Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story



Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: July, 1988
Location of Killing: Sistan Va Baluchestan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Unspecified extrajudicial method

About this Case

Mr. Nuri was raised in a family that supported the Mojahedin Organization.  One of his brothers was executed in the killings of 1988, another brother disappeared in 1987, and yet another brother had spent time in prison.

Information on the disappearance and killing of Mr. Nuri (First name unknown) has been collected from an interview with the sister of one of his companions, Ms. Farah Mada’en (March 16, November 10, and October 11, 2021; and also April 2 and June 3, 2009) and from Pezhvak e Iran Website (Spring 2010).  Additional information on this killing was gleaned from Jomhuriye Eslami Newspaper (April 24; September 27, 1981), Tasnim News Agency (September 4, 2017; June 24, 2019), Fars News Agency (July 14, 2020), ISNA News Agency (November 18, 2000; August 9, 2002), Marz e Porgohar Party (Recounted in Pezhvak e Iran – August 3, 2021), Mojahedin e Khalq Organization of Iran Website (April 7, 2008), Radio Farda (October 1, 2021), Ma Zanan Website (August 6, 2021), Pezhvak e Iran Website (July 5 and September 22, 2021), Begoo Na News Network (August 10, 2019), Be Yad Ar Telegram Channel (July 3, 2021), “Neither Life Nor Death” book by Iraj Masadaghi, Volume 4, Second Print (2006), Payam e Emrooz Publication, #34 (October 2008), Radio Farhang (November 23, 2020), Voice Of America You Tube Channel – last page (November 27, 2015), Radio Zamaneh Website (July 29, 2016), Jamaran Website (July 24, 2013), Tarikh e Irani Website (October 12, 2013), Asr e Iran Website (August 17, 2006), Ali Arab Shahi Facebook page (June 17, 2013), and “Listening to Ghosts” book by Reza Golpour Chamarkouhi, Volume 1 (October 22, 2002).  

Mr. Nuri (First name unknown) was living in Tehran (Boroumand Center interview with the sister of one of Mr. Nuri’s companions, June 3, 2009).  

Mr. Nuri’s other brother, Mr. Ata'ollah Nuri, had spent some time in prison, up until 1987 (Boroumand Center interview with the sister of one of Mr. Nuri’s companions, October 11, 2021, April 2 and June 3, 2009).

The Mojahedin Khalq Organization 

The Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) was founded in 1965. This organization adapted the principles of Islam as its ideological guideline. However, its members’ interpretation of Islam was revolutionary and they believed in armed struggle against the Shah’s regime. They valued Marxism as a progressive method for economic and social analysis but considered Islam as their source of inspiration, culture, and ideology. In the 1970s, the MKO was weakened when many of its members were imprisoned and executed. In 1975, following a deep ideological crisis, the organization refuted Islam as its ideology and, after a few of its members were killed and other Muslim members purged, the organization proclaimed Marxism as its ideology. This move led to split of the Marxist-Leninist Section of the MKO in 1977. In January of 1979, the imprisoned Muslim leaders of the MKO were released along with other political prisoners. They began to re-organize the MKO and recruit new members based on Islamic ideology. After the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the MKO accepted the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini and supported the Revolution. Active participation in the political scene and infiltration of governmental institutions were foremost on the organization’s agenda.  During the first two years after the Revolution, the MKO succeeded in recruiting numerous sympathizers, especially in high schools and universities; but its efforts to gain political power, either by appointment or election, were strongly opposed by the Islamic Republic leaders. (1)

Background of Extrajudicial Killings by the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran has a long history of politically motivated violence in Iran and around the world. Since the 1979 Revolution, Islamic Republic operatives inside and outside the country have engaged in kidnapping, disappearing, and killing a large number of individuals whose activities they deemed undesirable. The actual number of the victims of extrajudicial killings inside Iran is not clear; however, these murders began in February 1979 and have continued since then, both inside and outside Iran. The Abdorrahman Boroumand Center has so far identified over 540 killings outside Iran attributed to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Dissidents have been assassinated by the agents of the Islamic Republic outside Iran in countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, India, and Pakistan in Asia; Dubai, Iraq, and Turkey in the Middle East; Cyprus, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Great Britain in Europe; and the United States across the Atlantic Ocean. In most cases there has not been much published and the local authorities have not issued arrest warrants. But documentation, evidence, and traces obtained through investigations conducted by local police and judicial authorities confirm, however, the theory of state committed crimes. In certain cases, these investigations have resulted in the expulsion or arrest of Iranian diplomats. In limited cases outside Iran, the perpetrators of these murders have been arrested and put on trial and the evidence presented, revealed the defendants’ connection to Iran’s government institutions, and an arrest warrant has been issued for Iran’s Minister of Information.

The manner in which these killings were organized and implemented in Iran and abroad, is indicative of a single pattern which, according to Roland Chatelin, the Swiss prosecutor, contains common parameters and detailed planning. It can be ascertained from the similarities between these murders in different countries that the Iranian government is the principal entity who ordered the implementation of these crimes. Iranian authorities have not officially accepted responsibility for these murders and have even attributed their commission to internal strife in opposition groups. Nevertheless, since the very inception of the Islamic Republic regime, the Islamic Republic officials have justified these crimes from an ideological and legal standpoint. In the spring of 1979, Sadeq Khalkhali, the first Chief Shari’a Judge of the Islamic Revolutionary Courts, officially announced the regime’s decision to implement extrajudicial executions, and justified the decision: “ … These people have been sentenced to death; from the Iranian people’s perspective, if someone wants to assassinate these individuals abroad, in any country, no government has any right to bring the perpetrator to trial as a terrorist, because such a person is the implementing agent of the sentence issued by the Islamic Revolutionary Court. Therefore, they are Mahduroddam and their sentence is death regardless of where they are.” More than 10 years after these proclamations, in a speech about the security forces’ success, Ali Fallahian, the regime’s Minister of Information stated the following regarding the elimination of members of the opposition: “ … We have had success in inflicting damage to many of these little groups outside the country and on our borders”

At the same time, various political, judicial, and security officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran have, at different times and occasions, confirmed the existence of a long term government policy for these extrajudicial killings and in some cases their implementation. (3)

The Al-Qadir Program: Kidnapping and Murder of the MKO by the Ministry of Information

Revolutionary forces and institutions started killing political opponents and minorities beginning in the first months of the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) members and supporters inside and outside Iran became a target and dozens of them were killed prior to the declaration of armed action by that Organization on June 20, 1981. (Boroumand Center research).

In their confessions given in the course of interrogations, most Serial Murders defendants alluded to the plan devised for the “kidnapping” and “elimination” of MKO members or supporters, called Al-Qadir, the primary responsibility for which lied with the “Elteghat” (literally meaning picking, choosing, and combining concepts that are not always in conformity with each other) General Division”. (Marze Porgohar Party (quoted in Pezhvak-e Iran, August 3, 2021). This Division – which was established in the Revolutionary Guards Corps prior to the declaration of armed action by the MKO and had subsequently been moved to the Ministry of Information – was one of the three divisions engaged in the analysis, pursuit, and clashes with groups opposed to the Islamic Republic, and charged with and responsible for dealing with Moslem groups such as the MKO, Forqan (4), and Arman-e Mostaz’afin (5). (Tasnim News Agency, June 24, 2019). According to a security official who spoke under an assumed name, the Elteghat Division functioned under the Ministry of Information’s Office of the Deputy for Security Affairs. “It also had the largest manpower, as there were between 150 to 200 employees of the Ministry’s Elteghat Division.” (Tasnim News Agency, June 24, 2019). Ali Ahmadi (Nazeri), who, according to Mehrdad Aalikhani, Head of the Ministry of Information’s New Left Office and one of the main defendants of the Serial Murders, was one of the “main people in the Al-Qadir Program”, had confirmed in his confession that “these types of activities (i.e. the murder of opponents) have been taking place for years and security and intelligence systems do have and do resort to such methods … These types of activities were customary in the Ministry of Information, and they presented no issues in practice”. (Marze Porgohar Party (quoted in Pezhvak-e Iran, August 3, 2021).

According to Nasser Zarafshan, the attorney representing a number of the victims of the Serial Murders’ families, at least two different Deputyship offices of the Ministry of Information and three different General Divisions of said Ministry were involved in the killings. (Voice of America YouTube Channel, November 27, 2015). According to the confessions of Ministry of Information officials, the most important sections involved in the murder of MKO members and supporters were probably [the Ministry’s] Office of the Deputy for Security Affairs and the departments functioning under it, i.e. the Elteghat General Division and the Operations Division. (6)

According to a security official who spoke under an assumed name, the MKO started taking action in pulling out its forces from Iran around spring of 1982: “After we found out about this, we set up traps in the west of the country.” (Tasnim News Agency, June 24, 2019). According to another security official, Islamic Republic security agents had moles in the MKO starting as early as 1981: “The moles had infiltrated the Organization and had also been recruited by it.” (Tasnim News Agency, June 24, 2019). In an interview regarding the infiltration of information forces into opposition groups, Ali Fallahian, [then-President] Hashemi Rafsanjani’s Minister of Information, stated: “ … It wasn’t jinns and angels that provided us with information … In order to combat groups that engaged in the traffic of contraband; explosives; pornographic movies, pictures, and brochures; and in order to combat anti-revolutionaries and Monafeghin, we had no alternative but to infiltrate these groups …” (Kayhan, May 26, 2001). Although the mechanism for the kidnapping and murder of supporters and members of the MKO under the Al-Qadir Program is not clear, it seems, however, that one of its most important objectives was to prevent MKO members and supporters from joining the Organization in Camp Ashraf in Iraq.

Available evidence also indicates that efforts were made by supporters and members of the MKO to leave the country through the Sistan and Baluchestan Province border. In a conversation with the Islamic Revolution Documents Center website, Bahram Noruzi, a commander in the Police Force, explained that he was stationed in the south of the country until around 1983, and said this about the MKO members and supporters’ exit route from Iran’s eastern border: “We received information that an exit route had begun from Zahedan, and an order [requiring us to edal with the issue]. Combatting narcotics traffic was also an issue that we were dealing with. They issued a two-month mission deployment for me in Sistan and Baluchestan Province. That two-month mission lasted six years.” (Islamic Revolution Documents Center website, July 14, 2020).

In spite of the fact that this former police official has spoken about the arrest of MKO members who intended to leave the country (Islamic Revolution Documents Center website, July 14, 2020) and several witnesses have also talked or written about the imprisonment of these individuals (the book Na Zistan, Na Marg (“Neither Living Nor Dying”)), the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center’s research has identified individuals that were kidnapped and murdered by Ministry of Information agents as they were attempting to leave the country in that same period. (Boroumand Center research).

According to Mehrdad Aalikhani’s confession, the Ministry of Information was in possession of a building near Behesht Zahra Cemetery, the rooms and open spaces of which were used to kill the victims. He talked in his account about how Ministry of Information operatives killed one of the victims in that building “in a very professional and controlled manner”, without leaving a trace. (Marze Porgohar Party (quoted in Pezhvak-e Iran, August 3, 2021). Abdorrahman Boroumand Center research indicates that a number MKO members and supporters and families of those executed, found [and would run into] each other at Behesht Zahra Cemetery. It is likely that Ministry of Information agents had established a constant presence at Behesht Zahra through this building, and that they used the Cemetery for the purpose of gathering information and secretly killing or burying members and supporters of the MKO if necessary. (Boroumand Center research).

The connection between, and the continuous nature of, the killings in the fall of 1998, in what came to be known as the Serial Murders, and the killing of people whose death aroused public indignation, brought to the fore [and in full] public view the issue of extrajudicial killings, even though these types of murders had long been a part of the Ministry of information’s annual plans and projects. The killing of members and supporters of the MKO was also one of these projects. It is not clear how many people were killed within the framework of the Al-Qadir Program, and under the project of the “[physical] elimination” of members and supporters of the MKO. The Abdorrahman Boroumand Center has the names of more than 30 individuals who are suspected to have been kidnapped and killed in the course of that Program. (Pezhvak-e Iran, August 3, 2021; the book Na Zistan, Na Marg; Boroumand Center research).

Disappearance and Death of Mr. Nuri (First Name Unknown)

According to available information, in June or July of 1988, with the help of his mother, Mr. Nuri (first name unknown)  tried to leave Iran from the eastern border in Sistan and Baluchestan Province. He was accompanied by several people, including his brother, Mr. Ata'ollah Nuri, Ms. Leila Mada’en, and Ms. Zahra Niakan. They were going to join Camp Ashraf (Mojahedin e Khalq Organization) in Iraq.  Ms. Mada’en and Ms. Niakan had met Mr. Nuri’s Mother in Behesht e Zahra. This group stayed in Zahedan, the center of Sistan and Baluchestan Province, for a while.  Since Ms. Mada’en and Ms. Niakan had some contact with their families, they are sure that these two were alive at least until November 1988.  There is no further information on the fate of Mr. Nuri and his brother (Boroumand Center interview with the sister of one of the companions of Mr. Nuri, November 10 and October 11, 2021; April 2 and June 3, 2009).  

One year earlier, in the fall or winter of 1987, another brother of Mr. Nuri, Mr. Ezzat’ullah Nuri, had also tried to join the Mojahedin Organization in Iraq with the help of his mother.  According to available information, he never reached this camp either (Boroumand Center interview with the sister of one of Mr. Nuri’s companions, March 16, November 10, and October 11, 2021).

According to available information, Mr. Nuri was an MKO supporter who disappeared within the framework of a program within the Islamic Republic’s Ministry of Information called Al-Ghadir, designed to kidnap and kill MKO members and supporters. There is no information regarding him and his fellow travelers who had fallen into the trap the Ministry of Information had set up for them to join the MKO in Iraq. Available investigations and research shows that Mr. Nuri and many others that were kidnapped under this program, never reached MKO’s camps in Iraq. A few months prior to Mr. Nuri’s kidnapping, thousands of prisoners, including members of the MKO, who were considered to be “maintaining their [ideological] stance”, had been executed in the course of the Summer of 1988 mass killings. (2) According to available information and the statements of Iranian officials, it is possible that Mr. Nuri and others who disappeared were killed on the basis of that same logic. (Boroumand Center research).

Officials’ Reaction

There is no information on the reaction of officials to this killing.

However, Islamic Republic officials have stressed the necessity for violent action against and physical elimination of the members and supporters of the MKO on numerous occasions. In an interview given when he was the President of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament), Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani considered the MKO to be “a [nefarious and] invalid organization” and said: “It is actually better for an invalid political organization to be in danger and to perish; a righteous organization, however (what we believe in), is one that is based on Islamic tenets and jurisprudence, just like the substance and nature of the Islamic Revolution.” (Jomhuri Eslami newspaper, April 24, 1981). In his lecture given at the city of Tabriz Friday Prayer in September 1981, Ali Meshkini stated: “ … Shari’a Hadd (punishment) which is death, must be carried out against these people [the MKO], wherever it is that they rise up against the Islamic Rule, in the streets and in alleyways ...” (Jomhuri Eslami newspaper, September 27, 1981).

According to available evidence, in the course of the adjudication of the charges against the defendants in the Serial Murders cases, the case against persons involved in and persons who issued the orders to carry out the Al-Ghadir Program was never heard. However, Nasser Zarafshan, the attorney who, in addition to representing a number of the families of known victims of the Serial Murders, also represented several other persons who were thought to have been connected to these murders, was prosecuted, and subsequently arrested in the street in 2002, and taken to jail to serve a five-year prison sentence for disclosing government secrets. (ISNA, August 9, 2002; Radio Farda, March 16, 2007).

Familys’ Reaction

Mr. Nuri’s family have not found any evidence to show that their children got to Camp Ashraf (Boroumand Center interview with the sister of one of Mr. Nuri’s companions).  


1) The exclusion of MKO members from government offices and the closure of their centers and publishing houses, in conjunction with to the Islamic Republic authorities’ different interpretation of Islam, widened the gap between the two. Authorities of the new regime referred to the Mojahedin as “Hypocrites” and the Hezbollahi supporters of the regime attacked the Mojahedin sympathizers regularly during demonstrations and while distributing publications, leading to the death of several MKO supporters. On June 20, 1981, the MKO called for a demonstration protesting their treatment by governmental officials and the government officials’  efforts to impeach their ally, President Abolhassan Banisadr. Despite the fact that the authorities called this demonstration illegal, thousands came to the streets, some of whom confronted the Revolutionary Guardsmen and Hezbollahis. The number of casualties that resulted from this demonstration is unknown but a large number of demonstrators were arrested and executed in the following days and weeks. The day after the demonstration, the Islamic Republic regime started a repressive campaign – unprecedented in modern Iranian history. Thousands of MKO members and sympathizers were arrested or executed. On June 21, 1981, the MKO announced an armed struggle against the Islamic Republic and assassinated a number of high-ranking officials and supporters of the Islamic regime. 
In the summer of 1981, the leader of the MKO and the impeached President (Banisadr) fled Iran to reside in France, where they founded the National Council of Resistance. After the MKO leaders and many of its members were expelled from France, they went to Iraq and founded the National Liberation Army of Iran in 1987, which entered Iranian territory a few times during the Iran-Iraq war. They were defeated in July 1988 during their last operation, the Forugh Javidan Operation. A few days after this operation, thousands of imprisoned Mojahedin supporters were killed during the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988. Ever since the summer of 1981, the MKO has continued its activities outside of Iran. No information is available regarding members and activities of the MKO inside the country. 
In spite of the “armed struggle” announcement by the MKO on June 20, 1981, many sympathizers of the organization had no military training, were not armed, and did not participate in armed conflict.
2) According to the testimonies of some of the political prisoners who were tried during the executions of the summer of 1988 in some of the prisons, the trials took place in a room in the prison after a few weeks of isolation during which prisoners were deprived of visitation, television and radio broadcasts, and outdoors time. In August and September, a three-member delegation composed of the public prosecutor, a religious judge, and a representative of the Ministry of Information asked prisoners questions about their views on Mojahedin, whether they would renounce their beliefs and if they were ready to cooperate against the Mojahedin. 
Based on what the answers were, the prisoners would have been charged with “counter revolutionary, anti-religion and anti-Islam” or “associated with military action or with various [opposition] groups based near the borders” and would be sentenced to death.   The authorities never informed prisoners about the delegation’s purpose and the serious implications of their responses. According to survivors, during the summer of 1988 a large number of prisoners sympathizing with the Mojahedin or Leftist groups were executed for not recanting their beliefs.  
Relatives of political prisoners executed in 1988 refute the legality of the judicial process that resulted in thousands of executions throughout Iran. In their 1988 open letter to then-Minister of Justice Dr. Habibi, they argue that the official secrecy surrounding these executions is proof of their illegality. They note that an overwhelming majority of these prisoners had been tried and sentenced to prison terms, which they were either serving or had already completed when they were retried and sentenced to death.
In their letters to the Minister of Justice (1988) and to the UN Special Rapporteur visiting Iran (February 2003), the families of the victims refer to the authorities’ accusations against the prisoners – accusations that may have led to their execution. These accusations include being “counter-revolutionary, anti-religion, and anti-Islam,” as well as being “associated with military action or with various [opposition] groups based near the borders.” 
An edict of the Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, reproduced in the memoirs of Ayatollah Montazeri, his designated successor, corroborates the reported claims regarding the charges against the executed prisoners. In this edict, Ayatollah Khomeini refers to members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization as “hypocrites” who do not believe in Islam and “wage war against God” and decrees that prisoners who still approve of the positions taken by this organization are also “waging war against God” and should be sentenced to death.   
The same letter, rebutting the accusation that these prisoners (from inside the prison) had collaborated with armed members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization in clashes with armed forces of the Islamic Republic, states that such claims “are false, considering the circumstances in prisons; for our children faced most difficult conditions [in prison, with] visitation rights of once every 15 days, each visitation lasting ten minutes through a telephone, from behind the glass window, and were deprived of any connection with the outside world. We faced such conditions for seven years, which proves the truth of our claim.” 
The details regarding the execution sentence are not available.  Months after the executions, prison authorities informed the families about the executions and handed in the victims’ belongings to their families.  The bodies, however, were not returned to them.  The bodies were buried in mass graves and the locations are not known to the families.  Authorities warned the families of prisoners against holding memorial ceremonies.
3) Read more about the background of extrajudicial killings in the Islamic Republic of Iran by clicking on the left hand highlight with the same title.
4) Forqan was formed in 1977 by a group of Ali Shari’ati’s followers with a modern interpretation of the Qoran and Islamic ideology. It is not clear whether or not the group was armed, but it went underground soon after its formation. Based on documents available in the archives of the Islamic Revolution Documentation Center (gathered and reported by Ahmad Gudarzi on Bacheha-ye Ghalam website), this group opposed from the onset of the Revolution the involvement of the clergy in the government and the particular interpretation of Islam later implemented by the Islamic Republic authorities. In its short period of post-revolutionary activity, the group was accused of involvement in several assassinations and armed robberies, the first one reportedly as early as May 1979, only a couple of months after the triumph of the Revolution. Based on the above mentioned report, most of the known members of the group were executed or killed in clashes with Islamic Revolutionary Committee forces, which led to the total elimination of the group in January 1980.
5) Arman-e Mostaza’fin Organization was founded in the summer of 1976 before the Islamic Revolution. This organization, just like the MKO, were followers of Mohammad Ali Shariati’s ideology, and started their ideological activities after the revolution by publishing a magazine called “Arman or Payam-e Mostaz’afin”. There are a few members in this group and they were mainly active in Dezful (in Khuzestan Province). They were against armed struggle and their ideological activities lasted until February 1982 when their leaders and members were arrested. Although the leaders were not executed, some of the members were executed in different cities.
6) Mehrdad Aalikhani, one of the principal defendants in the Serial Murders case, had stated in his confession that, Sa’eed Emami, Ministry of Information Deputy Minister for Security Affairs in the years 1989 to 1998, had told him: “If you ever leave, be careful not to talk about the work you’ve done in the past; leave those tasks alone.” (Marze Porgohar Party (quoted in Pezhvak-e Iran, August 3, 2021).

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