Documents presented last Thursday at a US federal court show that leaders of the fringe Hasidic cult Lev Tahor last year requested asylum from Iran and swore allegiance to its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
According to the documents, first reported late Saturday by Yeshiva World News, the ultra-Orthodox cult in November 2018 asked Tehran for “asylum, protection and religious freedom of the families of its loyal members in Cheshek Shlomo community.”
Lev Tahor declared “loyalty and submission to the Supreme Leader and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran” and called for “cooperation and help to counter Zionist dominance in order to peacefully liberate the Holy Land and the Jewish nation.”
The request came a month before five of the cult’s members were arrested in Mexico. They are currently in custody in the US awaiting trial on suspicion of kidnapping, child abuse and identity theft.
Arranged marriages between teenagers and older cult members are reported to be common. The group shuns technology and its female members wear black robes from head to toe, leaving only their faces exposed. It also rejects the State of Israel, saying the Jewish nation can only be restored by God, not humankind.
US authorities have been cracking down on the sect.
Lev Tahor, which has about 230 members, relocated to Guatemala from Canada in 2014 following allegations of mistreatment of its children including abuse and child marriages.
It moved in 2016 from the outskirts of Guatemala City to Oratorio, a village 30 miles east of Guatemala City, after religious disputes with its neighbors, and reportedly crossed the border from Guatemala to Mexico in June 2017. It may have returned later to Guatemala.