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Thursday, March 08, 2007

WaPo: Iranian defense official willingly cooperating with Western intelligence

The Washington Post is reporting this morning that an Iranian former defense official who disappeared in Istanbul a month ago is 'willingly cooperating' with Western intelligence agencies. The official, Ali Reza Asgari disappeared from an Istanbul hotel on February 6. The Post report is based on an interview with a 'senior US official' who declined to say where Asgari is to be found. But contrary to earlier reports, the Post says that Asgari was not involved in Iran's nuclear program, and what is most interesting about him - according to 'former officers of the Mossad - is his knowledge of Iran's connections to Hezbullah:
Asgari's background suggests that he would have deep knowledge of Iran's national security infrastructure, conventional weapons arsenal and ties to Hezbollah in south Lebanon. Iranian officials said he was not involved in the country's nuclear program, and the senior U.S. official said Asgari is not being questioned about it. Former officers with Israel's Mossad spy agency said yesterday that Asgari had been instrumental in the founding of Hezbollah in the 1980s, around the time of the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut.
The Post also further confuses the issue of who has Asgari and who orchestrated his flight to the West.
Iran's official news agency, IRNA, quoted the country's top police chief, Brig. Gen. Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moqaddam, as saying that Asgari was probably kidnapped by agents working for Western intelligence agencies. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Asgari was in the United States. Another U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, denied that report and suggested that Asgari's disappearance was voluntary and orchestrated by the Israelis. A spokesman for President Bush's National Security Council did not return a call for comment.

The Israeli government denied any connection to Asgari. "To my knowledge, Israel is not involved in any way in this disappearance," said Mark Regev, the spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry.

An Iranian official, who agreed to discuss Asgari on the condition of anonymity, said that Iranian intelligence is unsure of Asgari's whereabouts but that he may have been offered money, probably by Israel, to leave the country. The Iranian official said Asgari was thought to be in Europe. "He has been out of the loop for four or five years now," the official said.
As I noted yesterday, Asgari is also believed to have information on Ron Arad, the Israeli navigator who has been missing since being shot down over Sidon, Lebanon in 1986.

Al-Reuters quotes Menashe Amir, "an Israeli analyst of Iranian affairs" as claiming that Asgari's family is with him and that he has defected.

I wonder how many more senior Iranian officials might be interested in defecting and helping the West out in the war on terror. Maybe the next one will be someone involved in the nuclear program. That would certainly be a prudent target for Western intelligence agencies to pursue.


At 9:03 PM, Blogger JoeSettler said...

Looks like Freddy Mercury to me.


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