The case of the missing Iranian general
Date: Thursday, March 22 2007
By Peter Symonds
14 March 2007
Very little of the detail appearing in the media about the recent unexplained disappearance of a top Iranian general, Brigadier General Ali Reza Asgari, including his age, can be taken at face value. But all the accounts point to the involvement of the US, Israeli and/or other Western intelligence agencies in the defection or abduction of Asgari, a former deputy defence minister, who is currently being interrogated or tortured to obtain Iranian defence secrets.
Amid the growing speculation about the case, one glaring fact is not commented upon: that the CIA and other US spy agencies, with the assistance of other intelligence services, particularly Mossad, are aggressively targetting Iran. Senior Bush administration officials have repeatedly declared that the US has no plans for war against Iran. The most obvious purpose in interrogating a figure like Asgari, however, is to extract information about Iran’s military capabilities or details that could bolster Washington’s belligerent propaganda against Tehran.
Most of the facts surrounding Asgari’s disappearance are contested. All the media accounts rely heavily on unnamed sources in the various countries involved—that is, on intelligence and security officials for whom misinformation, fabrication and lies are simply tools of the trade.
The Washington Post last Thursday published one version of events. Its source—“a senior US official” told the newspaper that Asgari had defected and was “willingly cooperating” with “Western intelligence agencies” at an undisclosed location. While providing no specifics, the source said “the information Asgari is offering is fully available to US intelligence”. A second American official denied an Israeli newspaper report that Asgari was in the US and also suggested that “the Israelis” had “orchestrated” the operation. An Israeli spokesman officially denied any involvement.
Last weekend’s British-based Sunday Times took the story a step further. Relying on uncharacteristically forthcoming “Iranian sources,” its correspondent based in Tel Aviv declared that Asgari had been providing Western intelligence agencies with information since 2003. The general was recruited with large bribes during an overseas trip, one Iranian source explained, adding: “Ali Reza was a wealthy man even before 2003. Since 2003 he has become a very wealthy man.” The article explained that Asgari was “understood to be undergoing debriefing at a NATO base in Germany” over the weekend.