Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, a Shiite cleric who helped found the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and lost his right hand to a book bombing reportedly carried out by Israel, died Monday of the coronavirus, local media reported.
He was a close ally of Iran’s late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, he helped found the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in Iran and as ambassador to Syria brought the force into the region to help form Hezbollah.
In his later years, he slowly joined the reformists in Iran, hoping to change the Islamic Republic’s theocracy from the inside.
Mohtashamipour died at the age of 74 in a hospital in northern Tehran after contracting the virus, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.