Sunday, March 12, 2006

Incredible Sources For War With Iran

Today, the Sunday Telegraph's Philip Sherwell did yet more sterling work as the primary British mouthpiece of the American neoconservative charge to war with Iran.

His report claims that the Iranian Government has built a secret underground bunker in the heart of Tehran as they "prepare for a confrontation with the West over their illicit nuclear programme."
The complex of rooms and offices beneath the Abbas Abad district in the north of the capital is designed to serve as a bolthole and headquarters for the country's rulers as military tensions mount.

The recently completed command centre is connected by tunnels to other government compounds near the Mossala prayer ground, one of the city's most important religious sites...The opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) learnt about the complex from its contacts within the regime..."Iran's leaders are clearly preparing for a confrontation by going underground," said Alireza Jafarzadeh, the NCRI official.
And it gets worse. According to Sherwell:
The regime is also reviewing its contingency plans to attack tankers and American naval forces in the Persian Gulf and to mine the Strait of Hormuz...The naval wing of the Revolutionary Guard has in recent years practised "swarming" raids, using its flotilla of small rapid-attack boats to simulate assaults on commercial vessels and United States warships, according to Ken Timmerman, an American expert on Iran.

A senior American intelligence officer said that the US navy would be able to reopen the strait but that it would be militarily costly. Hamid Reza Zakeri, a former Iranian intelligence officer, recently told Mr Timmerman that the Iranian navy's Strategic Studies Centre has produced an updated battle plan for the strait.
All sinister-sounding stuff that is sure to ratchet up the beligerence of the Telegraph's 900,000 mainly conservative readers, I'm sure you will agree.

It's also nice to see Sherwell cite actual names instead of his usual "anonymous official" sources. And what sources! The three experts mentioned in the piece are, to be blunt, where the mask slips and the entire report is shown to be neocon propoganda which is highly unlikely to have an ounce of fact behind it.

  • Hamid Reza Zakeri, a "former Iranian intelligence officer". The Center For Co-operative Research lists Zaheri thusly:
    The prosecution in the trial of Abdelghani Mzoudi presents a witness who claims to be a defector from an Iranian intelligence agency. [BBC, 1/21/04] The witness, Hamid Reza Zakeri, does not appear in court himself, but instead Judge Klaus Ruehle reads out his testimony. [Reuters, 1/22/04] According to Zakeri, the Iranian intelligence service was really behind the 9/11 attacks and had employed al-Qaeda to carry them out. Zakeri's claims are widely publicized. However, these claims are quickly discounted, and German intelligence notes that, “he presents himself as a witness on any theme which can bring him benefit.” [Chicago Tribune, 1/22/04; Associated Press, 1/30/04; Reuters, 1/22/04; Deutsche Presse-Agenteur, 1/22/04] (Emphasis Mine)
  • Ken Timmerman, an "American expert on Iran". Timmerman will be more widely known to many Americans than to Brits as "a neo-conservative Republican activist from Maryland, and a former nominee for a US Senate seat". He it was who alleged that Jesse Jackson associated with known criminals and that Rev. Jackson practised extortion of businesses. He is also, according to Wikipedia, "executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, an organization that works to instigate an armed conflict between the US and Iran" and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize alongside John Bolton " "for their repeated warnings and documentation of Iran's secret nuclear buildup and revealing Iran's "repeated lying" and false reports to the International Atomic Energy Agency." Timmerman's Foundation was co-founded by PNAC founding member Peter Rodman, who is currently United States Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. Timmerman claims that the Iranian regime is planning a nuclear weapons test before the Iranian New Year on March 20, 2006 - if so he will have been right when every single Western intelligence agency has been wrong. In short, he is an expert - an expert with an axe to grind and a neocon dog in the fight.

  • Alireza Jafarzadeh, "NCRI official". Interestingly, the Wikipedia entry on Jafarzadeh is tagged with "The factual accuracy of this article is disputed" and yesterday the entry had only bare-bones information and no mention at all of the NCRI. Whoever made this drastic edit identified themselves only by an I.P. address.

    Today, the earlier entry has been reinstated. It describes him as "an anti-Iran terrorist, and a member of the terrorist group the National Council of Resistance (NCR), an umbrella coalition of which the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) are a member organisation". There is no doubt that he is a commited and longterm member of the MeK, an Islamist/Marxist terror organistaion which carried out atrocities on behalf of Saddam Hussain and which believes it's leader to be the actual Moslem messiah fortold by prophecy. (There is also little doubt that he has signalled his willingness to be a suicide bomber for the MeK in the past.) The bulk of the organisation is currently held at Camp Ashraf, Iraq. It's fairly simple to find other information on Jafarzadeh, though. He has consulted for FOX, written for Front Page magazine. He is behind claims of nuclear cruise missiles, 5,000 centifuges and underground tunnels built by the Russians, among others. He also runs the Washington-based neocon Strategic Policy Consulting group.


    Here then are the players - who may well also have been the "anonymous sources" Sherwell has quoted so often in the past. Not one would be immediately well known to Telegraph readers, with all the ramifications and caveats their histories suggest. Sherwell, of course, fails to tell his readers anything about his expert sources' provenance.

    We have a known terrorist from an apocalyptic religious group, a lying spy always looking for a chance to get himself some fame and fortune and a neocon warmonger who ties both together and brings them into the orbit of the US defense dept. as well as far-right journalists such as Sherwell.

    I don't know about you, but none seem credible witnesses to me - the tale of war plans and nuclear bunkers is almost certainly a product of their fertile imaginations. Remember that when this story gets floated on some American media outlet, for the rush-to-war promoters' pattern nowadays seems to be to try a story in the UK first and see what happens before it is given its run on the other side of the pond.
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