Reports of the Arrest of Ahmadinejad’s ‘Exorcist’ Fuel Concerns About Iran’s Leadership
By Amy Kellogg
Iranian President Mamoud Ahmadinejad, shown in this February 2011 file photo pumping his fist, reportedly has been butting heads with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in background.
A mysterious man known by some as the Iranian president’s “exorcist” has been arrested, in the latest sign that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s involvement with purveyors of the so-called “dark arts” is raising concerns among Iran’s leadership.
Abbas Ghaffari, described as Ahmadinejad’s “exorcist” or “jinn (genie) catcher” is reportedly among a number of people in Ahmadinejad’s circle who have been arrested lately, amid reports of continuing strains between the president and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As is typical in Iran, details on the timing and specific charges behind the arrests are somewhat murky.
It’s also not clear from what or whom Ghaffari was protecting the president, and what he may have been doing to accomplish that aim. What does is clearer is that a particular target in the arrests is Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, the president’s right-hand man, who has been marginalized more recently by Khamenei. Most of the arrests are said to be Mashaei associates within Ahmadinejad’s inner circle.
In a fiery speech Tuesday in the Iranian holy city of Qom, Mojtaba Zolnour, Khamenei’s representative in the Revolutionary Guard, said he asked Ahmadinejad: “What do you see in this Mashaei, other than links to exorcists, soothsayers and fortune tellers? … They come and gurgle on about his prophecies, and Mr. Ahmadinejad thinks he has divine knowledge.” (the rest of the story)