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Iran's holy men resemble mafia, Ayatollah runs $95 bn-hedge fund: Pompeo

Iran's religious leaders 'hypocritical holy men', resemble mafia: Pompeo

AP | PTI  |  Simi Valley 

Pak-US cooperation on counter-terrorism must be kept low: CIA chief
Mike Pompeo. Photo: Reuters

US Secretary of State on Monday called the religious leaders of "hypocritical holy men" who amassed vast sums of wealth while allowing their people to suffer, part of a highly critical broadside issued as the republic approached the 40th anniversary of its Islamic revolution and prepared to reimpose economic sanctions.

"Sometimes it seems the world has become desensitised to the regime's authoritarianism at home and its campaigns of violence abroad, but the proud Iranian people are not staying silent about their government's many abuses," Pompeo said in prepared remarks for a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

"And the under Trump will not stay silent either. In light of these protests and 40 years of regime tyranny, I have a message for the people of Iran: The hears you. The supports you. The United States is with you," he said.

Pompeo castigated Iran's political, judicial and military leaders, too, accusing several by name of participating in widespread corruption.

He also said the government has "heartlessly repressed its own people's human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms."

America's top diplomat was particularly barbed in his remarks about "the Ayatollahs," saying they "are in on the act, too."

He said Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi has generated more than $100 million for himself in the illicit trade of sugar; that Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani is worth millions after the government transferred several lucrative mines to his foundation; and that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has an off-the-books hedge fund, Setad, worth $95 billion.

"The level of corruption and wealth among regime leaders shows that is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government," he said.

Pompeo's remarks were aimed in part at Iranian-Americans and Iranians living in the US.

He assured them that the shared their dreams for the people of He also expressed support for those Iranians who have protested their government's actions and called its response "brutal."

"The specific grievances differ. But all those voicing dissatisfaction share one thing: they have been ill-treated by a Revolutionary regime. Iranians want to be governed with dignity, accountability and respect," he said.

Pompeo said the US is undertaking a diplomatic and financial pressure campaign to cut off funds, focusing on reimposing sanctions on its and energy sectors. withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal in May and the first sanctions to be reimposed were expected to hit on August 4.

"We are asking every nation, every nation who is sick and tired of the Islamic Republic's destructive behavior to join our pressure campaign. This especially goes for our allies in the and Europe, people who have themselves been terrorised by the violent regime's activity for decades," he said.

First Published: Mon, July 23 2018. 09:06 IST