The Spy Swap that Really Happened: The Case of Agent 'Lily'
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.