Arab paper: Missing Iranian general in Europe, chatting with U.S. about 1983 bombing; Update: He defected, says Timmerman

posted at 2:27 pm on March 7, 2007 by Allahpundit

It’s Asharq al-Awsat again. Yesterday they had a scoop about him maybe being in America. Today their story’s changed — he’s with Americans, they claim, but across the pond.

The London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on Wednesday quoted an Iranian military official as saying that missing Iranian general Ali Reza Asgari is staying in a northern European country, where he is receiving “excellent treatment.”

According to the newspaper, the Iranian military official said Asgari is being interrogated by American and other Western intelligence officials on secrets he was exposed to while serving as the Defense Ministry’s chief consultant for strategic affairs…

The Iranian source, who was also a senior member of the Revolutionary Guards in the 1980s, said Asgari is being questioned by military experts for several hours a day regarding the Guards’ role in the bombing of the 1983 bombings of the US Marine and French Corps headquarters in Beirut.

He’s been missing for a month so presumably they’ve already covered the more pressing matters of Iraq, the nuclear program, and Hezbollah’s current capabilities.

Did he defect or was he kidnapped? The former, according to yesterday’s issue of Asharq, although the reference to “excellent treatment” in today’s piece sounds like something you’d say about a man being held against his will. Or maybe not:

Menashe Amir, an Israeli analyst of Iranian affairs, claimed to have information that the Azkari family had left Iran “on holiday” shortly before the general’s disappearance – adding weight to the defection theory.

“According to part of the information, his wife and children managed to leave Iran before his disappearance,” Mr Amir told Israel’s Army Radio, without elaborating on his sources.

That jibes with a detail reported by the Scotsman about a Turkish newspaper called Milliyet, whose sources in Turkish intelligence claim that Asgari “opposed the Iranian government and had information on its nuclear plans.” Pajamas quotes an Iranian expert who says Asgari knows a lot more than that:

As well as being a former deputy defence Minister, Asgari was also a General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC). The IRGC, more than any other branch of Iran’s armed forces, is aware of, and has access to Iran’s nuclear program. Its members are in charge of monitoring and protecting Iran’s nuclear installations, and scientists.

Furthermore, the IRGC is in charge of developing and testing Iran’s missiles, an arsenal which Iran has threatened to use if attacked. Last but not least, the IRGC is in charge of training and arming Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Iraqi Shiite militants in Iraq.

Exit question observation: unless the mullahs disappeared him themselves, then regardless of whether he was abducted or defected, they must be wetting their pants right now.

Update: Drudge has a teaser up about Israel putting its worldwide interests on alert for fear of Iranian reprisals over Mossad’s suspected involvement here.

Update: If Asgari knows half as much as Ken Timmerman’s sources say, then we have hit the mother lode of intel here.

A former high-ranking Iranian government official, Brig. Gen. Alireza Asghari, 63, has defected to the United States, Iranian exiles and other sources told Newsmax today…

Gen. Asghari is believed to have detailed knowledge of the Revolutionary Guards Qods Force units operating in Iraq

Gen. Asghari’s 10-day trip to Syria was approved by the military judicial authorities, sources inside Iran told Newsmax. Two days after he arrived in Damascus, his family managed to leave Iran, the sources said…

During the 1990s, Gen. Asghari was in charge of short and medium-range missile projects at the Defense Industries Organization. “He ran the Nazeat, Fajr, and Zelzal missile programs,” Nourizadeh said…

Nourizadeh believes Gen. Asghari defected because he had incurred the wrath of his superiors in the Defense ministry during a stint as the Defense Ministry’s Inspector General.

“He discovered two gangs of corrupt officials who had embezzled the government for $90 million and $150 million,” Nourizadeh said. “After he exposed them, he was arrested. He was Mr. Clean.”


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Good….wet their burkas (blue—->dark blue)!!

omnipotent on March 7, 2007 at 2:31 PM

mullahs, wetting their pants

They wear pants under their bed sheets, togas, robes?!?

Oh, lift and squats, that’s it!

Kini on March 7, 2007 at 2:39 PM

Hmmm. I question the timing. This is clearly designed to take focus away from Scooter Libby.

Seriously, didn’t Bush say, “There is no doubt whatsoever that Iran is aiding the insurgency in Iraq” about two weeks ago? And didn’t some on the left question the administration’s over-reaching for this intelligence, or just plain making it up?

Matticus Finch on March 7, 2007 at 2:55 PM

*in the voice of William Shatner* This could be big, really big.

Mojave Mark on March 7, 2007 at 3:15 PM

I hope “excellent treatment” is spook code for “we waterboard him five times before lunch every day.”

Enrique on March 7, 2007 at 3:18 PM

chatting with U.S. about 1983 bombing

Chatting is okay, as long as we treat him with the respect he deserves, and don’t violate any of his rights. In fact, we need more chatting and less aggression.

SARCASM.

Rick on March 7, 2007 at 3:20 PM

they must be wetting their pants right now.

Manpon time in Teheran.

Kid from Brooklyn on March 7, 2007 at 3:28 PM

I’m waiting for the NY Times to print his exact location and GPS coordinates…….. wait, the Democrats were left out of the loop on this one?

PinkyBigglesworth on March 7, 2007 at 3:39 PM

Yup, if he got his family out first, it would look voluntary, unles the Intel on graabbing him took that factor into account ahd they got lucky.
Either way, this would lay waste to any “Bush Lied” crapola.WEll, in a sane world at least.

bbz123 on March 7, 2007 at 3:46 PM

Fox has some additional info:

http://www.foxnews.com/printer_friendly_story/0,3566,257482,00.html

TheBigOldDog on March 7, 2007 at 4:04 PM

Sweet.

flipflop on March 7, 2007 at 4:09 PM

Cold War espionage gives me the warm fuzzys. Rudy in office a Scalia clone on SCOTUS. *swoons* Abolishing the Dept of Education would just be icing on the cake. Who are these clowns to think they can out spy the U.S.? A Cold War is one we have no problem waging or winning. Mr. Ahmadinejad tear down that centrifuge!

Theworldisnotenough on March 7, 2007 at 4:46 PM

Finally, we are getting our money’s worth from the CIA.

I’m visualizing an Iranian general spilling his guts to our guys while walking through all the charts, plans, blueprints, and PowerPoint presentations he smuggled out on his thumb drive.

What you gotta love about wacky dictatorships is that there is plenty of deadly bickering at the top which always forces some of the capos to defect. Heck, the CIA recruited dozens of Iraqi big guys under Saddam. I wonder how many Iranian generals have CIA burst transmitters hidden in their attics? A boatload, I’m guessin.

Tantor on March 7, 2007 at 6:23 PM

So what happens if he confirms that there is a weapons program and that it’s further along than anyone thought? Do we bomb it?

RedWinged Blackbird on March 7, 2007 at 6:36 PM

No Red,

first we go to the UN for a series of resolutions that will strike fear in the Iranians….then we will have hearings on capitol hill that will take all the time needed to thoroughly “talk” about this issue. …. sean penn and company will fly to Iran to act as humans shields….denounce amerika as an evil country …..hanoi jane will speak out saying give diplomancy time….

get the picture???

robo on March 7, 2007 at 6:53 PM

robo on March 7, 2007 at 6:53 PM

And the second week?

eeyore on March 7, 2007 at 7:38 PM

In 79 the Iranians wanted “change” in government. By the time they realized Khomeni was even more repressive than the Shah it was too late. We make the same mistakes here in the US. Fortunately, we have an easier time fixing our mistakes. Confession time – I voted for Clinton in 92. I thought I wanted “change”. Bill inspired me to defect permanently to the red camp and never look back. This General could be the tip of the iceberg if what many say are true about the Iranian populace’s discontent.

Buck Turgidson on March 7, 2007 at 8:20 PM

Abolishing the Dept of Education would just be icing on the cake. Theworldisnotenough on March 7, 2007 at 4:46 PM

Oh yes!!!

Connie on March 7, 2007 at 8:43 PM

Yeah, you’re right, Buck. All those Marxist idiots at Berkeley who were helping the revolutionaries. I read an archived CNN article recently where they complained that what they did took them from the frying pan into the fire. Got rid of the Shah and ended up with mullahs. Brilliant.

Connie on March 7, 2007 at 8:46 PM

This calls for a Scarecrow and Mrs King reunion TV movie.

- The Cat

MirCat on March 7, 2007 at 9:55 PM

lol! I liked that show! (And yes, I know it dates me.)

Connie on March 7, 2007 at 9:57 PM

Connie on March 7, 2007 at 8:46 PM

This defection, if real, could start the snowball rolling that many have predicted. We are justifiably skeptical considering the same was said of Saddam post Gulf war I. Brutality against your own people only goes so far before the diminishing returns kick in. Do we wait and hope the Iranian people revolt? Or do we attack and risk the inevitable rallying together of the enemy and their leaders?

Buck Turgidson on March 8, 2007 at 12:00 AM

robo on March 7, 2007 at 6:53 PM

And the second week?

eeyore on March 7, 2007 at 7:38 PM

Rinse and repeat.

…but then it is the left, so expect the rinse to be skipped.

I only hope whoever has him has enough of a hold to keep him from being talked into going back, like what happened to Hussein Kamel in 1996 or 1997 when he defected from Iraq to Jordan.

91Veteran on March 8, 2007 at 12:43 AM