In the latest episode of the Stakelbeck on Terror show (watch here), I sat down with a former member of Iran's powerful and fearsome Revolutionary Guard Corps.
In our exclusive interview, Reza Khalili shared inside information from his years working for the Guards--a group that recently vowed to murder American generals. He was able to infiltrate the organization as a double agent working for the CIA and details his experiences in the fascinating new book, A Time to Betray.
Perhaps the most stunning revelation to come out of our interview was Reza's admission that Iran uses mosques in Europe and the U.S to plot, finance, recruit and train for terrorism. Reza was personally involved in some of these operations while working for Iran in the Muslim communities of Europe. Given the current controversies that are raging over proposed mega-mosques, not only at Ground Zero but across America's heartland, Reza's insights are vitally important.
Transcript and video of our exchange are below. Click on the viewer to watch. We have disguised Reza's appearance and voice for safety reasons.
Reza Khalili: Mosques are supposed to be a place for prayer. A place for submission to God. But they are used as a recruitment center, for backdoor meetings, transfer of arms and cash and putting together terrorist activities and I was involved in some of their meetings.
Erick Stakelbeck: You made a key point, that Iran used mosques and Islamic cultural centers in the West to further its agenda...could you get a little bit more specific about that? How does Iran uses mosques here in the U.S. and in Europe to plot terrorism?
Khalili: I can tell you from experience: I was part of the operation, I was involved in the Islamic community, and I can tell you clearly that out of mosques, there was a big effort within the Afghan communities by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards members--and with Pakistanis, Turks and others. And they would recruit from them, they would transfer cash and arms. And mosques provided a safe haven, and actually, in my view, were one of the centers of the operation. So if an intelligence agency such as the CIA infiltrates a mosque and understands that there is a specific Guards member who runs it, then actually they could be very successful in drawing a chart of all the terrorist activities in that specific region. That's how central the mosque operation was.
Stakelbeck.: And that's in Europe--you were involved in some of these operations in Europe. How about the U.S.?
Khalili: It's absolutely the same. They recruit, they train, they sell the ideology of martyrdom, and many, many are guided and connected to terrorist groups. And you've seen this: many U.S. born citizens, Muslims, unfortunately, have been sold this idea and are sent to Al Qaeda camps or others. But the Iranians are very active in this country through the mosques and Islamic cultural centers to make those connections and run those operations.