Tehran, Iran, Aug. 24 – Analysts
and defectors from Iran’s booming arms industry believe that the
appointment as Defence Minister of an
ultra-Islamist regarded as the father of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards’
operations beyond the country’s borders could have a direct impact on the
supply of sophisticated weapons and bombs to terrorist groups operating in
Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar was all but assured of an easy confirmation vote
by Iran’s Islamist-dominated parliament on
Tuesday, when none of the deputies rose to speak against his nomination.
“Mohammad-Najjar was the first commander of the
Revolutionary Guards’ Middle East branch and is committed to export of Iran’s Islamic revolution”, said
Nasser Akbarian, a former Iranian army officer
who now lives in Germany. “As Defence
Minister, he will be in a unique position to take care of all the
logistical needs of the Qods Force for its
operations in Iraq and in other parts of the
The Qods Force is one of the five main branches
of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and has the task of conducting
operations beyond Iran’s borders.
Mohammad-Najjar hinted at a role for the Ministry
of Defence in the IRGC’s
extra-territorial activities in support of Iran’s proxy groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian
territories, when he told Majlis deputies on
Monday said that he would pay special attention to “the production of
equipment related to asymmetric warfare”.
Asymmetric warfare is the term used by the IRGC strategists to describe the
role of unconventional methods in their war planning, including the use of
suicide operations and weapons of mass destruction.
“Iran has already made a deep impact on the
military situation in Iraq by giving the terrorists more
powerful bombs”, said Simon Bailey of the London-based Gulf Intelligence
Monitor. “With his close ties to the Qods Force,
the new defence minister could help the force’s
Iraqi operations in a significant way”.
Mohammad-Najjar said he also planned to upgrade
the country’s weapons systems and missiles after assuming the post of defence minister.
The veteran Revolutionary Guards commander also expressed confidence that
under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
himself a former IRGC commander, the military would develop greater ties
with the country’s industrial sector.
Mohammad-Najjar, who spent most of his time as
commander of IRGC’s Middle East forces in Lebanon between 1981 and 1985, has been
implicated in the suicide bombing of the U.S. Marines compound in Beirut airport in October 1983, which
killed 241 Americans.
On October 23, 1983, a suicide bomber drove a large
water delivery truck to the Beirut International Airport, killing 241 U.S. servicemen as they slept in
their temporary barracks.
Mohammad-Najjar expanded the IRGC’s
presence and influence in Lebanon, both directly and through its
proxies, and established active ties with radical Palestinian and Arab
groups in the region.
Mohammad-Najjar’s forces were also actively
expanding their clandestine presence in Iran’s southern neighbours,
including Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Mohammad-Najjar became head of the IRGC’s Military Industries Organisation
in 1985. On his watch, the MIO developed a range of weapons that were
suited for terrorist operations, including powerful plastic explosives, a
man-portable version of mini-Katyusha rockets,
and finally the 320-mm “super mortars” that were intended for use by the
Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force for terrorist
operations in Europe and the Middle East.