The Atlantic Council’s resident Iran specialist and regular IPS contributor Barbara Slavin has an excellent piece today on the skepticism on the part of Iran specialists and intelligence veterans surrounding the Justice Department’s version of the alleged Iran assassination plot. You can read the whole story here, but here’s are a couple of excerpts:
“Fishy, fishy, fishy,” Bruce Riedel, a CIA veteran who was formerly in charge of the Near East and South Asia on the White House National Security Council, told IPS. “That Iran engages in assassinations is old news. That it would use a Mexican drug cartel would be new.”
“Nothing about this adds up,” said Kenneth Katzman, author of a book on the IRGC and expert on Iran at the Congressional Research Service.
“Iran does not use non-Muslim groups or people who are not trusted members or associates of the Quds force,” Katzman said. “Iran does not blow up buildings in Washington that invites retaliation against the Iranian homeland.”
It is possible that the Iranian cousin “agreed to support him in some way but was doubtful he could pull it off”, Katzman said. “This was not a thoroughly vetted and approved terrorist plot.”
Several U.S. intelligence experts expressed skepticism about the expertise of the DEA in evaluating such a sensitive case.
Riedel noted that the complaint refers to “elements” of the Iranian government, “which suggests that the administration doesn’t think that all elements of the Iranian government were involved”.
An Iranian source, speaking with IPS on condition he not be named, said that the Quds force would investigate the Iranian alleged to have participated in the plot “to find out if there is any personal interest” involved, suggesting an element of freelancing.