A state prosecutor is accusing an actor in the movie “Kandahar” of assassinating an Iranian dissident on US soil in1980 and then fleeing to Iran.
The film “Kandahar” depicts the brutality of life under the Taliban regime as an Afghan journalist living in Canada travels to Afghanistan to find her sister and save her from suicide. Along the way she meets Hassen Tantai, playing the role of an American-born doctor treating Afghan women. He wears a fake beard to satisfy strict Taliban rules,which he eventually takes off to show his full face. The film has been shown at film festivals worldwide and has won two awards at the Cannes Film Festival. President George Bush asked for a private screening.
But according to a Maryland state attorney, Hassan Tantai, the doctor in the film, is actually 51-year-old Daoud Salahuddin, born David Belfield.
In July 1980, Daoud Salahuddin pulled up to former Iranian diplomat Ali Akbar Tabatabai’s home, shot Tabatabai three times, and fled to Iran to shelter under the regime of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Tabatabai was an outspoken critic of Khomeini. He worked for the Ministry of Information under the U.S.-backed Shah before Khomeini rose to power in the 1979 Islamic revolution.
In a 1995 interview with the Washington Post and ABC News in Turkey, Salahuddin admitted that he was contacted by the Iranian agents shortly after Khomeini’s Islamic revolution toppled Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979, and asked if he would kill Tabatabai.
The film’s director, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, said that he never asks the people who act in his films what they’ve done before.
- Douglas Gansler, Montgomery County State Attorney.
- M. R. Tabatabai, brother of Ali Tabatabai, who was assassinated outside Washington, D.C. in July 1980, and President of the Iran Freedom Foundation in Bethesda, Maryland.