Robert Baer, a former CIA agent with long experience of observing the QF, said: "This stinks to holy hell. The Quds Force are very good. They don't sit down with people they don't know and make a plot. They use proxies and they are professional about it. If Kassim Suleimani was coming after you or me, we would be dead. This is totally uncharacteristic of them."
In May 2011, a struggle for power among the conservatives who run the country, and in particular between Mr. Ahmadinejad and the country’s supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, spilled into public view. The fight conforms to a pattern of presidential politics that has troubled the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution. The system allows for two presidents, one divine, the other democratic. The divine leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, holds most of the power levers, controlling the military, the judiciary and the state broadcasting services.
The divine leader is also permanent, while elected presidents serve a maximum of eight years. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s predecessors — Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, who also clashed with the supreme leader over prerogatives — have gradually faded from view. Mr. Ahmadinejad is determined to avoid their fate, and that, say Iran experts, set off the current showdown.
In April, the president tried to dismiss the head of the intelligence ministry, the powerful government branch that exerts widespread control over domestic life. Ayatollah Khamenei ordered that the minister keep the post. Mr. Ahmadinejad then stayed home for 11 days, according to reports from Iran, engaging in a visible fit of pique.
So facially absurd are the claims here — why would Iran possibly wake up one day and decide that it wanted to engage in a Terrorist attack on U.S. soil when it could much more easily kill Saudi officials elsewhere? and if Iran and its Quds forces are really behind this inept, hapless, laughable plot, then nothing negates the claim that Iran is some Grave Threat like this does — that there is more skepticism expressed even in establishment media accounts than one normally finds about such things. Even the NYT noted — with great understatement — that the allegations “provoked puzzlement from specialists on Iran, who said it seemed unlikely that the government would back a brazen murder and bombing plan on American soil.” The Post noted that “the very rashness of the alleged assassination plot raised doubts about whether Iran’s normally cautious ruling clerics supported or even know about it."
The ayatollah commended the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, Washington and other American cities, calling them a consequence of “the prevalence of top-level corruption, poverty and social inequality in America.”
What kind of monster thinks that way, we are supposed to ponder. Behold the warped mind of the Terrorist! He’s actually willing to accept that others die besides his intended targeted! Is that not the mentality that drives U.S. behavior in multiple countries around the world every day? The U.S. flattened an entire civilian apartment building in Baghdad with a 2,000-pound bomb when it thought Saddam Hussein was there (he wasn’t — oops — but lots of innocent people were). NATO repeatedly bombed structures in Tripoli where it thought (mistakenly) Moammar Gadaffi was located, in the process almost certainly killing large numbers of unintended targets. The U.S. just killed one of its own citizens that it insists (not very credibly) it did not intend to kill in order to eradicate the life of Anwar Awlaki, and killed dozens of innocent people when it previously tried to kill Awlaki with cluster bombs.
The U.S. is the living, breathing symbol of this “collateral damage” rationale. It’s what drives all the multi-nation American wars and occupations and drone campaigns and assassinations that continuously pile up the corpses of innocent people.
"American investigators have speculated that the Iranian-American accused in the scheme, Mansour J. Arbabsiar, who lived in Texas on the Mexico border, may have convinced a cousin, a senior Quds official, that he could recruit a member of one of Mexico's notorious drug cartels to carry out the killing."
WASHINGTON - The alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States was comically amateurish, but the U.S. government believes not only that it was approved at high levels in Tehran but also that it was not the only plot, CBS News correspondent Bill Plante reports.
"There may be a chain of these things," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday.
Two men, including a member of Iran's Quds Force special foreign actions unit, were charged in New York federal court Tuesday with conspiring to kill the Saudi diplomat, Adel Al-Jubeir. Justice Department officials say the men tried to hire a purported member of a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the assassination with a bomb attack while Al-Jubeir dined at his favorite restaurant.
U.S. officials believe Iran hoped that an attack of that design would be blamed on al Qaeda. That, in turn, would strike at two of Iran's chief enemies: the U.S., constantly at odds with Iran over its nuclear aspirations, and Saudi Arabia, battling Iran in a diplomatic Cold War for influence across the Persian Gulf and Middle East.
Of course, there are many potential responses to this kind of argument. For starters, according to the complaint, the tapes reveal that Arbabsiar was an enthusiastic participant in the scheme, goading CS-1 to pursue the hit, not the other way around. And Arbabsiar also apparently arranged for the down payment of almost $50,000 to be wired to CS-1. And perhaps most important, following his arrest, again according to the complaint, Arbabsiar "confirmed that he agreed to pay CS-1 to kill the ambassador." Those will be tough facts for the defense to refute, but an unsavory informant at least gives the defense a target for blame.
In Europe, the press response has been fascinating. In the Independent – the word "plot" also appears in scare quotes in the print edition. Why would Iran hire a used car salesman? asks Rupert Murdoch’s Times [pay-wall]. Süddeutsche Zeitung talks about "supposed assassinations plans" and notes prominently that Iran rejects the claims as "ridiculous theater." Le Monde notes that Mueller himself calls it a "Hollywood script," and calls the announcement a brusque escalation of the game between Washington and Tehran. All give a thorough reporting of the Washington claims, but balance it with Iran’s response, displayed just as prominently, and go on to say that this has to be considered in the context of Washington’s perpetual sabre-rattling vis-à-vis Iran.
In his first public remarks on the assassination scheme, Mr. Obama sought to counter skepticism about whether Iran’s Islamic government directed an Iranian-American car salesman to engage with a Mexican drug cartel to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States and carry out other attacks. Mr. Obama insisted that American officials “know that he had direct links, was paid by, and directed by individuals in the Iranian government.”
“Now those facts are there for all to see,” Mr. Obama said. “We would not be bringing forward a case unless we knew exactly how to support all the allegations that are contained in the indictment.”
U.S. and Saudi officials believe Iranian operatives were behind the May 16 murder of a Saudi diplomat in Karachi, Pakistan — adding more evidence that Tehran has engaged in high-risk covert actions beyond the allegations of a Washington assassination plot made in a Justice Department indictment Tuesday.
Hassan al-Qahtani, a Saudi security official working at their consulate in Karachi, was gunned down in July about 200 feet from his office by a man on a motorbike. News reports at the time linked the killing to tension between Pakistan’s Sunni and Shiite communities.
But a Saudi official said Thursday that his country and the United States agree that Iran’s Quds Force was involved in the Karachi killing. That allegation, if true, adds important new detail to the portrait of an Iranian covert-action service that has been escalating its attacks against Saudi targets.
The Saudi official, reached by telephone, said that Pakistani intelligence had identified the killer as a member of a Shiite dissident group known as Sapih Mohammed, which has connections with the Quds Force. The Saudi official said this conclusion, that the group had links with Tehran, was based on messages between Iranian officials in Islamabad and members of the dissident group.
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