Israel wouldn’t have assassinated Iranian scientist without U.S. consent: expert

December 9, 2020 - 13:0

TEHRAN - Philip Giraldi, the executive director of the Council for the National Interest, has said in an analysis that the White House green-lighted Israel’s plan to assassinate prominent Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

In an essay titled “A Killing in Iran: Who Gains From Yet Another Assassination?” and published on the Information Clearing House, Giraldi closed examined the assassination of Fakhrizadeh and those behind it. He started with the reactions in the U.S. to the assassination.

“It is not often that one can agree with the pronouncements made by former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan, but his tweeted comment on the killing of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh suggesting that the incident ‘…was a criminal act & highly reckless. It risks lethal retaliation & a new round of regional conflict. Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage & to resist the urge to respond against perceived culprits’ was both restrained and reasonable. Or it was at least so until sentence two, which was clearly intended to attack Donald Trump and praise the incoming Joe Biden administration, which Brennan just might be seeking to join,” wrote Giraldi.

Giraldi, a former CIA intelligence officer, added, “Bearing in mind that John Brennan was the guiding hand behind President Barack Obama’s kill lists of Americans who were marked for death by drone it is difficult to understand what moral high ground he seeks to occupy in the slaying of Fakhrizadeh. Brennan, who was a leading critic of Trump and who may have led the clandestine effort to undermine his election and term in office, subsequently found himself in an exchange of tweets with Republican Senator from Texas Ted Cruz which degenerated into a trading of insults. Cruz responded ‘It’s bizarre to see a former head of the CIA consistently side with Iranian zealots who chant ‘Death to America.’ And reflexively condemn Israel. Does Joe Biden agree?’ This produced a riposte by Brennan that ‘It is typical for you to mischaracterize my comment. Your lawless attitude & simple-minded approach to serious national security matters demonstrate that you are unworthy to represent the good people of Texas.’ ”

On November 27 at 14:30, nearly 10 people attacked the convoy of Fakhrizadeh on a highway in the small city of Absard in Damavand County, about 40 kilometers east of the capital Tehran. The scientist lost his life during the attack while his bodyguards were severely injured. Iranian officials were quick to point the finger at Israel, which has carried out many assassination operations against Iranian nuclear scientists over the past decade. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet on the day of the assassination that the attack was carried out with “serious indications of Israeli role.” Since then, several Iranian officials have vowed to take revenge against Israel.

Giraldi also pointed to the alleged killing of an al-Qaeda leader in Iran, saying this claim has been used to justify U.S. pressure on Iran.
“The claim that Iran has been harboring al-Qaeda is already being used by the Trump White House to justify increased pressure on Iran and it might possibly even serve as part of a casus belli,” the expert wrote.
The assassination of Fakhrizadeh came just two weeks after the alleged killing of the al-Qaeda leader, which, according to Giraldi, was meant to send a message to Iran.

“The claim that Fakhrizadeh was in charge of a secret Iranian weapons program, made regularly by Israel and the U.S., is not generally believed by most authorities. Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which nuclear armed Israel is not, and its facilities are subject to regular unannounced inspections,” Giraldi noted, adding that the January assassination of Qods Force commander General Qassem Soleimani was also meant to send a message to Iran.

Giraldi said, “Whatever programs Fakhrizadeh and Soleimani were involved in will continue without them. Nevertheless, assassination of Iranians linked to the country’s former and current nuclear program has been Israeli policy since 2010. As many as a dozen Iranian scientists and technicians reportedly have been killed. So-called ‘targeted killings’ have been a regular feature of Israel’s ‘national defense’ strategy. In addition to the Iranians, at least seventy Palestinians have been assassinated.”

The expert said, “Though Israel has clearly ordered the assassinations, it is generally believed that the actual preparation for the attacks have been carried out by Mojahedin e Khalq or MEK, a Marxist cult that came into prominence at the time of the Iranian revolution against the Shah. It is generally regarded as a terrorist group that once was virulently anti-American and killed a number of U.S. officials. MEK is a curious hybrid creature in any event in that it pretends to be an alternative government option for Iran even though it is despised by nearly all Iranians. At the same time, it is greatly loved by the Washington Establishment,” which would like to see the Iran government deposed and replaced by something more amenable to Western and Israeli worldviews.

He added, “MEK is run like a cult by its leader Maryam Rajavi, with a number of rules that restrict and control the behavior of its members. One commentary likens membership in MEK to a modern-day equivalent of slavery. The group currently operates out of a secretive, heavily guarded 84-acre compound in Albania that is covertly supported by the United States, as well as through a ‘political wing’ front office in Paris, where it refers to itself as the National Council of Resistance of Iran. MEK, which is financially supported by Saudi Arabia, stages events in the United States in Europe where it generously pays politicians like John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani and Elaine Chao to make fifteen-minute speeches praising the organization and everything it does. It’s paying of inside the Beltway power brokers proved so successful that it was removed from the State Department terrorist list in 2012 by Hillary Clinton even though it had killed Americans in the 1970s. MEK also finds favor in Washington because it is used by Israel as a resource for anti-Iranian terrorism acts currently, including assassinations carried out in Tehran. Israel, in fact, directs most terrorist acts carried out by MEK inside Iran.”
The executive director of the Council for the National Interest also pointed to the possible cooperation among Israel, MEK, and the U.S. in assassinating the Iranian nuclear scientist.

“So those are the players and, at first glance, one might reasonably come to the Ockham’s razor conclusion, i.e. that Israel ordered MEK to kill Fakhrizadeh, an order which was then executed. But that would be to ignore some of the politics currently playing out in Washington. First of all, Israel would not have carried out the high-level assassination without the consent of the White House. Indeed, U.S. intelligence resources might well have played a key role in locating the Iranian scientist. Second, the Trump administration has clearly adopted a policy of “maximum pressure” against Iran, which has included strangling the country’s economy through sanctions, condoning Israeli attacks in Syria and elsewhere, and destabilizing moves, to include assassinations, designed to make the nation’s leadership both vulnerable and nervous. It is the application of an Israeli strategic doctrine referred to as “Campaigns Between Wars,” meaning constant aggression to erode an enemy’s ability to fight without actually crossing a line that would start a shooting war,” Giraldi said, noting that a direct role by U.S. in the assassination of Fakhrizadeh should not be ruled out.

“A direct role by the Trump administration in the assassination should not be ruled out as it is clearly seeking to harden Iranian antipathy towards any new comprehensive arms control or nuclear agreement with the incoming Biden team. Trump himself reportedly raised the possibility of bombing Iran earlier this month, though he was talked out of it by his national security team, but the Israeli Army meanwhile is on alert in case of an American attack. There are confirmed reports that B-52 bombers, capable of deploying the 30,000 pound penetrator bombs that can destroy targets deep underground, have been sent to the Middle East [West Asia], presumably to Qatar where the U.S. has its principal airbase in the region. They would presumably be used against Iran’s main nuclear development site at Natanz,” Giraldi pointed out.

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