debkafile's Iranian sources report that the Basijj militia chiefs have a plan to seize the British embassy in Tehran. Western intelligence agencies monitoring Iran have warned London that radical groups are secretly preparing to overrun the British embassy buildings and living quarters and take the diplomats hostage, replicating the siege of the US embassy in 1979, when extremist students held the staff hostage for 444 days. Those students were the early nucleus of the radical Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Britain maintains two embassy compounds in Tehran – one downtown occupies a 100-yer old landmark building surrounded by a large garden and a wall; the other housing the embassy's nerve center and living quarters on a large site which the deposed shah presented to Her Majesty's Government as a gift.
Our intelligence sources report that two Iranian militia teams have been formed to seize the two compounds: one takes orders from Ayatollah Mohammad Mesbah Yazdi, whereas the other is under the command of senior cleric Hojat-ol-Eslam Ahmad Khatami. The plan has been submitted to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for approval. He favors the project but has yet to set a date. It has also provoked controversy in the Majlis (parliament).
The pretext for the seizure would be that the two sites are the rightful property of the Iranian people. The real reason is that the Iranian regime has been gunning for Britain for some time, scheming revenge for London's alleged direct role in organizing the wave of opposition protests besetting the government since last June. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has been leveling this charge at the UK for the last six months.
Most of all, the Islamic regime would like to set off a huge row with Britain to overshadow the dispute over another round of tough sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program.
The radical factions behind Ahmedinejad are cheered on by China's opposition to sanctions and even more bucked up by the letter the US Chamber of Commerce sent to President Barack Obama urging him to refrain from harsher sanctions.
While played up in Tehran, this letter received little media coverage in the US and none at all in Israel.
It states: “The proposed sanctions would incite economic, diplomatic, and legal conflicts with U.S. allies and could frustrate joint action against Iran.”
Iranian radicals believe US business interests took this position under the influence of Tehran's intransigence in the face of Western pressure to cut back on their weapons-related nuclear projects. They insist that by continuing to play hard ball they will throw the plans for serious military action or economic penalties out of court altogether.
What is Tehran's beef with London?
Iran has a very special bone to pick with the British:
1. They accuse the UK of engaging with the US in a series of fraudulent sales of defective nuclear weapons and technology with a view to hobbling Iran's nuclear progress.
2. British secret services allegedly were in touch with and guided some of the ring leaders of the Tehran riots.
3. Tehran takes exception to the content of the BBC's Farsi broadcasts on television and radio as a key source of information for opposition groups. Iran has tried shutting it down in the seven months it has been on the air and failed.
4. British judicial authorities have crossed the dissident exiled Mujahidin Khalq organization off their list of terrorist organizations. Tehran claims that London has deployed its fighters in the street demonstrations of recent months.
5. Iran claims that Britain is the leading European wire-puller behind the pro-sanctions campaign.