Arab paper: Missing Iranian general had treasure trove of intel with him

Yet another scoop from Asharq al-Awsat and its ace Iranian reporter. Just so we’re on the same page, this is the general whose defection was confirmed by one senior U.S. official on Wednesday and then unconfirmed by a second senior U.S. official on Thursday.

It’s going to end up like the Litvinenko story, where no one really knows what’s going on yet you and I scramble futilely to stay on top of all of it. Damn.

The Iranian former deputy defense minister who disappeared in Turkey last month left his country with documents that prove that there is a link between the Iranian military establishment and terror groups including Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, the pan-Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Friday.

A former colleague of Ali Reza Asghari, 63, told the newspaper, which is published in London, that the document also cites groups such as the Mahdi Shi’ite militia operating in Iraq.

Not just the Mahdi Army; SCIRI’s Badr Organization militia is also implicated. Supposedly he had maps of Iran’s “military and intelligence infrastructure” with him too, which would explain this:

Saudi newspaper Al-Watan recently reported the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are instilling changes in the defense systems protecting the country’s nuclear reactors for fear that Israeli and US intelligence agencies are now in possession of specific information that may threaten the facilities.

It seems like there’s too much smoke here not to be some fire, but if he really did defect, how did they let him leave the country with so much intel? Allegedly he was disgruntled because of retaliation taken against him for exposing corruption in the defense ministry. If that’s true, they’re insane to have let him travel abroad given what he knows and his animus towards the regime.

Still, Asharq’s sticking by its story:

According to Asharq al-Awsat, Asgari informed an American official of his desire to defect a few weeks in advance, after which he was quickly transferred to a safe house in Turkey and given a false passport.

Exit question: The maps are obviously hugely important but what great good does the information about links between Iran, Hezbollah, and the Iraqi militias do? Everyone knows those links exist already — except the American left, of course, and the “international community” (which knows but pretends not to). Which I guess answers the question: Asgari’s information could be used to pressure the UN Security Council to ratchet up sanctions on Iran and in a worst case scenario could be publicized for public consumption as a casus belli if we attack.