Thursday, October 13, 2011

More Skeptics

People who know the man accused of being a terrorist mastermind say he was anything but. From their descriptions, however, he does seem like the perfect patsy.

Friends told the Times that Arbabsiar smoked marijuana and drank alcohol freely and had a string of businesses, "selling horses, ice cream, used cars and gyro sandwiches," leaving a "trail of liens, business-related lawsuits and angry creditors" in his wake.


"He was a happy go lucky guy, always joked around," another friend told CNN. "He had a really happy demeanor."

The friend added that Arbabsiar "would go out and party," and as far as he knew "never practiced religion."


An additional oddity: Arbabsiar pleaded not guilty even after he allegedly offered a full typewritten confession to his role in the plot after agents advised him of his Miranda rights.


A little advice to the US government from an old wise man:

Don't tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don't tell them where they know the fish. --Mark Twain

Qods Force has a reputation for careful, methodical work – as well as effective use of local proxies, and ultimately their pragmatic deployment by Tehran as covert tools to expand Iran's influence across a region in flux.


Those who know Iran well are skeptical, but do not rule out any possibility. Mr. Arbabsiar may have arranged for $100,000 to be transferred from Iran as a down payment of $1.5 million for the hit, as US charges indicate.

Arbabsiar may also have boasted to one alleged accomplice in the plot – an associate of Mexico's Zeta drug cartel, who also happened to be an informant of the US Drug Enforcement Administration – that his cousin was a "big general" in the Iranian military.

While also describing a series of potential attacks to the associate, he may even have stated – apparently in secretly taped conversations – that mass American casualties as a result were not a problem.


But Iran specialists who have followed the Islamic Republic for years say that many details in the alleged plot just don't add up.


"This [plot] doesn't seem to serve Iran's interests in any conceivable way," says [Alireza Nader, an Iran analyst at the Rand Corp. in Arlington, Va., and coauthor of studies about the Revolutionary Guard].. "Assassinating the Saudi ambassador would increase international pressure against Iran, could be considered an act of war ... by Saudi Arabia, it could really destabilize the government in Iran; and this is a political system that is interested in its own survival."


The usual cost-benefit analysis that generally characterizes Tehran's decisionmaking does not apply here, says Muhammad Sahimi, in an analysis for Tehran Bureau website.

At a time when pressure is building on Iran over "gross human rights violations," sanctions are showing signs of working, Iran is "deeply worried about the fate of its strategic partner in Syria ... tensions with Turkey are increasing ... and a fierce power struggle is underway within Iran," says Mr. Sahimi, "it is essentially impossible to believe that the IRI [Islamic Republic of Iran] would act in such a way as to open a major new front against itself."


"It is keenly aware that it is under the American microscope," says Sahimi, making even less likely Iran embarking "on such a useless assassination involving a low-level, non-player individual."


"Iran does have a history of terrorism, but they also like to go through proxies – and true and tested proxies, not necessarily just anybody," says Nader of Rand, citing Hezbollah in Lebanon, for example, or Iraqi Shiite insurgents trained in Iranian camps.

Christian Science Monitor

No one ever lost money betting on the dull predictability of the US government. Just as Occupy Wall Street is firing imaginations all across the spectrum - piercing the noxious revolving door between government and casino capitalism - Washington brought us all down to earth, sensationally advertising an Iranian cum Mexican cartel terror plot straight out of The Fast and the Furious movie franchise.


So how to bury Fast and Furious, the economic abyss, the 10 years of war in Afghanistan, the increasing allure of Occupy Wall Street - not to mention the Saudi role in smashing the spirit of the Arab Spring? By uncovering a good ol’ al-Qaeda style plot on US soil, on top of it conducted by “evil” Iran. [...]Long live GWOT (the global war on terror). And long live the neo-con spirit; remember, real men go to Tehran - and the road starts now.

Pepe Escobar

As the United States continues down the path of state-sponsored assassination far from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, all sorts of tricky moral questions are likely to arise. But this much is clear: The world is unlikely to accept that the United States has a right to behave as it wishes without accountability all around the globe and that other nations do not.

LA Times Op Ed

There does come a point when propaganda is grounded in such blatant falsehoods that it may lose its efficacy; that the LA Times is pointing out — delicately but still clearly — that the U.S. claims the right to do that which it is now demonizing Iran for supposedly doing is a good sign that this day, under the right circumstances and with the right push, could be nearer than it may seem.

Glenn Greenwald

It’s a nice thought, but I, for one, am not that optimistic.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

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