Iranian consulate denies involvement in
disappearance of pro-Israel Kurdish Journalist
July 5, 2012
Editor-in-Chief of the Israel-Kurd magazine Mawloud
Afand, who has been missing since June 8, 2012. •
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Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — After nearly four
weeks, there are still no clues about the
whereabouts of Mawloud Afand, editor-in-chief of
Afand went missing after a trip to Sulaimaniyah on
June 8. He has been unreachable since then and his
two mobile phones have been switched off.
As speculations about the young Iranian Kurdish
journalist increase, some of his friends suspect he
has been kidnapped by Iranian intelligence agents.
But officials at Iran’s Consulate General in
Sulaimaniyah deny that.
Hamid Bodaghi, head of media relations for the
Iranian Consulate in Sulaimaniyah, told Rudaw they
had no information about Afand.
“We’ve seen that some newspapers in the Kurdistan
Region are pointing fingers at the Islamic Republic.
But this is only newspaper talk. They are not
correct and the sources are fake,” said Bodaghi.
An Iranian Kurd, Afand had been living in the
Kurdistan Region for the past few years as a
Afand’s magazine runs regular interviews with
Israeli experts commenting on Kurdish affairs or
relations between the Jewish state and the Kurds.
Afand’s disappearance has been also reported by the
Israel-Kurd magazine is licensed by the Kurdistan
Journalists Syndicate and based in Erbil. Iran’s
Consul in Erbil has objected to the publication of
the magazine in the past.
Anwar Hussein, of the Kurdistan Journalists
Syndicate, told Rudaw, “We are continuing our
follow-ups but have not gained any clues yet about
The Israel-Kurd Institute has now given Afand’s
image to all checkpoints and airports in Kurdistan.
“We have also filed a lawsuit in Sulaimaniyah court.
We have asked the judge to demand his phone records
be checked,” said Sherzad Omer, head of public
relations for the Israel-Kurd Institute.
News of Afand’s disappearance was first publicized
by Dawood Baghestani, the founder of the Israel-Kurd
Institute who currently resides in Turkey.
But early on, Omer announced that Afand had not been
kidnapped and that Baghestani was no longer involved
with the institute.
Hawar Bazyan, a former colleague of Afand’s at the
magazine, said the denial of his kidnapping by Omer
“caused us to waste a lot of time.”
“If it becomes clear that Afand has been detained by
Iranians, then Omer will have a grave responsibility
to shoulder,” said Bazyan, who now runs a Facebook
campaign for information about Afand.
Omer told Rudaw that they were not initially certain
that Afand was abducted.
“There were some coded references we used to inform
each other about unusual situations. When I talked
to him the day after (his trip to Sulaimaniyah), he
did not use any of those coded references. That is
why we were assured he had not been abducted,” said
Three days after Afand’s disappearance, Iranian
intelligence announced through the state-affiliated
Fars News that it had captured some officers and
spies working for Israel’s intelligence agency,www.ekurd.net
Mossad. That prompted Afand’s friends and colleagues
to suspect he had been abducted by the Islamic
In a second statement on June 28, Iranian
intelligence announced it had arrested “a number of
terrorists who belong to the occupying regime of
Jerusalem,” in reference to Israel.
“Some countries whose soil or population’s identity
has been misused by terrorists working for Mossad
have given our ministry’s representatives the
necessary information,” read part of the statement.
The statement also said, “A location used as a
residence and military base for training Mossad
terrorists has been uncovered in a neighboring
region bordering our country.”
The statement seems to be referring to the Kurdistan
Region but it is still unclear if this can be
construed as evidence that Iranian operatives
The Islamic Republic’s Intelligence Ministry also
said that it had captured “planners of terrorist
activities and trainers of terrorists, individuals
in charge of technical relations and elements who
The ministry promised to release more information in
a near future.
For his part, Baghestani issued a statement accusing
the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Iranian
intelligence of kidnapping Afand “because Itlaat
(Iran’s intelligence service) has bases in
Sulaimaniyah and a lot of power in that area.”
The PUK -- President Jalal Talabani’s party --
controls local administration and security in
Local authorities in Sulaimaniyah have said they are
not aware of Afand’s whereabouts or what has
happened to him.
Bazyan said that the Israel-Kurd Institute had
received three letters from the PUK asking them to
“Once they handed a letter from the Islamic Republic
to Mawloud Afand. They told him if he closed the
institute, they would extend their cooperation and
not take other measures. But Afand rejected their
requests,” said Bazyan.
He added, “Afand was continuously threatened by the
PUK and the Islamic Republic of Iran. So now all the
suspicion about his disappearance is centered on
In a letter dated July 22, 2010, Nazim Dabbagh, a
member of the PUK and representative of the
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), informed then
Kurdish Prime Minister Barham Salih that “our
relatives once again have complained because the
Israel-Kurd magazine was not supposed to be
published in the Kurdistan Region anymore, but a new
edition of the magazine has come out. We hope you
will look into this.”
The phrase “our relatives” appears to refer to
“Media outlets are free with what they write about
or publish,” media officer of the Iranian consulate,
Bodaghi told Rudaw. “But the fact of the matter is
we are not aware of that journalist and know nothing
Omer says there is “no evidence to prove Afand has
been abducted.” According to him, Afand’s mobile
phone was switched off on the day he travelled to
Sulaimaniyah but was working in the days that
“He answered us very normally and said he was in
Sulaimaniyah for personal business,” said Omer.
The website of the Israel-Kurd Institute was hacked
a few days after Afand’s disappearance. Omer says
the hacker’s name was “Samuel Kermashani” and his IP
address was in Sweden.
“We consider that he may be a clue in Afand’s
disappearance and intend to file a lawsuit against
him through the Swedish Consulate in Erbil,” added
By Sakar Abdullazada - Rudaw
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