Who has really been killing those Iranian scientists?
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.
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.