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Some Analysts Skeptical of Alleged Iranian Plot

Iranian clerics hold up anti-Saudi placards as they face riot policemen in front of the Saudi embassy in Tehran earlier this year.
Iranian clerics hold up anti-Saudi placards as they face riot policemen in front of the Saudi embassy in Tehran earlier this year, 2011 (Photo credit: AFP / Getty Images via CNN)

By Reza Sayah

October 13, 2011

Excerpts

WASHINGTON – Did an elite branch of Iran’s military handpick a divorced, 56-year-old Iranian-American used-car salesman from Texas to hire a hitman from a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the ambassador of Saudi Arabia by blowing up a bomb in a crowded restaurant in Washington?

U.S. officials say they are certain the bizarre plot against Ambassador Adel Jubeir was real.

But some analysts say they are not. They find it unlikely that the Iranian government, or legitimate factions within, would be involved in such a tangled plot.

They cite five reasons why:

1. The alleged plot doesn’t fit Iran’s style

In the 32-year history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its Quds Force — the branch implicated in the alleged plot — has never been publicly linked to an assassination plot or an attack on U.S. soil. In cases where Quds Force members have been accused of plotting attacks, they had gone to great lengths to cover their tracks and hire proxy groups of the highest caliber, like the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Hiring an Iranian-American used-car salesman who, according to investigators, openly talked about his connections to the Iranian military and brazenly made a $100,000 wire transfer doesn’t fit the Quds Force’s modus operandi, analysts say. …

2. Iran would lose more than it would gain

An assassination plot on U.S. soil would be costly for Iran, analysts say, inviting further sanctions and isolation by the international community, and perhaps military action as well. …

3. Iran has much easier targets to go after

Iran has potential U.S. and Saudi targets in its own backyard. In fact, Iran’s Quds Force is frequently accused of waging proxy wars against U.S. troops in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan and against Saudi interests in places like Bahrain. …

4. Iran is gaining in stature and isn’t desperate for drastic measures

Analysts say Iran has emerged as an undeniable power broker in the Middle East due in large part to the U.S.-led elimination of two of its key enemies in the last decade — Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq and the Afghan Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Tehran’s political and economic sway in the region is greater than ever and it has solidified its role as a critical actor involving nearly all the major issues in the region, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the futures of Iraq and Afghanistan, the price of oil and nuclear energy. …

5. The alleged plot is full of holes

There seem to be too many unanswered questions at this point to conclude that this plot was conceived by the Iranian government or the leaders of the Quds Force. …

Read the full story at CNN.com

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Related report

U.S. official: ‘Multiple’ sources strengthen case against Iran
(CNN, Oct. 14, 2011)

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

One Year Ago — October 13, 2010

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Show of Strength in Lebanon

Image: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Beirut
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, waves to the crowds from the sunroof of his SUV, upon his arrival in Beirut, Lebanon, on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010. Ahmadinejad is making his first state visit to Lebanon. (Photo credit: Mahmoud Tawil / AP)

One year ago today, I reported that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a bold show of strength in Lebanon, vowing before thousands of Hezbollah supporters in Beirut that U.S. and Israeli power in the Middle East would soon be eclipsed.

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Two Years Ago — October 13, 2009

Iraq-Afghanistan Casualties

Two years ago today, on October 13, 2009, I provided my weekly report of U.S. military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army National Guard Maj. Tad T. Hervas, 48, Coon Rapids, Minn., died Oct. 6, 2009 at Contingency Operating Base Basra, Iraq, from a gunshot wound to the head sustained in a non-combat incident.

Maj. Hervas was assigned to the 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota National Guard, Rosemont, Minn.

——

Three Years Ago — October 13, 2008

With Bush Policies Focused on Iraq War, U.S. Power Dims in Latin America

Image: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Nicolas Maduro
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, front left, and Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, front right, are seen after Ahmadinejad’s arrival in Caracas on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008, on a two-day official visit to Venezuela. (Photo credit: Ariana Cubillos / AP)

Three years ago today, on October 13, 2008, I reported that while the United States was focused on the war in Iraq, Latin America had swung to the left and rival powers had moved into the vacuum created by Bush administration neocon policies focused on the Middle East, leaving the U.S. in its weakest position in decades with respect to Latin American influence.

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