Friday, March 09, 2007

Gen. Ali Rez Asgari - Update

DEBKAfile is reporting that "a western official responded to our report for the first time on March 8 – albeit anonymously. He told the Washington Post that Gen. Ali Rez Asgari was in Western hands and providing intelligence services with information about Hizballah, Iran and ties between the two. Another anonymous US official suggested the Iranian general’s disappearance was voluntary and orchestrated by Israel."

According to DEBKAfile's intelligence sources, Gen. Asgari was the officer in charge of Iran’s undercover operations in central Iraq:

"...the gunmen who abducted the American soldiers in Karbala - and then shot them dead execution-style – belonged to a special commando team of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry, which was sent to Iraq especially for this mission. The team was made up of intelligence officers who speak American English and were trained to masquerade as US troops, kidnap US soldiers and hold them as hostages for bargaining. These officers are from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and other Arab countries, who studied in the US and can talk like Americans - even in the idiom of US troops. Teams of these masqueraders roam at large in Iraq, clad in American uniforms, armed with US weapons and driving stolen American vehicles.

Tehran’s plan was to snatch a group of US soldiers and hold them hostage against the release of the 8 Revolutionary Guards paratroops in American custody. However, according to our intelligence sources, the plan went awry for some unknown reason and the Iranian commandos decided to execute their captives before making a fast getaway from the Karbala region. Tehran views this operation as a fiasco because it did not achieve its goal. At the same time, Iranian intelligence has not been put off its plan to take American soldiers hostage in Iraq. Its chiefs are determined to do whatever it takes to obtain the release of the third top man of the Revolutionary Guards al Quds division, Col. Fars Hassami, who DEBKA-Net-Weekly reports is not the only high-profile Iranian officer in American hands. Another is Mohammad Jaafari Sahra-Rudi, who was the kingpin of Iran’s terrorist operations in large parts of Iraq. His long record includes leading the Iranian death squad which assassinated Iran’s Kurdish Democratic Party leader Dr. Abdol-Rahman Qasemlou in Vienna in 1989. Austrian security services caught the assassin but sent him back to Iran as part of a secret transaction between the two countries.

Qasemlou operated in Iraq under his real identity and even met with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani just a few days before he was captured in the American raid of the Iranian “liaison office” in Irbil Jan 11. The Iranians have explored every channel they can think of to break the agents out of American custody. When they realized that the United States was adamant about holding on to them, the heads of the Revolutionary Guards decided to go ahead with their campaign of abductions against US troops in Iraq. Source: DEBKAfile

Esfahan, Iran: Originally described by Iran as a nuclear research facility, Esfahan is the site of a planned facility to process nuclear fuel for the reactor at Arak and possibly the one at Bushehr. The central Iran site contains a research reactor built under an agreement with France and a plutonium production reactor built with Chinese assistance. Source: CNN.

Photo left: Inside the Esfahan facility.

+ History of the Iranian nuclear program
+ PBS - Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari on the Similarities Between U.S. and Iran

+ Iran shrugs off UN nuclear pressure
+ Iran’s Nuclear Program—Situation and Implications

+ General Asghari was also commander of the Revolutionary Guard serving in Lebanon in the 1980s, liaising with Hezbollah when a downed Israeli navigator, Ron Arad, was sold by a Lebanese militia commander to the Iranians. The Israeli airman was never heard from again.

+ US lawyer for Khadr says he shares teen’s frustrations
+ Turkey Blocks Access to YouTube Due to Offending Video
+ Israeli travelers warned to depart Egypt, Jordan and Morocco without delay
+ Improved Iranian surface missiles for Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islami bring 250,000 more Israeli civilians within range


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