Iranian Christian Woman Arrested

Last Tuesday evening, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard arrested a Christian woman living in Tehran named Malihe Nazari. This occurred in addition to the other twelve Christians who were arrested two weeks prior, the International Christian Concern (ICC) reported.


Last Tuesday evening, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard arrested a Christian woman living in Tehran named Malihe Nazari. This occurred in addition to the other twelve Christians who were arrested two weeks prior, the International Christian Concern (ICC) reported.

Dozens more were told they would soon be summoned for questioning.

Malihe is a member of a women’s-only house-church in Tehran known as One Heart. As is common in such arrests, her house was searched. The authorities confiscated her computer, mobile phone, and several books.

She was transported to Evin Prison and has been able to briefly contact her family. Malihe is the mother of two sons, the eldest of which has reportedly been battling cancer.

Despite Iran’s claim to never arrest citizens for their faith, incidents such as this are not uncommon to Christians.

Not only do these arrests infringe on Christians’ rights to practice their faith, but they further endanger already vulnerable families like Mahile’s who may live in poverty or are battling an illness.

As reported, twelve Iranian Christians were arrested two weeks ago by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. These arrests occurred in the cities of Tehran, Karaj, and Malayer. The authorities also obtained the contact info for dozens more, saying they would be summoned soon for questioning.

The raids were allegedly coordinated through an informant.

At a Tehran house-church, one Armenian Christian and five converts were arrested. The other 24 Christians who were present but not arrested had their mobile phones confiscated.

Three more converts were also arrested in the Tehran-Karaj area, and later another three in Malayer. The last three have since been released on bail of 30 million tomans ($1,500 USD).

No information has been released on the fate of the other nine Christians yet, other than that two have had their bail set for 50 million tomans ($2,500).

Although a reason for arrest was not explicitly stated, the Christians’ homes were searched specifically for Bibles, Christian literature, and communication devices.

It is not uncommon for Iranian Christians to be arrested for their faith, despite Iran’s claim never to arrest citizens for their beliefs.

Blogs to Follow:

Persecution.org (July 2020) Iranian Christian Woman Arrested

Warrant and Complaint Seek Seizure of All Iranian Gasoil Aboard Four Tankers Headed to Venezuela Based on Connection to IRGC

A forfeiture complaint and warrant were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that all petroleum-product cargo aboard the Bella with international maritime organization (IMO) number 9208124, the Bering with IMO number 9149225, the Pandi with IMO number 9105073, and the Luna with IMO number 9208100 are subject to forfeiture based on the terrorism forfeiture statute.


A forfeiture complaint and warrant were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that all petroleum-product cargo aboard the Bella with international maritime organization (IMO) number 9208124, the Bering with IMO number 9149225, the Pandi with IMO number 9105073, and the Luna with IMO number 9208100 are subject to forfeiture based on the terrorism forfeiture statute.

John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division; Michael R. Sherwin, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; Steven W. Cagen, Special Agent in Charge, Denver, Colorado, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Rainer S. Drolshagen, Special Agent in Charge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Federal Bureau of Investigation, made the announcement today.

The documents allege a scheme involving multiple parties affiliated with the IRGC to covertly ship Iranian gasoil, obtained via ship-to-ship transfers, to Venezuela. 

The shipments are alleged to be a “source of influence” for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization. 

The documents allege that profits from petroleum sales support the IRGC’s full range of nefarious activities, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, support for terrorism, and a variety of human rights abuses, at home and abroad. 

There are approximately 302,502 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently on board the Bella, approximately 302,522 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently on board the Bering, approximately 259,700 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently on board the Luna, and approximately 298,484 barrels of Iranian gasoline currently on board the Pandi. 

United States District Judge James E. Boasberg issued a warrant to seize all Iranian gasoline on these four vessels, based on a probable cause showing of forfeitability.  The warrant commands the property to be brought to the sole jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. 

A warrant for arrest and civil forfeiture complaint are merely allegations.  The burden to prove forfeitability in a civil forfeiture proceeding is upon the government.  Funds successfully forfeited based on terrorism authorities are in part directed to the the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund (http://www.usvsst.com/).

In announcing the forfeiture complaint, Assistant Attorney General Demers, Acting U.S. Attorney Sherwin, Special Agent in Charge Cagen, and Special Agent in Charge Drolshagen commended the work of those who investigated the case from HSI and FBI. 

Finally, they acknowledged the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zia Faruqui, Brian Hudak, and Stuart Allen; National Security Division, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, Deputy Chief Elizabeth Cannon and Trial Attorney David Lim; and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia Paralegal Liz Swienc and Legal Assistant Jessica McCormick.

Blogs to Follow:

Justice.gov (July 2020) Warrant and Complaint Seek Seizure of All Iranian Gasoil Aboard Four Tankers Headed to Venezuela Based on Connection to IRGC

Iran Poses Greatest Threat to Region, Centcom Commander Says

Iran poses the greatest threat to regional security and stability, the commander of U.S. Central Command said.


Iran poses the greatest threat to regional security and stability, the commander of U.S. Central Command said.

Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. spoke last week at a Middle East Institute webinar titled, “Centcom and the Shifting Sands of the Middle East.”

McKenzie enumerated various threats from Iran:

  • Funding and arming terrorist organizations;
  • Propping up the “murderous regime” of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad;
  • Providing advanced weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen;
  • Direct attack on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz;
  • Direct attack on oil refineries in Saudi Arabia; and 
  • Attacking U.S. troops in Iraq. 

“Iran actively stokes instability and is intent on degrading security all over the region,” McKenzie said. “They use proxies and violence to push other nations in the region to their agenda.”

The State Department is leading the effort to pressure Iranian leaders diplomatically and, through sanctions, to make them renounce their nuclear ambitions, cease work on ballistic missiles and cease exporting terrorism against their neighbors, he said, noting that this effort is a whole-of-government approach that includes allies and partners.

The Defense Department’s role regarding Iran is to deter it from taking direct or indirect military actions against the United States and its allies and partners in the region, he said.

McKenzie noted that the Iranians were surprised by the U.S. killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in January, and have had to recalculate where their red line is drawn with the United States. “They see we have the will to act,” he said.

Beyond Iran, terrorist organizations such as ISIS and al-Qaida still aspire to attack the United States, its allies and even the U.S. homeland, the general said. Vigorous pressure on them prevents them from doing so, he added.

China and Russia also have become involved in the region, trying to use economic leverage to make their influence felt, the general said. Russia, he added, is propping up Assad, who they see as a valued ally with a warm-water port.

The U.S. response has been to have close relationships with nations in the region, McKenzie said, helping them build up their security forces and encouraging them to purchase U.S. foreign military materiel.

An over-the-horizon threat to coalition and partner forces in the region will most likely come from swarms of small unmanned aerial systems that can carry weapons, McKenzie said, noting that the Army is taking the lead on developing counter-UAS measures.

McKenzie noted that the United States is less dependent on Middle East oil than it ever was, but wants to ensure freedom of navigation for partners and allies. He specifically mentioned the importance of ensuring safe passage through the Red Sea, Strait of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab Strait.

NATO.int (June 2020) Iran Poses Greatest Threat to Region, Centcom Commander Says

Iranian Christian Sentenced to Flogging and Prison


International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on April 21, 2020, Christian human rights activist Mary Fatima Mohammadi received a suspended prison sentence of three months by the Iranian government.

The sentence included a directive ordering Mary to receive a flogging of 10 lashes.

Mary has come under significant pressure from the Iranian authorities over the years because of her Christian human rights activism. In the latest incident, she was arrested because she was present in the area of a protest where Iranians had rallied regarding the government’s downing of Ukrainian Airline Flight 752. The issue of the government’s complicity in targeting the passenger flight remains highly sensitive in Iran. Mary further explained this connection on Instagram, saying that her sentence is a consequence of “protesting against the slaughter of human beings; because of showing sympathy for the families of those who perished on the Ukraine airline crash; because of defending the rights of all humans.”

After her arrest, Mary disappeared for nearly a month before she was discovered in Qarchak Women’s Prison, a jail with a reputation for various types of gender abuse. While there, Mary reported that she was beaten and suffered other kinds of mistreatment at the hands of the officials, including being strip-searched twice. She was eventually released on a bail of 30 million tomans ($2,250 USD) and charged with “disrupting public order by participating in an illegal rally.”

Her court hearing was initially delayed because of COVID-19, but took place on April 17. Iran’s Human Rights Activist News Agency (HANA) reports that during the hearing, the judge repeatedly questioned Mary about her conversion to Christianity. Her case was heard in Branch 6 of the 33rd District Court of Evin before being transferred to Branch 1167 of the Tehran Provincial Criminal Court (Quds Judicial Complex).

Following her sentencing, Mary tweeted: “There is no evidence against me, so I ought to have been acquitted. But instead I was sentenced not only to imprisonment, but also flogging. It should be mentioned that even before the verdict was handed down, I was forced to endure all kinds of torture, none of which was sanctioned by law, and which ought to be considered crimes in themselves. We have refrained from appealing against the verdict because the appeal courts have turned into confirmation courts! I am proud of sympathizing with human beings in the real harsh environment of the streets. This is my conviction and the cost.”

Iran has not publicly sentenced a Christian to a flogging for nearly two years, although persecution has increased during that interim. Because of COVID-19, Iran has evaluated the situation of its thousands of political prisoners. Many Christians were not included in this evaluation, although some were temporarily furloughed and three had their prison sentences canceled. Many political prisoners have complained that during this time of COVID-19, judges are absent, the authorities fail to provide health updates of prisoners to families, and officials have not clarified how furloughed prisoners will be reincorporated into the prison system following COVID-19.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “We must not let the number of political prisoners furloughed in Iran because of COVID-19 confuse the issue that Iran has always been one of the top human rights violators in the world. The authorities have made it clear, time and time again, that they do not value their citizens and that they will not tolerate freedom of conscience. The sentencing of Mary Mohammadi is alarming, but unfortunately, not surprising Iran’s government does not want human rights activism, and they do not want Christians exercising their voice publicly. Mary Mohammadi is an example of courage and bravery to us all. We must continue calling on Iran to respect human rights and allow its citizens to voice their convictions of conscience.”

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

Persecution.org (April 2020) Iranian Christian Sentenced to Flogging and Prison

Defense Officials Express Agreement With President’s Warning to Iran


Defense Department officials are in full agreement with President Donald J. Trump’s warning to the Iranian regime on Twitter, senior Pentagon officials said on Wednesday.

The Iranian regime has a history of harassing U.S. vessels operating in the Persian Gulf. In the past, small, quick Iranian boats have charged at U.S. ships in international waters.

The president tweeted, “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”

“The president issued an important warning to the Iranians,” Deputy Defense Secretary David L. Norquist said during a Pentagon news conference today. “What he was emphasizing is all of our ships retain the right of self-defense, and people need to be very careful in their interactions to understand the inherent right of self-defense.” 

The president’s tweet does not signal a new policy, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, as U.S. forces in any environment retain the right to defend themselves. “Every ship that deploys in harm’s way has the inherent right of self-defense,” Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten told reporters. “What that means is if we see a hostile act, if we see hostile intent, we have the right to respond, up to and including lethal force.”

Hyten warned Iran that, if threatened, U.S. commanders “will respond with overwhelming lethal force.” 

Norquist said Trump was responding to Iran’s poor behavior. “He is emphasizing and warning them about the challenges of what they will create,” the deputy secretary said. “I think it was a very useful thing that he put out, and I think it’s an important thing for other people to understand and take very seriously.”

Hyten emphasized that he thinks it is a good thing that the president warned an adversary. He said that if the Iranians want to go down that path, “we will come, and we will come large.”

Defense.gov (April 2020)Defense Officials Express Agreement With President’s Warning to Iran