Ebrahim Raisi, the then caretaker of AQR, offers Qassem Soleimani, commander of terrorist Quds Force, the highest honorary title of AQR, July 21, 2018, Mashhad, Iran

Iran Regime Uses Religious Foundations to Spread Terrorism and Extremist Policies

Ebrahim Raisi, the then caretaker of AQR, offers Qassem Soleimani, commander of terrorist Quds Force, the highest honorary title of AQR, July 21, 2018, Mashhad, Iran

Ebrahim Raisi, the then caretaker of AQR, offers Qassem Soleimani, commander of terrorist Quds Force, the highest honorary title of AQR, July 21, 2018, Mashhad, Iran

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the main opposition to the Iranian regime, has been exposing the Iranian regime’s crimes for many years. It has revealed information that even foreign intelligence agencies have been unable to find out.

In a report on its website, the NCRI has explained the role of a so-called “religious foundation” with regards to the regime’s terrorism and extremist activities.

It also uses NGOs and religious foundations to recruit spies in Western countries and to attract terrorists to work on foreign missions. The networks it uses are complicated and appear to have no surface link to Iran, giving the regime the distance it needs to hide connections.

Because of the nature of the organizations, they are not monitored or subjected to any sort of financial scrutiny.

Astan-e Quds Razavi (AQR) is a religious and financial foundation that the regime uses to further its ambitions. In fact, it is one of the most important foundations for the Iranian regime with regard to the financing of terrorism and fundamentalism. The foundation is also used by the regime to recruit mercenaries and spies and is the perfect way for the regime to do so without being flagged.

The NCRI pointed out that former US Air Force intelligence officer Monica Witt was recruited through an organization funded by the AQR.

The NCRI highlights that the foundation’s massive income is from “the people’s centuries-long financial endowments to the shrine of Shiite Islam’s 8th leader, Imam Reza”.

Earlier this year, a government official in Iran admitted that there are four institutions in Iran that control approximately two-thirds of the country’s national wealth. Behzad Nabavi said that this includes the “Executive Headquarters of Imam’s Directive (Setad Ejraie Farman Imam), Khatam-ol-Anbiay Base, Astan-e Quds and Foundation of the Oppressed and Disabled”. He emphasized that these organizations have nothing to do with the government.

AQR may not be the richest organization in the country, but it does have the biggest Islamic financial endowment. It manages all of the endowments that have been made over the years. In the past four decades, there have only been three custodians. No one has the authority (other than the Supreme Leader) to audit AQR and it is exempt from tax.

Tens upon thousands of people are employed by the organization and it owns 43 percent of real estate in Mashhad. It also has considerable land assets across the rest of the country, with a value of approximately 20 billion dollars. AQR also has oil rigs of which it has full control. Same for imports and exports and a number of mines across the country.

AQR is known to finance an institution that was sanctioned by the US State Department earlier this year – New Horizon. New Horizon, according to the NCRI, provides “cultural cover for the Quds Force’s terrorist acts” and obtains “security intelligence”. New Horizon has also played a major role in the Iranian regime’s disinformation campaign seeking to discredit the Iranian Resistance.

New Horizon was the organization that recruited Monica Witt who has provided the regime with classified intelligence about her colleagues and other US intelligence resources.

AQR has also been actively funding and providing logistical and material support to terrorist groups, including the Lebanese Hezbollah group.

Raisi, the current judiciary chief and former AQR custodian, has previously spoken about the importance of AQR’s cultural projects in Lebanon. In reality, what has been happening is that more agents were being recruited by the regime.

In May this year, state-run media reported that the current custodian of the organization, Ahmad Marvai, met with the families of deceased members of terrorist organizations including Hezbollah. AQR has long been supporting the families of Iranian agents that died during missions abroad.

With regard to the Iranian regime’s promotion of Islamic extremist activities in Africa, AQR has played a major role. The head of the organization’s Office of International Relations and Cooperation, Mullah Mohammad Mehdi Sibavi, met with a Hezbollah official in March last year to speak about cooperation between the two countries, declaring that they would start projects in Africa that same year.

Ibrahim Zakzaki is the regime’s Shiite leader in Nigeria and he was trained by the mullahs. His mindset is that of the Supreme Leader and he adheres to the Iranian regime’s policies. AQR officials have claimed that Iran’s African operations extend beyond Nigeria, citing Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Kenya, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Malawi, and Uganda as major areas in which the regime is concentrating on.

The Iranian regime uses any means possible to spread its malign intentions. As the NCRI describes it, “domestic repression, terrorism and Islamic extremism and warmongering in the region are part of the regime’s DNA”. They are the regime’s pillars and without these the regime will collapse.

The massive resources of the AQR Foundation have been plundered. Donations and endowments made by Iranians over the years were supposed to go towards humanitarian projects, not terrorist operations. How is it possible that the state uses a charitable organization for such malign activities?

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