As Tehran gropes in the dark for a solution to the crisis caused by the malignant Stuxnet cyber worm to its vital strategic systems, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is reported by DEBKA-Net-Weekly's Iranian sources as having warned Syrian President Bashar Assad when they met last in Damascus that he is gearing up for military revenge. Tehran's allies Syria, Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza should get ready, he said. for Israel to take it as an opportunity to attack them.
Their conversation took place Saturday, Sept. 18, three days after word of the software invasion surfaced.
Our sources add that the Iranian president admitted he did not know who was responsible for the cyber attack – and may never find out – but he is certain that either Israel or the United States, or both, launched it to stop Iran's nuclear program in its tracks. Even if it was Israel, he said, Washington would have known and approved.
Ahmadinejad described the damage to Iran's nuclear and military resources as more devastating than the Israel raid on Syria's plutonium reactor at A-Zur exactly three years ago.
He reminded Assad that then, too, Israel and the US had worked together to destroy the Syrian-Iranian nuclear plant under construction by North Korea. Israeli cyber commando units, he said, simultaneously raided additional Syrian nuclear facilities and made off with nuclear materials, equipment and software which they passed to the United States.
Ahmadinejad schedules attack on Israel for early October
This, said Ahmadinejad, was the second time in three years that the US and Israel have jointly attacked Iran's nuclear program – and that is one time too many. Tehran is resolved this time not to let them get away with fighting the Islamic republic without even declaring war.
He told Assad that although the form the Iranian attack on Israel had not been finally worked out, it would probably take place during the first half of October at around the dates of his scheduled state visit to Lebanon on Oct. 13-14.
Less than a week after this conversation, the Iranian president stood up at the UN General Assembly and said, "Most people believe the US government was responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001." Another theory, he said, was that "some segments within the US government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and [strengthen] its grip on the Middle East in order to save the Zionist regime."
In Tehran, our sources disclose, these outrageous remarks were later presented to political and military circles as Iran's first response to the cyber attack. Twenty-four hours later Tehran came clean about it – and not by chance.
Wednesday, Sept. 29, Washington responded to the saber-rattling in Tehran.
Top Iranians accused of murder, torture, beating, rape
President Barack Obama signed an executive order imposing sanctions on eight Iranian officials held responsible for serious human rights abuses, including the killing, torture, beating and rape of Iranian citizens since the country's disputed 2009 presidential election.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly notes that this was the first time Washington had singled out top-flight Iranian military and security personages for personal penalties.
Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was additionally branded a criminal who should stand trial for murder.
The sanctions also encompassed Heydar Moslehi, Minister of Intelligence, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, Interior Minister in charge of Iranian security and intelligence services, and Gen. Hossein Taeb, Deputy IRGC commander and head of the corps intelligence.
Obama only signed the sanctions order this week whereas the eight officials' crimes occurred more than a year ago following their crackdown on the political opposition which accused the regime of falsifying the presidential elections. The US president took this step with the clear intention of adding to the demoralization prevailing in high places in Tehran over their failure to bring the destructive Staxnet worm under control.
Details on its ravages and the infighting at the top of the Islamic regime appear in separate articles below.