Iran’s Intelligence Services Compete For Glory

By Alex Vatanka | Senior Fellow - Middle East Institute | Feb 27, 2017
Iran’s Intelligence Services Compete For Glory

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has responded to claims by the leadership of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) about the number of successful operations the latter has carried out in recent years. Hossein Nejat, the deputy head of the I.R.G.C.’s Intelligence Organization had sought for his group to take credit for a number of operations, including the 2010 arrest of the ethnic Baloch militant leader Abdol-malek Rigi and the January 2016 settlement with the U.S. in which $1.6 billion in Iranian funds were returned to Tehran for a frozen arms deal dating back to the days of the late Shah. Officials at the Intelligence Ministry quickly contradicted Nejat’s account and claimed that the ministry had alone successfully executed the operations that the I.R.G.C. were now claiming as it accomplishments.  

Comment: This is the latest case of institutional rivalry within the Iranian regime, but this episode still does not diminish the stature of Nejat. Nejat was appointed to his latest role in December 2016. Nejat works under Hossein Taib, who is the head of the I.R.G.C. Intelligence Organization. Nejat, however, has a close personal relationship with Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Nejat’s real name is Mohammad Hossein Zibai-Nejad. 

Nejat becomes a known IRGC figure 1981. This is when he becomes a member of the leadership team in the branch of the I.R.G.C. that was given the job to protect top political officials of the Islamic Republic. This was the period when the Mujahedeen Khalq (MEK) was assassinating government officials in the streets. Khamenei was then president when he first met Nejat. In year 2000, Nejat became the head of “Vali Amr,” the I.R.G.C. department that is responsible for Khamenei’s personal safety. 

Nejat was the head of Vali Amr for 10 years, and always close on the side of Khamenei. He is said by many Iranian reformists to be one of the key planners in the crackdown against the 2009 reformist protestors. His appointment and Nejat’s recent attacks on the Green movement and warning about more “sedition” to come shows that the Khamenei and I.R.G.C. are preparing themselves for both the 2017 elections but also the day when Khamenei dies.

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