More bragging from Mossad sources and their journalist friends in the Israeli media about the proficiency with which they have attacked both Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and its nuclear program. It’s very hard to know whether this report is part of Israeli intelligence psyops campaign or whether the hints, allusions and claims in this report are correctly attributed to the Mossad (or both). In some places, the report either spins tales I’ve never heard before, thus making them suspect; or it is downright wrong (e.g. in claiming we don’t know how Stuxnet infected Iranian computers not even connected to the internet). But despite the breathless, and frankly offensive self-congratulatory tone of the report (e.g. the most recent Teheran assassination was a “parting gift” from outgoing Mossad director, Meir Dagan), along with lots of scary mood music (including the requisite Arabic music), I find some of the material suggestive and worth addressing.
Among the insinuations is that a massive Israeli intelligence campaign against Iran resulted in four major Revolutionary Guard plane crashes in a single year (2003), a 2005 explosion at an Iranian nuclear site, and “disappeared” nuclear scientists. This Nana report acknowledges claims made here and elsewhere that Ali Reza Asgari was kidnapped by the Mossad in 2007. It notes that in the same year another Iranian nuclear scientist died of inhaling poison gas. In 2008, Iran further claimed it had exposed a spy ring run by the Mossad. It also notes the two other Iranian nuclear scientists assassinated in the past few months in Teheran. The one scientist who survived these attacks did so, the report trumpets, “by dint of a miracle.” Part of this campaign was the explosion at the Imam Ali missile base in which tens of military personnel were killed. The final coup de grâce is Yossi Melman’s claim that Iran reported the Mossad had outfitted squirrels with transmitter chips and located the animals in sensitive areas from which the intelligence agency could monitor these sites. Melman snickers at the preposterousness of the claim, but also notes that it could be true.
Correspondents interviewed like Ronen Bergman, Melman and former Mossad personnel paint a picture of an Israeli sabotage campaign striking almost at will at Iranian military infrastructure and even the heart of its brain trust. Allusions are made to Hollywood spy movies like James Bond and claims made that Israel’s derring-do even surpasses them. Melman points to an Iranian intelligence apparatus allegedly beset by paranoia (with no proof offered of course) “to the point of ridicule” for years due to these attacks. A former Mossad operations officer practically brags at Israel’s ability to “turn” key Iranian figures or else “conclude their lives in ways that are unanticipated.” How’s that for Israeli spy jargon?
There is a suspect claim that Stuxnet is the first computer worm which has caused actual physical damage in the real world. Perhaps there are others with more experience in these matters who can tell us whether this is a false or true claim. Further, the TV news story makes a claim I’ve never heard before, the virus was “controlled” from two computers in Malaysia and Denmark “under cover of the websites of local soccer clubs” in those places. Thousands of other computers throughout the world were hijacked and each new computer strengthened the worm’s capacity to infect and sabotage the Iranian systems.
Another suspect claim is that thousands of Iranian documents fell into the hands of the west in 2002, which convinced the world that Iran was pursuing a nuclear bomb. In fact, these documents were likely frauds concocted by the Mossad to prove a claim that they wished the world to believe. The news report makes no mention of the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate which states “with a high degree of probability” that Iran stopped any WMD program it may have conducted in 2003.
The Nana correspondent notes a meeting exposed in a Wikileaks cable, between Meir Dagan and Bush-era State Department official Nicholas Burns in which Dagan urged the U.S. to join Israel is purusing regime change in Iran. Dagan declared that one of the ways to do this was to support dissident ethnic minority groups like Jundallah, Beluchis, and Kurds, and political opposition like Mujahadeen e-Khalq. The report does great damage to the Green Movement by implying that the June Iranian elections almost led to the type of revolution advocated by Dagan (with the unspoken implication that Israel somehow may’ve played a role). A Mossad source further adds that George Bush allocated $400 million to sabotage the Iranian regime “from within.” Again, there is a hint that the U.S. may’ve been funding the Iranian opposition. All of these accusations are ones made by the Iranian authorities themselves at the time. So either the TV journalist is insinuating that Iran was right, or he’s talking out his rear-end. Take your pick.
The former Mossad operations officer makes the claim that Iran is so riven by ethnic division that this alone could facilitate the disintegration of the current regime:
This is fertile ground for making a lot of noise [with the implication that the Mossad is facilitating some of the “noise”], and it’s happening.
The TV reporter declares the efforts to topple the Iranian regime are “without precedent.” Can someone correct me if I’m wrong–I thought most of the world was on the same page and that we weren’t doing regime change. Did this guy miss the memo or does he know something we don’t?
Ronen Bergman, near the conclusion of the report makes a startling prediction, made more so by the fact of his known closeness to Mossad sources:
If the U.S. and the west does not institute far heavier pressure on Iran [to end its nuclear program or topple the regime], at the end of the day Benjamin Netanyahu will be left with no choice, and despite the deeply troubling consequences of such a process, but to order [Israeli] bombers on their way [to their Iranian targets].
The report closes by noting that Iran’s nuclear program is one of the greatest threats of the 21st century. They’ve been reading too many Mossad press releases–oh that’s right, Mossad doesn’t do press releases. I guess it has other ways of insinuating itself and its views into Israeli consciousness. Frankly, this report seems at least in part a love letter to the incoming Mossad director, Tamir Pardo: you’ve done well, keep up the good work.
It’s precisely what is wrong with the Israeli approach to Iran. Israel believes it is capable of doing whatever it wishes and that it will succeed in doing so whatever the odds. It ascribes to itself almost superpowers to achieve such results. There is no sense of contemplation or caution or pragmatism in the Israeli approach. It is all-out hand to hand combat with the adversary regardless of consequences. Again, it reminds me of Samson in the Philistine temple. To get his revenge he topples the pillars of the building thus killing himself and everyone in it. Is that what the world wants?
The rest of the world, especially Barack Obama, will have to understand that Ronen Bergman is no fool. He knows whereof he speaks. He’s telling Obama that Bibi will attack Iran. And what will Obama do about it? What will he do to prevent it? Of course, there is always the possibility that Bergman is telling us precisely what the Mossad wants us to hear (and not necessarily what the Israeli government will actually do). Frankly, it’s hard to know who to believe. But one thing’s for sure, reports like this full of bravado and serious-sounding nonsense, both reflect Israeli attitudes and highlight the danger they represent to stability in the Middle East and the world.