Thursday, October 13, 2011

Weird Iran Plot

Both Robert Mackey and Barbara Slavin round up the reasons many experts are skeptical of the Obama administrations assertions that the Iranian government was planning to launch an assassination and terrorist attacks within the United States. For me, the most convincing evidence that Iran's main intelligence organs were not involved is the sheer incompetence of it all:
"If Arbabsiar really had been an Iranian intelligence asset, he would have been informed if there’s one thing the US typically monitors, it is money transfers of more than $10,000 (as a measure against drug money laundering). The only safe way to undertake this transaction would have been cash, and no one in the Quds Brigade is so stupid as not to know this simple reality. Moreover, would the Quds Brigade really depend so heavily on someone with a fraud conviction, who was therefore known to US authorities? Expert terrorism deploys 'newskins' people who can fly under the radar of police and security forces."

The plot was also discussed on an open international phone line, which espionage professionals know would be tapped.

What's less clear is why the Obama administration is so assertive in assigning Iran responsibility. Juan Cole suggests Iranian drug cartels could be the culprint, and attempting to deflect blame to the Iranian government. Another possibility is a false flag operation, in which a third party, such as Saudi Arabia or Israel, is trying to create a crisis between Iran and the United States, though that again runs into the sloppiness argument.

I'm most interested in the idea that the plot arose from a faction within the Iranian government seeking to use an international crisis to enhance its own stature. President Mahmood Ahmadinejad, who thrives on controversy, has been on the losing end of a power struggle with Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i, the country's paramount leader, and with his military connections could leave the appropriate fingerprints.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)



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