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142. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1

1933. 1. I concluded my conversation with Kashani yesterday afternoon (Embtel 1907 Nov 9).2 During our talk which lasted approx two hours Kashani stated little that was new. He devoted considerable time to expounding his religious views, quoting liberally from Koran; in friendly but unvarnished language he again criticized US Govt for supporting imperialism and colonialism; he insisted that unless US Govt changed its Middle Eastern policies, come out for real economic and political independence Middle Eastern peoples, enabled Iran to sell its oil, and supported loan thru Int Bank or other financial institution which would result in carrying out of projects calculated to increase productivity of country and reduce unemployment, Iranian people would be compelled turn toward Sov Union; he outlined in some detail various [sic] his plans for future Iran as well as for Moslem world.

2. Kashani laid special emphasis on his antagonism to communism which he labeled as aggressive atheism. He said that if imperialism and colonialism could be eliminated in Moslem world and people would be given real opportunity raise living standards there need be no fear of communism among Moslems. I remarked he seemed to overlook possibility that internatl communism against wishes of majority population might by force or otherwise take over country like Iran. Kashani stated that communists could not hold Iran against will Iranian people. I asked if 20 million Iranians would be more effective in freeing themselves from internatl communism than some 40 million Moslems now under oppression in Sov Union. I said despite intense religious feelings of Moslems in Central Asia, communists during last thirty years had made considerable progress in replacing Islam with atheism in that area. It had been impossible for new religious leaders to be trained; many of them had been eliminated and those who survived had become mere puppets of Sov States; Moslem children were being educated in atheistic schools. Kashani said he could admit that if communists once in control Iranian educational system they could gradually eliminate religion. This situation made it all more important that Christian US cooperate with Moslem Iran to prevent spread of militant [Page 406]atheism. Present US policies in spite of huge funds spent by US Govt would not be effective in combatting internatl communism.

3. Referring to Moslem conference which he plans call in near future Kashani said invitations had not as yet been issued. Instructions had however been sent thru Min Fonaff to Iran diplomatic reps in various countries asking they submit lists of influential religious-political leaders whom it would be appropriate to invite and who might be willing come. After these lists had been recd invitations would be sent. Kashani maintained that delegates to conference would be restricted to responsible religious-political leaders and no one could attend without invitation from him.

4. Kashani said it was his intention in near future to undertake organization in Iran of national, as distinguished from state, army of million Moslems who would be under his personal direction and leadership. Members this “army” would agree to be given several hours military training daily; they would be pledged to give their lives at his call to the cause of Islam; they would be instructed in virtues of Islam; they would be required to submit to strictest discipline. At coming conference he would suggest that religious leaders in other Moslem countries also organize similar “national armies”. Armies of this kind were necessary in order restore religious fervor and unity to peoples of Islam.

5. During our talk I told Kashani in confidence I would probably be going to Washington within few days for consultation. He said he hoped I would inform my Govt fully re his conversation with me and that I would endeavor make my Govt understand that it would be in US interest and interest of world peace if it would give serious attention to his statements. “I am not an ordinary person. I am leader of Moslem world and Moslem world will soon be force to be reckoned with. It is in interest of good people everywhere that Moslem world and US cooperate.”

Henderson
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 84, Tehran Embassy Files, 1950–1952, classified general records, Box 42. Secret; Security Information; Limited Distribution. Drafted by Henderson. Repeated to London and pouched to Moscow. The telegram is the Embassy copy as approved and has no time of transmission.
  2. Document 140.