Hezbollah Founder Dies of Coronavirus

Iranian top cleric Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, center, speaks, as Rabbi Moishe Arye Friedman
AP Photo/Vahid Salemi

Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, a former interior minister of Iran and a founder of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, died in Tehran on Monday from complications caused by the Chinese coronavirus, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Mohtashamipour died at Khatam-ul-Anbia hospital in northern Tehran on June 6 at the age of 75, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), though the Iranian state-run outlet did not state the cause of Mohtashamipour’s death. The AP reported that the Shiite cleric died Monday at the age of 74 from the Chinese coronavirus.

“In a message on Monday, [Iran’s Supreme Leader] Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei condoled the demise of Hojatoleslam Seyyed Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour to his honorable family,” Iran’s state-run Mehr News Agency reported on June 7.

“Ayatollah Khamenei also pointed to Mohtashamipour’s revolutionary services and important responsibilities during the Islamic Republic era and prayed to God to bestow divine forgiveness and blessings on him,” according to Mehr.

Mohtashamipour served as Iran’s interior minister from 1985-1989 and also worked as a key adviser to Iranian President Sayyid Mohammad Khatami from 1997-1999.

“A close ally of Iran’s late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Mohtashamipour in the 1970s formed alliances with Muslim militant groups across the Mideast,” according to the AP. “After the Islamic Revolution [of Iran, 1978-1979], he helped found the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in Iran and as ambassador to Syria brought the force into the region to help form Hezbollah.”

The U.S. officially designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization in 2019. Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy terrorist group based in Lebanon but active worldwide.

“Born in Tehran in 1947, Mohtashamipour met Khomeini as the cleric remained in exile in Najaf [in central Iraq] after being expelled from Iran by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi,” the AP further recalled Monday. “In the 1970s, he crisscrossed the Mideast speaking to militants groups at the time, helping form an alliance between the future Islamic Republic and the Palestinian Liberation Organization as it battled Israel.”

Mohtashamipour joins a number of other high-ranking Iranian government and military officials who have reportedly contracted the Chinese coronavirus and died from the disease over the past year and a half. Observers accuse Iran of underreporting its official coronavirus caseload and downplaying the severity of the Islamic Republic’s domestic coronavirus outbreak. A dissident group called the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran estimated in late May that about 300,000 people had died in Iran from the Chinese coronavirus since the pandemic began. Tehran’s official death count from the disease stands at 81,183.


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