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Alleged Iran Plot to Bomb Saudi Ambassador Foiled

manssor arbabsiar

Manssor Arbabsiar, alleged Iranian terror conspirator (Teheran Bureau)

Before I get into the thicket of this allegedly foiled terror plot, I’ve got to say the whole thing stinks to high heaven.  I’m not saying that two Iranians might not have wanted to try to off a Saudi Arabian diplomat (jury’s out on that).  But to link this to the Revolutionary Guards or the Iranian government (“an international conspiracy by elements of the Iranian government”) is beyond preposterous.

Here is how the U.S. attorney linked the alleged plotters to the Iranian government:

He said the men were connected to the secretive Quds Force, a division of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps…According to the complaint, other conspirators based in Iran were aware of and approved the plan…

Which means precisely what?  And what evidence do we have of official government involvement?  We’ll have to wait and see on that.  But I strongly doubt it.  While I have no love or respect for the Iranian regime, to think that they would as stupid as the Justice Department is making them out to be beggars belief.  Not to mention the Mexican drug cartels, millions in funds transferred through the U.S. banking system.  The whole thing strikes me as beyond belief.

Iranian-American Prof. Muhammad Sahimi, and a noted regime critic, writing at Teheran Bureau agrees:

Based on a purely cost-benefit analysis, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to imagine that the IRI could have benefited from such a plot as is alleged. At a time when (a) international pressure on Iran is mounting in response to its gross human rights violations, (b) the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran are showing signs of working, (c) the IRI is deeply worried about the fate of its strategic partner in Syria, the government of Bashar al-Assad, (d) tensions with Turkey are increasing over its hostile policy toward the Assad regime, and (e) a fierce power struggle is underway within Iran between the supporters of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it is essentially impossible to believe that the IRI would act in such a way as to open a major new front against itself.

Moreover, although the IRI has carried out assassination operations beyond Iranian borders…they targeted Iranian dissidents, not foreign diplomats. Even at the height of the assassination wave, the IRI did not go after non-Iranians. It is keenly aware that it is under the American microscope. It is thus hard to believe that the IRI would actually embark on such a useless assassination involving a low-level, non-player individuals, [and] dealing with people [i.e. Mexican drug runners] that they do not know.

…The indictment against Arbabsiar and Shakuri claims that they are members of the Quds force, and given the discipline that the Quds force has demonstrated in its operations throughout the Middle East, I still find it difficult to believe that they would embark on what seems to be a useless, dangerous, and relatively easy-to-discover operation.

Thus, at this point, I find the claim that the IRI was involved in the plot highly unlikely. The more information that becomes available, the more it appears like a frame-up of Manssor Arbabsiar…

I’m beginning to think of this as a Tonkin Gulf-type incident, which Lyndon Johnson used as a pretext to begin U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.  Then again, remember Bush’s escalations after 9/11 and what suffering they brought the U.S., Iraq and Afghanistan?  What could Obama have in store?  Who knows.  But I think the “success” of the Bin Laden and Al-Awlaki murders has emboldened him to break out the guns from the U.S. arsenal.

He wouldn’t even have to do that if he chose not to.  Israel is itching at the bit for a chance to take on the Ayatollahs.  We’ve already supplied them with enough bunker buster bombs to make a tunnel all the way to Cleveland (or wherever the opposite side of the earth is from Qoms or Natanz).  A shooting war?  I don’t know.  But you can be damn sure that Obama is after something far more disruptive to Iran than ratcheting up economic sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards, which he announced today.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • roofus October 11, 2011, 7:51 PM

    why do you not see the benefits of this political tool and that Iran is dangerous and a threat to many nations? This may be beneficial to world security as Iran is known to use terrorism, practically main purpose of al-quds force. Sometimes law is not best tool for solving problems with countries that do not follow law and respect human rights. Could the UN solve these problems by itself?

  • David October 11, 2011, 7:52 PM

    Remember the Maine!

    • Richard Silverstein October 11, 2011, 8:04 PM

      I thought of that little provocation too, but it was a bit distant historically for all but the students of American history among us.

  • pea October 11, 2011, 9:27 PM

    Why would they want to blow up an Argentinian Jewish Community Center? And yet… But even alleged terrorists get to benefit from the presumption of innocence, so I’ll wait and see what comes up at trial.

  • Castellio October 12, 2011, 12:32 AM

    I think you’re right, Richard. This is a clear escalation on the part of Israel-US targeting Iran. Obama may well try to maintain his shattered credibility through war, or his ‘understanding and acceptance’ of Israeli actions.

    We know how the Office of Special Plans was set up and operated under Bush. What is the parallel organization for the attack on Iran, or is it being co-ordinated through the usual State, Defense and WH channels?

    There’s no reason I’ve seen to believe that Panetta is actually resisting Netanyahu. More probably, he has set the limits of the initial US response to Israeli aggression.

    The now infamous veto and speech at the UN makes more and more sense from a politically strategic perspective.

    It’s just a question of time before Obama tells us that military action against Iran is, or was, necessary for a negotiated peace in Israel.

  • Rain October 12, 2011, 4:47 AM

    The last thing Hamas wants is Marwan Barghouti outside an Israeli prison. Too charismatic. Too tied to Fatah.

  • pabelmont October 12, 2011, 7:52 AM

    The Republican hopefuls see that to win primaries among right-wing Republican voters (and to raise funds from THE LOBBY) they must be “more Polish than the Pope” (and they are indeed to the right of Netanyahu).

    Obama knows this and sees his electoral money dry up. He may consider a new war as as an electoral device. certainly, whatever the Republicans may say about his loyalty to Israel, he acts more loyal to Israel than to the USA.

  • PersianAdvocate October 12, 2011, 9:27 AM

    My take on this is that the Obama administration is under assault.

    First, someone leaked Fast and Furious, implicating the entire Obama administration in a HUGE drug and arms scandal truly worthy of impeachment (by the way, these types of deals were put into fashion by none other than HW Bush as former CIA director). Holder was a key individual under pressure of subpoena.

    Then, Holder receives briefings that implicate Iran in an extraordinary plan no serious intelligence analyst would consider legitimate. He scurries to get the attention off of him with news of an Iranian espionage scheme on US soil.

    The controlled media runs into a “Iran terror” rage. Bringing in all sorts of pundits, “terror experts”, against a country, Iran, that in no way really espouses “terrorism”, suicide bombings, or plots of that nature. They are a State entity – not unprofessional.

    I bet someone told Holder and Hillary Clinton (purportedly a CENTRAL PLANNER of Fast and Furious) if he makes this press release, they will take the Fast and Furious pressure off him. Either that, or he was stupid enough to think it was a valid press release without vetting how crazy he would sound making statements like, “We will hold Iran accountable.”

    Few other notes:
    (1) Eric Holder is not the DHS Secretary, who is ordained to make these sort of announcements. Why did this come from the AG???
    (2) Why did Iranian agents who have already successfully breached US soil go to an untrustworthy Mexican drug dealer to assassinate SAUDI officials on AMERICAN soil?
    (3) Why was Eric Holder, an attorney (ATTORNEY GENERAL), make statements like “Iran must be held accountable” when he knew full-well the underlying trial hadn’t even been adjudicated yet?

    We know the answers to the above. Now, who really wants America to attack Iran? Who would want to bring the Saudis into the fold (especially their airway)?

    Ya. We know the answers to that, too. So do many segments of the US government who cannot air the laundry as a matter of national security because top level officials in our government are guilty of treason and conspiracy (some, by way of coercion/blackmail). When the smoke clears, hopefully people like you, Richard, will be able to prevent the criminals from scapegoating Judaism for their crimes.

  • Miketivist October 12, 2011, 11:55 AM

    Before totally dismissing Iranian involvement, we need to look at Iranian domestic politics as to why this and why now.

    The Iranian government has distinctly decentralized parts that are sometimes in competition with each other.

    I don’t know my way around these internecine battles, so I have no answers here. But just like the USA and Israel have their internal and external reasons for possibly making this up, there are voices from within the government of Tehran that may see such an attack as garnering themselves greater power within Iran.

    That ultimately the costs of such terror may not have gained them what they really wanted is also not a reason to dismiss that they may have been trying to do it. Terror often has the opposite consequences from the intentions: killing the Israeli team in Munich did not gain sympathy for the PLO, bombs and shootings at abortion clinics in the USA does not win converts to the “Pro-Life” side, killing Rabin did not stop people from wanting peace, etc, etc.

    Right now, this plot is as clear as mud. It needs looking at Iranians’ domestic motivations just as much as USA’s, Saudi’s and Israel’s.

    • Richard Silverstein October 12, 2011, 2:49 PM

      Sorry. I’ve considered all those factors & while no friend of the Iranian regime, simply don’t remotely believe any official Iranian entity would sanction this in any way. Even if we credit the fact that they would do this if they could get away with it (after all, the U.S. does things like this regularly, simply because it can), they are nothing if not pragmatic & realize that they couldn’t get away w. it & it would blow up in their faces.

  • Chayma October 12, 2011, 12:13 PM

    There is a motive here but why they were (if it’s true) targeting Adel al jubair is a mystery. The motive being, the unrest in the Kingdom (Saudi) the Arab Spring is reaching there, and the Saudi’s are blaming Iran without mentioning it.

    Saudi Arabia being an ally of the USA won’t get much sympathy.

    This may not even be a real plot, but one concocted by the State dept. after being harassed by the Saud’s.

    Or maybe it really was a plot. but why target Adel? and that too on US soil?

  • Johnboy October 12, 2011, 6:21 PM

    It’s easy to spot the evidential shortfall in the USA’s claim against the Iranian govt.

    It is this: two guys are alleged to be involved
    a) an American citizen who is, obviously, an amateur and
    b) an Iranian citizen who is, obviously, the guy who could link the Iranian govt to this plot.

    The problem for the USA is that they have (a) in custody, but they don’t have (b) in custody.

    Indeed, based on what has been revealed so far it would appear that the USA Federal Agents know of (b) only as a voice at the end of a phone.

    So while they may have good evidence that two men planned to blow the Saudi Ambassador sky-high, that is a far cry from “proving” that one of those two men (the one they don’t have, remember) was taking his orders from Quds Force.

    • Richard Silverstein October 12, 2011, 8:44 PM

      Don’t forget that there’ a “CS-1” involved in this, that is, a “confidential source” i.e. paid informant with a drug dealing past. This fellow got into a scrape with the Feds & they came to him offering a deal in return for collaboration. As I’ve said before, the whole thing stinks to high heaven.

      • Johnboy October 12, 2011, 9:47 PM

        The key is Gholam Shakuri, because what is most striking about all the reportage is that this mantra that is being repeated over and over again:
        “Gholam Shakuri, a member of the Quds force,”
        “Gholam Shakuri, a member of the Quds force,”
        “Gholam Shakuri, a member of the Quds force,”
        “Gholam Shakuri, a member of the Quds force,”

        That allegation is being presented as a self-evident truth i.e. if the US government says that Shakuri is an Iranian spook then that is exactly what he is.

        Why should we accept that allegation at face value?

        Don’t get me wrong: there appears to be plenty of evidence linking Shakuri as a co-conspirator with Arbabias, but that IN ITSELF is not evidence that Shakuri is a member of Qods Force.

        The US government has to substantiate that claim, and if it can’t then it has no case against the Iranian government, merely a conspiracy case involving two losers and an undercover cop.

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