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The radical mullahs who rule Iran want me dead, first for betraying my country as a member of the Revolutionary Guards who spied for the CIA, and now for renouncing the religion that allows them to cling to their tyranny.
Modern-day Iran has been dominated by Islam since the Muslim conquest of Persia in the seventh century. When I was born, during the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, there was freedom of religion, but, like the vast majority of people, I was raised a Muslim. Though many Iranians did not practice the religion, they were respectful of its belief, and it was through my grandmother that I learned about Islam and how I could find my way to God in becoming a pure human being.
Islam has been passed from one generation to another, each believing that it represented a God who loved and promoted respect, justice and enlightenment. I grew up believing in a loving God, always relying on Him to help me choose the right path in life. When the Islamic Revolution took place in 1979, sending the shah into exile, I returned home from the United States, where I had just finished my education. I wanted to help my country progress, hopeful that there would be full democracy. I believed that Ayatollah Khomeini would be true to his promise of freedom for all.
A childhood friend talked me into joining the Revolutionary Guards because of the knowledge and expertise in computers I had learned in the United States. But only months later I was shocked to witness the most heinous crimes taking place under the banner of Islam.
The mullahs forced Iranians to adhere to a strict Islamic dress code and subjected them to amputation as the punishment for stealing, lashing for drinking, stoning for adultery. Boys and girls seeking the freedoms promised to them were rounded up and taken to Evin prison. Many were raped, tortured and executed, among them my best friend and his siblings. Teenage girls were raped prior to execution because in Islam a virgin can go to heaven, and the “men of God” wanted to deny them that reward. Others were slowly lowered in tanks of acid so they would die painfully.
Khomeini and the clerics announced themselves as representatives of Allah on earth and declared anyone opposing them to be a “Moharb,” an enemy of God. The punishment was execution. Tens of thousands were executed.
With that horror unfolding, I chose to return to the United States and collaborate with the CIA, hoping to help overthrow an evil regime that had hijacked my country in the name of Allah. I returned to Iran after CIA training, and my espionage career began. During all those ensuing years as I witnessed unimaginable crimes committed by the clerics, I believed they misrepresented Islam. What God could demand such cruelty?
As I learned more about the Quran and what Muhammad prescribed, I concluded that Islam as now practiced in Iran is no true religion, that the Allah of the criminal ayatollahs is not the real God. Their religion turned against every principle of humanity. They instituted a cruel set of laws that represent intolerance, savagery and injustice, representative of an evil mind, not a loving God.
So I renounced Islam and began the quest to find the real God, the one who had blessed me so often in very dangerous times as a CIA spy. In that journey through a few Christian friends, I came to learn about Jesus. I found myself deeply moved by the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. His words spread through my soul as seeds sprout and grow, opening my eyes and my heart to the real love of our Lord. It was then that I knew beyond doubt that the Bible was the true Word of God. That Jesus was the One I had always been looking for.
Jesus came to me when I needed guidance. He came to me at a time when my faith in man and religion was totally shaken. His words and His love became the guiding light to set me free from sin and hopelessness. I found myself knowing there is goodness and kindness and that it comes from within us – that it is only through His love that we will find peace and eternal life.
Islam preaches (Quran, 5:33): “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement.”
Our Lord, Christ says (Luke 6:37-38): “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you.” And in Luke 6:32-36: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful as your Father is merciful.”
After a long journey, I have finally found my God. I feel at home now. And as I continue my fight against the evil in Iran, I know in my heart that the Lord will guide me in that fight because He loves the people of Iran even more than I do. The Iranian people are desperate for their freedom, and Jesus says, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free (John 8:31-32).”
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for an ex-CIA spy who requires anonymity for safety reasons. He is a senior fellow with EMPact America and the author of “A Time to Betray,” a book about his double life as a CIA agent in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. “A Time to Betray” was the winner of the 2010 National Best Book Award, and the 2011 International Best Book Award.