Iran Terror Plot: No Evidence
The day before Attorney General was subpoenaed about what he knew about the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Agency’s “Fast and Furious” operation to get weapons to Mexico’s largest drug cartel, the U.S. government announced that the Iranians planned to kill a Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil.
And they said – you guessed it – that it was DOJ and DEA who broke up the plot.
But no one is buying it … not even the pro-war mainstream media.
The New York Times notes in a post entitled “U.S. Challenged to Explain Accusations of Iran Plot in the Face of Skepticism”:
The Obama administration on Wednesday sought to reconcile what it said was solid evidence of an Iranian plot to murder Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States with a wave of puzzlement and skepticism from some foreign leaders and outside experts.
Senior American officials themselves were struggling to explain why the Quds Force, an elite international operations unit within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, would orchestrate such a risky attack in so amateurish a manner.
American officials offered no specific evidence linking the plot to Iran’s most senior leaders.
Mr. Zarate and senior American officials said the assassination plan did not have the hallmarks of a Quds operation. “It was very extreme and very odd, but it was also very sloppy,” Mr. Zarate said. “If you look at what they have done historically, they can put operatives on their targets and execute. They usually don’t outsource, but keep things inside a trusted network.”
One problem for President Obama and his administration is that since American intelligence claims about Iraq’s illicit weapons proved false in 2003, assertions by the United States about its adversaries have routinely faced skepticism from other countries.
“Of course, that is in people’s heads. Everyone is extremely skeptical about U.S. intelligence revelations,” said Volker Perthes, an Iran expert who is the director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin.
CNN notes the growing skepticism about the allegations.
The Christian Science Monitor notes in an article entitled “Used-car salesman as Iran proxy? Why assassination plot doesn’t add up for experts”:
Specialists who have followed the Islamic Republic for years say that many details in the alleged plot just don’t add up.
“It’s a very strange case, it doesn’t really fit Iran’s mode of operation,” says Alireza Nader, an Iran analyst at the [ultra-hawkish] Rand Corp. in Arlington, Va., and coauthor of studies about the Revolutionary Guard.
“This [plot] doesn’t seem to serve Iran’s interests in any conceivable way,” says Nader. “Assassinating the Saudi ambassador would increase international pressure against Iran, could be considered an act of war … by Saudi Arabia, it could really destabilize the government in Iran; and this is a political system that is interested in its own survival.”
Iran has been trying to evade sanctions, strengthen relations with non-Western partners, while continuing with its nuclear program, notes Nader.
He says it is “difficult” to believe that either Qassim Soleimani – the canny commander of the Qods Force – or Iran’s deliberative supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, would order such an attack that “would put all of Iran’s objectives and strategies at risk.”
That view has been echoed by many Iran watchers, who are raising doubts about the assassination plot allegations.
“This plot, if true, departs from all known Iranian policies and procedures,” writes Gary Sick, an Iran expert at Columbia University and principal White House aide during the 1979 Iranian revolution and hostage crisis.
While Iran may have many reasons to be angry at the US and Saudi Arabia, Mr. Sick notes in a posting on the Gulf2000/Columbia experts list that he moderates, “it is difficult to believe that they would rely on a non-Islamic criminal gang to carry out this most sensitive of all possible missions.”
Relying on “at least one amateur and a Mexican criminal drug gang that is known to be riddled with both Mexican and US intelligence agents” appears to be sloppy, adds Sick. “Whatever else may be Iran’s failings, they are not noted for utter disregard of the most basic intelligence tradecraft.”
The odd set of details means that the usual cost-benefit calculation that experts often attribute to Tehran’s decisionmaking does not apply here, says Muhammad Sahimi, in an analysis for the Tehran Bureau website.
At a time when pressure is building on Iran over “gross human rights violations,” sanctions are showing signs of working, Iran is “deeply worried about the fate of its strategic partner in Syria … tensions with Turkey are increasing … and a fierce power struggle is under way within Iran,” says Mr. Sahimi, “it is essentially impossible to believe that the IRI [Islamic Republic of Iran] would act in such a way as to open a major new front against itself.”
Congressional Research Service Middle Eastern affairs expert Kenneth Katzman says:
I’m extremely skeptical. There are a number of dimensions to this complaint that don’t seem to fit with what’s known about the way Iranians conduct terrorist attacks, the way they decide on terrorist attacks, and the way they implement them. There are a number of dimensions to this that argue against the idea that this was some sort of dedicated plot approved and thought through at high levels of the Iranian government.
It’s illogical that they would subcontract a plot like this to the Mexican drug cartels. They’re not Muslim. The Iranians don’t have a lot of familiarity with these cartels. They would see the drug cartels as vulnerable to making a deal with the United States that would lead to the exposure of the plot, which indeed happened here when Arbabsiar thought he was contacting a member of a Mexican drug cartel, who was a double agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency.
The second element that doesn’t add up is the plot’s origination with this Texas car salesman of Iranian origin. The Iranians almost always use active members of the Quds Force, or Iranian surrogate organizations. They do not go to ex-members or retired members, or relatives of members to carry out dedicated and organized plots.
The third aspect is that this plot might have involved a fairly sizable bombing that could very well have killed a number of people in Washington. The Iranian regime would have known that had it happened, it would have triggered calls for immediate military action against Iran. All the experts like myself would say that that’s not something the Iranians want. At all levels, this falls apart as something that the Iranian leadership thought through, knew about, and approved.
Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer says that an FBI insider told him the dubious terror plot to assassinate a Saudi ambassador which has been blamed on Iran was likely manufactured by the Obama administration, because no information about the plot even exists within FBI channels:
Glenn Greenwald writes:
The most difficult challenge in writing about the Iranian Terror Plot unveiled yesterday is to take it seriously enough to analyze it.
For brazen irony, how can this be beat?
Tom Kean, former chairman of the 9/11 Commission said the alleged plot “surprises me.” Speaking to CNN’s Erin Burnett, Kean said the plot is “pretty close to an act of war. You don’t go in somebody’s capital to blow somebody up.”
So facially absurd are the claims here — why would Iran possibly wake up one day and decide that it wanted to engage in a Terrorist attack on U.S. soil when it could much more easily kill Saudi officials elsewhere? and if Iran and its Quds Force are really behind this inept, hapless, laughable plot, then nothing negates the claim that Iran is some Grave Threat like this does — that there is more skepticism expressed even in establishment media accounts than one normally finds about such things. Even the NYT noted — with great understatement — that the allegations “provoked puzzlement from specialists on Iran, who said it seemed unlikely that the government would back a brazen murder and bombing plan on American soil.” The Post noted that “the very rashness of the alleged assassination plot raised doubts about whether Iran’s normally cautious ruling clerics supported or even know about it.” The Atlantic‘s Max Fisher has more on why this would be so out of character for Iran.
After 24 hours of media hysteria — there’s this Reuters article, which — under the headline “Officials concede gaps in U.S. knowledge of Iran plot” — reports:
Iran’s supreme leader and the shadowy Quds Force covert operations unit were likely aware of an alleged plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, but hard evidence of that is scant, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
The United States does not have solid information about “exactly how high it goes,” one official said. . . .The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their confidence that at least some Iranian leaders were aware of the alleged plot was based largely on analyses and their understanding of how the Quds Force operates.
Greenwald notes in a separate post:
Here is a profile of the Lex Luthor super-villain behind the dastardly Iranian Plot, compiled based on interviews with those who have long known him. He’s described variously as a “scatterbrained, hapless businessman,” “absentminded and shifty.” “a joke” who “was pretty disorganized, always losing things like keys, titles, probably a thousand cellphones,” who “never spoke ill of the United States” and who wasn’t remotely religious — in other words, the pefect target for the FBI to transform into an “operative” by waving money and glory in front of his face, and exactly the kind of person the actual Quds Force would never use for a real plot.
Steve Watson notes that the suspect is a semi-retarded sex-crazed druggie:
Local media in Austin and San Antonio spoke to several of Arbabsiar’s acquaintances in Round Rock and Corpus Christi, who described him in most unflattering terms, saying that they doubt Arbabsiar could have had any meaningful involvement in the supposed international ploy.
“He used to drink, smoke pot, go with the prostitutes,” Tom Hosseini, an Iranian who has known Arbabsiar since college, told reporters, adding “His first wife left him because he would lose his keys every other day. This guy is not a mastermind.”
Hosseini also told reporters that in college Arbabsiar earned the nickname ‘”Jack” for his affinity for whisky, confirming that he wasn’t in any way religious and that “he couldn’t even pray, doesn’t know how to fast.”
Describing Arbabsiar as rude, offensive and unfriendly, others noted that he was a “floundering” businessman who at various points had tried his hand in running a restaurant, a convenience store and a used car lot.
“He was pretty disorganised, always losing things like keys, titles, probably a thousand cell phones,” David Tomscha, who ran the small used-car yard with him, said. “He wasn’t meticulous with taking care of things.”
“He never spoke ill of the United States,” Mr Tomscha added. “I always thought he liked it here, because he could make money. He loved to make money.”
Arbabsiar, who has a history of run ins with the law and minor criminal offences, was described in other accounts as having a preoccupation with traveling to Iran in order to procure the services of cheap Persian prostitutes.
Another local acquaintance, Mitch Hamueen, scoffed at the DOJ suggestion that “Chevrolet” was a code word for the alleged terror operation.
“He probably wasn’t talking in code, he was probably talking about an actual Chevrolet,” he said.
“He’s the fall guy,” Hamueen said. “They’re looking for a fall guy.”
Reporters also spoke with Arbabsiar’s apparently estranged wife who told them “I know that his innocence is going to come out.”
The Obama administration contends that Arbabsiar tried to hire assassins from a Mexican drug gang to carry out the murder of ambassador Adel al-Jubeir during a visit to the United States.
However, the head of the drug gang turned out to be a DEA agent posing as a Mexican Los Zetas gangster. The story has all the hallmarks of classic FBI entrapment tactics that have characterized almost every major terror bust in recent times.
Indeed, a study published this year by the New York University School of Law found that the threat of homegrown terror in America has been “manufactured” by entrapping Muslim men into crimes they otherwise would not commit. And see this.
And Pepe Esobar writes:
As for the Washington mantra that “Iran has been insinuating itself into many of the struggles in the Middle East”, that’s undiluted Saudi propaganda. In fact it’s the House of Saud who’s been conducting the fierce counter-revolution that has smashed any possibility of an Arab Spring in the Persian Gulf – from the invasion and repression of Bahrain to the rash pre-emption of protests inside Saudi Arabia’s Shia-dominated eastern provinces.
The whole thing smells like a flimsy pretext for a casus belli. The timing of the announcement couldn’t be more suspicious. White House national security advisor Thomas E. Donilon briefed King Abdullah of the plot no less than two weeks ago, in a three-hour meeting in Riyadh. Meanwhile the US government has been carrying not plots, but targeted assassinations of US citizens, as in the Anwar al-Awlaki case.
So why now? Holder is caught in yet another scandal – on whether he told lies regarding Operation Fast and Furious (no, you can’t make this stuff up), a federal gun sting through which scores of US weapons ended up in the hands of – here they come again – Mexican drug cartels.
So how to bury Fast and Furious, the economic abyss, the 10 years of war in Afghanistan, the increasing allure of Occupy Wall Street – not to mention the Saudi role in smashing the spirit of the Arab Spring? By uncovering a good ol’ al-Qaeda style plot on US soil, on top of it conducted by “evil” Iran. Al-Qaeda and Tehran sharing top billing; not even Cheney and Rumsfeld in their heyday could come up with something like this. Long live GWOT (the global war on terror). And long live the neo-con spirit ….
Escobar says that the government keeps changing its story about the plot:
Framing Iran … And Using Terrorism to Attack It
The Brookings Institution wrote in 2009:
It would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be.
Indeed, the U.S. has used fake intelligence to attempt to frame Iran.
And it is well-documented that the U.S. has repeatedly used terrorism against Iran:
- The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected president
- Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh says that the Bush administration (and especially Dick Cheney) helped to fund groups which the U.S. claims are terrorists against Iran (see confirming articles here and here).
- The New York Times, Washington Post, Raw Story and others are reporting that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former national security adviser Fran Townsend and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey – who all said that the terrorists were going to get us if we didn’t jettison the liberties granted under the Bill of Rights – are now supporting terrorists in Iran.
- Jimmy Carter’s former National Security Adviser and Obama’s initial foreign policy adviser – Zbigniew Brzezinski - told the Senate that a terrorist act might be carried out in the U.S. and falsely blamed on Iran to justify war against that nation.
- Congressman Ron Paul told Congress: “I am concerned, however, that a contrived Gulf of Tonkin- type incident may occur to gain popular support for an attack on Iran”
- And a member of the British Parliament stated that “there is a very real danger” that the American government will stage a false flag terror attack in order to justify war against Iran and to gain complete control domestically