An Iranian-British businessman was abducted by an Iran-backed militia in Iraq and handed over to Iranian authorities on Monday, Al Arabiya has learned.
The abductee, Mohammad Khatami, was captured along with two others, according to Al Arabiya sources. The two were released, but Khatami was handed over to the Intelligence Organization of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Monday, according to Al Arabiya sources.
Khatami, who comes from a prominent Shia religious family, was in Iraq to spend the final days of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in the Shia holy cities of Karbala and Najaf, the sources said.
Khatami’s father was an associate of Iran’s former supreme leader and founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The two studied together in seminaries in the Shia holy cities of Qom and Najaf.
Khatami himself was born in Iraq before the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.
Khatami settled in Iran with along with Khomeini before 1979 and was later involved in the establishment of the IRGC soon after the revolution.
In 1988, Khatami defected from the regime. The same year, he was abducted by Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah and handed over to Iran.
Then-Supreme Leader Khomeini ordered his release following mediation efforts by Khatami’s father, who was a long-time associate of Khomeini.
Khatami then left for Britain, where he settled with his wife and children and started doing business.
Several dual and foreign nationals are currently under arrest in Iran.
Tehran is accused of arresting foreign nationals on trumped-up charges and using them as hostages in an effort to win concessions from other countries.
In 2019, Iranian journalist Ruhollah Zam was abducted in Iraq and taken to Iran where he was executed a year later.