Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said during a recent live television address that the United States “is being accused” of having created the COVID-19 virus, and that “demons” are assisting the enemies of Iran. Iranian news agencies omitted the latter quote from their coverage of the speech.

Following criticism of this omission, the Telegram channel of the Cyber Division of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) posted, on March 22, a full video of Khamenei’s statements. As support for his assertions about the demons, the Cyber Division also posted video clips of two two seminary lecturers who are well-known in regime-affiliated ideological circles, Ali Akbar Raefi-Pour and Hojatoleslam Valiollah Naghi-Pour, claiming that Israeli and American espionage agencies are using “demons” to carry out intelligence operations against Iran and against the resistance organizations affiliated with Iran.

Associates of Khamenei have previously accused Jews of using sorcery. Mehdi Taeb, a close Khamenei associate and the head of the Ammar Headquarters think tank that advises the supreme leader, said in 2013 that the Jews’ sorcery is the most powerful in the world and that they are using it to attack Iran. Also in 2013, the Rasanews website, which is associated with the seminaries in Iranian city of Qom, published an article arguing that the Jews hand down their knowledge of sorcery from generation to generation in order to use it to control the world, nature and even God’s decisions.

In Islamic and Iranian folklore, the world’s sentient beings are divided into ins ­(mankind) and jinn (demons). Jinns, which are mentioned in the Koran, are supernatural beings with free will, and can be either good or evil; evil jinns can lead humans astray. According to Shi’ite tradition, when the Mahdi, the Hidden Imam, is revealed, he will bring all the jinns under his command.

The following are the main points of the statements by Khamenei and by the two lecturers claiming that Jews and Israeli intelligence organizations are using witchcraft against Iran:

In his March 22 speech, Khamenei reiterated the accusation that the United States had created and was spreading the COVID-19 virus across the world, explaining that “demons are assisting the enemies.”

“There are enemies who are demons and there are enemies who are humans, and they help one another,” he said. “The intelligence services of many countries cooperate with one another against us. … Today, our most evil enemy—the enemy of the Islamic Republic [of Iran]—is America.”

On March 22, the IRGC Cyber Division published a video of Khamenei’s statements, captioned “The Supreme Leader’s Important Hint Regarding The Western-Hebrew Spy Apparatuses’ Use Of Infidel Demons To Strike Iran,” along with clips of statements by the two lecturers.

The first clip is an excerpt from an undated speech by Ali Akbar Raefi-Pour, a seminary lecturer affiliated with the Ammar Headquarters think tank, who says: “The Israeli Mossad is officially and insistently using demons to read the other side’s military thinking, to read the enemy chief of staff’s plans, and to carry out intelligence operations.”

The text that accompanied the video noted that, although Raefi-Pour’s statements were mocked at the time, the 2016 American film Suicide Squad showed that the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence apparatuses “are using demons in order to steal classified documents from the Iranian Defense Ministry.”

The second clip showed Hojatoleslam Valiollah Naghi-Pour, identified as a seminary lecturer and a “broadcasting authority expert,” speaking on a program on satanic forces aired on an unknown date by the Iranian Broadcasting Authority’s Channel 3. He said: “Israel wanted to use demonic force to infiltrate the intelligence systems of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. They did not succeed, and they [the Israelis] are still wondering why not, because it is well known that the Jews are experts in sorcery and in creating relationships with demons.”

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