I’ve been struck by the pushback against my story about Ali Reza Asgari and Prisoner X in Ayalon Prison. The Mossad, sympathetic journalists and Iranian exiles doing its bidding (purposely or not) have each chimed in with varying levels of disinformation over the past few days. I’ve already written here that Yossi Melman has taken personal offence at the claim of my source in Ehud Barak’s inner circle that Ali Reza Asgari was in Ayalon Prison and committed suicide there last month. Melman, as I reported, flat-out denies Asgari was ever in Israel.
But interestingly he doesn’t deny that Prisoner X is dead. Regarding the death, I wrote, based on several Israeli Haaretz reports of misdeeds within the intelligence apparatus, that the government story that he committed suicide was likely a cover and that he was murdered or died in Mossad custody.
Now, the Mossad or those who may inadvertently be advancing its agenda are putting out a counter-narrative which is instructive. Writing in Politico, Laura Rozen interviews two Iranian exiles, using them to rebut my story:
An Iranian-American activist knowledgeable about the 2006 defection of former Iranian deputy defense minister Gen. Ali-Reza Asgari tells POLITICO that Asgari was never in Israel, and that the story that he died in Israel – or that he died at all — is not true.
“The story is not true,” Pooya Dayanim, a Los Angeles-based Iranian pro-democracy activist told POLITICO Thursday. “I was somewhat observing this situation from the periphery from the time he left Iran. …The news is a complete fabrication and a fantasy.”
Who is Pooya Dayanim? He is a member of Los Angeles’ fabulously wealthy Iranian-Jewish community. He, along with most members of the community is a monarchist and loyal supporter of the Shah and his family. Dayanim is active in Aipac and once scheduled Reza Pahlevi, the Shah’s son, to speak at its national conference. Until, that is, Aipac’s Iran specialist discovered this and quashed it like a bug, realizing the damage it would do both to Aipac and Iranian Jews.
Dayanim was a Beverly Hills attorney until he was suspended from the practice of law for three years for using fraudulent bank documents to arrange immigration papers for fellow Iranians. He never renewed his license and doesn’t practice law as far as I know. Dayanim, according to another national Iranian-American leader I consulted, is the consummate opportunist. He started his life as a liberal reformer but moved gradually farther and farther right until now he’s publishing in the National Review, palling around with the Shah’s son, and acting knowingly or not as Mossad’s mouthpiece among Iranian Jews.
Another fellow Dayanim hangs out with is Hassan Daioleslam (aka “Dai”), a leader of the cultish, murderous Mujahadeen e-Khalq (MKO). Trita Parsi, director of the National Iranian American Council has sued Dai for libel and slander in a case that has been ongoing for some time. MKO is designated by the American government as a terrorist group. It is also a darling of the Mossad and collaborates with it in leaking fraudulent Iranian nuclear research documents to the world press. MKO also likely does Mossad’s bidding inside Iran acting as muscle for assassinations and attacks on military targets that have occurred over the past few years.
Pooya Dayanim is no more a “pro-democracy activist” than I am the King of Siam (or Persia). He’s a monarchist plain and simple. And I fear that Laura Rozen has been had by him in more ways than one. I don’t believe Dayanim is “knowledgeable” about Asgari’s case except whatever information he may glean from his fellow exile friends and possibly the Mossad itself. No, I’m not accusing Dayanim of being an agent of Mossad. He’s just a willing fellow traveler. He wants to be where the action is and this story does that for him in spades.
Interestingly, Rozen doesn’t explain just how he gained his supposed “knowledge” of Asgari’s status nor does Dayanim explain how he knows my story is a “fabrication.” She takes him at face value and he takes her for everything she’s worth journalistically.
Rozen also uses another Iranian exile of dubious character to bolster her story. Allegedly, Amir Ebrahimi is a good friend of Ali Reza Asgari. If you hear him tell it, it was Ebrahimi who persuaded his friend to defect. The exile, again, if you believe his version of events, is in regular contact with Asgari, who is comfortably ensconced in exile in some western country:
Among the people who Asgari contacted for help when he was seeking asylum in the West is his friend and fellow former IRGC official, Amir Farshad Ebrahimi, who had previously received asylum in Germany. Ebrahimi, now based in Europe, has written on his Farsi-language blog that Asgari is safe in a western country.
‘Ali Reza is live and I speak [with him] last week,” Ebrahimi said by e-mail Saturday of Asgari.
There are a few problems, however, with Rozen’s description of Ebrahimi and the latter’s own claims. First, he was never an Iranian Revolutionary Guard official. As Prof. Sahimi writes:
Amir Farshad Ebrahimi is a former member of Ansar-e Hezbollah (supporters of Party of God) that used to attack reformers, intellectuals, book stores, etc. For some reason he turned against his group, made a taped confession of all he and his group had done, and who in the government led them, and gave it to Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Laureate for Peace, which she passed to Interior Ministry. Ebadi was arrested and jailed…Ebrahimi left Iran and is now in exile in Europe. I have always had the feeling that Ebrahimi did what he did so that he could get political asylum in Europe and the comfortable life that comes with it.
And most tellingly, Allison Kaplan Sommer, a regular contributor to Jerusalem Post, writes for Pajamas Media in 2007 a damning portrayal of Ebrahimi’s claims regarding Asgari’s so-called defection:
[Ebrahimi’s] account appeared promising. After all, it provided documentation — something all of the rumors, speculation and anonymously sourced news stories haven’t provided until now.
There’s just one problem – the organizations whose documents these are meant to be, say they are fake.
…The documents come from the blog of Amir Farshad Ebrahimi, someone who claims to know Asgari and who himself defected from Iran in February of 2006. Ebrahimi received the documents which appeared to prove that Asgari sought refugee status from the United Nations, from a source he describes as “a friend who is 100 percent reliable: who works for an unnamed organization in Turkey.”
He says that he initiated the search. “I am very interested in this story because I knew Asgari personally,” Ebrahimi told Pajamas Media by telephone from his home in Turkey. “We served together in the Revolutionary Guards.”
Ebrahimi, who today describes himself a human rights activist, graduate student and author living in Turkey and Germany.
In the account published in his blog, the Iranian exile claims that Asgari, while in Istanbul approached the UN High Commission for Refugees and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) for help in arranging his defection. However, the documents Ebrahimi uses to authenticate his claims don’t appear genuine:
When contacted by Pajamas Media, Emma Viaud, communications officer for the ICMC said, “that the validity of the ICMC letters that appear in the article is not clear, we have reason to believe that they are fraudulent.” Later, when pressed for a more definitive statement, she said, “I can now confirm that the documents that appear in the article are forgeries and have not been issued by or with the knowledge of ICMC.”
The UNHCR spokesman Abeer Etefa said that “after a quick search, it does not appear that we have a person with this name granted a refugee status. Also the document that you referred to on the blog seems to be not authentic.”
Interestingly, photo images of the above documents used to be displayed at Ebrahimi’s Flickr site and Sommer linked to them in her 2007 article. But the images are gone now. I wonder why. Further, one has to ask how Ebrahimi secured these documents since clearly he didn’t get them from Asgari. I can think of a few intelligence agencies considered quite adept at forging such documents and cloning passports to boot. Hint, hint.
Another fatal flaw in the Iranian exile’s story involves justifying the claim that Asgari’s family fled Iran with him when he defected. Since clearly Ebrahimi has two wives remaining with their family in Iran, Ebrahimi says that Asgari has not two but three wives and that it is his third wife that is with him in the west. Only one problem with this–Asgari, as I wrote above, has only two wives and they’re both in Iran. There is no third wife. A figment of the man’s hyperactive imagination.
Yonat Friling, FoxNews Jerusalem bureau chief, has also written a story in which she succeeded in getting an interesting reply from the Mossad:
Both Israeli prison authority and the Israeli Secret Service “Shin Bet” refused to respond to Fox News’s questions, claiming the information is under gag order. However, an unnamed Security source tells us that this is a “fabricated tale. Al Asgari was never in Israel. “ The source claims that he lives with his family in a western country, under their constant observation.
Note that the Mossad source uses the exact same word to describe my work, “fabrication.” Coincidence? Or coordinated talking-points? There is one blatant lie in this statement (by her source, not Friling). Asgari has two wives both of whom live in Iran. He has no family outside Iran. Though again, Ebrahimi’s fictional third wife certainly fits right into the Mossad narrative. Given this falsehood I think we can safely doubt pretty much everything in the entire statement. These two guys, Ebrahimi and Dayanim are the Clifford Irvings or the Iranian exile movement. Frauds. Wanna-bes.
Regarding Asgari’s whereabouts, I can only report what my source told me, while conceding that Yossi Melman’s vehemence in rejecting my report may indicate my source is wrong. But if so, he is only wrong about this particular part of the story. Melman, an expert on the Mossad, has never denied he was kidnapped either by the Mossad or in collaboration with other western intelligence agencies. So we still have the matter of a major Iranian military officer disappeared for the past four years.
If my version of events concerning Asgari is wrong, it hasn’t been proven by any of this nonsense. And the blatant falsehood and fabrications of the Mossad and their Iranian friends make you wonder what the real story is and why they go to such lengths to obfuscate it.
Very few intelligence agencies in the world, when facing the type of exposure this case has received in the past month, simply stonewall. Most agencies and governments will respond in some fashion. If Asgari did indeed defect willingly as the Mossad claims, they would produce some proof of this. Just about the only intelligence agency I know with the balls to stare this scandal straight in the eye without blinking or flinching is the Mossad.
I have very little doubt that Asgari is or was under Mossad (or western intelligence agency) control and that he never defected. As Prof. Muhammad Sahimi, an Iranian-American expert on the Iranian nuclear program and the regime told me, Iranian Revolutionary Guard generals do not willingly defect. They are made of steel, the truest of the true believers. They are devout Muslims. They do not abandon two families and never make any attempt to communicate with them.
Apart from Asgari, what remains is that Prisoner X (whether Asgari or someone else), a high-level security prisoner, died under mysterious circumstances in Ayalon Prison. Even without mixing Asgari into this story, this alone testifies to a grievous misdeed on the part of the Mossad, which was handling him. Further, a man was killed and the Israeli secret police won’t let their own citizens know what happened. Yes, the dead man was likely neither Israeli nor Jew and so expendable. Why should the average Israeli worry their pretty little heads over such matters? It’s just the price of doing business in a dirty, rough neck of the Middle East woods. Right?
H/t to Kalea and Dedi for their assistance.