The media has been eager to portray President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chief rival in today’s Iranian elections as a “reformist” candidate, but a survey of Mir Hussein Moussavi’s record shows him to be yet another radical.
As prime minister during the 1980s, Moussavi was routinely described as a “militant” and “hard-liner” in press accounts. He celebrated Islamists’ seizure of of the U.S. Embassy, backed the Supreme Leader’s call for author Salman Rushdie’s murder, and had ties to Lebanese terrorist goup Hezbollah. He has been quoted as referring to America as “the Great Satan” and to Israel as a “cancerous tumor.”
A Nexis search of old reports from the New York Times yielded these descriptions of Moussavi (I’ve placed the dates in parentheses):
“…Prime Minister Mir Hussein Moussavi, one of the Iranian regime’s most severe militants.” (Feb. 17, 1989)
“Iran’s Prime Minister, Mir Hussein Moussavi, a prominent member of the militant wing in the Iranian leadership who has opposed economic liberalization at home and political openings to the West, added his voice today to the growing current of combativeness in Iran.” (Feb. 22, 1989)
“Another prominent hard-liner was also left off the new Cabinet list: Mir Hussein Moussavi, the current Prime Minister…”(Aug. 20, 1989)
In the Feb. 22 story I cited above, it says, Moussavi “asserted that Ayatollah Khomeini’s orders to kill Mr. Rushdie for what Iranian fundamentalists say is the blaspheming of Islam in his book ‘The Satanic Verses’ would be carried out, according to a Teheran radio broadcast monitored by the Associated Press in Nicosia.”
On October 9, 1981, the Times spoke to Moussavi, and he addressed the seizure of the U.S. Embassy:
In the interview, Mr. Moussavi said Westerners in general and Americans in particular also had difficulty understanding why Iran held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. The hostage affair served the revolution’s purpose, the Foreign Minister said.
”It was the beginning of the second stage of our revolution,” after the overthrow of the Shah, Mr. Moussavi said. ”It was after this that we rediscovered our true Islamic identity.”
”After this, we felt the sense that we could look Western policy in the eye and analyze it the way they had been evaluating us for many years.”
Moreover, he said, the seizure of the United States Embassy in Teheran ended the ”problem of pro-American circles and their following in Iran.” This was apparently an allusion to the ouster of Mr. Bani-Sadr who, with other secular Iranian officials, had urged that the hostages be released.
A former Iranian intelligence officer has been quoted by Newsmax as saying Moussavi was one of the founders of Hezbollah. Even if one were to dismiss that report, it’s undeniable that he was supportive of Hezbollah. This Associated Press account from Oct. 27, 1985 explains how Moussavi introduced his cabinet (keep in mind that “Party of God” is the translation of “Hezbollah”):
Iran’s official Islamic press agency reported Mr. Moussavi’s comments as Parliament opened debate on nominations to the Cabinet at the start of the second term of Mr. Moussavi and the President, Hojatolislam Ali Khamenei.
The agency, monitored in Nicosia, quoted Mr. Moussavi as saying Ali Akbar Mohtashami, the proposed Interior Minister, was a religious figure noted for his work with the Party of God, in Lebanon. The Party of God is one of the most radical Shiite Moslem groups in Lebanon.
The agency quoted Mr. Moussavi as saying the proposed Minister of Culture and Higher Education, Mohammed Farhadi, was one of the Party of God figures at Teheran University. He referred to former Oil Minister Mohammed Gharazi, nominated to become Minister of Post and Telephone, as ”one of the most revolutionary figures of the country.”
Michael Goldfarb has more, including this from a 1998 Reuters report:
In a Foreign Ministry statement read on Tehran radio today, Iran said that Israel should be annihilated and that implicit recognition of it by the Palestine Liberation Organisation ignored the inalienable rights of the Muslim Palestinan people.
The statement said that the only way to achieve Palestinian rights was continuation of all-out popular struggles against Israel.
Iranian Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi yesterday called Israel a “cancerous tumour” and said the Palestinian move to accept UN Resolution 242 would anger Muslim revolutionaries.
He also notes that, “In 1987, Reuters quoted Mousavi at a demonstration in Tehran saying ‘Tomorrow will be the day we step on the Great Satan. Tomorrow is the time for America to see our iron fists.'”
Even though the president of Iran doesn’t have real power, should Moussavi win, the media will no doubt attempt to portray his election as a “sea change” in Iran. But his long record of radicalism suggests otherwise.