Judy Mandelbaum

Judy Mandelbaum
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June 01
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JULY 9, 2012 2:16PM

Who has really been killing those Iranian scientists?

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Who has been killing Iran’s nuclear scientists? The Iranian government has been blaming British, French, and German agents, and even their own dissidents working on Israel’s payroll. Now, in a book published last Saturday, CBS reporter Dan Raviv and former Haaretz correspondent Yossi Melman claim that the assassinations between 2010 and 2012 are the work of none other than Mossad - the Jewish State's seemingly invincible secret service - in person. 

 Spies Against Armageddon

Writing in their book Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars, the reporters argue that the murders are simply too sophisticated to be the work of outside agents. “It’s right out of the Mossad playbook,” Raviv said in an interview on Washington’s WTOP radio station on Sunday. He points to a crack, top-secret unit within Mossad called Kidon (“bayonet”). “They are the assassins. They have gone into Iran, they have ways of slipping in and slipping out, safe houses, roots established many, many years ago, and for something this sensitive, this delicate, attacking Iran’s nuclear scientists, they would not hire mercenaries or use Iranian dissidents. It’s Israelis themselves doing it.”

The authors say that the assassinations have also “had a strong psychological objective: sending a loud and clear message to scientists that working for the nuclear program was dangerous. The Mossad was telling them, in effect: Stay in your classrooms. Do your academic work. Get your research published. Enjoy the university life. But do not help Iran go nuclear. Otherwise, your career could be cut short by a bullet or a bomb.”

Raviv points to the perfectly crafted sticky bombs and the motorcycles used to deploy them to the scientists’ cars as ultra-sophisticated and effective techniques that no surrogates could master, let alone get away with. They can only be “blue and white” (i.e. homemade Israeli) operations. He argues that the regime is arresting dissidents as an excuse for cleaning house and deflecting the blame from its own inefficient intelligence forces and towards Europe and America. The notion that Mossad can simply traipse into Iran and murder its scientists, and presumably anyone else they feel like doing in, is admittedly frightening. In fact, the book makes you wonder why President Ahmadinejad doesn't raise the white flag today.

For its part, Iranian government has been blaming such fanatical domestic terror groups as the MEK and the Kurdish Pejak organization. On June 24 it hanged a 24-year-old man called Jamal Fasihi for the murders.

“Mossad chief Dagan was pleased by the missions in Iran,” Raviv and Melman write in their book, and by “the ‘cleanliness’ of their execution: no clues, no fingerprints, not even motorcycles left behind.”

The four assassinations and one attempted assassination are of a piece with the Stuxnet virus that recently shut down Iranian nuclear plants, which the US admits was a joint-program with Israel. Whether the point of these attacks is to delay Iran’s alleged (and possible imaginary) nuclear weapons program, as Washington and Tel Aviv claim, or else to sabotage peace negotiations and push the mullah regime closer to all-out war, is an open question at the moment.

Now, the $64,000 question is “just how reliable are Raviv and Melman?” Not very, concludes blogger Richard Silverstein, the author of the respected Israel-focused Tikun-Olam website, who was once friendly with Melman. In fact, it sounds like the new book might contain more than a hint of Mossad psy-ops itself. Silverstein writes that the authors have “taken an ounce of truth and added a pound of unsubstantiated claims and put it between two covers and offered it to a gullible world hungry to hear the heroic exploits of the Ari Ben Canaans of the Israeli spy service.” Silverstein not only laments the lack of any solid sources, but also calls doubt on the efficiency of Mossad’s methods overall.

Do I hear Dubai  [where Mossad agents assassinated a suspected Palestinian militant leader in 2010], anyone? There Kidon used at least 27 agents to kill a single individual leaving a “trace” virtually around the world. Mossad station chiefs were expelled from two friendly nations, harsh diplomatic notes were relayed by many governments whose citizens were endangered by the passport fraud used to help the assassins gain access to Dubai. In Germany, the Mossad exploited a law benefiting Holocaust survivors in order to secure a fraudulent passport for one of its agents.

Silverstein is simply not impressed by either the Dubai job or the alleged Iranian operations. “This is what I call nickel-and-dime spookery," he writes. "It’s not strategic thinking. It’s throwing spaghetti on the wall hoping a few strands will stick.” Cloak and dagger stuff, in other words. Silverstein also finds it suspicious that the book “is receiving the royal treatment from the Israeli government, including promotion at its DC embassy website and an author reception with Raviv at a prominent DC synagogue on July 10th.” 

Incidentally, the book also explains that the Israeli government had nothing whatsoever to do with the death of Yasser Arafat. Hmm, why aren't I surprised?

I must say that the book looks exciting. And yet, as is so often the case when it comes to "startling" revelations on Israel in general and Mossad in particular, the controversy it will unleash promises to be more interesting than the volume itself. If you want the truth, that’s still the best place to go looking for it. Until then, who is actually murdering those scientists in Teheran is anybody’s guess. We already know who wants to see them dead.


 The Daily Beast has published an excerpt here.

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This story reminds me of Spielberg's counter-intuitive movie "Munich" with its apologetic assassins tracking down supposed enemies of Israel. If Kidon is behind these killings, I very much doubt that they are feeling apologetic.

I've always assumed that the Iranian assassins were Israeli or had humongous Israeli support. 0% doubt. As to Dubai -- remember, there are various degrees of competency in any organization.
Although as a tactic the murder of opposition elements seems a neat way to blunt agendas in unfriendly countries as a long time strategy it engenders much more hate than fear and as the almost total failures of US policy in Iraq and Afghanistan indicate, it is no road to success. I am no friend of the strange nastiness of much of intolerant and anti-intellectual and cruel viewpoints of fanatic Islam or Christianity but assassination and rampant war has proved only to make the problem worse. The paranoid attitudes of both the USA and Israel (mostly used as a cover for outrageous attempts at economic conquest of natural resources) have made these two countries the most hated in the world which is, to view it mildly, rather unhelpful.
I'd think that just as "good" a case can be made that the US is the perpetrator. Or, at the very least, is behind them in one way or another. The main argument against the US being the perp is that they've been done by someone who is very competent at what they do..... not an American trait.

the israeli state is rotten past reclamation, and it's likely that only mass murder of israeli jews can cauterize the situation. young israelis are beginning to realize the nature of the situation and many are protesting against some features of their political 'heritage.' but it's very likely that any relaxation of the rabid aggression will simply encourage the neighbors to wash over the hated jewish state.

god help them, jew and muslim, for this may be too hard for peaceful human resolution
it was pretty obvious to me the motorcycle assassinations, almost out of a bond movie, had to be Mossad.
but, it does sound like this is something of a public relations ploy by israel to steer the dialogue on a not-so-secret secret.
now if only we could get a similar revelation on 911.
the motorcycle assassinations are quite extraordinary & few americans have even heard of them. a simple accounting of the basic facts would leave many a bit flabbergasted. the incidents have been effectively quieted in the int'l media-- thats the other half of the goal of effective intelligence work.... concealing the truth....
I just read silversteins critique and ... it seems nickel-and-dime, throwing-spaghetti at a wall. what exactly is his complaint? that the israeli assassinations were too professional to be possible by the mossad, because the mossad is not highly effective? is he actually arguing that the mossad is not as powerful and airtight as is asserted in the book? that some other not-named agency or individuals were capable of such feats? he does not say this outright because of course it would be ludicrous if committed to paper [or html].... silverstein only proves his own ignorance or exposes his own intentional misdirection.
and americans, the question you have to ask yourself is, do you want your own intelligence/military industrial complex in bed with the Mossad? its not a question of whether anymore.... its apparently been a close collaboration for years.... the stuxnet virus is unparalleled in the history of intelligence and the americans are on the edge of their seat!! to see who wins the next american idol!!
I find it hard to imagine any intelligence agency other than the Mossad slipping into Iran without being detected. They are the world experts at masquerading as something else.
The truth of this matter will not likely be known for some time to come -- if ever. In the meantime, it is quite helpful to Israel to have Iranian scientists -- and others working against Israeli interests -- believe in the infallibility of Mossad and the ability of its agents to strike anyone, anywhere, anytime. That is to say, the fear of Mossad is an even more powerful deterrent than the acts themselves.

That's the evil genius of terrorism, as we have witnessed all too clearly as a result of 9-11. That we have wasted billions on "Homeland Security" (migod has there ever been a phrase that more bespeaks fascism?) and turned America into an armed camp complete with indefinite detention and all manner of invasions of privacy -- pat-downs, body-scans, warrantless searches, and citizens spying on other citizens -- well, let's just say all that is more than Osama bin Laden and his kind ever could have hoped for.

All that hints at another reason this book was published here. It serves as a warning to those in power here not to cross Israel, while at the same time stoking the fire and lust for power of the already too-powerful Israeli lobby in the US.
That's the whole story in a nutshell, Tom! Let me fit the book's message into an even smaller nutshell: "Don't mess with Mossad."
I had always assumed it was the Laotians but maybe I should reconsider.
It would be good if your article actually explained what Mossad is for those who might be interested and don't know -- but nice article for those already up on their international politics...
Just thinking....,
You know, it literally never occurred to me that anyone could not know what Mossad is, but for those who don't I've appended the sentence "the Jewish State's seemingly invincible secret service."
Smells (gefilte) fishy to me. I read on the internet that the Mossad assassinated a guy named Jesus Christ around two thousand years ago. Why don't you write a story about that?
I did know, but found the description missing -- not everyone is up on Israel.
I like your choice of words : )
Excellent post.
I really don't know, who are doing it. I earlier wrote about it myself, too. My opinion at that time was that it might not be Americans, this time.

But I think that the purpose of these killings is to bring there fear, as Tom Cordle said above:

"the fear of Mossad is an even more powerful deterrent than the acts themselves."

The whole thing of Iran's nuclear program looks to me strange. They don't need nuclear energy at all in Iran, why are they doing it?
as I understand it, the point is to save the oil for export while building up an independent domestic energy program, along with medical and industrial uses, which is all part of Iran's efforts to enhance its status and improve the lives of its citizens. Now I obviously can't tell if this cover story is "true" or not, but it's certainly plausible, since it's what many other countries are doing, including our own.