Saudi ambassador assassination plot suspect linked to Hezbollah and Bahrain unrest
The details of the assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador in the United States have always been intriguing but as more details unravel, the case gets more interesting. This is not only due to the fact that Iran has requested the extradition of Gholam Shakouri, an alleged accomplice in the plot, to be tried for carrying out terrorist operations in the United States, but also because of the suspect’s background.
According to information obtained by Al Arabiya, Behnam Gholam Shakouri was born in the city of Hamadan, southwest of Tehran. He joined the Iranian Revolutionary Guard during the Iran-Iraq war and was accused by the opposition of involvement in the mass execution of 4,500 political prisoners in 1988, during the reign of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini.
In 1990, Shakouri was transferred to al-Quds Force, a unit of the Revolutionary Guard, thanks to his absolute loyalty to the supreme leader, who at the time would dismiss all those who did not tow his line.
Shakouri’s performance at al-Quds Force, which involved tasks like eliminating opposition figures, got him noticed and he soon ended up being the closest aid of unit leader Lieutenant General Qassem Suleimani. He was promoted to Colonel then to Brigadier General, a position he still holds.
Shakouri used to contact the supreme leader through Asghar Mir Hejazi, one of the founders of the Iranian intelligence service and former Deputy Intelligence Minister.
Shakouri’s ties to Hezbollah constitute one of the most interesting bits of information obtained about him. In fact, Shakouri has an office in Southern Lebanon and is in direct contact with Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naeem Qassem.
He has another office in the city of Bushehr in western Iran from which he supervises Gulf countries affairs. He is specifically in charge of the Bahrain file and his main mission is “exporting the Islamic Revolution” to the nation-island.
He is also believed to have been involved in the Shiite riots that took place in Bahrain for which he is said to have contacted pro-Iranian activists in Bahrain, including opposition leader Hussein Mushaima.
According to Western sources, the last contact between Shakouri and Mushaima took place in February in the Lebanese capital of Beirut where they are said to have organized the unrest. The Bushehr office reportedly recruited several Bahrainis who came to the Iranian capital of Tehran via Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.
The assassination plot in which Shakouri is said to have taken part sheds light once more not only on Iran’s attempts to gain more power in the region, but also on the role of the Revolutionary Guard and al-Quds force in particular towards this end.
According to statements made by al-Quds Force leader Lieutenant General Qassem Suleimani, the notorious unit took part in 239 operations carried out for the supreme leader last year in the southern Iranian province Khorasan.
Being the head of the Iranian Armed Forces, the supreme leader is not only informed of all the activities of the Revolutionary Guard and its units, but also has the power to issue orders to all their leaderships.
(This article was translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)