Iranian Defense Minister Appointment Connected to Bombing of Marine Barracks in Lebanon

Latest in a series of controversial appointments by new Iranian president

Aftermath of 1983 Marine Barracks Bombing in Beirut (AP)
August 11, 2013

Iranian President Hassan Rowhani has appointed as his defense minister an Iranian general who was implicated in the 1983 bombing that killed 241 American servicemen in Lebanon, according to an Israeli intelligence official.

Rowhani, who some described as a "moderate" following his election in June, has selected General Hussein Dehghan as his defense minister, according to retired Israeli Brigadier General Shimon Shapira. Shapira was a top intelligence official in the Israeli Defense Forces and remains a leading authority on Hezbollah who recently penned a report on Dehghan for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA).

Dehghan has "spent his entire military career" in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and served as the military group’s commander in Tehran until 1982, according to Shapira.

Dehghan spent many years in Lebanon helping to build the terror group Hezbollah and was later appointed as the IRGC’s top official in that country.

Dehghan received an order to launch a terror assault on the Beirut-based Multinational Force while serving as commander of the IRGC forces in Lebanon in 1983, according to Shapira’s report.

"Instructions for the attack on the Multinational Forces were issued from Tehran to the Iranian ambassador to Damascus, who passed them on to the Revolutionary Guards forces in Lebanon and their Lebanese Shiite allies," the report states.

"According to the U.S. Marine commander, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted on September 26, 1983 the Iranian orders to strike," according to the report. "It is difficult to imagine that such a high-level directive to the Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon would be transmitted without the knowledge of their commander, Hussein Dehghan."

On October 25, 1983, about a month after the order was issued, "a Shiite suicide bomber detonated a truck at the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Marines [and sailors and soldiers]; simultaneously, another Shiite suicide bomber blew up the French paratroopers’ barracks in Beirut, killing 84 soldiers," Shapira recounts in his report.

"The order to carry out the attacks was transmitted, and the funding and operational training provided, with the help of the Revolutionary Guard in Lebanon under the command of Hussein Dehghan—who Iran's new president has [been] selected as the new Iranian defense minister," Shapira writes.

Dehghan’s appointment by Rowhani must still be approved by Iran’s parliament.

Dehghan additionally served as a senior IRGC official in Syria in the early 1980s and spent much of his time in Lebanon establishing a "central command for the Iranian forces," according to Shapira’s report.

In September 1983, Hezbollah, "with the help of the Revolutionary Guard headed by Dehghan, took over the Sheikh Abdullah barracks, which had been seized by Hezbullah," according to the report.

Dehghan is not Rowhani’s only controversial appointment recently: He recently appointed a Holocaust denier to be his foreign minister.

Rowhani’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi has stated in the past that Iran would not back down against the "arrogance" of the United States and its allies.

Rowhani has also drawn fire in recent weeks for calling Israel a "wound" in the Middle East, as well as for reinforcing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Some Iran experts have begun to cast doubt on the notion that Rowhani is a so-called moderate.

"There should be no doubt the man is one of ‘Them’—an unabashed Islamist: if he is a moderate or a reformer, I’m the Jolly Green Giant," Peyvand Khorsandi wrote last week in the Independent.