Iranian intelligence agents target, arrest Christian converts
Iran’s ayatollahs are showing frustration with Iranians leaving Islam for Christianity in large numbers despite the threat of execution for apostasy.
A former intelligence officer in the Guards, who has now defected to Europe, told The Daily Caller that the country’s regime has ordered the domestic intelligence apparatus to use drastic measures to stop them — including imprisonment, torture and the mass-burning of Bibles.
According to a report by Mohammad Reza Modaber, the chief editor of the Christian Farsi language Mohabat News, two Christian converts in their mid 20s were arrested in April after intelligence agents entered their home in Tehran without warrants.
One agent, responding to the mother of the arrested who asked where they were taking her children and why, responded mockingly, “Tell Jesus to come and rescue them.”
TheDC’s source who was formerly an Iranian intelligence officer indicated that in the city of Shiraz alone, with a population of over one million, there were 30,000 files at the intelligence headquarters on individuals who had converted to Christianity.
“The Guards intelligence has assigned a unit in major cities, across the country, with the order to infiltrate their groups, identifying pastors and the members, then make arrests, forcing them under torture to agree to appear on TV confessing to criminal activities and having connection with Israel or America,” he said.
Among other torture methods, spouses of the arrested converts are brought in and beaten in front of them to make them collaborate, while others are kept in total darkness in dungeon-type cells for weeks with no human contact, so that they lose sense of time.
The April 30 Mohabat report indicates that in recent days prosecutors at the notorious Evin prison have introduced a new tactic: ordering parents of arrested Christian converts arrested to appear at the prison to explain their children’s activities.
Tens of thousands of Bibles smuggled into the country have been confiscated and burned by the Guards under the order of the Islamic regime. In one case, TheDC’s source said, the office of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered the Guards to burn all confiscated Bibles in order to further stop conversions.
The Bible, Khamenei’s office insisted, is not considered a holy book.
Grand Ayatollah Jafar Sobhani, in a recent statement to Hawzah News that reflected the views of the Iranian ayatollahs in the holy city of Qom, said that the Quran was the last holy book providing the most complete religion to the world, and that the prophet Muhammad was the last prophet. There is no authorization in Iran, he said, for following previous books.
“There are no accurate figures as to the number of Christian converts who have been arrested in different cities in Iran,” Pastor Modaber said, “because Christian organizations, in order to lessen the pressure by the regime on the families of arrested, do not reveal the names.”
“The situation for Christian converts leaving Iran is no different and has become quite difficult,” he said. “In recent months a group calling themselves the Revolutionary Guards Unit 400, through voice mails and emails, have threatened the converts with death and harm to their families.”
Though these threats have existed before, the pastor said, now they have increased — with a focus on Christian converts who have left Iran.
The case of one Christian pastor convert, Youcef Naderkhani, a father of two who was arrested more than two years ago and sentenced to death, made international headlines that forced the Islamic regime to delay the sentence, though he remains on death row.
Naderkhani’s attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, was himself recently arrested and sentenced to 9 years in prison. He told reporters that he was “convicted of acting against the national security, spreading propaganda against the regime and keeping banned books at home.”
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and the author of the award winning book “A Time to Betray.” He is a senior Fellow with EMPact America, a member of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and teaches at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA).