring to CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour, who is of Iranian descent, Qassemi said it was she who discovered their deception.
"This compatriot of ours (Amanpour), to whom all of our politicians, including (ultraconservative former President Mahmud) Ahmadinejad and [President Hassan] Rouhani, love to give interviews, this dishonorable spy of the CNN, gave us away," he said.
Following the interview, the IRCS officially dismissed Qassemi's claims and declared that it was formally suing him.
"If an individual or a state entity has used the logo or uniform of the IRCS for operations against the aims and principles of the International Red Cross Society, it definitely happened without the permission of the IRCS or in coordination with it," the IRCS stated.
IRGC spokesman Ramazan Sharif also dismissed Qassemi's comments. "These remarks by Saeid Qassemi, who for a while was in Bosnia voluntarily and retired a long time ago, are his personal views, devoid of credibility and are not shared by the IRGC," he said.
Nevertheless, Qassemi, who is widely believed to be one of the top leaders of the "plainclothes club-wielding vigilantes" calling themselves the Ansar-i Hezbollah (Assistants of the Party of God), insisted on the truthfulness of his comments.
"With our own eyes we have seen that they used to wear the UN uniforms to spy on the nations who did not fight, and left their leashes to the Westerners; now I am surprised that they criticize us for wearing IRCS uniforms and rescuing the oppressed," he wrote on his Twitter account.
Qassemi stopped short of saying to whom his Tweet was addressed.