The man Iran intends to send to America as its new United Nations ambassador is accused of helping organize the political assassination of an Iranian dissident in Italy.
Hamid Aboutalebi is at the center of a controversy over whether the Obama administration and the State Department will grant him a visa to come to the U.S.
He has been accused of being an accomplice in a brazen murder plot that killed a prominent Iranian government defector, Mohamed Hossein Naghdi, 42, who was shot dead in Rome as he was being driven to work on March 16, 1993.
“Hamid Aboutalebi definitely was not only involved in the political assassination of Naghdi, but he was actually the mastermind,” charges Alireza Jafarzadeh, the Washington, D.C. based Deputy Director of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, also referred to as the MEK, the group for which Naghdi worked.
Until now, opponents of the U.S. granting Aboutalebi a visa have focused on his role as a member of the student militant organization that stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, sparking the Iranian hostage crisis that held 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days.
He has told Iranian media that he was only a translator for some of the freed hostages and was not part of the initial embassy takeover. He later went on to become a veteran Iranian diplomat.
But the U.S. State Department has called his appointment as U.N. ambassador “extremely troubling” and the White House has called it “not viable.”
“What is astonishing to me is, how can the U.S. allow someone who was involved in terror assassinations to come to this country and represent Iran at the United Nations?” the Council’s Jafarzadeh told Fox News.
“At the time of Naghdi’s assassination, U.S. officials said that the assassination was part of a larger terror campaign by Iran, but now they are keeping silent. This is inconsistent and unacceptable.
“Last week, Aboutalebi was called “an acknowledged terrorist ” by Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who has sponsored a Senate bill that would bar the Iranian from the United States. The bill that had already passed the Senate, also passed the House on April 10th and is now going to President Obama’s desk for a signature.