Iranian dissident group The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOR) has warned the more than two million Muslims heading to Mecca for the religious ritual to be cautious of Tehran’s alleged policy of orchestrating terrorist activity abroad.
PMOI spokesman Shahin Gobadi claims Iran’s clerical regime has attempted to “exploit the Hajj situation” by deploying a specialist division of the Revolutionary Guards (RG) to sow discord.
He claims the Quds Force, an offshoot of the RG responsible for their extraterritorial operations, aim to recruit Islamic extremists and fundamentalists to “wreak havoc” during the pilgrimage.
The Quds Force, whose members report directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, has been designated as a supporter of terrorism since 2007 by the United States.
“The sad reality is that the clerical regime tries to exploit the Hajj occasion and has tried to create crisis and wreak havoc during the Hajj at any available opportunity,” Gobadi, whose exiled PMOI advocates the overthrow of the Iranian regime, told Daily Star Online.
“Tehran has paid no heed to the fact that the message and the essence of Hajj is peace and friendship.”
Iran has a well-documented track record of co-opting terrorist organisations to spread its revolutionary ideology and support its foreign policy goals across the globe.
A US State Department report, published in July 2017, named Iran as the world’s “most active” state sponsor of terrorism via its involvement in foreign conflicts in the Middle East.
Gobadi said he does not have “specific information” on a terror plot and Iranians who attend Hajj “do not face any particular threat that is different than other pilgrims”.
He said Iranian pilgrims should be mindful of the regime’s alleged policy of dispatching the Quds Force “to export terrorism” to Saudi Arabia during Hajj.
“Export of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism has been a pillar of the clerical regime as the main state-sponsor of terrorism,” Gobadi said.
“This regime has acted as the metropolis of terrorism and Islamic extremism for the past 40 years.
“The Muslim countries in the region have been the primary target of the export of Islamic fundamentalism and extremism.”
Hajj, which starts today, is a mandatory religious duty that is carried out by all able-bodied adult Muslims at least once in their lifetime.
Muslims of all creeds from all over the world are expected to travel to Mecca for the five-day pilgrimage, among them an estimated 85,000 Iranians.
Iranians have stayed away from Hajj in recent years after a deadly crush killed thousands of people at the pilgrimage of 2015, which was attended by 1.8million Muslims.
The Iranian regime accused Saudi authorities of blocking a road during a ritual, causing large crowds of pilgrims to collide.
Riyadh severed political relations with Tehran over several controversial incidents, including the the execution of a prominent Shia cleric in Saudi Arabia in January 2016.
A bitter war of words has ensued since, with Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman comparing Khamenei to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in March this year.
Source » dailystar