Friday, January 15, 2010

Assassination in Tehran

gary's choices


January 12, 2010

Assassination in Tehran

Enduring America provides video of Iranian PressTV coverage of the assassination of the Iranian physicist Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, a respected Tehran University nuclear physicist, earlier today. The official Iranian government English-language news channel immediately concluded that the dissident Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), supported by the US and Israel, was responsible.

My own take is a bit different. I remember back to the assassinations of Iranian intellectuals in the 1990s. PBS Frontline in conjunction with Tehran Bureau has put together a thorough research chronology of political murders in Iran.

The notorious “Chain Murders” of intellectuals in the 1990s were publicly denounced by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, as the work of US and Israeli agents. Later, it was officially determined that they had been carried out by agents of the intelligence ministry itself. A single scapegoat, Saieed Emami, was identified as the culprit and he conveniently died in prison, reportedly by poisoning himself, in June 1999. A remarkable number of critics of the regime (and accused killers) have died of “cardiac arrest,” often induced by poisons. Others have been shot and stabbed.

Exploding motorcycles have not been the chosen instrument of assassinations in Iran. But the very word motorcycle is indelibly associated with the thugs of the paramilitary basij, a wing of the Revolutionary Guards, who ride them into battle against protesters on the streets of Tehran the way the forces of Genghis Khan charged into their foes on the steppes of Central Asia.

The victim of the latest attack, Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, was described on Iranian TV as a dedicated believer in the Islamic revolution. Almost immediately, LA Times Journalist Borzou Daragahi discovered that that he was, in fact, an outspoken supporter of the Green opposition and a signatory of a pro-Mousavi declaration on an opposition web site. It also appears that he was not associated with the Iranian government or its nuclear program.

Stop and think for a moment about what the official Iranian announcement of the killing really means. It suggests that US and Israeli agents are able to penetrate not only Iran but residential areas in the capital city, Tehran. It indicates that they have access to powerful explosives and are able to target individuals almost at will, conduct a dramatic assassination, and then escape completely undetected.

What does that say about the Iranian security services? It is reminiscent of the earlier claim that US and Israeli agents were able to operate with weapons on Iranian streets and shoot Green protesters in order to create incidents that would embarrass the Islamic regime. If you believe these allegations, I have some prime real estate in the Florida swamps that you may find attractive.

Until proven otherwise, agents of the Iranian government must be considered the prime suspects in this killing. What do they gain? First, they amplify their campaign of intimidation against the Green opposition. You may recall that over the weekend there were attempts to shoot Mehdi Karroubi, one of the key leaders of the opposition. That culprit has also never been captured despite the fact that security forces were all around Karroubi’s car.

Second, but only incidentally, the regime is able to blame outsiders for security atrocities inside Iran. The second charge is less important since most sophisticated observers will recognize it for the propaganda that it is.

But the fundamental question is the implication that outsiders can move about freely inside Iran today and carry out the most atrocious acts without ever being detected or brought to justice. Can the Iranian security services really be this bad? If so, why do they advertise it so widely?

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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