TEHRAN -- Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour who as Iran’s ambassador to Syria lost his right hand to a book bombing reportedly carried out by the occupying regime of Israel passed away Monday of the coronavirus. He was 74.
Mohtashamipour passed away at a hospital in northern Tehran after contracting the virus, the IRNA news agency reported. The cleric had been living in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq, over the last 10 years.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei praised Mohtashamipour for his “revolutionary services,” while President Hassan Rouhani said the cleric “devoted his life to promote Islamic movement and realization of the revolution’s ideals.”
Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, now considered the leading candidate in Iran’s presidential election next week, offered condolences to Mohtashamipour’s family.
“The deceased was one of the holy warriors on the way to the liberation of Al-Quds and one of the pioneers in the fight against the usurping Zionist regime,” Raisi said.
Born in Tehran in 1947, Mohtashamipour met the late founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini in exile in Najaf after being expelled from Iran by Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. In the 1970s, he crisscrossed the Mideast speaking to resistance groups at the time, helping form an alliance between the future Islamic Republic and the Palestinian Liberation Organization as it battled Israel.
Once arrested by Iraq, Mohtashamipour found his way to Imam Khomeini’s residence in exile outside of Paris. They returned triumphant to Iran amid the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
In 1982, Imam Khomeini deployed Mohtashamipour to Syria, then under the administration of Hafez Assad.
Lebanon found itself invaded by Israel in 1982. Iranian support flowed into Lebanon occupied by the Zionist regime. That helped create a new resistance movement called Hezbollah, or “the Party of God”.
An IRNA obituary of Mohtashamipour described him as “one of the founders of Hezbollah in Lebanon” and cited the occupying regime of Israel for the bombing that wounded him.
At the time of the assassination attempt on him, Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency had received approval from then-prime minister Yitzhak Shamir to pursue Mohtashamipour, according to “Rise and Kill First,” a book on Israeli assassinations by journalist Ronen Bergman. They chose to send a bomb hidden inside a book described as a “magnificent volume in English about Shia holy places in Iran and Iraq’’ on Valentine’s Day in 1984, Bergman wrote.
The bomb exploded when Mohtashamipour opened the book, tearing away his right hand and two fingers on his left hand. But he survived, later becoming Iran’s interior minister and serving as a lawmaker in parliament.