Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force officer Mohammadreza Nouri (left), and former Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani

Iran Seeks Release of IRGC Officer Held in Iraq for Murder of American

Tuesday, 06/11/2024

Iran says Iraq has rejected US request to extradite Mohammadreza Nouri, a Revolutionary Guard officer who has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of an American in Iraq.

Kazem Gharibabadi, the deputy of Iran's Judiciary for International Affairs denied the allegations against Nouri on Monday, describing the member of IRGC’s extraterritorial Quds Force as "defender of the shrine."

The Islamic Republic refers to its forces sent to Syria as defenders of the shrine of Zeynab, the sister of the third Shiite Imam. Nouri also holds Syrian citizenship , where he was known by his nom de guerre "Abu Abbas."

According to Iran International's sources, after the war in Syria, Nouri went to Iraq, where he used his connections to secure commercial contracts for companies affiliated with the IRGC. Nouri, along with a member of the Iraqi Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba militant group, pressured businesses into cooperation with the IRGC, threatening them that if they did not sign contracts, they would face repercussions from Nujaba. According to information obtained by Iran International, Nouri, was previously arrested in Iran on charges of espionage. Our sources did not provide further details about his prior conviction in Iran.

Gharibabadi claimed that Washington had requested his extradition, but Baghdad rejected it. Although the Islamic Republic and the Iraqi government have signed an extradition treaty, Iraq has so far also refused to transfer Nouri to Iran.

"Through legal and judicial efforts, the charges against Mohammadreza Nouri changed from terrorism-related offenses to other charges, creating the legal basis for his transfer to Iran," Gharibabadi said.

Nouri was arrested along with four Iraqi nationals for killing American national Stephen Troell in Baghdad. The five were sentenced to life in prison in September 2023. Nouri’s identity had not been released to the media at the time.

Troell, an English teacher, was shot dead by at least two gunmen while driving through Baghdad’s Karrada district in November 2022. According to a source cited by Reuters, the murder was orchestrated by Nouri, along with his Iraqi accomplices. Troell, a 45-year-old Tennessee native, worked at the Global English Institute, a school managed by his wife, Jocelyn. They had lived in Iraq’s capital along with their three daughters and a toddler son.

American national Stephen Troell and his family

“It is critical that all those responsible for the brutal, premeditated assassination of Mr. Troell face justice and accountability,” said State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller in a statement after the verdict was issued. “We welcome the Iraqi court’s decision to convict and sentence multiple individuals on terrorism charges for their roles in the killing of US citizen Stephen Troell.”

Citing a judicial source, AFP said that the five confessed to the murder, noting that they had intended to kidnap Troell for ransom. Karrada was also the site of the kidnapping of Elizabeth Tsurkov, an Israeli-Russian abducted by Iran-backed militant group Kata'ib Hezbollah last June. Tsurkov was a graduate student at Princeton University conducting research in Iraq.

According to Al Arabiya, a militant group called Ashab al-Kahf, (Companions of the Cave) claimed responsibility for Troell’s assassination, saying that it was a retaliation for the targeted killing of IRGC-Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), by the United States in 2020.

Nouri’s case made news in Iran in May, when late Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with his wife and father, emphasizing that efforts are underway for his release.

Late Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (right) during a meeting with Mohammadreza Nouri’s father and wife in Tehran

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