Is Iran Being Dosed with Its Own Medicine?
The roster of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps officers who perished when their Falcon executive jet crashed over Oroumieh in northern Iran Monday, Jan 9, is truly star-studded in terms of the Islamic Republic.
It was topped by Gen. Ahmed Kazemi, head of the RGC’s ground forces, his operations commander Said Soleymani, his deputy commander Col. Safdar Reshadi, director of its intelligence branch Hanif Montazer-Qaem, Gholem-Reza Yazdani, artillery commander, and Said Mohtadi, commander of the elite Army Division 27.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources reveal that Gen. Kazemi was the most senior. He was one of the two officers killed in the crash who were directly responsible for the Shehab-3 and Shehab-4 missile programs, the key delivery vehicles for the nuclear warheads Iran is striving to develop. Another of the dead officers was in charge of running Iranian terrorist groups in Iraq and Lebanon.
Hanif Montazer-Qaem, whose rank and function the Iranian official bulletin took care not to disclose, was a director of the intelligence branch responsible for gathering information on any Israeli military plans to strike Iranian nuclear installations, as well as useful Israel targets for Tehran to strike in reprisal or pre-emptive operations.
The officer in charge of Iranian terrorist structures in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority was Said Mohtadi, commander of the Rassoulollah Army Division 27. He too bore extensive intelligence duties, such as running the RGC agents associated with Shiite and Sunni terrorists and insurgents in Iraq, including Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s network. Mohtadi also held the lines to Hizballah terrorist and security branches in Lebanon, as well as RGC’s links with Palestinian terrorist organizations, such as the Jihad Islami and the Fatah-al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
The wiping out in a single air disaster of the top officers of Iran’s nuclear missile program and its intelligence and terrorist machines immediately raised the suspicion of sabotage. The official attribution of the crash to heavy weather and dilapidated engines raises more questions than answers. An executive jet, part of the flight used by top RGC brass, must have had the best possible maintenance work at the Mehrabad air base outside Tehran. It does not stand to reason that both its engines died at the same moment.
Neither was the weather as heavy as described. Atmospheric conditions were stable, there were no thunder storms and the snowfall was light. Photos of the crashed plane’s fuselage on the ground after it was burnt by fire exposed large holes in the upper surface, consistent with blasts of small quantities of explosives rather than engine failure or a weather-induced crash.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Iranian sources report that no one in to the top military and political echelons in Tehran gives much credence to the official version of the mishap. So prevalent are the suspicions that two Iranian lawmakers spoke openly of sabotage in speeches they made in the majlis Monday, Jan. 9.
If the crash was caused by sabotage, then two possible causes spring to mind:
An external factor
For a foreign agency to have caused the disaster, a far deeper penetration than ever suspected must have been driven into the heart of Iranian operational intelligence branches engaged in the most secret aspects of Iran’s nuclear and terrorist activities.
A penetration on this order would constitute the most significant adverse action against the clerical regime of Tehran since mid-2005, when American, British and Iraqi agents succeeded in stirring up armed national resistance against Tehran in oil-rich Khuzestan, Kurdistan and Balochistan.
Israel’s long arm through the Mosad cannot be ruled out.
In the second half of 2004 and through 2005, the Mossad demonstrated its ability to strike behind enemy lines under the noses of Iranian intelligence without leaving a trace in such places as Damascus and the Hizballah-controlled districts of Beirut.
An Internal factor
It is also possible that a bomb was planted in the Falcon by a group inimical to the extremist president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Revolutionary Guards power base. Only thee weeks ago, December 15, his convoy was ambushed driving by night on the Zabol-Saravan highway through the Sistan province of Balochistan in the southeast. Some of his bodyguards were killed and injured.
Teheran denied any assassination attempt occurred against the president. But our Iranian sources revealed that to this day, Iranian security services are stumped in their efforts to lay hands on the death-squad. It may well be that the same hand also destroyed Ahmadinejad’s Revolutionary Guards champions, this time with stunning success.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Iranian sources disclose that the Iranian intelligence probe into the attempted presidential assassination recently closed in on a militia known as Jund Allah, the Soldiers of Allah, of the Balochi Aksani tribe.
On Jan. 4, this militia kidnapped eight Iranian border guards in that same Sistan province near the Pakistani border. At first, Tehran ascribed the abductions to Balochi Sunni nationalist elements which subsist on dope and people smuggling, including al Qaeda operatives. But more disquieting discoveries soon emerged:
1. The Aksani tribal militia which kidnapped the Iranian border guards was also responsible for the December ambush of Ahmanidinejad’s convoy in the same province.
2. An operational tie-in was unearthed between the Balochi Jund Allah, which operates in the southeast, and the Arab insurgents of Khuzestan in the west. The two dissident movements appear to be working in partnership along the axis of the the drug corridor that starts in Afghanistan, traverses Pakistani Baluchistan, continues into Iranian Balochistan, then heads south to the Shatt al Arb outlet to the Persian Gulf.
Iranian security heads never imagined that Shiite guerrilla groups from the south would possibly join forces with Sunni insurgents in the west. They are now asking themselves whether the American and British agents who fomented the ethnic Arab guerrilla war in Khuzestan, or some other Western agency, is also orchestrating the Balochi resistance.