What Is the Source of Gholam Shakuri’s Urgency?

I’m working on a big post that raises more questions about the government’s interpretation of the Scary Iran Plot.

But for the moment I want to raise an issue that might provide a nugget of plausibility for the larger story. And that’s Gholam Shakuri’s urgency.

According to the complaint, Arbabsiar confessed that when he traveled back to Iran (I’ve taken this to be sometime after July 20, but as I explained here, it may have happened earlier) Shakuri told him the kidnap or kill operation had to happen quickly.

ARBABSIAR was asked to have [Narc] kidnap or kill the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States, and told that it would need to be done fast.

Because the government has sealed evidence explaining on what terms Arbabsiar is cooperating, I find his confession to be suspect. But Shakuri does repeat that urgency in the recorded call on October 5 (though note I also find the government’s interpretation of the “code” here suspect, both because it derives from Arbabsiar’s confession and the syntax suggests the FBI Agent is reading a multiplicity of codes to all refer to the assassination).

[After discussing “the Chevrolet”] SHAKURI urged ARBABSIAR “[j]ust do it quickly, it’s late, just buy it for me and bring it already.”

I find the urgency interesting because of several events that would implicate Quds Force power, like the push to sell Bahrain weapons, the negotiations on leaving troops in Iraq and–most notably–the negotiation of a prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel on the very day the plot was announced. And remember, the US managed the timing of this, drawing out its denouement over two months after money got transferred and 12 days after Arbabsiar was arrested. I don’t know what role Adel al-Jubeir had in this prisoner swap (Egypt is a key player), but the exchange certainly seems like it would serve Saudi goals of giving Palestine some relief while serving Israeli-dictated US goals of thwarting the PLO UN statehood bid, all while lessening Iranian influence with Hamas.

Frankly, that’s all just based on the coincidence between the announcement of the plot and the prisoner swap.

But it seems that one key to understanding who really sponsored this plot–if there really was one–is understanding Shakuri’s urgency.

7 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    Though I wouldn’t rule out any of your scenarios regarding a connection to external events, I would add that it would also be a normal human reaction that Shakuri’s urgency reflected his dawning appreciation of the possibility that he had been taken to the cleaners.

    Earnest money had already been paid to the tune of $100K in early August, and here it is almost 2 months later and nothing has happened yet. Shakuri & Co. have paid a deposit to an unvetted Mexican drug cartel “somebody” out of almost certainly semi-official Iranian coffers and the accountants with guns are going to want to know what was bought with it.

    I would also hazard a guess that ever since the “plot” was publicly announced, Shakuri has not been living the life of “la dolce vita”. Rather, it is quite likely that Shakuri has been undergoing a few sessions of “enhanced interrogations” by his former colleagues (they might even actually call it torture).

  2. orionATL says:

    it’s probably been posted already, but bits are cheap, so here is the 21pp pdf of the doj’s complaint against arbabsiar, shakuri, and two other iranian persons, one presumably being arbabsiar’s cousin sulemini, head of quds (ghods, qods?) :


    after reading this interesting tale,

    one moral stands out,

    never do business with an iranian businessman or govt official

    unless you are on high alert :)

    the mexican drug guy, aka, cs-1, would have been left with only $100k in rewards from the iranian.

    actually, he didn’t even have gotten his full $100k.

    he (mex informant) had take the loss for the bank transaction fee, ($40) per transfer.


  3. prostratedragon says:

    Pushkin describes being lost in a whirlwind in Besy [Demons] (scroll about halfway down):


    Spinning storm clouds, rushing storm clouds,
    Hazy skies, a hazy night,
    And a furtive moon that slyly
    Sets the flying snow alight.
    On we drive… The waste is boundless,
    Nameless plains skim past, and hills.
    Gripped by fear, I sit unmoving…
    Tink-tink-tinkle go the bells.
    “Coachman, come, wake up!..” “The horses
    They are weary, sir, and slow;
    As for me, I’m nearly blinded
    By this blasted wind and snow!
    There’s no road in sight, so help me;
    What to do?.. We’ve lost our way.
    It’s the demon that has got us
    And is leading us astray. …

    Or to get the true feeling of terror at lost control on an unstable manifold, consider this musical setting to a tune of J.S. Bach, sung performed exemplified by Mrs. Florence Foster Jenkins.

  4. orionATL says:

    from truthout:


    at least some of this info seems questionable.

    but this part is an eyeopener along the lines ew has been pursuing:

    “…Among the “other things” was almost certainly a deal on heroin controlled by officers in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Three Bloomberg reporters, citing a “federal law enforcement official”, wrote that Arbabsiar told the DEA informant he represented Iranians who “controlled drug smuggling and could provide tons of opium”. 

    Because of opium entering Iran from Afghanistan, Iranian authorities hold 85 percent of the world’s opium seizures, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency. Iranian security personnel, including those in the IRGC and its Quds Force, then have the opportunity to sell the opium to traffickers in the Middle East, Europe and now Mexico. ..”

    the phrasing is odd “hold … seisures”, but that’s sounds like a lot of smack.

  5. orionATL says:

    afghan opium and iran.

    from wikipedia:


    “…While Herat is not the highest-volume area of opium trade, Herat, and the other Iranian border areas of Farah, and Nimroz, have some of the highest prices, presumably due to demand from the Iranian market.[38] “Opium prices are especially high in Iran, where law enforcement is strict and where a large share of the opiate consumption market is still for opium rather than heroin. Not surprisingly, it appears that very significant profits can be made by crossing the Iranian border or by entering Central Asian countries like Tajikistan.” According to UNODC estimates bulk of Afghanistan’s opium production goes to Iran either for consumption or for on-ward export to other countries in the region and Europe. Iran currently has the largest prevalence of opiate consumption in its population globally. Iran also accounts for 84% of total opiate seizures by law enforcement agencies in the world, interdicting tens of thousands of tons of opiates annually.[39] The Iranian government has gone through several phases in dealing with its drug problem.

    First, during the 1980s, its approach was supply-sided: “Law-and-order policies with zero tolerance led to the arrest of tens of thousands of addicts and the execution of thousands of narcotics traffickers.”[40] “There are an estimated 68,000 Iranians imprisoned for drug trafficking and another 32,000 for drug addiction (out of a total prison population of 170,000, based on 2001 statistics)”[41]

    Beehner said “Tehran also has spent millions of dollars and deployed thousands of troops to secure its porous 1,000-mile border with Afghanistan and Pakistan… a few hundred Iranian drug police die each year in battles with smugglers. Referring to the head of the UNODC office in Iran, Roberto Arbitrio, Beehner quoted Arbitrio in an interview with The Times. “You have drug groups like guerrilla forces, [who] … shoot with rocket launchers, heavy machine guns, and Kalashnikovs.”

    A second-phase strategy came under then-President Mohammad Khatami, focused more on prevention and treatment.[40] Drug traffic is considered a security problem, and much of it is associated with Baluchi tribesmen, who recognize traditional tribal rather than national borders.[42] Current (2007) reports cite Iranian concern with ethnic guerillas on the borders, possibly supported by the CIA.

    Iranian drug strategy changed again under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who took office in 2005. Iran’s drug policy has been reconsidered and shifted back toward supply interdiction and boosting border security.[41] It is unclear if this is connected to more wide-ranging concerns with border security, perhaps in relation to Baluchi guerillas in Iran.

    Iran has alleged that certain drugs are manufactured in Afghanistan under guidance of western powers and solely sent to Iran for consumption such as certain compounds of Heroine, Crack cocaine and CNS stimulants. Iran has also alleged that large quantities of Acetic anhydride and Hydrochloric acid are brought to Afghanistan from Europe to be used in manufacturing of drugs as Afghanistan does not have the chemical industry to produce the compounds locally.[43]

    Samii’s 2003 paper described Iran’s “primary approach to the narcotics threat [as] interdiction. Iran shares a 936 kilometer border with Afghanistan and a 909 kilometer border with Pakistan, and the terrain in the two eastern provinces—Sistan va Baluchistan and Khorasan—is very rough. The Iranian government has set up static defenses along this border. This includes concrete dams, berms, trenches, and minefields…[41]

    As per UN drug report of 2011, Iran accounts for highest rate of opium and heroine seizure rates in the world, intercepting 89% of all seized opium in the world. Within a span of thirty years, 3700 Iranian police officers have been killed and tens of thousands more injured in counter narcotics operations mostly on Afghan and Pakistan borders.[44]

  6. orionATL says:

    given what i’ve learned about iran’s problem with poppy/opium comming from afghanistan on its way to europe,

    it would make lots of sense for the iranian govt, which has been fighting a losing battle against both afghan smuggling and heavy addiction among its own people,

    to find a way to route opium to the u.s.

    that could help cut down on the need for police anti-smuggling efforts and allow the govt
    of iran to make some money from latin american drugas,

    while causing some additiinal misery for its enemy, the u.s.

  7. ruralhobo says:

    With respect, the link with the prisoner swap seems tenuous. If you want a more plausible explanation for the urgency, it is that the IAEA is expressing concern about Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. This will undoubtedly be on the UN Security Council table soon.

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