No Direct Evidence of Iranian Government Complicity in PlotThe Obama administration continues to claim the Iranian government helped orchestrate the plot, while admitting evidence is lacking
by John Glaser, October 12, 2011
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United States officials in the Obama administration and Justice Department have explicitly claimed that Iran’s supreme leader and the Quds Force covert operations unit were likely aware of the so-called terror plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States. But evidence of that is lacking and many officials have admitted there are gaps in their understanding of the plot.
The Obama administration has combatively blamed the highest echelons of the Iranian government and promised impending consequences, despite the fact that there is no solid information about “exactly how high it goes,” as one official put it.
Anonymous government officials speaking to various media outlets have said that their belief that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “more than likely” had prior knowledge of the plot is based on inference. The Quds Force operates, they reason, in accordance and obedience to Iran’s supreme leadership, so a rogue actor is unlikely.
But unlikely describes the plot itself, as even US officials admit it was very out of character. The Quds Force has a history of shrewd covert operations and calculated dealings with proxies. “The Iranian modus operandi is only to trust sensitive plots to their own employees, or to trusted proxies,” wrote Kenneth Katzman of the Congressional Research Service on Gulf2000 on Wednesday.
And the accused perpetrator Manssor Arbabsiar and a Mexican drug gang don’t fit the protocol. “Are we to believe that this Texas car seller was a Qods sleeper agent for many years resident in the US? Ridiculous,” said Mr. Katzman. “They never ever use such has-beens or loosely connected people for sensitive plots such as this.”
“It’s a very strange case, it doesn’t really fit Iran’s mode of operation,” Alireza Nader, an Iran analyst at the Rand Corporation told the Christian Science Monitor. ”This [plot] doesn’t seem to serve Iran’s interests in any conceivable way,” he added.
Former CIA agent Robert Baer said the culpability of the Iranian leadership is not believable. “I don’t think it’s credible, not the central government, there may be a rogue element behind it,” Baer said in an interview. “They wouldn’t be sending money through an American bank, they wouldn’t be going to the cartels in Mexico to do this. It’s just not the way they work.”