Hezbollah founder dies of coronavirus

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Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, a Shiite cleric who is considered a founder of Hezbollah, died Monday of the coronavirus.

Mohtashamipour died at a northern Tehran hospital after becoming ill with COVID-19, according to the state-run IRNA news agency, cited by The Associated Press.

Mohtashamipour established alliances with Muslim militant groups throughout the Mideast in the 1970s, according to the AP.

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Following the Islamic Revolution in the late ’70s, he played a part in founding the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in Iran. With that group, and in his position as ambassador to Syria, he reportedly brought forces into the region and helped create Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. It operates as a political party and military wing in Lebanon.

The U.S. has blamed Hezbollah for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, according to the AP, which killed 63 people.

Additionally, the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in the Lebanese capital that killed 241 U.S. troops has been attributed to Hezbollah, in addition to a subsequent attack that killed 58 French paratroopers, the AP noted.

The organization and Iran, however, have both denied involvement in the incidents. 

Mohtashamipour was the target of an assassination attempt in 1984, which was allegedly executed by Israel, according to a book on Israeli assassinations cited by the AP.

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Mohtashamipour received a book with a bomb inside that exploded when opened. He lost his right hand and two fingers on his left hand in the incident.

The current Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, applauded Mohtashamipour for his “revolutionary services,” according to the AP.

President Hassan Rouhani also honored Mohtashamipour, saying he “devoted his life to promote Islamic movement and realization of the revolution’s ideals.”