Spy v. Spy, Terrorist v. Terrorist: All the Usual Suspects Now Implicated in Scary Iran Plot

Here in the Midwest, we’ve got lions and tigers and bears running around today, and even other animals, like monkeys, that aren’t members of the NFC North.

In the Middle East, it seems everyone’s rolling out the usual suspects to impugn in the Scary Iran Plot. The most humorous is Bahrain’s use of David Ignatius to send Obama a message. Not only did Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Al-Khalifa warn that, “This is really serious. It’s coming to your shores now” and repeat Saudi allegations that Gholam Shakuri had a role in opposition to the Bahraini King (though, in calling Shakuri only an “important ‘Iranian interlocutor’,” the Foreign Minister actually sounded more measured than the Saudis).

But then the Foreign Minister throws in a jab at Ahmad Chalabi.

Khalifa mentioned one more name of interest to American observers of the Middle East — the Iraqi Shiite politician Ahmed Chalabi. Lobbying by Chalabi played an important role in mobilizing the Bush administration to invade Iraq in 2003; since then he’s been jockeying for power in Baghdad and, increasingly, tilting toward Iran on regional issues.

The peripatetic Chalabi has now taken up the cause of Bahrain’s Shiite community, pressuring the government in Manama and even, at one point last spring when the political confrontation was intense there, proposing to organize a rescue “flotilla” to deliver aid, on the model of the Turkish flotilla that tried to enter Gaza last year.

“We would regard him as an Iranian agent, no doubt,” said Khalifa.

To be fair, this sounded like a throwaway, not a direct response to Scary Iran Plot. Except to the extent that Scary Iran Plot is about the Sunni-Shiite fight for hegemony in the Middle East, the one we first disturbed by going to war on Chalabi’s say-so.

Still, I was waiting for someone like Chalabi or Manucher Ghorbanifar or Michael Ledeen to show up in this tale, so I’m please to find Chalabi here, like an old friend.

The far more interesting development–as MadDog and lysias pointed out here–is the Iranian propaganda announcement that Gholam Shakuri is actually an MEK member.

Interpol has found new evidence showing that the number two suspect in connection with the alleged Iranian government’s involvement in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington is a key member of the terrorist Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), the Mehr News Agency has learnt.

Gholam Shakuri was last seen in Washington and Camp Ashraf in Iraq where MKO members are based.

The person in question has been travelling to different countries under the names of Ali Shakuri/Gholam Shakuri/Gholam-Hossein Shakuri by using fake passports including forged Iranian passports. One passport used by the person was issued on 30/11/2006 in Washington. The passport number was K10295631.

The accusation got picked up by the NYT, which in turn got a denial from the MEK.

The opposition group itself dismissed the Mehr report as nonsense. Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman, said in an e-mailed response that “this is a well-known tactic that has been used by the mullahs in the past 30 years where they blame their crimes on their opposition for double gains.”

So after we had the United States lecturing other countries about illegal assassinations and rule of law, we’ve got one terrorist organization (albeit one whose material supporters in the US rather remarkably aren’t treated like the material supporters of other terrorist organizations) accusing another terrorist organization of crimes.

There are times I’m really comforted that my neighborhood has nothing but Lions and Tigers and Bears running around.

16 replies
  1. bourbaki says:

    It seems the US is pushing back. Though should we read anything into the “decline to comment” from Interpol and the anonymous US source?

    Such a weird story…

  2. orionATL says:

    nice title

    though i feel compelled to say that “spy v spy” was clever and funny – nobody involved in this looks anything but stoopid :)

    just because iran says shakuri is mek doesn’t mean he’s not.

    i am dying to know what fbi, cia, doj, wh say about shakuri’s membership. if they blink, its a tell.

    you wouldn’t expect an mek to have a lot of luck doing spy biz with the cousin of the qods leader because after all families do get together over some of that delicious persian food and talk.

    but stranger things have happened, and we don’t really know with certainty the lineages of any of the players from the middle east.

  3. Quanto says:

    CTuttle had a post on Firedoglake here

    The Iranian oil bourse is intended as an oil exchange for petroleum, petrochemicals and gas in various currencies other than the U.S. dollar, primarily the euro and Iranian rial and a basket of other major (non-U.S.) currencies.

    Western analysts said that at a time when the U.S. dollar is as vulnerable as it has ever been, Iran is piling on the pressure with their oil exchange. The thing that will kill the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency faster than the U.S. debt default is if oil producers and consumers trade oil in other currencies.

    This makes the most sense to me. As crazy as this plot is the final payoff to the US will probably be to get more sanctions on Iran to stop them from selling any more crude.

  4. geoschmidt says:

    Well… maybe you can go figure some… the po lice of the “great state of ohia” were there to go on a extry seasonal hunt, (“almost like a safari Mable.”) “We ain’t had fun like that since… I dunow,,, got me a big bear, just like GrandDad used ta talk bout… !

    Hey you stupid mfr’s didn’t anybody hear of tranquilizer projectiles… ? Ohia might be ahead of Indiani for stupid,

    The “drift” may be that, we kill first, and axe questions latter. So like they say: “figure” it Jethrow, or geoffrey or wtf.

  5. CorinneAM says:

    So after we had the United States lecturing other countries about illegal assassinations and rule of law, we’ve got one terrorist organization (albeit one whose material supporters in the US rather remarkably aren’t treated like the material supporters of other terrorist organizations) accusing another terrorist organization of crimes.

    You need to abandon this line of argument. MEK’s designation as an FTO has always been a political strategy; it was initially designated as an FTO as a tactic by the Clinton Administration to open up dialogue with the Iranian government.

    MEK doesn’t have the capability to engage in terrorism and doesn’t threaten U.S. national security or the security of U.S. citizens anywhere in the world. It ceased its military campaign against the Iranian government in 2001 and voluntarily handed over its arms to U.S. forces in 2003. The UK and EU have removed MEK from their FTO lists and the US is the only country not to have done the same. The only reason they’re still on the list is as a bargaining chip.

  6. CanuckStuckInMuck says:

    ew! I love your humor, even tinged with the cynicism that you’ve every right to feel after having exposed every invisible garment of every thug and stooge from Baghdad to K Street. I LOVE YOU!

  7. orionATL says:


    thank you for this information.

    let me ask you a question:

    is it possible that gholam shakiri was a member of mek (as iran has alleged)?

    is it likely he was?

    i’m asking for an educated guess on your part, not for knowledge certain.


  8. Bay State Librul says:

    OT…. on Judy, Judy,

    “Miller, who now works as a commentator for Fox and as a drama critic for the online magazine Tablet, declined to comment, saying, “I will be addressing these issues and more in my forthcoming book.”

    from New Yorker story on Jill Abramson, which I thought was an insightful look at the Old Grey Lady

  9. Jeff Kaye says:

    Spy vs Spy is an apt metaphor, as I remember from my Mad Magazine reading days. Perhaps we’ve also a bit of G. Greene’s old “Our Man in Havana” game going on here, too. So many spooks running around, so many false cover stories, and covert games, one imagines them running into themselves in the hall as they glide on by moving from lying story to lying story… and that’s for all of them, criminals all: the Iranian, Saudi, Bahraini, Iraq… and U.S. governments. The only reason to defend Iran here is that they are past and current victims of U.S. imperialist expansionism.

  10. bourbaki says:

    Then there is this blog post where Richard Silverstein (who I’m not familiar with) reports that a former member of MEK (who he names) claims on a listserv that someone named Gholam Shakuri (though not necessarily the person the US identified) is (or was) a member of MEK.

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