June 7 (UPI) -- Ali-Akbar Mohtashamipour, a former interior minister of Iran and one of the founders of Hezbollah in Lebanon, died of COVID-19 in Tehran, official Iranian media reported Monday. He was 75.
Mohtashamipour, who also served as a reformist member of the Iranian Parliament, died of complications from the coronavirus early Monday at Khatam-al-Anbia Hospital in the capitol, the official news agency IRNA reported.
He was Iran's interior minister under reformist President Mir-Hossein Mousavi from 1985 to 1989 and also was as a key adviser to President Sayyid Mohammad Khatami from 1997 to 1999.
While serving as Iran's ambassador to Syria from 1982 to 1986, Mohtashamipour was among a group of Iranian officials who played crucial roles in establishing Hezbollah in Lebanon, according to the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.
Classified by Israel and the United States as a terrorist organization shortly after its creation, Hezbollah carried out a series of suicide bomb attacks in Beirut in 1983, including the Oct. 23, 1983, truck bombing of a U.S. Marine Corps compound in which 241 U.S. service personnel were killed.
The next year, Mohtashamipour was seriously injured when a book sent to him at the Iranian embassy in Damascus detonated, blowing off his hand, according to Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman.
In his 2018 book Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations, Bergman claims the operation was personally ordered by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and carried out by the Mossad.