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Monthly Archives: May 2010

I’ve of course been following the story of the French release of Ali Vakili-Rod, the Iranian assassin of  former Prime Minister Shahpour Bakhtiar.  If you like assassinations, that one — in Paris in early August, 1991 — is a real masterpiece.  The three-man killer team beat an elite force of Parisian police, and cut Bakhtiar’s throat so efficiently that no one heard a sound, and they got away so quietly that the body wasn’t found for three days.

Vaili-Rod was the only one of the team to be captured (in Switzerland), and was sentenced to life imprisonment.  Now he’s back in Iran, where he received a gala reception.   The assassin had lunch with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei yesterday, and is now officially defined as a “historic national hero.”  He has been given a beautiful villa in north Tehran.

Bakhtiar was a fine man, the sort who is entitled to be called a national hero.  As my friend Potkin puts it,

(Bakhtiar) fought in the Spanish Civil War as an International Brigadist against General Franco’s Fascism. Later, he volunteered and fought in the Orleans battalion and in the French Resistance against Hitler. He spent a total of six years in Shah’s prisons and was the only significant opposition figure to the Shah, who had the foresight to warn Iranians in 1979 that mixing religion and state will have tragic consequences. This mountain of man fought against despotism and tyranny all his life to the very end, and this is how a Western democracy betrayed him…

Bakhtiar survived an earlier assassination which resulted in the death of two French citizens and the permanent paralysis of a French policeman. His assassin then, Enis Naqash, was also returned to Iran after some lucrative contract. Bakhtiar’s murder and that of his secretary Soroush Katibeh was with the lucid collusion of the Mitterand government at the time with the Islamic Republic. France’s betrayal and collusion with the terrorists is therefore not a one off event.

As the world press has abundantly reported, at the same time the killer was returning home, Clotilde Reiss, a French teacher who had been in jail in Iran for several months was released, and flown back to Paris.  A swap, it seemed.  And yes, there was indeed an exchange, but Clotilde was not the primary object of French concern.  Sarkoz et al were instead profoundly concerned about a different woman.  A real spy, codenamed Lily.

Her real name is Nazak Afshar, of mixed Iranian/French background.  About 16 years ago she was transferred to Iran to act as one of the top spies for France.  “Lily” was arrested last summer. This arrest – and what followed – is still top secret.  Lily knows a lot, and the French did not want her tortured by the mullahs.

After Lily’s arrest  there were  special concessions by the French to Iran–according to a generally reliable source, involving a multimillion dollar cash payment — Lily was transferred from jail to house arrest at the Syrian Embassy in Tehran.

The deal was brokered by former President Jacques  Chirac, in Istanbul, where he had gone to receive an honorary degree.  It was an elegant bit of misdirection.  The whole world analyzed the “meaning” of the release of the French schoolteacher, while the real swap went unnoticed.

Until now.

As the extraordinary Andy McCarthy points out on The Corner, White House terror “expert” John Brennan–and his boss, President Obama– seem to think that we should be cultivating the “moderate” elements in Hezbollah.

The Obama administration is looking for ways to build up “moderate elements” within the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla movement and to diminish the influence of hard-liners, a top White House official said on Tuesday.

Brennan is a long-time CIA officer who was briefly in the running for director of national intelligence, but got blown up by allegations he supported the Bush Administration’s interrogation policies.  He landed vertically in the national security council staff.  Like most CIA “experts” he doesn’t know much about Hezbollah:

Hezbollah is a very interesting organization,” Brennan told a Washington conference, citing its evolution from “purely a terrorist organization” to a militia to an organization that now has members within the parliament and the cabinet.

But Hezbollah was never “purely a terrorist organization.”  From day minus-one it was designed to create a radical Shi’ite community that would eventually rule Lebanon, and that model has been replicated all over the world, most recently in South America and East Africa.  You might want to remember that, as Hezbollah (that is, Iran) extends the range of its murderous activities.

Twenty-five years ago, when I was a purported expert on terrorism, Hezbollah was of considerable interest to our intelligence community, and there was a vigorous debate between those who believed it was a Lebanese phenomenon–the product of local conditions–and those who thought it was a Syrian creation.  I posed this question to the infamous Manucher Ghorbanifar–who has been portrayed as a totally unreliable source by CIA–and he just laughed.  “Why are you laughing?” say I.  “Because Hezbollah is a creation of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” says he.  “It’s run out of the prime minister’s office.”

Back in Washington nobody believed it.  But he was right.  However, our guys are still looking for ways to deny it, or to find ways to wiggle out of its consequences.  Obama is always keen to find admirable qualities among the practitioners of the Religion of Peace, and brother Brennan is singing from the official White House hymnal when he talks about those kinder and gentler Hezbos.

He’s even mastered the ungrammatical rhetoric:

There is certainly the elements of Hezbollah that are truly a concern to us what they’re doing. And what we need to do is to find ways to diminish their influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements.

Maybe Obama should put them under the health care umbrealla.

Shahzad the Sleeper

May 6th, 2010 - 6:32 pm

As you might imagine, I have been trying to get in touch with the spirit of my old friend James Jesus Angleton, the late, legendary former chief of CIA counterintelligence, ever since the failed bombing attempt in Times Square.  At long last I got to the Ouija board to connect, and after the usual throat clearing (I can’t figure out whether smoking in the world to come is a form of punishment or bliss) there he was.

JJA: I know just why you’re calling. What took you so long?

ML: I couldn’t get the effing device to connect…

JJA: What, you too?  The usual jihadi technology?

ML.: Ha ha! Nowadays we are all great admirers of their technology. Saves our lives, seems to blow them up as often as not.

JJA: Which gets us to the first question after all: was Mr. Shahzad supposed to blow himself up or what? He seems to have been trained by experts in suicide terrorism, after all, and the jihad doesn’t like to leave witnesses behind. As my old Israeli friends can tell you, once a terrorist decides he doesn’t want to go to paradise, he’s likely to be very cooperative with those who love life.

ML: Yes, he seems to be quite happy to talk to interrogators, doesn’t be?  But that’s a good question. I remember that in Iraq, Al Qaeda recruited young men who were told that they were not going to die, that they only had to place the car bomb or truck bomb close to the target and then walk away. It was always a lie, however, and there was some very grisly evidence. One poor chap was blown out of his truck and ended up in the hospital. When he realized what had happened he went on Iraqi television to warn his fellow jihadis that they shouldn’t believe the recruiters. I wonder how Shahzad feels.  He’s certainly got away from his truck in a big hurry, didn’t he?

JJA: Of course he did.  His handlers may have made a mistake. On the one hand, he was almost certainly a sleeper. He came here legally, he had assimilated, and he became a citizen. Then they brought him over for training and sent him back to the battlefield. It’s standard operating procedure.

ML: Right. He clearly knew his mission in advance, didn’t he? He got his truck and the bomb components.and he rehearsed it. He drove to Times Square, parked, and went home.

JJA:  Yes, and you can see from that little episode that he was very nervous and not very well trained. He locked his keys in the truck, at least according to one account that made it up here. So he went home to get a spare key, heh.

ML: What about the escape? That doesn’t seem to have been well planned.

JJA: Why do you say that? He knew where to go and he knew which airline to take.

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Iran: Happy Anniversary, Dictator

May 6th, 2010 - 4:20 pm

May day

We are very nearly at the first anniversary of the great Iranian electoral hopes and hoax of June 12, 2009. While Iran has changed dramatically in that period of time, many analysts have reverted to form, arguing that the regime has learned how to dominate the monster protests by combining terror against dissidents, propaganda and disinformation against the Green leaders, and subversion of the “social networks” that, for a while, enabled the opposition to coordinate protests in many different cities. And yet, it is quite obvious that the regime is very frightened of the Iranian people. We saw proof of that from the most reliable source: the behavior of the tyrannical regime.

It’s unusual that the cadaver of an old woman could cause a regime to beat up her mourners, but that’s exactly what happened at the funeral ceremony of the widow of Ayatollah Montazeri in late March. In fact, regime thugs not only attacked friends, family, and supporters, but actually snatched the body and buried it in an undisclosed location. If that’s not panic, I don’t know what is.  A few weeks later a prison in the capital of Luristan was attacked with explosives, enabling at least two prisoners to escape, and killing 16 security officers, including three revolutionary guards doing their military service.

May Day is not a popular holiday among the tyrants of Iran. Why should it be? Although both workers and teachers have days devoted to them, the 1979 revolution was not supposed to create a workers’ paradise (although “social justice” was one of its themes), but rather the absolute rule of Islamic wise men. And the men who have ruled the Islamic Republic of Iran have not been generous to the working class. Estimates of the real unemployment run as high as 50%. Salaries often remain unpaid for a year and more. Independent workers organizations are forbidden, and the labor leaders who have dared to speak out on behalf of their rank and file have typically been beaten up, incarcerated, and brutally tortured.

It was therefore quite logical for the supreme leader and his cohorts to fill the streets of Iran’s major cities with thousands of security forces on the 1st of May, and to summarily arrest key labor leaders. They didn’t want to see a spontaneous demonstration of Iranian workers’ true feelings about the regime. Those feelings have to be very negative.

Interestingly enough, the security forces were deployed in large numbers even though there had been no calls for a mass demonstration. To be sure, the two most prominent leaders of the Green movement — Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi — had issued strong statements supporting workers and teachers, and expressing solidarity with them.  But the Green leaders did not think it would be very smart to call their people into the streets; there was no point in subjecting Iranian dissidents to more savagery at the hands of the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij until and unless it was time for the final push.

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