Reza Kahlili's "A Time to Betray"
by RUTH KING
October 18, 2011
Many Americans who remember the advent of the Ayatollah and the taking of American hostages in the United States Embassy and the failed and humiliating effort of their liberation by a thwarted American operation, may not comprehend the historic contradictions that tore Iran apart. There were always the tensions between defenders of the Shah in a secular and Western inspired nation which brought prosperity, opportunity, education and unparalleled rights for women to Iran, and the adherents of more rigid Sharia laws. Furthermore, while the Shah was feared and loathed for his brutality and despotic rule, he was the last emperor of the throne of the great Persian Empire which dated from King Cyrus the Great in 500 B.C.
“Reza Kahlili” is a pseudonym for an Iranian brought up with privilege and plenty under the secular, modern, but increasingly brutal and oppressive reign of the Shah Reza Pahlavi. He spent his college years in America but returned to Iran after the downfall of the Shah, seduced ,inspired and encouraged, like so many of his countrymen, by the Ayatollah Khomeini whose interviews and sermons promised “….Our future society will be a free society, and all elements of oppression, cruelty, and force will be destroyed. Women are free in the Islamic Republic in the selection of their activities and their future and their clothing….” There was the additional promise of democracy when the more moderate Mehdi Bazargan was chosen Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In “A Time To Betray- The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran” he has written a stunning memoir of the end of monarchy, and in a sense, of national history in a once proud nation. He describes a boyhood of family love and friendship among gated and palatial homes and gardens in Teheran, a carousing life in an American college interrupted by his father’s death and a return to a changing Iran and increasing politicization and alienation among his friends and family. After completing his studies in California he made a fateful decision to return to Iran and volunteer his services to the Revolutionary Guard.
The taking of American hostages, the summary execution of all the army officers who served under the Shah and the imprisonment of dissidents gnawed at his resolve. Furthermore, the ideological split between the People’s Mujahedin, who opposed Khomeini and the ruling clerics, and the Ayatollah’s followers and his Revolutionary Guard supporters drove an insurmountable wedge between his dearest and oldest friends.
His family, neighbors and friends openly derided his service in the Guards and his only solace was his young bride Somaya whom he married in September of 1980 only two weeks before Iraq attacked Iran. Since the Ayatollah had killed and gutted the Shah’s military, the Basijis, a paramilitary force of young men-some as young as thirteen- faced the brunt of the battles. The war lasted eight years and half a million Iranians were killed.
Despite the raging war, the Ayatollah and the mullahs continued their oppressions. Reza’s pleas for mercy were ignored and his best friend and his two young siblings were executed by the Revolutionary Guard. He heard the screams of young girls who had been raped and tortured and executed in Evin prison; he learned of the systematic barbarity in Evin prison from a former inmate. In desperation and disgust after witnessing the betrayals, the violence, the murders, the tyranny and the horrors visited on his beloved nation by the Mullahs, he developed his own plan to strike back.
His prayer before embarking on the chosen path is heartbreaking and inspiring:. “…..If what I am seeing in my country is Islam, then I no longer believe Islam to be the religion of honesty and sacrifice…..How can I watch all these atrocities? How can I watch people slaughtered and not be able to do anything?....How can I stand by and watch while they demolish our proud history and civilization?....They are taking us back to an era where the barbarous acts of Mongols left nothing but bloodshed throughout the land. God, I am scared. I can no longer remain quiet and watch my country disappear into a morass of evil.”
It was a time to betray.
Reza became “Wally” the code name for the CIA spy who remained in the Revolutionary Guard, who dressed and spoke and prayed as one of the Ayatollah’s faithful, risking the opprobrium and estrangement of his family to maintain his double life to save Iran.
“Wally” supplied his handlers with a treasure trove of intelligence and information. At every turn he risked exposure and torture and execution. He prevailed and lives in freedom today. America is in his debt. Read this book…but use caution. You won’t be able to put it down.
It is a privilege to interview Reza Kahlili.
R KING: Please give us your comments on the foiled terror plot.
REZA K: Back in March, I revealed in an article (Iran Orders Attacks on Saudi Interests Worldwide) that the Iranian leaders see the Saudi regime as an obstacle to their policies in the region. They are furious that the Saudi monarch is intervening in Bahrain where Iranian agents have dedicated a lot of effort inciting uprisings to overthrow the Sunni monarch and establish a Shiite regime. They also see the Saudis as a destabilizing force in Syria where Iran is committed to supporting of the Assad government.
R KING: Why was one of the intended targets Adel al-Jubeir, a rather nasty and pro-Hamas/Hezbollah diplomat?
REZA K: Wikileaks reports have revealed Adel al-Jubeir to be very outspoken against the Islamic regime in Iran. He has pushed the U.S. to level harsher actions against Iran. He passed on a message from the Saudi King to the Obama administration stating the U.S. should: “Cut off the head of the snake,” and asking for more actions to remove the Iranian rulers. Jubeir is also very close to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and therefore a prime target.
R KING: Please tell us about former Iranian President Abou El Hassan Bani Sadr.
REZA K: Bani Sadr served as the first President of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the early 80s when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was still trying to show that he was not in support of clerics running for positions in the government. However, Bani Sadr soon fell out of favor when he started to speak out publicly against some of the cruelties committed by the clerics within the revolutionary courts. He also was looking into ways to end the Iran–Iraq war. These actions did not fit in with the plans of Khomeini or the other clerics, who wanted full control of the direction of the revolution and the expansion of their Islamic ideology. Consequently, Bani Sadr was impeached and he managed to escape the country untouched.
R KING: What do you think about the Stuxnet virus, which supposedly foiled some of Iran’s nuclear plans?
REZA K: The virus initially damaged over 1000 centrifuges in Natanz, Iran’s nuclear facility, though the Iranians managed to replace those centrifuges and somehow sped up their enrichment process to increase the stockpiles despite the delay. However, the virus also infected the Busher nuclear facility, which caused major delays in the startup of the plant in joining the national power grid. Although the plant recently did join the national power grid, it is only working at 40 percent capacity and there are still several questions regarding its safety. It is noteworthy that once fully operational, the Busher nuclear power can produce more than 661 pounds of near-weapons-grade plutonium, enough to make 60 nuclear bombs within the first year or two.
R KING: Tell us about Shariati and the Mujahedin opposition to Khomeini.
REZA K: Ali Shariati was a very popular sociologist and Iranian revolutionary whose main focus was on religion. He was considered to be one of the most influential intellectuals of the 20th century. Back in the 60s and 70s, lecture halls were packed whenever he appeared. He spoke and wrote passionately about the responsibilities of human beings. He was a critic of capitalism for what he called “an economic animal whose only duty is to graze.” He was also a strong critic of the Shah for preventing the progress of a fully democratic society. He was jailed many times. Finally censorship and threats forced him to leave Iran for England where he was assassinated in his daughter’s residence. Though Shariati was also a critic of the stodgy mullahs (clerics), he talked passionately about the need of self-sacrifice for a just society and a just world.
The Mujahedin Khalq were Marxist/Islamists who took up arms against the Shah committing many acts of terror, which included the assassinations of Americans in Iran. The Mujahedin saw themselves as a force against capitalism and imperialism and looked to overthrow the monarchy. They played a major role in the revolution of 1979 and were looking for their share of power after the fall of the Shah. When the clerics started their consolidation of power, the Mujahedin were left out, which caused many new conflicts. Thousands were killed from both sides but mostly from the Mujahedin. The Revolutionary Guards arrested their supporters en masse, threw them in prison and executed them without a trial. During the summer of 1988 alone, tens of thousands of the Mujahedin and other leftist supporters were executed and buried in mass graves.
R KING: Are you still a Muslim and do you fear the encroachment of Sharia law in American institutions?
REZA K: I have always prayed to God for help. My struggle started out to not only combat the evil in Iran but to also find the true God. Often, I saw myself sailing a stormy sea, looking for the shore, looking for the sun. Although my battle still continues against the evil ruling Iran, I have found my God. I recently announced publicly that I have converted to Christianity in an article entitled, “Why I renounce Islam and choose Christ.” It was a decision of love over hate, tolerance over intolerance, a choice of light, and the refusal to live in darkness.
I do indeed fear the encroachment of Sharia law in America. It has already infected many countries in Europe. Unfortunately, the Islamists use our freedom and democracy to further their ends. The very system they resent, they use as an opportunity to spread their ideology — an ideology in which every principle stands against the very principles of humanity.
R KING: Do you have any recommendations to foil Iran?
REZA K: I have been very vocal about why we need to confront the radicals ruling Iran and why we need to help the Iranian citizens, who are our friends and our allies with their aspirations for freedom and democracy. Time is of the essence because the Iranian leaders are ever so much closer to getting the nuclear bomb. Negotiation and sanctions will not stop the Jihadists in Tehran from their ambitions to destroy the world. This is where the Obama administration’s policies have failed. They have neither slowed the Iranian nuclear program nor have they been a deterrent to the regime’s aggressive posture.
Today, in collaboration with our European allies, we need to take drastic actions and confront the Islamic regime in Iran. A regime change in Iran will go a long way in securing not only peace and stability in the region, but in the world. We can achieve that by openly supporting the Iranian people in their quest for change, while exerting extreme pressure on the regime. I did outline some of the steps needed to be taken back in January in “An Open Letter to Congress by An Ex-Cia Spy from Iran,” but again, time is of the essence.
R KING: In view of the tremendous disappointment in the so called Arab Spring and the strengthening of the Muslim Brotherhood, do you still believe that such a revolution in Iran would restore civility and respect for human rights?
REZA K: The majority of Iranians today resent Islam and see themselves as Persians. They long for their proud heritage. Tens of thousands of Iranians have sacrificed their lives by opposing this evil regime, and every time, the West has turned its back on their aspirations. Currently thousands remain in prisons across Iran; hundred have been hanged so far this year. The day that change comes to Iran will be a joyous event for millions and the start of the righteous place for Iran in the world.
R KING: Why is the genocidal hatred of Israel so prevalent among Iran’s rulers? Is it driven by Koranic faith? Or is it a nexus between Iran’s mullahs and the Palestinian Arabs?
REZA K: The hatred for Israel is driven by the Quran and, if you look back at history even during Mohammad’s reign, thousands of Jews were slaughtered because of who they were. The centuries-old Islamic hadith has said that the last Islamic Messiah will not reappear until Israel is destroyed and Jerusalem conquered. The Iranian leaders do not care about the well-being of the Palestinians. Thousands have died because of the Iranian regime’s policies and their support of the radicals in the Palestinian territories. The Islamic regime is one of the main causes for the breakdown of every attempt to find a peaceful solution between Israel and Palestinian authorities.
R KING: How do you spend your time now?
REZA K: Well, this is an interesting question, because from the time I wake up very early morning, until the time I go to bed very late at night, I am constantly working to raise awareness about the threat the Iranian regime poses. I am endeavoring to reveal their secrets and also fighting this uphill battle in the hope our political leaders will realize that the future of the world is depending on the actions we take with the radicals ruling Iran. Millions of lives are stake. I feel a responsibility, even though I am under heavy financial pressures. And I have once again introduced a heavy burden on my wife because of my activities against the regime. However, I know in my heart that in the final outcome, the truth will prevail, justice will be served and the Lord will be our Savior.
R KING:Thank you Reza Kahlili for your book, your courage and your graciousness.