Hostages and Defectors
So hypnotized is the political class by the nuclear question, that they totally lose sight of the suffering of the Iranian people, the terror network emanating from Tehran, and even the destiny of Americans in the hands of the mullahs. When was the last time you heard anything about the three American hikers thrown into prison in Iran? Lest we forget, they are Shane Bauer, 27, Sarah Shourd, 30, and Joshua Fattal, 27, and they were arrested in July when, according to the Iranians, they strayed across the border from Iraq. However, back in August, the London Telegraph had a very different version:
"This was not a case of the Americans straying into Iran," [a local tribal leader] said. "They were targeted and captured by a group that came over from Iran, ignoring Iraq's sovereignty. We know this and it means that Iran must have wanted to take Americans hostage at this sensitive time."
As we know, the Islamic Republic delights in taking hostages and then "stockpiling" them for future use. The hikers are not the only American hostages seized by the Iranians in the recent past. There is the case of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who disappeared on Kish Island in March, 2007. The Iranians deny any knowledge of Levinson's whereabouts. And then there is the unfortunate Kian Tajbakhsh, formerly employed by one of George Soros's groups, who has been sentenced to fifteen years in prison for alleged participation in recent protests against the phony June elections.
Meanwhile, three Iranians--two of whom are clearly important people--have defected. One, Shahram Amiri, is a nuclear physicist who worked on the secret "Ferdo" site near Qom that has attracted so much attention in the past two months. He disappeared from Saudi Arabia in May. The second, General Ali Reza Asgari, is a former deputy defense minister and high-ranking officer of the Revolutionary Guards who helped create Hezbollah. He vanished without a trace from a hotel in Istanbul in February, 2007. The third, a Mr. Ardebili, appears to be an arms dealer who disappeared from Georgia this summer.
I have been told that the Iranians have informed the American Government that the hikers will only be released if the United States sends the three Iranians back home. Could Washington do this, even on the virtually impossible assumption that it wished to? I don't think so. I believe that Amiri defected to France, not to the United States. I don't know where Asgari is, but I have been told by CIA officials in no uncertain terms that he is not under American control, although he is in "a friendly country," is available to American debriefers, and has provided invaluable information. As for Ardebili, I have no information about his whereabouts.
There is one amusing sidebar to the Amiri story. While the Iranians fume about his defection, he is helping Iran's enemies, bigtime. According to Le Figaro, via the terrific new web site "Planet Iran":
French Daily Newspaper Le Figaro reports: Prior to traveling to Iran, the IAEA inspectors who were to inspect the Ferdo Iranian nuclear facility outside of Qom, met with Shahram Amiri, the Iranian nuclear scientist who recently fled Iran. According to Le Figaro, this meeting took place in Frankfurt.
This is our world. Iranian soldiers cross the Iraqi border and snatch three American tourists. Meanwhile, important Iranians find a way to escape the regime's clutches, and join the West. The Iranians propose a swap that amounts to this: citizens of a free country can only regain their freedom if former citizens of an evil tyranny are sent back to the tyrannical country to face a terrible fate.
That's the sort of deal you get from the Islamic Republic. If you don't like it, convince the feckless leaders of the West to join with the Iranian people and bring it down. The next potential watershed is next Wednesday, November 4th, the anniversary of the assault on the American Embassy in Tehran and the seizure of American hostages.
It's the perfect date for the fall of the regime, don't you think?