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Former Mujahadeen Khalq Leader: Alleged Iran Terror Plot Conspirator MEK Member

UPDATE: I’ve updated the second paragraph below to reflect a new private e mail that confirms the original version of the paragraph, in which I’d claimed and then withdrawn the charge that a Gholam Shukari is associated with MEK.

You’ll recall that the the U.S. claimed that the Iranian alleged conspirator in the terror plot against the Saudi ambassador, Gholam Shakuri, was a Revolutionary Guard (IRG) official.  Though many Iranians have scoured every resource they could think of, none have found evidence of such a person with any IRG affiliation.  If the U.S. has such evidence it ought to produce it if it wants to be believed.  Yesterday, the well-placed Alef site, run by an Iranian majlis member who’s run for president twice, alleged that Shakuri is in fact a high level Mujahadeen al Khalq (MEK) leader.  It offered evidence to support the charge.

Today, the official MEK leadership has denied that Shakuri is a member and the U.S. has also denied the charge.  But in fact, a former high-ranking MEK leader, Massoud Khodabandeh writing in the Gulf2000 listserv and in a subsequent personal email, confirmed that there is or was a “Gholam Shakuri” who belongs/ed to the MEK.  In his e mail to me he wrote:

As far as I, and a few others also remember, there is a guy in the MEK called Gholam Shakouri.

He cautions that there may be a Gholam Shakuri who is an IRG member as well.  But this provides far stronger evidence supporting the MEK claim than the government has offered that Shakuri is with the IRG.

In its story containing the U.S. denial, the NY Times quotes U.S. sources responding to the Iranian charge that Shakuri held or holds a U.S. passport:

Mr. Shakuri is not a United States citizen and does not have an American passport.

I have no doubt that Shakuri is not a U.S. citizen and also that he may not currently have a U.S. passport.  But this statement, at least as portrayed by Scott Shane, does not say the U.S. never issued such a passport in his name.  There are many ways and reasons a non-U.S. citizen may obtain a U.S. passport including fraud and the possibility that Shakuri was performing a task for the U.S. government or CIA and needed such a document.  I am speculating, but in light of the paucity of evidence the U.S. has offered to support its claims, we must parse the information it has distributed to try to determine credibility and accuracy.

There is another intriguing element that the Alef story added to the mix.  It claimed that Interpol had released information allowing confirmation of Shakuri as an MEK official.  The NY Times says this:

An Interpol spokeswoman declined to comment. But an American official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Interpol had discovered no link to the opposition group, calling the Iranian news report “pure fiction.”

While I do not know the protocols that Interpol follows in making public statements, I’d think that if the organization had been portrayed falsely by Iran, that it would want to say so.  I’d also think that the U.S. would be a far more important national partner to Interpol than Iran and that Interpol would also want to deny this story if it were false because the U.S. would benefit from this.  The fact that it refuses to do so raises if not a red, then surely a yellow flag for me.

The fact that a U.S. official seeks to speak on behalf of Interpol and under the cloak of anonymity is highly dubious.  If they want us to believe what they claim, then I’m afraid it will have to be Interpol speaking on its own behalf.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Johnboy October 20, 2011, 2:03 AM

    Yikes! Gholam Shakuri is the o.n.l.y. link that the USA has to the Iranian government, and if that link breaks then the USA has….. nothing.

    This needs stressing: even the $100,000 that Arbabsair transferred to a USA bank account means nothing, because if you look at the complaint you’ll see that the USA has zero evidence that the Iranian govt supplied Arbabsair with that money.

    Indeed, the only “evidence” it has linking the Iranian govt to that money is…. Gholam Shakuri himself, who is alleged to have “helped” Arbabsair to transfer that money from overseas accounts to the USA.

    Take Shakuri out of the equation and the USA case is left utterly naked.

  • pabelmont October 20, 2011, 4:28 AM

    The USA’s strongest claim of evidence is not a name, Shakuri, but an asserted “fact” that $100,000 was transferred out of an Iran government bank account. Even if Arbabsiar made up the name “Shakuri” and made up all the other facts that he stated, a transfer of such a large sum of money — if it happened — should be given weight. Some have said that impediments long in place (and created by USA) would prevent a transfer of the sort now asserted to have happened. Perhaps it’s time for Uncle Sam to state openly what its evidence is. “Trust me” works for USA with NYT (and, sadly, often in USA courts) but should work nowhere else.

    • Johnboy October 20, 2011, 3:06 PM

      “The USA’s strongest claim of evidence is not a name, Shakuri, but an asserted “fact” that $100,000 was transferred out of an Iran government bank account”


      Read the complaint; the USA has never claimed that the money was transferred from “an Iran government bank account”.

      The claim was always that Arbabsair obtained $100,000 from [fill in missing gap], and the only evidence that links that money to the Iranian govt is the claim that Shakuri assisted Arbabsair in the transfer of that money from [fill in missing gap] to a DEA-controlled bank account.

      But this needs stessing: Nowhere in that complaint does the US govt claim that Shakuri gave that money to Arbabsair, nor does it ever claim that the money was originally in “an Iran government bank account”.


      • Richard Silverstein October 20, 2011, 5:01 PM

        Not quite. The criminal complaint claims that the $100K came from an account “under IRG control” whatever that means. We know it didn’t come from the territory of Iran itself. But more than that we don’t know. But even if we grant the claim of the govt that the money came from an acct under control of the IRG, this is so vague as to be useless. It tells us practically nothing & could mean practically anything.

        • Johnboy October 20, 2011, 6:34 PM

          Follow the DEA logic:
          1) IF Gholam Shakuri is a Quds Force commander
          2) AND he can move that money around the world
          3) THEN Quds Force is in control of that bank account.

          But that logic fails if either of the assumptions that underpin it is incorrect.

          Or, put another way: it is quite conceivable that the “IRG control” of that bank account is not an independently-verified fact.

          It may be an conclusion that was reached based upon nothing more than
          (a) the involvement of Gholam Shakuri and
          (b) the USA’s belief that he is an “IRG commander”.

          • Richard Silverstein October 20, 2011, 8:16 PM

            Exactly. The U.S. says the IRG controlled the acct even though it wasn’t located in Iran. How do we know anything of this is true?

          • Johnboy October 20, 2011, 11:26 PM

            Yeah, but the point I am making is this: the original poster (pabelmont) claimed that the transfer of that money is itself evidence of Iranian govt involvement.

            But when you look at the complaint you will see that the only “evidence” linking that account to the IRG is:
            a) the involvement of Shakuri in that money transfer and
            b) the claim that Shakuri can himself be linked to IRG

            If the USA govt has to add (a) + (b) to arrive at conclusion (c) (i.e. this is an Iran government bank account) then, axiomatically, that is not an independently-verifiable fact.

            Rather, it is a CONSEQUENCE of assuming that Shakuri is a Quds Force commander.

  • Evan October 20, 2011, 6:10 AM

    [you’ve restated your earlier comment. please do not repeat yourself (another comment rule violation). Say something once & then move on]

  • David October 20, 2011, 6:32 AM

    Richard, congrats on this scoop. Actually, no. Thanks for this research. One more evil war of choice is going to be harder to justify.

  • PersianAdvocate October 20, 2011, 9:30 AM

    This isn’t the Casey Anthony trial and we aren’t a jury.

    Occam’s razor dictates that the MEK perpetrated this act along with AIPAC/ADL/Mossad and friendly liaisons acting on behalf of Israeli interests using American government machinery. This is the only rendering of this story that makes sense; any other prism and you will see hole upon hole in the story.

    Richard does a great job here of providing the supporting evidence to not a theory, but to factual circumstances. To agree with the official (imaginary) narrative is: (1) to accept complicity in a complete fabrication that violates international laws and (2) to openly admit your stupidity and naivety, only a fool would think they pulled the lamb’s wool over people’s eyes. Not even the sheeple baa’d at this one.

    • Amnon October 20, 2011, 10:37 AM

      Wow Persian advocate. Your analysis isn’t at all ideologically biased, is it? I am of course skeptical of the US version of this story. But the same reasons that make official Iranian involvement in this difficult to imagine, also dictate that Mossad involvement is similarly unlikely.

      • Johnboy October 20, 2011, 3:08 PM

        Agreed. The MEK is a suspect, but there is zero evidence to suggest that Mossad is involved.

        • Elisabeth October 20, 2011, 10:47 PM

          Or AIPAC/ADL.

  • ginger October 20, 2011, 2:45 PM

    If Gholam Shakuri is a member of MEK and has been traveling in the US (Washington) – then I want to know where he went, whom he met, when he arrived and left, EVERYTHING

    If this is an Israeli Lobby or Israeli ‘False Flag Operation’ I want it EXPOSED. The Israeli Lobby/Neocons have been tryng to use this as a causus belli – I want all leads on this case EXPOSED.

    There should be a criminal/terrorist investigation with publically outed findings if this was in fact a ‘False Flag Operation’

  • lysias October 21, 2011, 8:01 AM

    Reading between the lines of this Daily Telegraph report from two days ago, I would hazard the guess that Liam Fox’s crony has been meeting with MEK people, quite possibly with Mossad people in the same room at the time:

    The meeting between Dr Fox, Mr Werritty and the head of Mossad will raise further concerns about Mr Werritty’s role and his connections to the Ministry of Defence.

    It has emerged that Mr Werritty has met several Iranian and Israeli figures in recent years, but his meeting with the secretive head of Mossad will increase concerns about the sensitive information available to Mr Werritty.

    It casts doubt on the assertion of Sir Gus O’ Donnell that there was “nothing in the evidence” to suggest that Mr Werritty had access to classified information.

    Mr Werritty has visited Iran on several occasions and met Iranian opposition groups in Washington and London over the past few years.

    I do wonder if they’ve been plotting this false flag business together.

  • jimmy October 22, 2011, 6:06 PM

    You didn’t confirm shit. This is a one-source story, based on a source who at the same time casts some doubt on the info. You confirmed information with your first source from a listserv posting with the same guy who posted it in the first place. Shoddy journalism. Poorly done. I’m skeptical of this plot but you really did nothing here.

    • Richard Silverstein October 22, 2011, 8:14 PM

      That’s one more source than you have buddy. And his second statement is a firm confirmation w/ o any doubt, which you may suspect or not. I could care less.

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