The London-based Saudi newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported this week that the Iranian spiritual ruler Ali Khamenei‘s son, Mojtaba, has launched a career with a near-bang.
It came in the form of a plot to assassinate several CIA agents in Baku ahead of a visit to the city two weeks ago by Iranian president Mohammed Khatami (which was covered by debkafile – see HOT POINTS: “Iran Bullies Israel’s Strategic Friends – With Eye on Washington“).
But the plot, purportedly aimed at spoiling Khatami’s pitch in the Azeri capital, was foiled by the Iranian president himself. He gave President Elham Aliyev‘s government the names of the Iranian assassins.
Or at least, that’s what Iran wanted Aliyev to believe.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources report that the “plot” was in fact a piece of Iranian disinformation for portraying Khatami as a champion against terror…
On the other hand, it may not be far from young Khamenei’s future assignments.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence and counterintelligence sources reveal that the hard-line ruler, Khamenei, aged 65, has big plans for his son, the favorite of his six children. He has put him in charge of an undercover unit tasked with manufacturing terror attacks against the United States and its allies inside the Muslim republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus. US troops and agents in Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan will be targeted.
Mojtaba will be answerable directly to his father’s bureau.
Khamenei junior’s induction into Iran’s ruthless “revolutionary” hierarchy is one of the regime’s most tightly-kept secrets. While his father is grooming him as heir apparent to take over one of Iran’s most important exports, international terror, very few details of his identity have been made public. Believed to be in his thirties, he is married to the daughter of the new Speaker of the Iranian parliament, the ultra-conservative Haddad-Aadel Gholam-Ali.
The clandestine unit he now heads was established a year ago with a huge budget and a broad operational mandate. Not satisfied with the job, Mojtaba is impatient to attain control of the entire international terror machine run from or sponsored by Tehran. But the older Khamenei thinks he needs more experience before he is given additional powers.
Nonetheless, in the past year Mojtaba managed to climb into the key position of sole coordinator between the Iranian regime and al Qaeda in Iran and abroad, a job formerly split among senior Revolutionary Guards officers, the Islamic Propaganda organization and other groups which have long been in close touch with Islamic terrorist groups around the world.
In the consultations he held this week, Iran’s virtual dictator Khamenei effected a tactical turnaround in his priority goals for hurting President George W. Bush chances of election. He found that Afghanistan offered better opportunities for making trouble than Iraq.
This was his line of reasoning:
One, Iran has lost the resources for the showcase terrorist offensive against US troops planned for ruining the US president’s campaign for reelection.
For one thing, the maverick Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr’s rebellion is dying down and he looks like being eliminated one way or another.
For another, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) led by Abdel-Aziz Hakim no longer performs Iran’s bidding. The organization, built and funded by Iran for two decades, has thrown its support behind the United States in hopes of a more dominant role in the Iraqi leadership.
In addition, senior Iranian intelligence agents in Iraq have been caught and betrayed Iran’s plans for its terrorist assault. As we reported last week, four members of the Iranian trade delegation, Karbala consul Fereydoun Jahani, IRNA bureau chief in Baghdad, Mostafa Darban and others all gave away top secrets, including the names of local contacts and agents, thereby seriously hobbling Tehran’s plan of operation
Two, Khamenei’s advisers believe the situation in Iraq will stabilize within a year. Once a general election puts a permanent government and parliament in place, Washington will come under pressure to scale back or remove its presence in Iraq. The Americans will then be free to turn their attention to Iran and so carry forward the next stage of their blueprint for political, military and geographical change in the Middle East and strategic war against terror.
The new fronts Iran is already prying open to counteract that blueprint are covered in the first article in this issue.
Consequently, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Iranian sources, Tehran has stepped up its subversive activities in Afghanistan in collaboration with al Qaeda. Here, Iran hopes for better luck than it had in Iraq and success in disrupting the country’s advance toward democracy. The country’s first democratic elections are scheduled for October 9. Afghanistan therefore presents a good chance for damaging Bush’s campaign before the November election in America. The best way is to get Hamid Karzai defeated.
Iranian agents are therefore busy heaping up trouble for the interim president who has governed with US support since the Taliban was overthrown and is already beset with opponents. Now, they are claiming he has no right to run for office as an incumbent. The flock of challengers is led by two ethnic Tajiks, the governor of the western Herat province, Ismail Khan, and defense minister Mohammed Fahim, as well as the ethnic Uzbek general Abdul Rashid Dostum and Hazara leader Mohammed Mohaqiq. Karzai, who belongs to the majority Pashtun, has further put backs up by getting in touch with a senior Taliban official, a fellow-Pashtun, and announcing that he sees no reason to bar Taliban clerics with no blood on their hands from his administration.
Seeing fruit ripe for plucking in Afghanistan, Iran is reported by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources to have recently shipped the Herat governor a supply of 60,000 rifles and sub-machineguns together with hundreds of thousands of ammunition clips.
Tehran is also in close touch with al Qaeda and Taliban operatives in the southern province of Kandahar. Iran’s agents are not neglecting Karzai’s Uzbek and Tajik rivals in their northeastern strongholds either. They are busy provoking fresh challenges to spike interim president Karzai’s hopes of gaining elected office in Kabul.