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Israel’s Prisoner ‘Mr. X’ is Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Abducted by Mossad

ali reza asgari

Ali Reza Asgari, kidnapped by the Mossad, held incommunicado as 'Prisoner X'

This blog was the first to report last year that authorities at Israel’s Ayalon prison noted the existence of a prisoner about whom even they knew nothing, who received no visitors, was held incommnicado, had no lawyer, and was a virtual mystery.  A censored Israeli news report called him “Mr. X,” a story I broke last June.  Until today, we didn’t know who he is.  But through a confidential Israeli source I have exposed his identity.  He is a former Iranian Revolutionary Guard general and government minister under former President Khatami named Ali-Reza Asgari.  Western news outlets reported in 2007 that he either defected or was kidnapped by the Mossad, with the assistance of western intelligence agencies (either the CIA or British or German intelligence depending on the source) in Istanbul.  A conservative Iranian publication first reported last year that Asgari was in an Israeli prison and this was reported by AP as well.  Israeli media reported he had defected, and an Israeli claiming connections to Israeli intelligence reported to me that he was living quite comfortably “in Virginia.”  In hindsight, this seems a rather clumsy piece of disinformation.

Though some of the reporting may have been accurate, a good deal of what was written about his “defection” appears to have been a heady concoction devised by Mossad and others for the consumption of western media.  Wikipedia reports:

The Washington Post said that Asgari was willingly cooperating with Western intelligence officials, and was providing information on Hezbollah and its Iranian connections.

Among other things, this includes information with regards to the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing. Asgari also smuggled out intelligence documents and maps that detail Iranian involvement with Muslim militia groups, including Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad in Palestine, and the Iraqi Mahdi army and Badr Organization. A US intelligence official said that his defection was “orchestrated by the Israelis”, although Israeli spokesman Mark Regev denied this [ed, this wouldn't be the first time Mark Regev lied with a straight face]. The New York Post reported that an Iranian dissident group helped plan the defection and is negotiating with Western intelligence agencies for a “permanent place of exile”.

…According to The Sunday Telegraph, Asgari’s defection was part of a CIA program called “the Brain Drain”, which began in 2005 and later netted Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri.

…Yediot Aharonot reported that Asgari told US interrogators that Iran is secretly attempting to enrich uranium with a combination of lasers and chemicals at a weapons facility in Natanz; this would act as a backup if the publicly known facilities and activities were stopped by sanctions or military strikes. Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman expanded upon this reporting in his book The Secret War with Iran, in which he stated that Asgari had not only supplied the information regarding lasers, but had also revealed that a second site for centrifuges had been built near the principal Natanz site, and that a Syrian nuclear program, developed with North Korean help, was being paid for by Iran.

Al Jareeda reported that Asgari provided information for the Israeli airstrike on September 6 in Syria, code-named Operation Orchard; this was echoed by the intelligence group Stratfor, which reported that Asgari “gave Israel the intelligence on Syria’s missile program needed for the Syrian airstrike.” In March 2009, Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported that after defecting, Asgari told the U.S. about the secret Syrian nuclear reactor, built in partnership with North Korea and with Iranian financing. This was reportedly the first time the U.S. and Israel were alerted of the project.

ayalon prison

Ayalon Prison, 'home' of Iranian Revolutionary Guard general Reza Ali Asgari

Until now we didn’t know Asgari was Prisoner X, which means we know where he is being held by Israel as well.  Until now, we also did not have confirmation from an Israeli source that that country held Asgari.  My information would seem to give the lie to the claim of defection.  A man who defects isn’t held in a maximum security prison cell.  If in fact at one time Asgari was a defector, it would appear that he is not one now.  I doubt he is being held incommunicado by the Israelis for his health.

By the way, this cell in Ayalon’s Unit 15, is the same one specially built to hold Yigal Amir, assassin of Yitzhak Rabin.  In other words, it is meant to isolate the prisoner from the outside world and the rest of the prison system.

One wonders whether Asgari has worn out his welcome, exhausted his usefulness, or somehow brooked his Israeli spy handlers.  What would cause them to throw him in a maximum security prison if he indeed “sang” so well for his supper as Israel claims?

The AP story notes a German source confirming Asgari provided a treasure trove of valuable intelligence to the Israelis:

Hans Ruehle, a former chief of the planning staff of the German Defense Ministry, wrote in a Swiss newspaper in March that Asgari told the West that Iran was financing North Korean steps to transform Syria into a nuclear weapons power, leading to an Israeli airstrike that targeted a site in Syria on Sept. 6, 2007.

…Ruehle said Asgari, who was instrumental in establishing the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon, “changed sides” and provided information to the West on Iran’s own nuclear program.

…Iranian officials have said Asgari was not linked to Iran’s nuclear program, but Western media reports have said he has cooperated with U.S. intelligence and is considered a “high value” defector.

…Ziba Ahmadi, one of Asgari’s two wives, claimed at the time that her husband did not defect to Turkey and she believed “some evidence” showed he was abducted.

Recently, Asgari’s wife and family released a statement reported in the Iranian press:

The family of Alireza Asgari, [Iran's] former deputy defense minister who was kidnapped four years ago, presented a letter to the Turkish Ambassador [to Iran] and asked that his disappearance be investigated. Ziba Ahmadi, wife of Asgari, said that four years have passed since her husband was kidnapped, and said to IRNA that in the letter that she presented to Turkey’s ambassador she requested that her husband’s case be pursued.

Emphasizing that the Turkish government must do more about Asgari’s case, she said that “we are are certain that he was kidnapped in Istanbul, Turkey.” Ahmadi said that the intelligence agency of the Zionist Regime has been involved in Asgari’s kidnapping, and said that she has asked Turkish officials to put more pressure on the Zionist regime [regarding the case].

Most of the world believes that the souring of relations between Israel and Turkey occurred as a result of the Gaza war and the subsequent Mavi Marmara massacre.  In fact, this abduction on Turkish soil can’t have endeared Israel to the Turkish government and certainly is an added factor in Turkish disenchantment with Israel.

An Israeli human rights NGO has already demanded that Prisoner X be accorded the same rights that any security prisoner is accorded in the Israeli prison system.  So it is appropriate to renew this demand at this time, now that we know who the prisoner is.  Just because is a high-level Iranian officer does not mean he can be held forever without rights.  Israel must give some accounting of him, explain to Iran why it is holding him and what it intends to do with him.  If he is a defector then Israel should allow him to live freely.  If he is a prisoner, then Israel must either try him for whatever his crimes might be or release him.  I would remind Israel that a democracy does not hold its enemies in such fashion.  It gives due process, legal rights, fair trial, etc.

UPDATE: Another Israeli academic I know with ties to a prominent Israeli reporter who he would not name, who it turn has close ties with the Mossad, claims Asgari is not in Ayalon Prison.  While there is a possibility my source was provided with false information upon which this story is based, I strongly doubt it and stand by the story.  Not the least of the reasons for my doubt of the Israeli reporter, who claims to know who REALLY is in Ayalon Prison’s Unit 15, is that he won’t come forward with that information, while my source will.

Thanks for Farsi translation, Prof. M. Sahimi.
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{ 80 comments… add one }

  • shmuel December 11, 2010, 1:35 AM

    Praise where praise is due – kol hakavod for the scoop!

  • IL December 11, 2010, 3:37 AM

    I guess you are not a big fan of freedom of speech. deleting a response you don’t like is a cowardly act.

    • Richard Silverstein December 11, 2010, 2:07 PM

      Cheering the Mossad’s kidnapping & detention w/o trial of the citizen of a foreign country, which is a violation of international law, is not something I allow. Read the comment rules. Now, if you wish to say you support Iranian kidnapping of Israeli generals or former cabinet ministers, then I’ll go back & publish yr comment.

      • duck December 11, 2010, 8:22 PM

        I think it would be hilarious if iran kidnapped liberman. I would not at all object.
        And I would not be surprised if ACRI dropped their case now that we know that mr. X most certainly does deserve to spend the rest of his life locked away in a tiny cell.

        • Richard Silverstein December 12, 2010, 2:25 AM

          I would not be surprised if ACRI dropped their case now that we know that mr. X most certainly does deserve to spend the rest of his life locked away in a tiny cell.

          DO I detect slight (perhaps justified) cynicism toward ACRI & its agenda?

          • duck December 12, 2010, 10:12 AM

            I have nothing against ACRI, but I admit I don’t know them that well.
            Honestly though, I think asgari does deserve a fair trial, and groups like ACRI should still pursue this. I have no doubt, however, that any high ranking member of the iranian regime deserves a terrible punishment. Seeing as israel isn’t going to be a beacon of international justice any time soon, asgari isn’t going to get anything like a fair trial. I do see a measure of justice in asgari’s predicament.

          • Gilad December 13, 2010, 4:11 AM

            Ron Arad has been kidnapped, and probably murdered by the Iranian regime. One thing to remember.

          • Richard Silverstein December 13, 2010, 12:16 PM

            The story I’ve heard is that he died, not that he was murdered. I too want to know what happened to him & I too deplore his capture and death. But saying what “probably” happened doesn’t cut it as far as truth is concerned.

    • TheAZCowBoy January 6, 2011, 10:11 PM

      Yassar (You tell ‘em) IL – ‘Remember ‘minders’ No Guts – No Glory!

      TheAZCowBoy
      Tombstone, AZ.

  • John Yorke December 11, 2010, 6:35 AM

    Congratulations on unearthing the mystery of the equally mysterious Mr X.
    Not that he is that now, of course.

    Persistence pays off in the end.

  • Strelnikov December 11, 2010, 7:07 AM

    This may be a case like the Golitsyn/Nosenko episode where a foreign intelligence or military officer defects, reveals loads of information, then is ruthlessly “debunked” by a paranoid counterintelligence man. So does the Mossad have it’s own version of James J. Angleton? Or do they not want this guy out in the open within Israeli society?

  • Muhammad December 11, 2010, 7:57 AM

    I never believed that he had defected. An Iranian man of his type does not leave his wife and children behind, but calls his wife the day before, or more likely on the day of his “defection,” lives comfortably in Virginia and does not give a hoot to his family in Iran. Remember that people like Asgari are religious, devout and family man – otherwise, they would not be where they were in Iran’s power hierarchy. Men like him fought the war with Iraq, believing that the U.S. was helping Iraq.

    Thank you Richard for this piece.

    • shmuel December 11, 2010, 8:18 AM

      The jury’s out on this one – according to Wikipedia his close family left Iran clandestinely about the same time as his “defection”, but the sources Richard brings show him to have left his immediate family behind in Iran.

      The facts will probably become apparent soon now that his whereabouts have been revealed here.

      • Richard Silverstein December 11, 2010, 2:11 PM

        according to Wikipedia his close family left Iran clandestinely

        No, the jury’s not out. The story about his family leaving Iran was a disinformation plant by the Mossad & other western intelligence agencies to deflect fr. the true story, which was his kidnapping. His family is in Iran as the quotation fr. their statement in the Iranian press proves.

  • Shunra December 11, 2010, 8:44 AM

    Kudos! What will it take to get you nominated for an Izzy? (And you know that there is no higher praise than my question, there. Right?)

    • Richard Silverstein December 11, 2010, 2:12 PM

      Don’t even know what an Izzy is, but I’ll take it as a compliment since we know ea. other so well.

      • Strelnikov December 11, 2010, 3:39 PM

        It’s an award named after I.F. “Izzy” Stone, publisher/writer of “I.F. Stone’s Weekly.” The award is pretty new (started 2008) and comes from the Park Center for Independent Media.

        • Richard Silverstein December 12, 2010, 2:20 AM

          Omigod, Izzy Stone was my idol (though I never met him). I’ve got a bio of him in my Amazon book list in the sidebar. I would be so honored even to be nominated (sorry if that sounds too Hollywood).

          • Gene Schulman December 12, 2010, 11:16 AM

            Now, now, Richard. No false modesty, please. I’ll use my influence and put a plug in for you. You deserve at least an honorable mention.

  • Nathaniel December 11, 2010, 8:52 AM

    Just a question:

    If you got two conflicting reports, one from an “Israeli claiming connections to Israeli intelligence” and another from a “confidential Israeli source”, how do you know which one is trying to deceive you?

    • medawar December 11, 2010, 9:05 AM

      Almost certainly, both of them.

    • Richard Silverstein December 11, 2010, 2:16 PM

      Because the one who is golden also provided information which broke gag orders reporting the arrests of Anat Kamm, Ameer Makhoul, the naming of Yitzhak Ilan as incoming Shabak chief (this story not even reported yet in Israel months after I reported it here), naming Tamir Pardo as incoming Mossad chief 2 days before it was official, & identifying Captain George as Doron Zahavi. Because this golden source has NEVER been wrong. Ever. While the numbers of former Israeli intelligence affiliated individuals attempting to plant false stories w. me is too innumerable to mention.

      The only time (& they’ve been very few) I’ve reported stories which turned out to be false were when I reported stories provided by others.

  • medawar December 11, 2010, 9:03 AM

    I doubt that any Iranian defector or dissident would be remotely safe in Virginia: there are simply too many Iranian people there; many dissidents, but also those sent to spy on the dissidents.

    This is a problem for both the CIA and MI6: how to convince a would-be Iranian defector that he could live in safety?

    It’s hard to believe that this man is a defector, but it is possible that he was some kind of secret or self-appointed emissary, the precedent for that being Rudolph Hess.

    If it had been an outright kidnap, we’d have heard a lot more about it from Tehran, surely?

    If he was an emissary, he might have proposed something that we can never be allowed to know, which I expect to read on these pages sooner or later.

    • shmuel December 11, 2010, 9:21 AM

      Here’s a link from a year ago showing that Iran suspected he was being held in Israel

      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3805136,00.html

      • medawar December 11, 2010, 11:42 AM

        Yes, suspected is the right word: they clearly weren’t totally sure.

        I will need to take a few deep breaths if Richard wants us to campaign for the human rights of a senior officer of an organization dedicated to suppressing them, but holding one person secretly without charge is as bad as holding anyone.

        Unless, of course, he has been tried in secret.

        Is there a Jewish Femegerichte?

        Our German brothers seem to have a word for everything, except for “fluffy” if Captain Edmund Blackadder is to be believed.

        • shmuel December 11, 2010, 11:49 PM

          I don’t know what “femegerichte” is, but there is a law in Israel that allows holding people of this “ilk”, like Sheik Obeid and Mustapha Dirani without trial, but with periodical Judicial review, and all behind closed doors. Eventually the High Court will order the government to release him (or try him) as it did with the above who were released.

          • Richard Silverstein December 12, 2010, 2:28 AM

            If my report plays even a small role in this I’ll be thankful.

  • annie December 11, 2010, 11:13 AM

    wow, awesome sleuthing richard.

  • Steffen December 11, 2010, 11:21 AM

    Wow, respect!!

    Has the press in Israel picked up on this yet? Do you expect it to?

    • Nathaniel December 11, 2010, 12:21 PM

      It can’t. There’s a court order against publicizing the existence of Mr. X let alone publicize speculations about his identity.

      • Richard Silverstein December 11, 2010, 2:20 PM

        In theory it can’t. But Israeli media break gag orders all the time. Sometimes they’re forced to take stories down & sometimes the authorities let the stories slide & don’t remove them. It’s a cat & mouse game of sorts.

        • PersianAdvocate December 12, 2010, 6:20 AM

          *slaps forehead* If Irony had a greatest hits record, all the singles would have come out over the last 10 years.

    • Richard Silverstein December 11, 2010, 2:18 PM

      I’ve gotten 2 Israeli requests for interviews but nothing’s come of either one yet. Frankly, I don’t think they can report the story there yet even if they wanted to. Once a western media source breaks my story then the authorities in Israel might relent.

  • Mike Englund December 11, 2010, 3:30 PM

    Quoting Wikipedia as a source is a joke. If this was a school assignment you would have failed. Anyone can edit Wikipedia to suit their agenda. Yours is obvious, Israel=BAD Anyone against Israel=GOOD

    • Richard Silverstein December 12, 2010, 2:18 AM

      Say what? Wikipedia is a source on Asgari’s life, not the source for my report about Asgari being Prisoner X in Ayalon Prison. Could you be bothered to actually read the post before spouting utter nonsense? My source is Israeli and has nothing to do with Wikipedia.

      • Huri December 12, 2010, 12:08 PM

        Sorry Richard, still relying on Wikipedia *for anything* is a sad joke.

        And I have read your post(s) and Mike is right. Your agenda is obvious: Israel is the bad guy, and anyone against Israel is the good guy. No matter what happens, you won’t let the truth to confuse you.
        And no matter what you think about other issues connected to Israel, the truth with Iran-Israel case is:
        1/Israel is openly threatened by Iran to be destroyed.
        2/ Iran is working to achieve nuclear weapons.
        3/ A very low number of nuclear weapons is sufficient to completely destroy Israel.

        Now, anyone who can sum up 1+1 will conclude that Israel, or any other country that is threatened to be destroyed – has the right to defend itself. If we make a generous assumption that your claim at this article is true: Since Iran is not exactly a country that acts by international law’s limitations, Israel also should be free of those. Otherwise its fight for its existence will be done while its two hands are tied to its back. What else do you expect them to do? To complain at the UN? To tell Iran “Oh, please good people, stop harassing us”?

        And finally, please let me ask you: In view of the clash between Israel and Iran – Which side are you on?
        A clear answer please.

        • Richard Silverstein December 12, 2010, 3:40 PM

          relying on Wikipedia *for anything* is a sad joke.

          No, I’m afraid it’s you who is the sad joke. I have very specific criteria for using Wikipedia as a source & it’s a perfectly valid one as long as one treats it w. a certain level of skepticism & compares its sources with external ones to confirm accuracy. For you, Wikipedia is perfectly acceptable when as a source it favors Israel, & not when it doesn’t.

          Israel is openly threatened by Iran to be destroyed.

          A lie

          2/ Iran is working to achieve nuclear weapons.

          Maybe, maybe not. And you have no idea what the truth is unless the Jerusalem Post and Debka Files are the truth (which isn’t likely).

          3/ A very low number of nuclear weapons is sufficient to completely destroy Israel.

          Then wouldn’t that mean that Israel’s 400 nuclear weapons pose a grave risk to itself either fr. its own weapons or all its neighbors who wish to match Israel’s ability to blow the entire region to Kingdom Come.

          Since Iran is not exactly a country that acts by international law’s limitations, Israel also should be free of those

          I’d say it’s a mighty tight race bet. Israel & Iran as to which violates international law more egregiously with Israel winning by a length.

          In view of the clash between Israel and Iran – Which side are you on?

          I’m on neither side. I’m on the side of peace, stability & security–for both nations.

          • Richard Silverstein December 14, 2010, 12:16 PM

            So, Richard, you think just saying something is a lie – makes it a lie.

            Nope, I don’t just say it. I prove it as I did here. No Iranian leader has ever made any statement threatening to destroy Israel. They have said that Israel would destroy itself, but not that Iran would do it. That’s a vast difference though the nuance may be lost on you.

            Regarding nuclear weapons, you made a declarative statement that Iran is working to get nuclear weapons. No one who is a responsible observer or analyst has made such a statement. Some say Iran may be doing so or is likely doing so. But no one who is credible says this definitively. Hence, YOU are not credible in yr claim about this.

            there is no official knowledge about the 400 nukes of Istael

            Certainly, there is official knowledge of this. Ehud Olmert confirmed Israel has nukes while he was a sitting prime minister. And he never denied his statement though he was condemned within Israel for his original statement. Or did you miss this?

            has executed more than 150,000 political opponents

            I do not allow lies published at this site. And this is a lie. If you do not immediately provide credible proof of this statement your future comments will be moderated. Read my comment rules & stick to known, proven facts & not rumor or discredited statements fr propaganda sites. I am very serious about this. I expect proof of this statement & not fr. a propaganda source or you face consequences.

            engaged for a decade in a meaningless war of honour with another country that killed 1million people

            Ah, you mean that war which Iran did not start, & in which it was attacked by Saddam Hussein & hence was defending itself & its territory? That war?

            Comparing this Iran to Israel, and saying that Israel is worse?

            I saw in terms of violating international law Israel was probably worse. You’ve conveniently left out the thousands of Palestinian civilians killed by the Israeli military, the wholesale violation of Israeli Palestinian rights within Israel, the illegal siege of Gaza, the illegal Occupation & confiscation of Palestinian land, the assassination of foreign citizens on foreign soil by Israel’s intelligence agency. Did you forget those?

            A lie. We have already seen which side you are on.

            This is a formal warning. Due to a major comment violation your future comments will be moderated. Any subsequent violation of these rules which you may read on this site will result in losing yr privileges entirely. NO ONE accuses me of lying esp. with no proof offered.

      • Mike E December 12, 2010, 8:17 PM

        Biography information has been changed on numerous people without their consent or knowledge. I did read the entire blog and read that you quote Wikipedia reporting on a Washington Post article. What article? If you checked the accuracy of the Washington Post article then why not just credit that as your source? This chain of information would be considered hearsay. Further on you quote “An AP story” Please provide a link to the article.

        This next one is the best though!!

        UPDATE: Another Israeli academic I know with ties to a prominent Israeli reporter who he would not name, who it turn has close ties with the Mossad, claims Asgari is not in Ayalon Prison

        BEAUTIFUL I heard this from a friend of a friend who knows people and I can vouch for em! That’s not even a good rumor.

        IRAN WANTS TO DESTROY ISRAEL- Here is a direct link to the NY Times story on Oct 27,2005 about the Iranian leader’s speech at the “World Without Zionism” in which he states that he will wipe Israel off the map.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/26/world/africa/26iht-iran.html

        • Richard Silverstein December 12, 2010, 10:04 PM

          Biography information has been changed on numerous people without their consent or knowledge.

          That’s why you have a brain & memory. You use it to compare what you know w. what’s written in the article. If it corresponds to what you know as the truth, or if you suspect it doesn’t & can confirm through independent sources that it is accurate, then you know it is a valuable resource. I read Wikipedia fairly regularly & my biggest quarrel is not that information is wrong (though it can be), but rather that there isn’t enough information. That’s not the case w. the Asgari article, which you might not know since you prob. don’t know much about the man to begin with. You can’t make sweeping generalizations as you have about Wikipedia. Sometimes it’s excellent & sometimes not. It all depends on the specific article & who wrote it.

          Every newspaper article referred to in Asgari’s Wikipedia article is linked & footnoted. So if you’d bothered to look you could check out yrself if you doubt any sources. Instead of carping, do some work yrself & tell me something that’s actually wrong about the Wikipedia article. Once again for those of you who are obtuse, I used the Wikipedia as a summary of the news articles it referenced. And these were mere background for the main part of my post which was my own scoop about Asgari’s whereabouts.

          I’m beyond tired to arguing about Wikipedia so this was yr last argument on that score. Do NOT continue the Wikipedia debate. That part of the discussion is over for you.

          The AP story is LINKED in my post? Do I have to give you lessons in how to click a mouse???

          You simply don’t understand the point of my update. I added it because I wanted to be fair to my readers & acknowledge there was a source, who may be authoritative who disagreed w. my claim. Are you chiding me for acknowledging a possibility my source might be wrong?

          in which he states that he will wipe Israel off the map.

          Never said it & you’re repeating more bogus propaganda already spouted here about 30 times before by others. This is a mistranslation of what he actually said. In fact, I’ve just queried an Iranian-American professor & will quote his reply to you.

          • huri December 12, 2010, 11:32 PM

            –No, I’m afraid it’s you who is the sad joke. 
            Now Richard, you are showing your real face. I have named AN ACTION OF YOU as a joke. In response, you name ME as a joke, to delegitimate any thing I say from now on.  How approppriate to one who calls his site “Tikun Olam”…
            Nevermind, I will continue to be topical, to help you laugh on me as a joke.

            –Israel is openly threatened by Iran to be destroyed.
            –A lie

            So, Richard, you think just saying something is a lie – makes it a lie. Another clue about your real face. 
            Go ahaed and check even your reliable source Wikipedia.

            –Iran is working to achieve nuclear weapons.
            –Maybe, maybe not. And you have no idea what the truth is unless the Jerusalem Post and Debka Files are the truth (which isn’t likely).

            I am very happy, Richard, that you think the only sources that claim that Iran is working to achieve nuclear weapons are Jer. Post and Debka Files. This means that you don’t check any other sources, or is ot another joke from you.

            –A very low number of nuclear weapons is sufficient to completely destroy Israel.
            –Then wouldn’t that mean that Israel’s 400 nuclear weapons pose a grave risk to itself either fr. its own weapons or all its neighbors who wish to match Israel’s ability to blow the entire region to Kingdom Come.

            Since there is no official knowledge about the 400 nukes of Istael, Icould also say, like your “hitamemut”- “Maybe, maybe not”. But I will not. If there is one country that has the moral right to hold nuclear weapons- It is Israel, which is threatened to be distroyed since its foundation (another lie :) 

            –I’d say it’s a mighty tight race bet. Israel & Iran as to which violates international law more egregiously with Israel winning by a length.

            Sooo Richard, comparing Iran, which hangs homosexuals, stones women to death, has executed more than 150,000 political opponents, has been engaged for a decade in a meaningless war of honour with another country that killed 1million people while sending 12 year old children to the front. Comparing this Iran to Israel, and saying that Israel is worse? Now, Richard, this is your real face.

            –I’m on neither side. I’m on the side of peace, stability & security–for both nations.

            A lie. We have already seen which side you are on. 
            Please, at least be honest with yourself and do not lower any more the term Tikun Olam” by using it as your site’s name.

          • Mike E December 13, 2010, 1:06 AM

            I can use my brain and memory. I can see how hard you are trying to make the world a better place by using condescending language to your readers. My point was that you are basing your story on information that can be changed by anyone, anytime.

            DID YOU check every article that was listed in Asgari’s since you are the journalist and I’m a reader.

            This was your response to me linking the actual quotes from his speech

            “in which he states that he will wipe Israel off the map.

            Never said it & you’re repeating more bogus propaganda already spouted here about 30 times before by others. This is a mistranslation of what he actually said. In fact, I’ve just queried an Iranian-American professor & will quote his reply to you.”

            Wipe Israel ‘off the map’ Iranian says
            By Nazila Fathi
            Published: Thursday, October 27, 2005

            TEHRAN — Iran’s conservative new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Wednesday that Israel must be “wiped off the map” and that attacks by Palestinians would destroy it, the ISNA press agency reported.

            That is a DIRECT quote recorded 1st hand. So you are wrong about a very simple, easy to verify story, But we should believe you when you get anonymous 3rd party sources.

            I could show you how to use the mouse to click on the link I provided. Then I could teach you that when you directly quote someone ” ” those go on either side of the quote. That means the writer actually recorded those exact words as they were spoken. It will be interesting to see your response to the actual speech. Will you promote journalistic integrity or just show your obvious bias

            The truth is always pretty straight forward. It gets confusing when you are always trying to bend the truth to suit your agenda.

            ONE LAST THING- I looked at your Wikipedia entry and it said that you have an Amish based blog, Which is strange because the Amish don’t use computers. The Wikipedia stuff is pretty good so it MUST be true.

            Peace!

          • Richard Silverstein December 21, 2010, 5:27 PM

            I looked at your Wikipedia entry and it said that you have an Amish based blog

            What are you babbling about? Source please.

          • Mike E December 13, 2010, 11:05 PM

            I clearly proved that you are wrong regarding the statement made by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about wiping Israel off of the map. Where is your response? Oh that’s right… You are waiting far an un-named professor to look it up for you. I look forward to your response.

          • Richard Silverstein December 14, 2010, 1:59 AM

            Sorry, me-bucko, you’re outa gas. Nazila Faithi clearly doesn’t know Farsi and whoever translated this for her either deliberately twisted it or was ignorant. Read the truth and weep. This will send you back to the drawing board for more potent anti-Iran propaganda to replace this noxious lie you & others have been propagating. Can you find a Farsi speaker who can quote the original and then translate it to say what you claim? When you can why don’t you come back.

          • Mike E December 14, 2010, 2:08 PM

            Your link proving your point was to your blog that YOU wrote. Your theory is that you print innuendo and prove it by saying “you can trust me” Your Farsi expert is not a historian not a linguist but a chemical engineer. My father is a chemist, does that make him an expert in Farsi? I have linked to your favorite source, Wikipedia and you know what you are correct! he did not say he would wipe the country Israel off of the map, JUST ALL OF THE PEOPLE.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad_and_Israel#2005_.22World_Without_Zionism.22_speech

            You say the 150,00 killed by Iran was a lie, How about this report by Amnesty International stating that Iran has the highest number of government executions in the world.

            Iran: The government continued to clamp down on all forms of dissent in the wake of the mass demonstrations following the disputed June 2009 presidential elections. The authorities deployed the paramilitary Basij and other security forces to prevent protestors gathering, arrested hundreds more political activists, journalists, students and women’s and human rights defenders, and continued to mount grossly unfair “show trials” resulting in long prison terms and, in a few cases, death sentences. Two men were executed in January in connection with the protests. The authorities also took severe measures against ethnic minority activists, such as members of the Kurdish minority, whom they often accused of engaging in armed opposition to the state – in several cases, such accused were executed after grossly unfair trials, as the Iranian authorities maintained their record of being one of the top executors in the world, and of executing juvenile offenders.

            How many Israeli citizens have been executed by their own government for staging demonstrations?

            I know the answer already, You will deflect the question by stating some other wrong committed by Israel and changing the point.

          • Richard Silverstein December 14, 2010, 7:04 PM

            Your Farsi expert is not a historian not a linguist but a chemical engineer.

            Listen: Muhammad Sahimi has a PhD, speaks Farsi, grew up in Iran & lived through the Revolution, heard the Ayatollah’s speech that you reference, saw friends & relatives killed by the regime, escaped to this country & is fighting for Iranian democracy. He is a correspondent for Radio Teheran one of the major online fora for Iranian political news. So don’t you dare attempt to denigrate his Farsi langauge skills. He knows how to translate a Farsi language speech into English. You don’t. The NY Times reporter clearly didn’t either. This is the end of this thread. Sahimni’s translation not only is accurate, but many other Farsi speakers have confirmed this & published online the real translation. If you don’t like it or trust it–not my problem. Yr problem.

            You say the 150,00 killed by Iran was a lie, How about this report by Amnesty International stating that Iran has the highest number of government executions in the world.

            How about it? Does Amnesty say that Iran killed 150,000 political prisoners? If not, not good enough. YOu know what you wrote, you know what proof is needed to support it. Find credible evidence to support what you actually wrote. Otherwise, you published a lie.

          • Mike E December 14, 2010, 7:53 PM

            I wasn’t the one that claimed 150,000 deaths. Are you not smart enough to keep track of your own blog?

            Please respond to my actual points.

            Is Amnesty International correct about Iran having the highest number of government sponsored executions.

            How many Israeli citizens were executed by the Israeli government?

            How about the generally accepted translation of the speech to say all of the people need to be removed from Israel?

            How about you try to stay on point and remember who you are responding to.

            By the way my name is not Bucko. Your unprofessional responses are typical from a propaganda machine like you. This will be proven again when you deflect off of the proof that I have provided. Thank you for this blog, Before this I had more sympathy for Iran. Now I’m learning the truth and it ain’t from you.

          • Richard Silverstein December 15, 2010, 1:36 AM

            I wasn’t the one that claimed 150,000 deaths.

            So you weren’t. My mistake. Confused you w. Huri when you referred to his/her comment.

            But your comment is off-topic. My post was about lies & mistranslations attributed to Iranian leaders. I’m not here to defend the Ayatollahs or their regime or their human rights record. While I have no great love for the Iranian regime, I also have no great love for lies & distortions.

            Your attempt to deflect the discussion in order to score pts against Iran’s human rights record is not pertinent to this conversation. If you continue reading & participating here you may find future posts on this subject at which pt you can chime in when it’s on-topic.

            the generally accepted translation of the speech to say all of the people need to be removed from Israel?

            I’ve never even heard this claim brought up before by anyone. You haven’t provided a quotation, let alone an accurate translation, you haven’t provided a source for this supposed translation.

          • Mike E December 15, 2010, 10:21 AM

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad_and_Israel#2005_.22World_Without_Zionism.22_speech

            This is the second time I’ve posted this link. You might want to actually check it. I have given you verifiable sources every time I’ve made a claim.

            These questions were not addressed by you so I’ll try again:

            Is Amnesty International correct about Iran having the highest number of government sponsored executions.

            How many Israeli citizens were executed by the Israeli government?

          • Richard Silverstein December 15, 2010, 12:17 PM

            You are now officially done in this thread & will not post in it again. Here’s the rule: you ask a question once. If it’s answered, great. If I don’t answer, you don’t ask again & you certainly don’t ask 3 times. If you do, you’re entering moderation territory. I told you your question was off topic. That’s why I’m an editor. I want the conversation to stay on topic. You can try all you want to change the flow of conversation, but when I give editorial direction you take it. That’s how I keep the conversation flowing so it doesn’t veer off in 1,000 directions.

            Again, If you don’t take direction you face consequences.

            I also note that you still have not provided a quotation of the actual words Ahmadinejad spoke, nor the source of such translation. Until you do so, I won’t take up the issue. I have a lot to do here. When I request that you do something if you want me to address you, you respect that request if you want to be addressed. If you do not, you will not be addressed. Your agenda isn’t necessarily mine & I have a lot more to do than follow, review & digest every link you provide. As hard as this may be to believe, you’re not the most important person communicating with me about what they’d like me to do or write in this blog. So respect the way I ask you to do things & I’ll address you. Don’t & I won’t.

          • Mike E December 15, 2010, 2:33 PM

            Ahmadinejad’s phrase was ” بايد از صفحه روزگار محو شود ” according to the text published on the President’s Office’s website

            Ahmadinejad was quoting the Ayatollah Khomeini in the specific speech under discussion: what he said was that “the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time

            This was in the link I provided twice that you did not look at. Is this the correct phrase? If you would have looked at it you might have seen this yourself. Please don’t lie about my contribution to this free flow of opinions.

            This is your quote from earlier:

            “I’d say it’s a mighty tight race bet. Israel & Iran as to which violates international law more egregiously with Israel winning by a length.”

            This is why I asked the questions multiple times because you have given no proof to that statement.

            Do I think I’m the most important person? I never said that. It is another aggressive statement to silence your critics. (Sounds like Iran’s government) Since you’ve had only 72 responses it clearly shows how well respected you are. Has ANYONE come to your defense? NOPE

          • Richard Silverstein December 15, 2010, 6:36 PM

            Who helped you with your Farsi cause you sure didn’t figure that out yrself

            “the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time”

            Thanks for doing what you could’ve done right fr. the beginning as I’d asked. Now, I’m not sure what we’re arguing about as this is the correct translation as opposed to what you linked to in the NYT.

            You claimed he said that the population of Israel would have to leave or something along those lines. That’s not what this quotation supports. The end of the Occupation does not entail the expulsion of Israeli Jews.

            I’m not going to get into a pissing contest about whether Iran has executed more of its citizens than Israel has. There are thousands of ways in which adherence to international law is measured when it comes to the human rights records of nations. Since Israel doesn’t have capital punishment, it can’t very well have executed its own citizens. But as I wrote that is one measure. You’ve conveniently left out the other 999 or so measurements. I wonder why.

            It is another aggressive statement to silence your critics.

            Bullshit. You & I both know there’s no way of silencing you since you clearly like to read the sound of yr own voice online.

            Has ANYONE come to your defense?

            I have no idea what the hell this means. I don’t need anyone to come to my defense. I can defend my positions quite well w/o the help of anyone. I don’t think anything you’ve written here has grievously wounded my credibility. But when it has I’ll send out an SOS and the calvary will arrive (a joke).

  • uncle joe mccarthy December 11, 2010, 5:33 PM

    “I would remind Israel that a democracy does not hold its enemies in such fashion. It gives due process, legal rights, fair trial, etc.”

    unless that democracy exists in the united states, and those enemies are placed in gitmo or that democracy exists in gaza, and your prisoner is named gilad shalit.

    or maybe israel’s democracy is right on par with the rest of the world’s democracies.

    • Richard Silverstein December 12, 2010, 2:24 AM

      We’re having a major political debate about that here in this country. The U.S. has significantly reduced the numbers held in Guantanamo (down to around 100) & had diligently sought other countries to take these prisoners often w/o success. I’m not aware that Israel has made any attempt to send Asgari to another country (say his own) as we have.

      That doesn’t excuse U.S. policy at Guantanamo. BUt it’s vastly diff. than Israeli policy concerning its enemy military prisoners who are held for yrs w/o trial or as in Asgari’s case completely incommunicado.

      As for Israeli democracy being on a par with others in the world–in yr dreams baby, in yr dreams. It will be some day, but not now. Certainly not now.

      • shmuel December 12, 2010, 3:24 AM

        It’s a small point, but by far the vast majority of “enemy military” prisoners held in israel are after trial and due process.

        There still, unfortunately, our “Guantanamo” prisoners, here called “administrative detention” who are held without trial, but subject to judicial review every 3 months with the right to appeal.
        But these are not held “for years” but rather up to a year or so. In my experience I have yet to come across an administrative detainee who was detained for more than 18 months (not that this is good, but one ought to be accurate)

        • duck December 12, 2010, 10:21 AM

          I have personally met a man who’s son has been jailed (after an extremly unfair trial) for over two years, for no reason other than to rob his land.

          We are so far beyond improper treatment of enemy POWs. We crossed that line so long ago it looks like a dot now.

          • shmuel December 12, 2010, 10:45 AM

            I’m sorry, but to throw “facts” like this to the blog is not really helpful.

            How can one argue with you? Who says there was an “extremely unfair” trial? Who says that the arrest was for no reason other than to “rob his land”? Bring facts!

            Israel treats POWs according to the Geneva Convention – People who are tried for criminal offences ARE NOT POWs. A POW has a very specific definition according to the Geneva Convention, including the wearing of recognised uniform and openly displaying weaponry.
            I assume that “the son of a man that you personally met” did not fall into that caergory.

            If you give me the full name of the “man’s son” and where he was tried I will personally find the protocol of his trial and do my best to translate the facts here.

            The line is still a line and yet to be crossed. I personally met a man whose son told me that.

          • duck December 12, 2010, 8:33 PM

            shmuel – an attempt was made here to compare how israel and the US treat “enemy combatants”.

            I just pointed out that this is totally moot, since israel regularly and brutally denies the rights of none-military, civillian and political targets.

            My example is hardly a flag case. There are hundreds of worse cases well documented. To save the trouble of looking through betselem and shovrim sh’tika, just look at ameer makhoul’s case on this blog.

        • Richard Silverstein December 12, 2010, 3:52 PM

          Israel holds many Lebanese prisoners it has never tried & it has held them for years. Asgari too has been held under similar circumstances within Israel. I’m very curious what legal/bureaucratic mumbo jumbo they used to authorize this detention.

        • just me December 12, 2010, 4:22 PM

          mustafa dirani is the first example that comes to mind. what was it… 5 years before seeing the red cross for the first time? 6?

      • Eran December 12, 2010, 12:15 PM

        Israel is not a democracy on a par with others in the world. Unfortunately, neither is the US.

        However, If one of these days the US decides to stop subsidizing its military industrial complex through military “aid” to Israel and other countries in the middle east, cut the automatic political support for the worst Israeli governments, and when the Jewish lobby starts minding their own business rather than dealing with inside Israeli politics and helping the right wingers here kill each and every peace initiative, maybe we’ll have a chance for peace in the middle east, and for democratization in the area.

  • Jenny December 11, 2010, 11:16 PM

    wow. I salute your bloody amazing investigative skills.

    • Richard Silverstein December 12, 2010, 2:26 AM

      The thanks goes to my “colleagues.” I’ll convey it to them.

      • duck December 12, 2010, 10:23 AM

        I can’t imagine the kinds of risks those people are taking.
        Salute!

  • PersianAdvocate December 12, 2010, 6:10 AM

    Wow, Richard. You are something else! I am kind of chuckling here a little bit, because if Prisoner X is indeed Asgari, then the Israelis have been fooled with a Trojan horse of sorts.

    Did you know that the Revolutionary Guard trains each of its member on what to do if captured? This includes planting false information and forcing the ones who took you captive to make stupid moves, granted that they will likely believe you because you are “confessing”. It’s like the same story again and again.

    Iranian intelligence is highly underrated by the Israeli government. Sun Tzu would tell you what a mistake that is to make. It’s almost like they’re biting on their own propaganda that we’re just a bunch of primitive, barbarians who intend on destroying everyone around us, including ourselves, to bring forth rapture.

  • PersianAdvocate December 12, 2010, 6:15 AM

    Wow, Richard. You are something else! I am kind of chuckling here a little bit, because if Prisoner X is indeed Asgari, then the Israelis have been fooled with a Trojan horse of sorts.

    Did you know that the Revolutionary Guard trains each of its member on what to do if captured? This includes planting false information and forcing the ones who took you captive to make stupid moves, granted that they will likely believe you because you are “confessing”. It’s like the same story again and again.

    Now, mind you, the smarter move would have been to go spy on that “nuclear facility” in Syria and make sure the story pans out, along with obtaining evidence to justify the strike AND sanctions on a regional foe. Instead, the Israelis opted to flatten what was probably an old warehouse, and had nothing to show but a picture of the outside of a building and then a separate picture of some nuclear looking lab with Asian scientists. For all intents and purposes, you have two pictures that could very well be unconnected as no contextual reference is given. It can be safe to assume that no intelligence gathering was done before the strike occurred beyond a supposed “confession” by Asgari.

    And why would these specific lies aid Asgari? Well, the impulse to flatten things also removes any evidence that he may have been lying. Syria was on guard after that strike so a return on ground or otherwise was out of the question. Iran knows Israel uses depleted uranium in its shells, so any reports of “radiation left after the strike” are easily done away with.

    Again, the Iranians play chess while the Israelis play every other game under the Sun.

    Iranian intelligence is highly underrated by the Israeli government. Sun Tzu would tell you what a mistake that is to make. It’s almost like they’re biting on their own propaganda that we’re just a bunch of primitive, barbarians who intend on destroying everyone around us, including ourselves, to bring forth rapture.

    • Medawar December 12, 2010, 8:24 AM

      If the U.S. State Department is right, and the Chinese have been willing to sell VX precursors directly to Iran, then any nuclear programme would be strictly superfluous. (Anyone who sees VX as a lesser problem compared to nuclear weapons simply hasn’t understood much about VX.)

      And I’ve said here before (so Richard will probably mallet this) Iran’s own natural resources, of thorium and a good hydroelectric plant by a heavy water plant, would lend itself to a much cheaper and easier form of nuclear weapon, based on U-233 from the Thorium fuel cycle. This requires NONE of the centrifuges and big nuclear facilities being paraded by Iran and obsessed about by Israel and the USA.

      There’s two levels of potential decoy here: nuclear weapons are not the only card, for Iran, Syria and Burma, and in any case, Iran, which may now mine natural Uranium but has three times as much Thorium, (which has been mined for non-nuclear refractory uses for more than a century) as it does Uranium, the most efficient use of its natural and industrial resources, if a nuclear weapon were required, would be to exploit the Thorium fuel cycle, which is what India did in the first instance.

      The shiny halls full of centrifuges are decoys, and who has looked hard enough to know if more than a couple of dozen of them are even real?

      Iran needs the appearance of a nuclear programme as a bargaining chip with the Americans, and to be convincing it needs to resemble America’s own initial programme because if ever there was an intelligence agency which suffered from “not invented here syndrome” it’s the CIA. If it needs a real programme, it has the Thorium fuel cycle and the two-point SWAN warhead design.

      So we’ve got a stage set of underground halls of centrifuges, like a mini-manhatten project, and probably some real WMD that never needed anything so elaborate or locatable to build the warheads.

      If the Americans and Israelis were oblivious to the actual factory, then even with 24/7 spy satellite coverage, they have no way of knowing where either VX or any U-233 warheads might be now.

      As our friend suggests, Asgari would know the truth, and also know what he was supposed to reveal under torture or whatever means were applied.

      Iran can destroy the population of Israel anytime it wants, but would probably prefer them to move somewhere else.

      Israel can destroy the population of Palestine, but would prefer them to move somewhere else.

      The crunch comes when one or the other gets more bored than scared, and hopefully they will stay frightened.

  • MS December 12, 2010, 9:39 AM

    I join the “Kol Hakavod” solving for me the question what happened to Asgari.
    War is a dirty thing.

  • Assaf Oron December 12, 2010, 10:06 AM

    Richard,

    Thanks for the valuable service you provide, and congratulations on the scoop. I hope it helps make things a bit more transparent.

  • karash December 12, 2010, 12:50 PM

    i don’t believe Your story..lol.seems 2me like a THEORY..maybe i’ll be seeing it on Nat geo..!

  • Lior December 13, 2010, 6:54 AM

    no offence sir, but this is hardly proof of anything. saying “a source told me” is akin to saying “well this is what I think”, and that counts for very little. in the future I would reccomend having some real evidence to support your claim before you go ahead and post about it.

    • Richard Silverstein December 13, 2010, 12:14 PM

      You must be new here & so don’t have any history. This is the same source who broke the Anat Kamm, Ameer Makhoul & Doron Zahavi/Captain George gag orders. The same one who reported the real ID of the future Mossad director before he was named. The same one who reported the ID of the new Shabak director before he was named. I could go on. Now, if that’s not “real evidence” you don’t know what it is. My reputation & that of my sources stands on its merits. If you doubt them then you’ll have to tell us where & when we’ve been wrong (I have been, but very rarely).

  • Mike E. December 15, 2010, 9:49 PM

    When presented with facts you get more and more angry. You have ZERO credibility. Please enjoy your Anti-Semetic little blog.

  • Mike E. December 15, 2010, 10:01 PM

    I want to apologize for using the term anti-semetic in regards to your blog. It was uncalled for.

    • Richard Silverstein December 16, 2010, 2:22 AM

      Indeed, you should. Had you not done this you would be gone by now. NO ONE calls me that. Do you understand? I find that DEEPLY offensive. Akin to the N-word. You should read my comment rules. You may not like me and you may not like the rules, but they’re there for a reason. And I do have readers who disagree w. me all the time & still manage to follow them. YOu could too.

      And btw, it’s spelled “anti-Semitic.”

  • Huri December 16, 2010, 8:53 AM

    [comment deleted and commenter banned--commenters here do not issue demands or threats of any kind]

  • sinbad February 12, 2013, 1:26 PM

    It seems that prisoner X is an Australian/Israeli law graduate named Ben Alon Ben Allen and Ben Zygier. It seems he worked for Mossad. His body was returned to Australia and has been buried in Melbourne. Read all about it at ABC.net.au.

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