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MPs Accuse Firebrand Cleric Of Being Behind Threats

Outspoken MP Ali Motahari in parliament

Two members of the Iranian Parliament (Majles) have responded to Mashad’s firebrand Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda’s accusation of treason, with counter-accusations implying the ayatollah was involved with threat messages sent to MPs.

Some members of parliament had complained that they received messages telling them not to vote for Iran joining an international convention against money laundering and supporting terrorist groups.

Conservative Ali Motahari and reformist Mahmoud Sadeqi, both Tehran MPs, made the counter-accusation against the hardline cleric.

Alamolhoda had said on Friday that MPs who vote for the bills would be committing treason against the country. He also warned them that they could have a fate similar to Hassanali Mansour, an Iranian prime minister assassinated by Islamic extremists in 1965, before presenting a bill that would give US military advisers in Iran legal protection under the Vienna Convention the assassinated prime minister.

On June 10 The Iranian Parliament postponed talks on joining the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crimes (UNTOC) for two months, the Tasnim news agency reported.

Joining UNTOC is a requirement of FATF (Financial Action Task Force), a G-7 initiative to combat money laundering and financial terrorism.

Iranian hardliners, particularly those who like Alamolhoda are close to the ultraconservative party Paydari (Steadfastness), oppose joining the conventions fearing it would prevent Iran from sending money to groups such as Lebanese Hezballah and Hamas in the Palestinian territory.

Alamolhoda said in his sermon that accepting UNTOC and FATF would put “foreign enemies” in control of Iran’s banking in the same way that, in his opinion, the 1965 Capitulation bill would have put Iran under UK and US control.

Responding to Alamolhoda’s charges, Ali Motahari in his Instagram page called him “an unaware person,” adding that if the MPs were to listen to Alamolhoda’s discretions, they would have been surrendering the country to the US and Israel long ago.”

Meanwhile, reminding that threat messages were sent from Mashad to members of Parliament who were inclined to vote for the bill, Motahari implied Alamolhoda’s involvement by saying “Perhaps Mr. Alamolhoda can help pinpoint the origin of the threats to MPs.”

Three series of text messages sent to MPs, became increasingly harsher, culminating in death threats shortly before June 10, when MPs were going to vote for the bills that would authorize Iran to join the international anti-crime convention UNTOC, media reports from Tehran say.

Motahari said, those who send the threat messages are possibly the same people who had set fire to the Saudi consulate a few years ago, alluding to accusations at the time that pointed fingers at Alamolhoda’s office.

In a related development, reformist MP Mahmoud Sadeqi wrote on his Twitter, “Who would be accountable for the damaging behaviour of those who want to prevent transparency in banking operations?”

Sadeqi charged that “many of those in financial corruption in the banking system come from Khorasan,” the province under the control of Almolhoda and his son-in-law former presidential candidate Ebrahim Ra’isi and their hardline aides.

Sadeqi was apparently referring to Mashad-based financial institutions such as Samenol Aemeh that have refused to return investors’ money, causing widespread discontent and even unrest not only in Khorasan province, but elsewhere in many other Iranian cities.

Alamolhoda’s son-in-law is in charge of Mashad’s holy shrine and its vast financial conglomerate that owns tens of companies, but he allegedly does not pay tax and is exempt from financial checks and balances.