The US secretary of state has called for a “very strong message” to be sent to Iran, after allegations of a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US.
Click here to read full BBC report.
This was the big story from Wednesday [Oct 12th] that was plastered all over the mainstream media:
We had reports in the Daily Mail of how “an extraordinary terrorist plot has been foiled”:
Agents of the Iranian government reportedly offered $1.5 million to a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the assassination of Adel Al-Jubeir in a busy Washington DC restaurant.
The terror plotters — who also planned to set off blasts at the Saudi and Israeli embassies in the city – told their Mexican contact they could provide ‘tons of opium’ to his gang.
But their contact, to whom they allegedly wired a $100,000 down payment for the killing, was in fact an undercover U.S. informant.
The Independent reported that:
Two men, including a member of Iran’s special-forces unit, the Quds, were charged with orchestrating the plot. One of the duo, Manssor Arbabsiar, has been arrested and appeared in New York Federal court last night, wearing blue jeans and a dress shirt. The other, Gholam Shakuri, is still at large.
The allegations will dramatically ratchet-up tension between the US and Tehran. They represent the first time in recent history that the country, a member of the so-called “Axis of Evil”, has been accused of sponsoring attempted terrorist activity on US soil.3
Yes, it seems that those evil-doers at the “Axis of Evil” are up to no good again; the Guardian also covering the news of the bomb plot along with “a worldwide travel alert for American citizens, warning of the potential for anti-US action.”:
“The US government assesses that this Iranian-backed plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador may indicate a more aggressive focus by the Iranian government on terrorist activity against diplomats from certain countries, to include possible attacks in the United States,” it said in a statement on its website late on Tuesday. 4
Meanwhile, the British and French governments have already indicated that they are ready to support any US measures against Iran:
“For France, this is an extremely serious affair, an outrageous violation of international law, and its perpetrators and backers must be held accountable,” French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in Paris on Wednesday.
Reuters, which had released the story the previous day, reported that Obama was calling the plot a “flagrant violation of U.S. and international law”, with Saudi Arabia saying it was “despicable.” Perhaps more interesting, however, was the statement of FBI Director Robert Mueller:
At a news conference, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the convoluted plot, involving monitored international calls, Mexican drug money and an attempt to blow up the ambassador in a Washington restaurant, could have been straight from a Hollywood movie.6
Indeed it seems to have been a plot so Hollywood, or so much ‘stranger than fiction’, as Hillary Clinton put it, and so – what’s the word? – incredible, that even as the story was breaking some were already doubting its credibility:
United States officials said they were exploring several theories why the Quds Force, which supplies and trains insurgents around the world, would plot an attack in Washington against a close adviser to the Saudi king, relying on an Iranian-American used-car salesman [Manssor Arbabsiar] from Texas who, they said, thought he was hiring assassins from a Mexican drug gang.7
From a report in The New York Times, also published on Wednesday, and entitled “U.S. Challenged to Explain Accusations of Iran Plot in the Face of Skepticism”. The same article begins:
The Obama administration on Wednesday sought to reconcile what it said was solid evidence of an Iranian plot to murder Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States with a wave of puzzlement and skepticism from some foreign leaders and outside experts.
Senior American officials themselves were struggling to explain why the Quds Force, an elite international operations unit within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, would orchestrate such a risky attack in so amateurish a manner.
Click here to read the full article.
And here is a report from Reuters yesterday:
An Iranian-born Texas man accused of an elaborate plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington was a heavy drinker and flighty businessman who did not fit the profile of a cunning agent, according to people who knew him well.
They say they are stunned by the charges against him.
“Everybody was like, ‘What, Jack?'” said Mitchel Hamauei, a friend who runs a Corpus Christi Mediterranean market and deli that Manssor “Jack” Arbabsiar frequented. […]
He got his nickname from his penchant for swigging Jack Daniels whiskey, friends said.
“No way was this guy the master of this plot,” said former roommate Tom Hosseini, who has known Arbabsiar for 30 years. “Iran has 75 million people, and they cannot find a better guy to make a plot like this?”8
Click here to read the full report.
There are many who have also questioned the story. Most dramatically, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer claims that an FBI insider informed him that the plot was entirely manufactured by the Obama administration and that no information regarding the plot even exists.
On Judge Andrew Napolitano’s Fox News show, Shaffer said, “It does not smell correctly”:
“The FBI’s had a record lately and I did talk to one of my inside guys and he is saying he thinks the same thing, you know why, because he can’t find any real information and he’s got a clearance — so that tells him that there’s something going on that’s extraordinary by the fact that he’s an inside investigator, knows what’s going on and yet, I’m gonna quote here, ‘There’s nothing on this within the DOJ [US Department of Justice] beyond what they’ve talked about publicly’ — which means to him that there’s something very wrong with it.”
Pepe Escobar, a journalist based in Brazil and correspondent for the Asia Times, put the whole issue into context in an interview on Russia Today, pointing out that there is no evidence linking the plot to the Iranian government and explaining how the story simply “doesn’t make sense”:
“If you target an ambassador, he’s going to be replaced by another ambassador – the foreign policy of the country you’re targeting is not going to change if you kill ten ambassadors in a row… And if they wanted to kill a Saudi ambassador they could do it in the Middle East – it’s very easy – they have Iranian agents all over the Middle East… Why would they bother to mount such a sophisticated operation on American soil, knowing that everything in the US is intercepted by American Intelligence?
…It doesn’t make sense at all.
Follow the money and follow the interests – who profits? Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud, so they can divert attention from the fact that they are the Mecca of the counter-revolution in the Arab Spring. They smashed the Arab Spring in the Persian Gulf… and the Israeli lobby, because they need to go back to ‘Iran is an international threat’ and ‘we need to do something’ before the next elections…”
Of course, in the event of the story ever being reworked as a Hollywood film then there’s likely to be a disclaimer. Something to the effect of:
“All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.”
Given the recent history, with the “yellowcake forgeries” and the other lies about Saddam’s WMD, it might be helpful if the news media started to apply a similar disclaimer of their own; especially whenever Washington starts up with stories of the latest threat from ‘the axis of evil’.
1 From article entitled “US to pressure Iran over ‘plot to kill Saudi envoy’” published by BBC news on October 12, 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15269348
2 From an article entitled “U.S. condemns Tehran after foiling plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador on American soil using a Mexican drug hitman” written by John Stevens, Oliver Tree and Lee Moran, published in the Daily Mail on October 12, 2011. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2048138/Iran-terror-plot-US-foils-plan-assassinate-Saudi-ambassador-using-Mexican-hitman.html
3 From an article entitled “US accuses Iran of bomb plot to kill Saudi ambassador in Washington” written by Guy Adams, published in The Independent on October 12, 2011. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-accuses-iran-of-bomb-plot-to-kill-saudi-ambassador-in-washington-2369220.html
4 From an article entitled “US issues travel alert after Iranians charged over bomb plot” published by the Guardian on October 12, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/12/us-issues-travel-alert-bomb-plot
5 From article entitled “US seeks Security Council support for Iran action” published by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on October 13, 2011. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gR7JgD6nBBVFODzZfeiH-Sde-ecg?docId=CNG.31489099dea4e6b34171e1a5ec101a16.bc1
6 From a report entitled “Iranians charged in U.S. over assassination plot” written by Jeremy Pelofsky and Basil Katz, published by Reuters on October 11, 2011. http://mobile.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE79A5E020111011
7 From an article entitled “U.S. Challenged to Explain Accusations of Iran Plot in the Face of Skepticism” written by Eric Schmitt and Scott Shane, published in The New York Times on October 12, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/13/us/iran-sees-terror-plot-accusation-as-diversion-from-wall-street-protests.html?pagewanted=all
8 From a report entitled “Accused Iran plotter in US lacks cunning, friends say” written by Kristen Hays, published by Reuters on October 14, 2011. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/14/us-usa-security-iran-arbabsiar-idUSTRE79D5UH20111014