A New Narrative of the Crimes of Mehdi Hashemi Gang

Interviewed and compiled by Ali Rahmani
Transalted by: Fazel Shirzad

2021-02-02


Note: Seyyed Mehdi Hashemi Qahdarijani, the brother-in-law of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri and the head of the Revolutionary Guards Liberation Movement at the beginning of the Revolution, was executed for supporting the assassination of Ayatollah Seyyed Abolhassan Shamsabadi Larijani and several others in 1976, and supported by Ayatollah Montazeri. This was the beginning of the problems of Imam Khomeini and the regime with Mr. Montazeri. This interview is the narration of one of the assassinations of Seyyed Mehdi Hashemi Ghahdarijan.[1]

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First of all, please tell us about the character of your late father and his position in the seminary of Isfahan in the period before the revolution, so that we can reach the case of assassination!

Faqih Imani: In the name of God, the most compassionate, Merciful. The late Ayatollah Faqih Imani was one of the high-level teachers of the seminary in the period before the revolution, and in addition to leading the congregation of Isfahan mosques, he participated in various social and charitable affairs, including the construction of Mahdieh's laboratory and radiology. Besides, he taught in the seminary and were also a man of the pulpit and sermons. He is one of the fighters of 1963 and at that time he had activities against the Shah's regime and published some leaflets against the current situation and the regime. He had a hand-held copier and an old typewriter that he still remembers at home. He typed the leaflets themselves and reproduced them with a copier and then distributed them in Isfahan and other cities using the friends he had.

Rahmani: Since 1963, how was the political activity of the late Faqih Imani started? And which group and movement were he mostly connected with?

Faqih Imani: He was not in any group. His colleagues were often scholars and clerics or religious youth; it was not like he was a member of a group or a group supported him or vice versa.

Rahmani: Can you give an example of one of the issues that he raised and emphasized in the announcements?

Faqih Imani: I do not have the details in mind, but one of the scholars of Isfahan had said: "I have archived about 70 of the leaflets that you published on different occasions." The leaflets addressed directly to the Shah's regime or to matters related to the regime in some way, such as the parliamentary elections of that time.

Rahmani: As far as we know, he was in contact with Ayatollah Khademi. Did he support the revolution through this connection with Ayatollah Khademi or other scholars of Isfahan?

Faqih Imani: His revolutionary activities started from 1963-1964 and continued until the last days of the Shah's regime. He was one of Ayatollah Khademi's students and relatives, but it was not the case that his activities were overshadowed by Mr. Khademi's work. As an effective member of the Isfahan clergy, he signed the leaflets. Maybe about 8 or 10 scholars of Isfahan were the constant activist to distribute the leaflets at that time, later some scholars were added. However, he was usually one of the first six to seven persons to sign the leaflets.

Rahmani: Let's go to the case of his assassination. Why did Seyyed Mehdi Hashemi engage with the late Faqih Imani and what was the essence of the case?

Faqih Imani: The case of Mehdi Hashemi is a historical one that dates back to before the revolution and the case of Seyyed Javad Gharavi, who had Wahhabi tendencies. Later, the cases of Mehdi Hashemi arose from it and led to the problems that occurred regarding the book of martyr Javid in Qom, Isfahan, Mashhad, and other cities. The activities of this group became public after the case of the book martyr Javid and the opposition of the clerics to it, which happened with the assassination and murder of the late Ayatollah Shamsabadi and the late Sheikh Ghanbar Ali Safarzadeh.

Rahmani: Did the late Faqih Imani befriend the late Ayatollah Shamsabadi or Mr. Safarzadeh?

Faqih Imani: Yes, he was friends with the late Ayatollah Shamsabadi, and sometimes he traveled with him on some trips. However, I do not know the late Sheikh Qanbar Ali.

Rahmani: Let's go to the mainstream, why did the assassination happen?

The main reason can be attributed to his opposition to the crimes of Omid Najafabadi, the religious judge of the Isfahan court, who was later executed for corruption.

Rahmani: Let's get to the letter of Isfahan scholars to Imam Khomeini led by the late Ayatollah Khademi, this letter was written to remove Omid Najafabadi. Do you remember anything about his actions and behavior?

Faqih Imani: Omid Najafabadi was the religious judge of Isfahan courts. He started committing many crimes in Isfahan. That is, he killed many people for no reason or confiscated people's property. For example, he killed a person, and after his death, it turned out that he had covered dozens of orphan families. The crime of some people was just that he was rich. When he became a member of parliament, some deputies opposed his credential; Because Ayatollah Khademi has excommunicated him. "I executed 90 people in Isfahan and confiscated 400 property," Omid said in self-defense. None of these executions and killings were in accordance with the law, so it caused dissatisfaction among the people. Well, these crimes caused Ayatollah Faqih Imani to convene a meeting and invite the rest of the scholars of Isfahan.

Rahmani: You mean he was their host?

Faqih Imani: Yes, he was an inviter, but the meeting was not in his house. He invited Ayatollah Khademi and other scholars of Isfahan, and in that meeting, after talks, it was decided to write a letter to Imam Khomeini. Ayatollah Khademi wrote a letter. The letter read: "We ask you to send a person to Isfahan as a religious ruler who is both a Muslim and Judgment literacy."

Faqih Imani: Yes, it was exactly about the Iman Najafabadi. After this letter, he was deposed from the religious ruler and the meaning of the above phrase is: "Omid is neither a Muslim nor familiar with the rulings of judgment." Mr. Faqih Imani along with two other scholars of Isfahan carried this letter.

Rahmani: Who were the other two?

Faqih Imani: If I am not mistaken, one is Hajj Hassan Safi and the other is Hajj Kamal Faqih Imani. He were assigned to deliver the letter to Mr. Khomeini. He took the letter to Qom and to his office and had an immediate meeting with him. The delivery of this letter caused Mr. Khomeini to say there:" Call Isfahan and say that Omid Najafabadi is permanently removed from the post of judge. He no longer has the right to judge and go to Isfahan." This sentence was quoted by Mr. Ishraqi (Mr. Khomeini's son-in-law).

Rahmani: Sheikh Shahabuddin Ishraqi?

Faqih Imani: Yes. He told the three person who took the letter:" "What was in the letter?"  They replied that it was about Omid. He had said the above sentence: "The Imam Khomeini said that Omid no longer has the right to judge."

Mehdi Hashemi's group had compiled a list of 80 scholars from Isfahan to assassinate everyone. The reason that Mr. Faqih Imani was their first choice was that he probably found out through their representatives in Qom or Isfahan that the founder of this meeting and this letter was Mr. Faqih Imani. On the other hand, he also declared on the pulpit that their misdeeds and said many times: "Their actions are not related to Islam and the revolution. Their actions are not approved by Islam, nor are they approved by the revolution." When they heard Mr. Faqih Imani's words and saw his actions, he became their first choice. In the December of  1979, Mr. Faqih Imani was holding a lecture in a meeting in the Hosseiniyah of the late Hajj Mehdi Haghighi on Hatef Street in Isfahan. The meeting was after the evening prayers. After the meeting, because he was in a hurry to get to the next meeting, he was probably one of the first people to leave the parliament. At that moment, two motorcyclists came and shot him with their pistols.

Rahmani: Was the name of the assailant later identified?

Faqih Imani: Yes, his name was specified; it was Hassan Tajj. One of Hajj Mr. Faqih Imani’s neighbors, who had come out with him, at a distance of 7-8 or 10 meters narrated:" When I saw Hassan Tajj, I immediately shout," "I was wearing a dark blue suit," he said. At that time, the uniform of police officers was a dark blue suit. He looked and thought I was a police officer. He jumped on the engine and left. "He was ready to shoot the second and third." The bullet had entered from under his ear and had broken all his jaws and teeth. It had split his tongue longitudinally and came out of his other side of the cheek. His tongue only had about 17 stitches. Later, when he continued their treatment in Tehran and abroad, their jaws were coiled for a while. The traces of bullet fragments remained until the end of his life. For about 45 days, his food was only liquids. After the assassination, it was very difficult for him to talk and eat for a long time because the salivary ducts were cut off and his mouths were constantly dry. Naturally, they could no longer go to the pulpit, and it was very difficult for them to eat for the rest of his lives, and there was always a glass of water by his side to help moisten the mouth. This happened to him on Friday. The second option was the late Eng. Bahrainian, the head of the Isfahan Revolutionary Committees, who worked under Ayatollah Khademi, which took place on Sunday. He had learned from the experience of the previous two nights. The late Eng. Bahrainian was assassinated in the back alleys of Masjid Sayyid Street, near the Darbekushk Mosque (now Ayatollah Tayeb Street), and 64 bullets were fired at his body, that is, 64 bullets. Then the people dispersed and arrested about 4 people around his body. They were taken to prison and confessions were taken from them, which led to the identification of Hassan Tajj.

Rahmani: That is, the murderer was identified through the killers of the Eng. Bahraini?

Faqih Imani: Yes, he confessed; But first it was identified in this way. These individuals were very influential in Isfahan. The late Qudusi, the Attorney General of the Revolution, sent an officer to Isfahan four times on the orders of Mr. Khomeini, saying that the detainees should come to Tehran to be sentenced. They refused to hand over these people. For the fifth time, Mr. Qudusi ordered the army and army commandos to go there by helicopter; therefore, they went there and entered the prison and said, "We want to take these individuals." Seven of them people were arrested at that time. Among these seven individuals, three of them were not in prison. and four of them were in prison. Haj Agha was quoted as saying: " when the army commandos asked for where are these three people, the prison officials replied: 'Mr. ... (an Isfahan city official) has released them on bail." They were transferred to Tehran, but the case was silenced after a while and they were released. After being transferred to Tehran, the family of the late Bahrainian also tried hard to follow out the case, but because they were supported by Mehdi Hashemi's gang and he had great support at the time, all assassination cases remained silent until around 1986, when Mehdi Hashemi was arrested. At the end of Mr. Rishshahri's book of political memoirs, which is part of Mehdi Hashemi's confession, he says: "We carried out the assassination of Mr. Faqih Imani." There is also a part that lists the names of those arrested in this case. I do not remember the rest of the people, but concerning Hassan Tajj, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison for this act, after which he spent about a year and a half and was later released. There has been an objection to this case for 5 years and why he was released. It is another matter. A person who shoots a Muslim is a warlord, even if that person is not killed, and the sentence of the warlord is not 5 years.  Another objection is why the case was not pursued; there is a lot to be said.

Rahmani: Was there any response from Mr. Montazeri's office or his relatives in this regard?

Faqih Imani: No.

Rahmani: Do you have any memories of his activities after the assassination?

Faqih Imani: After the assassination, he could not teach, nor could he go to the pulpit, nor did he have the mood for going to the mosque, and the congregational prayers. Therefore, he almost became Stay-at-home man. This house was a blessing for him and it was the writing of works about the Imamate and the guardianship of the Infallibles Imams (peace be upon them) and Mahdavism. Most of his works were written during this period and he wrote valuable books about the guardianship of Imam Ali (PBUH) and Infallibles Imams (PBUH), which, thank God, were very positive works.

 


[1] This interview was conducted on 2020-December-30 with Mr. Mohammad Faqih Imani, son of the late Ayatollah Sheikh Mehdi Faqih Imani

 
 


 
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