Report: Mossad refused request to assassinate Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979  

A new book reveals that the Shah of Iran asked the Mossad to assassinate the ayatollah, but the spy agency declined, citing moral reservations. The then-director of Israel’s secret intelligence agency now regrets the decision. 

By: Atara Beck, World Israel News

A new book written by a former Mossad (Israeli secret intelligence service) agent reveals that Israel was asked by the Shah of Iran in 1979 to assassinate the Islamic Republic’s first Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but declined, Ynet reports.

Former Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar, Iran’s last prime minister before the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the deposing of the Shah, relayed the Shah’s request to Mossad agents in Tehran to assassinate the leader of the Islamic Revolution.

Written by former Mossad official Yossi Alpher, the book details secret dealings with the Shah and the unusual request he had made to eliminate the ayatollah.

Eliezer Tzafrir, the Mossad head of station in Iran at the time, received the request from Bakhtiar in January 1979, the book states. Khomeini was living in Paris at the time, after being deported from Iraq.

Tzafrir relayed the message to Mossad headquarters in Tel Aviv, according to Alpher.

“Mossad director Yitzhak Hofi announced at the beginning of the meeting that he was not inclined to support the request on moral grounds, but asked to hear the opinions of those who were present,” Alpher writes. “I told the heads of the Mossad that I had difficulty supporting the request because we didn’t know enough about who and what Khomeini was. I really regret not supporting that request.”

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Israel maintained deals with Iran that included extensive sales of Israeli-produced arms as well as the sharing of information and intelligence.