October 12th, 2011
02:00 PM ET

Questions about the alleged Iranian plot

A number of Iran analysts are expressing doubt over the alleged plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the United States. Here are some excerpts:

Former CIA operative Bob Baer expressed his skepticism about the allegation that Iran was behind the plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Robert Baer is a former Middle East CIA field officer and TIME.com's intelligence columnist.  He is also the author of See No EvilThe Devil We Know and The Company We Keep. Here's what he had to say:

"There are very few groups operationally better than Iran’s Quds Force. They know what they are doing. The only proxies they use are ones they’ve vetted. They don’t let their own citizens get involved. They send other people to do it for them from Hezbollah to Bosnian Muslims. It would be completely uncharacteristic for Iran to be caught red handed."

"So why were they all of a sudden so sloppy? Why would they take this risk now? Who cares about Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Ali Jaber, anyway? He’s not a royal. He’s probably not the main interlocutor between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Why not go for Saudi Prince Bandar in London? Many other targets would serve Iranian interests better."

"Everybody is looking for evidence that there is going to be a confrontation with Iran. Everybody is jumping on this as a sign of conflict to come. But there are many questions here that need to be answered."

Gary Sick is a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Middle East Institute and an adjunct professor at the School of International and Public Affairs. Sick served on the National Security Council under Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan. He was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis. In the following blog post, Gary Sick reiterates some of Baer's questions: 

"I find this alleged Iranian plot very hard to believe. In fact, this plot, if true, departs from all known Iranian policies and procedures. To be sure, Iran has plenty of reasons to be angry at both the United States and Saudi Arabia. They attribute the recent wave of assassinations of physics professors and students, as well as the intrusion of the Stuxnet worm, to the U.S. and Israel. And the king of Saudi Arabia is reliably reported to have called for the U.S. to bomb Iran."

"Iran has reportedly been involved in past assassinations in Europe and bombings in Argentina and elsewhere. But the assassinations were of Iranian counter-revolutionaries in the 1980s, and the bombings were always carried out by trusted proxies — normally a branch of Hezbollah. Iran’s fingerprints were always concealed beneath one or more layers of disguise."

"Iran has never conducted — or apparently even attempted — an assassination or a bombing inside the U.S. And it is difficult to believe that they would rely on a non-Islamic criminal gang to carry out this most sensitive of all possible missions. In this instance, they allegedly relied on at least one amateur and a Mexican criminal drug gang that is known to be riddled with both Mexican and U.S. intelligence agents."

"Whatever else may be Iran’s failings, they are not noted for utter disregard of the most basic intelligence tradecraft, e.g. discussing an ultra-covert operation on an open international line between Iran and the U.S. Yet that is what happened here. Perhaps this operation is just as it appears. But at a minimum both the public and the Congress should demand more detailed evidence before taking any rash or irreversible action. If Iran is really as stupid and as incompetent as this case implies, then perhaps they are their own worst enemy and not the clever and determined adversary that they are made out to be."

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Topics: Iran • Saudi Arabia • Terrorism

soundoff (200 Responses)
  1. eamon

    You do not need to be a CIA agent to see through this pathetic attempt by the Obama Administration to do something with elections coming up and the people protesting in front of the dirty rich in NY ,Boston and elsewhere.

    October 12, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Reply
  2. thomas mc

    We have to lie this country into another war, people. Those trillions of tax dollars aren't going to just march themselves from the Treasury over to the Military Industrial Complex, you know!

    October 12, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Reply
  3. Mark in Golden

    Oh come on now, this is not a big mystery. The price of oil was dropping below $80/barrel. This little "plot" came to light and what do you know, oil is suddenly back to a comfortable $85/barrel. Mystery solved. Nothing to see here, move along...

    October 12, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Reply
  4. IndiaRocks

    America, stop instigating war between Iran and Saudi Arabia by fabricating lies. The whole world knows what your real motive is - oil.

    October 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  5. Sina

    the US government kills Iranian civilians through terror groups like Mojahedeen, PJAK, Jundallah, and even shot down an Iranian passenger jet with more than 70 children on board. 3rd, they tell the story that Iran has secret operatives all over the world and now it supposedly had to ask a common Mexican criminal ( ! ) to assassinate a Saudi errand boy who is an insignificant "nobody." Ridiculous US government lies.

    October 12, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  6. dl

    I wouldn't go as far as to say the US orchestrated this...but I would say someone is setting Iran up..not to mention, why wouldn't the person just talk to known cartel members...you're telling me Iran doesn't know who the heads of mexican cartels are, and can't verify...hey is this person yours? Before you hand over $100K?

    October 12, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  7. PIERCE

    IF THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT WANTED TO ASSASINATE THE SAUDI EMBASSADOR, THEY WOULD DO IT IN SAUDI ARABIA WHILE HE IS VISITING HIS RELATIVES! THIS WHOLE THING IS A BUNCH OF BULL..! PLEASE, PEOPLE GET SMART..>! THE QUDS FORCE WOULDN'T NEED A DRUG CARTEL TO THE JOB FOR THEM...! THEY ARE PROBABLY WELL CAPABLE OF DOING IT THEMSELVES!

    October 12, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Reply
  8. Anderson Clayton

    2012 election...

    Obama to CIA: What is the situation?
    Dear Leader, reelection prospects LOOK BAD!
    What can be done?
    CIA/FBI:
    Well Iraq – DONE
    Afghanistan – Not quite but, lets say done
    Libya – Under way
    Paquistan, well, nuclear armed, forget it!
    North Korea, forget it, nuclear armed...

    Obama to CIA: What about an operation to kill Bin Ladem?
    Mr. President, we have done that remember?

    Obama: Ok, Can't we kill someone else?
    Who is next in line?

    Dear Leader, the next in line is IRAN!!!

    Obama to CIA/FBI: OK, full force on IRAN!
    I need VOTES, a LOT of votes!

    Don't miss, CIA Operation DESERT BALOT!

    LOL, this is a ALL a BIG BIG JOKE!

    The United States of America LOST its sence of RIDICULOUS

    October 12, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  9. Joe

    Drug cartels make a million dollar a week in just one street in a busy city. Why would they go for a high profile job not consistent with their business at all? Why would they risk their multi-billion dollar business in the process? Iran being the largest interceptor of drugs and the largest executor of drug smugglers in the world knows these facts, so how come they supposedly went along? Why would Iranian intel officers arguably among the best in the world would discuss such a plan over an open line phone to US? Who benefits from this plot, Iran or US? These and many more questions suggest this is just a false flag operation with only one baiting element in it, an old American Iranian who is not even fit the picture. It is safe to assume he has been duped into this by US or a faction of US government which wants war with Iran. He probably is a low IQ with mental problems who does not know what they are doing to him. It happens all the time in hollywood and outside of it. Anyone remember wag the dog movie or many more similar?

    October 12, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Reply
  10. Joe

    "Iran has reportedly been involved in past assassinations in Europe and bombings in Argentina and elsewhere."
    Those assassinations in Europe had targeted individuals who were seen as traitors by Iranian government at the time and had been involved in terror activities inside Iran eg. PKK/MEK not much different from how Russia deals with its own traitors in London. As for Argentina, it was never proven with any substance that Iran had done them. Infact many analysts believe that they were false flag operations as at the time Iran had very good relations with Argentina and the government of the time in Argentina was building nuclear reactors in Iran and was transferring technology to Iran for building the reactors indigenously. Infact the Tehran nuclear reactor was completely rebuilt by Argentina at the time and fully refueled using enriched Uranium provided by Argentina government. So analysts claim that Iran had nothing to gain by bombing a Jewish cultural center while Iran's own Jews are having their own hospitals and cultural centers paid for by the Iranians government in Tehran. Infact it was other forces which benefited from those bombings and planting evidence against Iran much like this case here today. After the bombings Argentina had to stop nuclear cooperation with Iran and a massive PR forced government of Argentina to finish off its diplomatic relations with Iran. Neither Argentina nor Iran benefited from that. Only outside forces did. Now think for yourself about it without taking it directly from big media.

    October 12, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  11. Joe

    Also we must not forget that the anti Iranian group MEK with its connections with powerful quarters inside US is fully capable of pulling such a false flag operation to benefit their goals. They certainly would benefit from this along with US hawks. They have done such things before.

    October 12, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Reply
  12. Dan

    Absolutely not anti-Israel or anti-Jew but this seems like an op they would come up with to try to get the u.s. to do their dirty work.

    October 12, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  13. Hiruu

    The Administration should have kept VERY quiet about this, even if it was true. What purpose does this serve, other than a simple wag the dog case...this is a joke, and it is so riddiculus, it makes them look like buffon at the DOJ.

    October 13, 2011 at 1:43 am | Reply
  14. saqib

    i am sure it's a same case as US did in Iraq and Afghanistan with wrong obligations. Yet another example is Haqqani network for which US blamed Pakistan for supporting Haqqani network and then H.Clinton said in her interview that US is ready to discuss peace deal with Haqqanis????? a double policy and double game to divert attention of US people from domestic economic and social problems.
    One more war and US will be at stake of local debt and economic crisis which will be even worse than geat depression which may lead to sepration of United states in USA. why dont local public in US speak up and negate thier govt policies which is merely to benefit few rich politicians and arm producers and army itself to have reasons for huge amount of money they get from GDP.
    i can tell you the result of this current situation will be a big arm deal between fools of Saudi Arab and USA, startegical relocation of warships in Arabian Sea and esclations between Iran and neighboring small countries like Oman, UAE, Behrain and Pakistan as US will ask for sites to locate its land forces in these conutries which these countries cant refuse seeking protection umbrela from Shia country IRAN. In reaction Iran will strike at these countries becuase atlast everything is leading to a war between Iran and USA and everything is planned to tight screws on Iran. War will be unvoidable when iran will cut off its oil supply --–Just amagine situation is more worst and complex and people of USA are being mislead by obama and Co--wake up people

    October 13, 2011 at 4:58 am | Reply
  15. IndiaRocks

    The US has fabricated this story in an attempt to instigate war between a US-backed Saudi Arabia and Iran. America's motive is crystal clear – oust Ahmadinejad, establish a puppet government in Iran (like they did in Iraq) which will grant oil contracts to American companies (Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Conoco Philips, etc) and exploit Iran's oil for America's development, thus depriving Iran's population of the benefits from their oil, while preserving its own oil reserves in Alaska for the future, when all Middle-East oil reserves are depleted. NO WAR FOR OIL!!!

    October 13, 2011 at 10:35 am | Reply
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