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Iran Reinforces Afghan Border Control

(PRESS TV)   Iran’s police have teamed up with the country’s Border Guard Command to counter narcotics, human and gasoline trafficking entering Iran from Afghanistan. Iran’s Border Guard Command Police have set up 24-hr surveillance teams on the Iran-Afghanistan border in Zabul southeast of Iran. Last year the border guards confiscated 13 tons of drugs and 140-thousand liters of gasoline.


Iran Accused of Being Behind the 9/11 Attacks

(Global Research)

Global Research Editor’s Note:

We bring to the attention of  our readers a carefully documented study by Global Research’s Julie Levesque published in May 2012 pertaining to a high profile Manhattan lawsuit launched in 2004 against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Havlish v. Iran lawsuit accuses Iran of having supported the 9/11 hijackers.

At this historical  juncture, with Iran being the object of numerous threats both byTel Aviv and Washington, The Havlish v. Iran judgment could be used as a justification for a waging a preemptive attack on Iran.

In the context of the commemoration of 9/11, the issue of Iran’s alleged role as a “state sponsor” of terrorism is likely to surface in media coverage as well as in the commemoration speeches off both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

The investigation into Tehran’s alleged role in the 9/11 attacks was launched by the Havlish lawyers in 2004, pursuant to a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission “regarding an apparent link between Iran, Hezbollah, and the 9/11 hijackers”. The 91/11 Commission’s recommendation was that the this “apparent link” required  “further investigation by the U.S. government.” (9/11 Commission Report , p. 241). (See Iran 911 Case ).

The Havlish lawyers built their case against Iran using the testimonies of  “expert witnesses”  as well as “evidence”, which was in large part fabricated.  In the December 2011 court judgment (Havlish v. Iran)  “U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels ruled  that Iran and Hezbollah materially and directly supported al Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attacks and are legally responsible for damages to hundreds of family members of 9/11 victims who are plaintiffs in the case”.

According to the plaintiffs attorneys “Iran, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda formed a terror alliance in the early 1990s. Citing their national security and intelligence experts, the attorneys explained “how the pragmatic terror leaders overcame the Sunni-Shi’a divide in order to confront the U.S. (the “Great Satan”) and Israel (the “Lesser Satan”)”. Iran and Hezbollah allegedly provided “training to members of al Qaeda in, among other things, the use of explosives to destroy large buildings.” (See Iran 911 Case ).

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research,  September 10, 2012

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Iran Accused of Being Behind the 9/11 Attacks

U.S. Court Judgment, December 2011 (Havlish v. Iran)

by Julie Levesque

May 11, 2012

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The Havlish v. Iran 2004 lawsuit pertained to the alleged role of Iran in the 9/11 attacks.

This judicial procedure is nothing more than another vicious weapon in the fabricated “War on Terror” to be used against another Muslim country, with a view to destabilizing Iran as well as justifying ongoing military threats. It also says a lot more about the people behind the lawsuit than about the accused.

The expert witnesses who testified against Iran are very active in warmongering neocon circles. They belong to a web of architects of the 21st century Middle-Eastern wars, ranging from high profile propagandists to intelligence and military officers, including former U.S. officials.

But what makes this case absurd is that in September 2011, a few months before the judgment, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has questioned the official 9/11 narrative, was accused by Al-Qaeda leaders of  “spreading conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks”. The semi-official media outlet of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, insisted that al-Qaeda “had been behind the attacks and criticized the Iranian president for discrediting the terrorist group.”

The U.S.court judgment issued in December 2011 (Havlish v. Iran) which blames the Iran government for the 9/11 attacks is part of the propaganda ploy, which consists in demonizing the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is part and parcel of America’s ongoing war against Iran since the overthrow of its U.S.-backed monarchy in 1979.

Like many similar lawsuits in America, this legal procedure’s ultimate goal is to draw off important sums of money from the Iranian government leading to the possible confiscation of assets, thereby further strangling the country’s economy, already targeted by U.S. sanctions, while simultaneously reinforcing Iran’s image of  a “state sponsor of terrorism”.

This ruling allows the families involved to claim damages from the Iranian government as well from a number of Iranian State corporations, the amount of which is still unknown, but could reach billions, like last December’s judgement which found Iran liable for the 1983 Beirut bombings.

This judicial procedure is nothing more than another vicious weapon in the fabricated “War on Terror” to be used against another Muslim country, with a view to destabilizing Iran as well as justifying ongoing military threats. It also says a lot more about the people behind the lawsuit than about the accused. The expert witnesses who testified against Iran are very active in warmongering neocon circles. They belong to a web of architects of the 21st century Middle-Eastern wars, ranging from high profile propagandists to intelligence and military officers, including former U.S. officials.

In addition, all three branches of the U.S. government, under both Republicans and Democrats, contributed to make this and other legal attacks against Iran possible, while preventing comparable cases against the Saudi monarchy, most notably a case accusing Saudi Arabia for the 9/11 attacks. Although the evidence pertaining to the role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11 remains classified, the available evidence in the public domain indicates more connections between Al Qaeda and the Saudi monarchy than those allegedly pertaining to Iran.

But what makes this case absurd is that in September 2011, a few months before the judgment, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has questioned the official 9/11 narrative, was accused by Al-Qaeda leaders of  “spreading conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks”. The semi-official media outlet of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, insisted that al-Qaeda “had been behind the attacks and criticized the Iranian president for discrediting the terrorist group.”

Part I of this analysis (below) will focus on the evidence on which the judgement is based.

Part II (forthcoming) examines  the profile of the expert witnesses and their links to the U.S government, various anti-Iran lobbies and think tanks. Part III centers on the role of various branches of the US government in facilitating judicial procedures against Iran. Part IV explores how the U.S.authorities have been protecting Saudi Arabia from similar legal suits.

 Part I

The “War on Terror” Rests on Kangaroo Courts

Osama bin Laden, allegedly responsible for 9/11, was apparently killed over a year ago by a U.S. Special Operations Team in violation of international law.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) detained in Guantanamo and four others have recently been accused of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks. Their detention, mistreatment and accusations before a military tribunal also violate international law. According to this court judgement, Iran is also to blame for 9/11.

Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda are accused as well in Havlish v. Iran, but we will focus on Hezbollah and the Iranian defendants, including many entities such as the Ministries of Finance and Energy. Since it is a default judgment, the defendants were not present in court and no cross-examination took place.

Considering the fact that bin Laden has never been formally accused of the 9/11 attacks, due to lack of evidence, and that the evidence against KSM and the other accused has been obtained through torture and is classified, it is no surprise that the case against Iran also relies on “shaky evidence”. In fact, it seems that in logic of America’s “Global War on Terror” anybody can be accused of the 9/11 attacks with trumped up charges.

Havlish v. Iran reads like a typical kangaroo court case. Iran’s responsibility for 9/11 is mostly based on previous attacks and foiled attempts in the U.S. and other countries and all the so-called evidence is actually a collection of assumptions which are turned into facts from one sentence to another without any addition of factual evidence to support it. Some claims are inconsistent, purely subjective and what is said to be the strongest evidence is a clumsy distortion of facts, which can be easily refuted by sound factual evidence.

Ironically, this attempt to link Iran to 9/11 demonstrates a notoriously twisted legal procedure, not to mention a cruel lack of corroborating evidence.

To set the stage, numerous attacks unrelated to 9/11 are presented with alleged financial or material backing from Iran and/or Hezbollah, the Shia Muslim militant group. We can see a pattern and key people emerge: very often the U.S. and Israel accuse Iran of those attacks which have either not been resolved, or have been blamed on other governments and terrorist groups, or other organizations are said to have claimed responsibility for them.


Cyber attack on Iran’s Internet system Disrupts Iran Internet

(THE HACKER NEWS)   IRAN state official has said that Cyber attackers have targeted Iranian infrastructure and communications companies, disrupting the Internet across the country. “Yesterday we had a heavy attack against the country’s infrastructure and communications companies which has forced us to limit the Internet,”

Iran the world’s no. 5 oil exporter, has tightened cyber security since its uranium enrichment centrifuges were hit in 2010 by the Stuxnet computer worm, which Tehran believes was planted by arch-adversaries Israel or the United States. Last week, the Islamic republic cut citizens’ access to Gmail and the secure version of Google Search. Gmail has since been restored. – See more at:

Since sites such as Youtube and Facebook were used to organize mass anti-government protests against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad back in 2009, the Iranian government has maintained one of the world’s largest internet filters, blocking access to thousands of sites and IP addresses. Yet still the hackers find a way in.

Presently we have constant cyber attacks in the country. Yesterday an attack with a traffic of several gigabytes hit the Internet infrastructure, which caused an unwanted slowness in the country’s Internet,” he said.
All of these attacks have been organized. And they have in mind the country’s nuclear, oil, and information networks.
Last April, Iran revealed that a computer Trojan was detected inside the control systems of its vast terminal responsible for the country’s crude oil exports. There was no reported operational disruption on the facility at that time.
Last month a commander in the elite Revolutionary Guard announced that Iran is ready to defend itself against any form of cyber war, as the country deems it more of a threat than a physical attack. Clearly they were not as ready as they thought.
Iran claims that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but Israel, the United States and other Western powers suspect that the country has ambitions for a nuclear bomb.

“Iranian Ninjas” Sue Reuters for Defamation of Character

(PRESS TV)   Reuters claimed last month that Iran has trained more than 3-thousand female ninjas as assassins. It showed a number of Iranian girls training in martial arts in a city near Tehran. The Reuters claim was repeated by some other British media. The Iranian athletes accused by British media of being assassins say they are suing Reuters. Akbar Faraji who established Ninjutsu in Iran over 22 years ago also condemned the British media accusations, saying his students will pursue the complaint to the end. The athletes say the Reuters journalist had asked them what they would do if their country came under attack. Reuters used the girl’s patriotic response as an excuse to call them assassins. The Reuters journalist who conducted the interview left Iran after a court case was opened. Now the martial arts students say they are determined to defend their rights and bring those who have defamed them to justice. Whether this is about a young reporter who was simply trying to establish a name by filing a controversial report or about one of the world’s most reliable news sources that is now weary of being malicious at times, these female athletes have been depicted as something they are not and they are filling a lawsuit for defamation.

Ten Myths about Iran Driving the Insane Push for War – And Why They’re Dead Wrong


(VETERANS TODAY)   So it should come as no surprise that according to a 2012 Gallup poll, Iran is Americans’ “least favored nation” and has consistently ranked unfavorably since 1989. Gallup is not specific about why an overwhelming majority of respondents have such a low “overall opinion” of the Islamic Republic, but they suggest that “heavy scrutiny and criticism from the West over its nuclear programs” sheds light on American reasoning. Alarmist notions about Iran’s foreign and nuclear policy that spread through the media perpetuate a negative image that is oftentimes inaccurate–and help pave the path to war, which experts say would have disastrous consequences for Israel, the broader Middle East and the U.S.
AlterNet decided to look at 10 myths about Iran, many of them created by these alarmist notions—and explain why they’re dead wrong.
1. Iran does not have a nuclear weapon.
According to the Iranian government, the International Atomic Energy Agency and American intelligence assessments, the common assumption that Iran already has a nuclear bomb is wrong. Even Israeli intelligence agrees.
Yet 71 percent of Americans said “Yes” to the question, “Do you think Iran currently has nuclear weapons, or not?” in the last poll to ask that question. The question was asked a little over two years ago and public opinion could have become more accurately informed. Then again, when widely read newspapers like the Wall Street Journal publish weekly pieces suggesting that “evil” Iran is “building a nuclear bomb” (while justifying terrorism against Iranian citizens), and when Republican presidential contenders like Mitt Romney write that Iranian “Islamic fanatics” are “racing to build a nuclear bomb,” the truth can understandably become muddied for the average person.
2. Iran is not rushing to build a nuclear weapon.
The most prevalent suspicion about Iran is that it is trying to obtain breakout capability, or the ability to produce a nuclear weapon in a short period of time if it made the decision to do so. But that idea often results in unfounded alarmism about Iran’s nuclear program. Former Mideast-focused Pentagon official Colin Kahl told attendees during a packed Capitol Hill briefing in February that there’s a lot of “hyperbole and hyperventilation about Iran’s program” based on estimated time frames about its alleged nuclear ambitions.
But Kahl emphasized that “timelines” estimating how quickly Iran could obtain a nuclear weapon depend on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei making a “final decision” that “we have no evidence that he’s made, and we have every reason to believe we would detect if he did.” The Georgetown associate professor went on to point out that because of the very real existential threats the Iranians would face if they decided to start building a weapon, “we’re probably a number of years away” from the point at which Khamenei would “feel comfortable enough” in making that decision. According to nuclear nonproliferation expert Daryl Kimball, the main aim with Iran should accordingly be to affect Iranian “political will.”
Historian and Middle East expert Juan Cole also explained this week that Iran’s main decision-maker, Ali Khamenei, has consistently forbidden, on the basis of Islam, the acquisition of nuclear weapons. Cole says that if people believe Khamenei is being “dishonest,” they should prove it. Finally, as veteran Iran-focused journalist Scott Peterson recently illustrated, “breathless” assertions that Iran is speeding head-on toward nuclear capability “or worse” have been heard for decades while related predictions about imminent Iranian threats have “come and gone” unrealized.
3. Iran is not ruled by “irrational” leaders.
This is particularly true when it comes to Iranian foreign policy–and that’s according to America’s top-ranking military officer Gen. Martin Dempsey, who told CNN last month that the United States is “of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor.” Former head of the Israeli Mossad Meir Dagan recently echoed that view, telling CBS that, “The regime in Iran is a very rational one.”
In January, director of National Intelligence James Clapper informed a Senate Intelligence Committee that Iran was using a “cost-benefit analysis” with its nuclear program decision-making process: “[I]f the decision has been made to press on with a nuclear weapon — and there are certain things they have not done yet to eventuate that — that this would be based on a cost-benefit analysis.” He added that the U.S. does not believe that the decision to build a nuclear weapon has been made by Iran’s leadership yet. And in February, the chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, also told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “The [DIA] assesses Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict”–another indication that Iran’s decision-making process is a calculated one.
4. Iran’s leadership wants to preserve their regime.
The Republican presidential candidates, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, frequently suggest that the Iranian government is committed to Israel’s “annihilation” even if that means their own end. But according to Mideast analyst Matt Duss of the Center for American Progress, the idea that Iran is a “martyr state” is a “myth” that “actually detracts from our ability to develop policies to effectively meet [the] challenge” of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapon ambitions. After being chided by Israeli leaders and American hawks for admitting that Iran is “rational,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey also said that it’s counterproductive to label Iran’s leadership with sweeping generalizations: “The key is to understand how they act and not trivialize their actions by attributing to them some irrationality.” Dempsey said framing the discussion about Iran in that way is a “dangerous thing for us to do” even if he doesn’t “agree” with Iranian decisions.
5. Iran’s leadership is not monolithic.
Rand Corporation senior analyst Alireza Nader said during a March 7 New America briefing that it’s “simply not true” that Iran is a “monolithic actor with a unified political system.” Rather, Nader noted that Iran’s leadership is actually fracturing, and that this was most recently exhibited by the sidelining of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by the Supreme Leader and his allies after Ahmadinejad challenged him. This fact should also lay to rest any illusions that Ahmadinejad’s presidential power and authority exists independently of Iran’s main decision-maker, the Supreme Leader. According to Nader, Iran is “not a democratic country” and is becoming an “increasingly authoritarian system,” but there is “still a political process in Iran.”
6. Iranians don’t hate Americans.
Contrary to popular belief, many Iranians hungrily consume American culture whenever they can in various ways. According to Iranian-American writer Hooman Majd, the author of two acclaimed books exploring the intricate complexities of Iranian politics and society, “…Iranians are indeed the most pro-American peoples of the Middle East–perhaps not pro-American foreign policy–but pro-American in the sense that we would like the people of the world to be.”
Majd notes that “even the mullahs ‘buy American,’ if and when they can.” While American Iran hawks often remind us that Iranians continue to shout anti-American rhetoric, they forget to include that these displays of bluster are usually exhibited in public where there’s state-run media coverage and official pressure to talk and act a certain way. Certainly, the majority of the Iranian population do not wish Americans any harm. Says Majd, “Chants of ‘Death to America’ are meaningless–the phrase refers to US foreign policy, hegemony, and imperialism; not the American dream or the people.”
7. The Mujahideen-e Khalq (aka MEK, MKO, PMOI and NCRI) is not “Iran’s main opposition.”
The short story is that at one time the MEK was a popular revolutionary force in Iran that was brutally repressed. But for decades, it has been detested or considered irrelevant by the majority of the population. It worked for Saddam Hussein’s regime during the bloody and long Iran-Iraq war. It has also committed terrorism inside Iran that led to the death of U.S. citizens.
Now, the MEK is lobbying the United States to remove it from its foreign terrorist organizations list through a well-funded campaign. It’s akin to Al Qaeda advertising in the New York Times, the Washington Post or on cable TV. Its advocates include former George W. Bush administration members Frances Townsend and Michael Mukasey, who has described MEK members as “courageous freedom fighters,” as well as the likes of Howard Dean.
Analysts and journalists who have no affection for the Iranian government have reported the facts about MEK, despite well-organized campaigning by its members to silence criticism or deflect attention by bringing up the real human rights issues its members face in Iraq. MEK supporters have reacted furiously to the Rand Corporation’s description of them as a “cult” and deny the disturbing abuses attributed to their leadership by Human Rights Watch. According to their lobbyists, negative depictions of MEK are funded by the Iranian government, thereby implying that the U.S. State Department and the FBI were also controlled by Iran!
If that isn’t enough to make those who still buy into MEK’s propaganda think twice, consider that when millions of Iranians took to the streets in 2009 after the hotly contested presidential election, the people were focused on democracy in Iran and the “Green Movement,” not MEK. But regardless of what MEK and its former high-ranking U.S. official advocates do to change the reality surrounding them, the fact remains that this group inspires no hope among the vast majority of more than 70 million Iranian citizens.
8. Iranians speak a different language than Iraqis.
It’s common for Iranians to be mistaken for Arabs, but people in Arab nations speak a different language (Arabic varies by region just as Farsi is not the only spoken language in Iran) and have different cultures. Persian food and Arabic food also differ significantly, regardless of which Arabic country you are talking about. As stated in an “explainer” article in Slate: “Alone among the Middle Eastern peoples conquered by the Arabs, the Iranians did not lose their language or their identity.”
9. Iranians don’t want another revolution.
There is indeed widespread discontent about the Iranian leadership and life inside Iran among its citizens at home, who have been negatively impacted by years of increasingly harsh U.S.-led sanctions. The widely attended protests of 2009 and 2010 forced the world to recognize this even if the Iranian government refuses to acknowledge the facts. But unlike the protest movements in Arab countries that began in 2011 and resulted in the fall of multiple governments, the Green Movement has since been mostly dormant while the Iranian leadership is alive and more focused on crushing internal dissent amongst establishment figures than democracy activists.
When I was in Iran this time last year, there were weekly protests for imprisoned Green movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi and widespread arrests and other forms of government-sponsored intimidation. But the protests were nowhere near the scale of what we saw in 2009, and by the Iranian holiday period in March, Tehran cleared out like it always does. This was just a month after Mousavi and Karroubi’s house arrest began.
The argument can certainly be made that Iranians face a brutally repressive government and fear for their lives if they continue to oppose the regime, but as Iran expert and scholar Farideh Farhi told me during an interview last year, many Iranians want change, but not another painful revolution at this point. Like the characters in Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning film, A Separation, average Iranians are occupied with pressing daily living concerns regardless of sex or social class even if the political remains deeply personal. As Farhi noted, “When have two revolutions ever happened so closely together?”
10. Your Iranian friend’s account of the situation in Iran isn’t necessarily authoritative.
It doesn’t matter how convincing your Iranian friend sounds when he recounts his version of Iranian history or current affairs, whether he’s a dentist, a personal relation or a cab driver. Remember that much of the Iranian expatriate population, millions of whom live abroad, left Iran in search of economic opportunities or for political reasons and don’t feel they can return for good even if they wanted to. Their feelings about Iran are therefore extremely complex and that will certainly play into how they describe it to others. What Iranians think about the situation inside Iran is deeply influenced by their sex, class and religious beliefs. This doesn’t mean that what they’re telling you is necessarily untrue or unimportant. But seeking verifiable facts is as important as personal testimony when trying to get a clear picture about Iran–especially now.

Israel teams with terror group to kill Iran’s nuclear scientists, U.S. officials admit

(MSNBC)   Deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran’s leaders.

The group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, accused of killing American servicemen and contractors in the 1970s and supporting the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran before breaking with the Iranian mullahs in 1980.

The attacks, which have killed five Iranian nuclear scientists since 2007 and may have destroyed a missile research and development site, have been carried out in dramatic fashion, with motorcycle-borne assailants often attaching small magnetic bombs to the exterior of the victims’ cars.

A car that was bombed by two assailants on a motorcycle in Tehran on Jan. 11, killing Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahamdi Roshan, is removed by a mobile crane. The photo was distributed by the semi-official Iranian photo agency Fars. Mehdi Marizad / Fars via AP file

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Obama administration is aware of the assassination campaign but has no direct involvement.

The Iranians have no doubt who is responsible – Israel and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, known by various acronyms, including MEK, MKO and PMI.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior aide to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, describes what Iranian leaders believe is a close relationship between Israel’s secret service, the Mossad, and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States.

“The relation is very intricate and close,” said Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior aide to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, speaking of the MEK and Israel.  “They (Israelis) are paying … the Mujahedin. Some of their (MEK) agents … (are) providing Israel with information.  And they recruit and also manage logistical support.”

Moreover, he said, the Mossad, the Israeli secret service, is training MEK members in Israel on the use of motorcycles and small bombs.  In one case, he said, Mossad agents built a replica of the home of an Iranian nuclear scientist so that the assassins could familiarize themselves with the layout prior to the attack.

Much of what the Iranian government knows of the attacks and the links between Israel and MEK  comes from interrogation of an assassin who failed to carry out an attack in late 2010 and the materials found on him, Larijani said. (Click here to see a video report of the interrogation shown on Iranian televsion.)

The U.S.-educated Larijani, whose two younger brothers run the legislative and judicial branches of the Iranian government, said the Israelis’ rationale is simple. “Israel does not have direct access to our society. Mujahedin, being Iranian and being part of Iranian society, they have … a good number of … places to get into the touch with people. So I think they are working hand-to-hand very close.  And we do have very concrete documents.”

Two senior U.S. officials confirmed for NBC News  the MEK’s role in the assassinations, with one senior official saying, “All your inclinations are correct.” A third official would not confirm or deny the relationship, saying only, “It hasn’t been clearly confirmed yet.”  All the officials denied any U.S. involvement in the assassinations.

As it has in the past, Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined comment. Said a spokesman, “As long as we can’t see all the evidence being claimed by NBC, the Foreign Ministry won’t react to every gossip and report being published worldwide.”

For its part, the MEK pointed to a statement calling the allegations “absolutely false.”

The sophistication of the attacks supports the Iranian claims that an experienced intelligence service is involved, experts say.

In the most recent attack, on Jan. 11, 2012, Mostafa Ahamdi Roshan died in a blast in Tehran moments after two assailants on a motorcycle placed a small magnetic bomb on his vehicle. Roshan was a deputy director at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility and was reportedly involved in procurement for the nuclear program, which Iran insists is not a weapons program.

Previous attacks include the assassination of Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, killed by a bomb outside his Tehran home in January 2010, and an explosion in November of that year that took the life of Majid Shahriari and wounded Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, who is now the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.

In the case of Roshan, the bomb appears to have been a shaped charge that directed all the explosive power inside the vehicle, killing him and his bodyguard driver but leaving nearby traffic unaffected.

Although Roshan was directly involved in the nuclear program, working at the huge centrifuge facility between Tehran and Qom, Iran’s religious center, at least one other scientist who was killed wasn’t linked to the Iranian nuclear program, according to Larijani.

Speaking of bombing victim Ali-Mohammadi, whom he described as a friend, Larijani told NBC News, “In fact this guy who was assassinated was not involved in the nitty-gritty of the situation.  He was a scientist, a physicist, working on the theoretically parts of nuclear energy, which you can teach it in every university. You can find it in every text.”

“This is an Israeli plot.  A dirty plot,” Larijani added angrily. He also claimed the assassinations are not having an effect on the program and have only made scientists more resolute in carrying out their mission.

Not so, said Ronen Bergman, an Israeli commentator and author of “Israel’s Secret War with Iran” and an upcoming book tentatively titled, “Mossad and the Art of Assassination.”

Israel has long used assassination against its enemies, “hoping that by taking out individuals, they can alter, change the course of history,” says Ronen Bergman, an Israeli commentator and author of “Israel’s Secret War with Iran” and an upcoming book tentatively titled “Mossad and the Art of Assassination.”

Bergman said the attacks have three purposes, the most obvious being the removal of high-ranking scientists and their  knowledge. The others:  forcing Iran to increase security for its scientists and facilities and to spur “white defections.”

He explained the latter this way: “Scientists leaving the project, afraid that they are going to be next on the assassination list, and say, ‘We don’t want this.  Indeed, we get good money, we are promoted, we are honored by everybody, but we might get killed.  It isn’t worth it.  Maybe we should go back to teach … in a university.’”

There are unconfirmed reports in the Israeli press and elsewhere that Israel and the MEK were involved in a Nov. 12 explosion that destroyed the Iranian missile research and development site at Bin Kaneh, 30 miles outside Tehran.  Among those killed was Maj. Gen. Hassan Moghaddam, director of missile development for the Revolutionary Guard, and a dozen other researchers. So important was Moghaddam that Ayatollah Khamenei attended his funeral.

Unlike the assassinations, Iran claims the missile site explosion was an accident; the MEK, meanwhile, trumpeted it but denied any involvement.

Indeed, there may be other covert operations carried out either by Israel acting alone or in concert with others, according to Bergman.

“Two labs caught fire,” said Bergman, enumerating the attacks. “Scientists got blown up or disappeared.  A missile base and the R&D base of the Revolutionary Guard exploded some time ago, with the director of the R&D division of the Revolutionary Guard being killed along with … his soldiers.”

Bergman added, “So, a long series of … something that was termed by an Israeli (Cabinet) minister … as ‘mysterious mishaps’ happening and rehappening to the project. Then the Iranians claim, ‘This is Israeli Mossad trying to sabotage our attempts to be a nuclear superpower.’”

Dr. Uzi Rabi, director of the Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, said the supposed accidents could all be part of “psychological warfare” conducted against Iran. “It seems logical. It makes sense,” he said of possible MEK involvement, “and it’s been done before.”

Rabi, who regularly briefs Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, on Iran also said the ultimate goal of the range of covert operations being carried out by Israel is “to damage the politics of survivability … to send a message that could strike fear into the rulers of Iran.”

For the United States, the alleged role of the MEK is particularly troublesome.  In 1997, the State Department designated it a terrorist group, justifying it with an unclassified 40-page summary of the organization’s  activities going back more than 25 years.  The paper, sent to Congress in 1998, was written by Wendy Sherman, now undersecretary of state for political affairs and then an aide to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The report, which was obtained by NBC News, was unsparing in its assessment. “The Mujahedin  (MEK) collaborated with Ayatollah Khomeini to overthrow the former shah of Iran,” it said. “As part of that struggle, they assassinated at least six American citizens, supported the takeover of the U.S. embassy, and opposed the release of the American hostages.”  In each case, the paper noted, “Bombs were the Mujahedin’s weapon of choice, which they frequently employed against American targets.”

“In the post-revolutionary political chaos, however, the Mujahedin lost political power to Iran’s Islamic clergy. They then applied their dedication to armed struggle and the use of propaganda against the new Iranian government, launching a violent and polemical cycle of attack and reprisal.”

U.S. officials have said publicly that the information contained in the report was limited to unclassified material, but that it also drew on classified material in making its determination to add the MEK to the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.

The MEK and its sister organizations have since the beginning been run by Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, a husband-wife team who have maintained tight control despite assassination threats and internal dissent. Massoud Rajavi, 63, founded the MEK, but since the U.S. invasion of Iraq has taken a backseat to his wife.

The State Department report describes the Rajavis as  “fundamentally undemocratic” and “not a viable alternative to the current government of Iran.”

One reason for that is the MEK’s close relationship with Saddam Hussein, as demonstrated by this 1986 video showing the late Iraqi dictator meeting with Massoud Rajavi. Saddam recruited the MEK in much the same way the Israelis allegedly have, using them to fight Iranian forces during the Iran-Iraq War, a role they took on proudly.  So proudly, they invited NBC News to one of their military camps outside Baghdad in 1993.

“The National Liberation Army (MLA), the military wing of the Mujahedin, conducted raids into Iran during the latter years of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War,” according to the State Department report. The NLA’s last major offensive reportedly was conducted against Iraqi Kurds in 1991, when it joined Saddam Hussein’s brutal repression of the Kurdish rebellion. In addition to occasional acts of sabotage, the Mujahedin are responsible for violent attacks in Iran that victimize civilians.”

“Internally, the Mujahedin run their organization autocratically, suppressing dissent and eschewing tolerance of differing viewpoints,” it said. “Rajavi, who heads the Mojahedin’s political and military wings, has fostered a cult of personality around himself.”

The U.S. suspicion of the MEK doesn’t end there. Law enforcement officials have told NBC News that in 1994, the MEK made a pact with terrorist Ramzi Yousef a year after he masterminded the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.  According to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Yousef built an 11-pound bomb that MEK agents placed inside one of Shia Islam’s greatest shrines in Mashad, Iran, on June 20, 1994At least 26 people, mostly women and children, were killed and 200 wounded in the attack.

That connection between Yousef, nephew of 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, and the MEK was first reported in a book, “The New Jackals,” by Simon Reeve. NBC News confirmed that Yousef told U.S. law enforcement that he had worked with the MEK on the bombing.

In recent years, the MEK has said it has renounced violence, but Iranian officials say that is not true, that killings of Iranians continue.  Still, through some deft lobbying, the group has been able to get the United Kingdom and the European Union to remove it from their lists of terrorist groups.

The alleged involvement of the MEK in the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists provides the U.S. with a cloak of deniability regarding the clandestine killings. Because the U.S. has designated the MEK as a terrorist organization, neither military nor intelligence units of the U.S. government, can work with them.  “We cannot deal with them, “ said one senior U.S. official. “We would not deal with them because of the designation.”

Iranian officials initially accused the Israelis and MEK of being behind the attacks, but they have since added the CIA to the list. Three days after the Jan. 11, 2012, bombing in Tehran that killed Roshan, the state news agency IRNA reported that Iran’s Foreign Ministry had sent a diplomatic letter to the U.S. claiming to have “evidence and reliable information” that the CIA provided “guidance, support and planning” to assassins directly involved in the attack.  

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  immediately denied any connection to the killings. “I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran,” Clinton told reporters on the day of the attack.

But at least two GOP presidential candidates have no problem with the targeting of nuclear scientists.  In a November debate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich endorsed “taking out their scientists,” and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum called it, ”a wonderful thing.”

The MEK’s opposition to the Iranian government also has recently earned it both plaudits and support from an odd mix of political bedfellows.

A group of former Cabinet-level officials have joined together to support the MEK’s removal from the official U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization list, even taking out a full-page ad last year in the New York Times calling for the removal of the MEK from the U.S. terrorist list.  Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton; former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former FBI Director Louis Freeh and former Rep. Patrick Kennedy were among those whose signatures were on the ad.

“There’s an extraordinary group of bipartisan or even apolitical leaders, military leaders, diplomats, the United States … the United Kingdom, the European Union, even a U.S. District Court in Washington, said that this group that was put on the foreign terrorist organization watch list in 1997 doesn’t deserve to be there,” Ridge said in November on “The Andrea Mitchell Show” on MSNBC TV.

U.S. politicians also have been pushing the U.S. government to protect the 3,400 MEK members and their families at Camp Ashraf in Iraq, about 35 miles north of Baghdad.  With the departure of U.S. troops, the MEK feared that Iraqi forces, with encouragement from Iran, would attack the camp, leading to a bloodbath. At the last minute, however, agreement was brokered with the United Nations that would permit the MEK members’ departure for resettlement in unspecified democratic countries.  As of this week, there’s been little movement on the planned resettlement.


Iranian fighters with the National Liberation Army, the military wing of the MEK, clean armored personnel carriers in 1997 after a field exercise near Camp Ashraf in Iraq. Jassim Mohammed / AP file

The Iranians see what’s happening as terrorism and hypocrisy by the United States.  They have forwarded documents and other evidence to the United Nations – and directly to the United States, they say.

“I think this is very cynical plan.  This is unacceptable,” said Larijani. “This is a bad trend in the world.  Unprecedented.  We should kill scientists … to block a scientific program?  I mean this is disaster!”

Daniel Byman, a professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and also a senior fellow with the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, said that if the accounts of the Israeli-MEK assassinations are accurate, the operation borders on terrorism.

“In theory, states cannot be terrorist, but if they hire locals to do assassinations, that would be state sponsorship,” said Byman, author of the recent book, “A High Price: The Triumphs and Failures of Israeli Counterterrorism.” “You could argue that they took action not to terrorize the public, the purpose of terrorism, but only the nuclear community.  An argument could also be made that degrading the program means that you don’t have to take military action and thus, this is a lower level of violence and that really these are military targets, where normally terrorist targets are civilians.”

But ultimately, Byman said, there is a “spectrum of responsibility” and that Israel is ultimately responsible.

Ronen Bergman, while not speaking on behalf of the Israeli government, suggests that there is a justification, citing an oft-repeated but disputed quote in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s said that Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth.

“Meir Degan, the chief of Mossad, when he was in office, hung a photograph behind him, behind the chair of the chief of Mossad,” notes the Israeli commentator.  “And in that photograph you see — an ultra-orthodox Jew — long beard, standing on his knees with his– hands up in the air, and two Gestapo soldiers standing — beside him with guns pointed at him.  One of — one of them is smiling.

“And Degan used to say to his people and the people coming to visit him from CIA, NSA, et cetera, ‘Look at this guy in the picture. This is my grandfather just seconds before he was killed by the SS,’” Bergman said. “’… We are here to prevent this from happening again.’”

Richard Engel is NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent; Robert Windrem is a senior investigative producer.


(FEDERALJACK)   Despite what all the media are yammering at you, despite all the fear mongering about Iran’s ‘nuclear threat’. Iran has been fully verified by the IAEA and ALL the U.S. intelligence community agree and are on record that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons despite talk that Iran is intolerant, despite the daily barrage of bad press and unpleasant innuendo, Iran is a great country, friendly, cultured, fun and spiritually-minded!

The ‘Powers That Were’ are dead set on taking us to war against Iran, but ‘They lied about Vietnam… Iraq…Afghanistan…’
and ‘Iran Is NOT Our Enemy!’

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