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Recently by Justin Raimondo: Iranian Terror Plot: Fake, Fake, Fake

Would Iran recruit a used car salesman with a memory problem to conduct assassinations in the US?

This is a question you have to ask yourself when evaluating the alleged Iranian "terrorist" plot supposedly uncovered by Attorney General Eric Holder the other day. The arrest of Mansour Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old Iranian immigrant who came to this country as a college student, was the occasion for a trumpet blast of anti-Iranian propaganda and belligerent declarations by US officials, who vowed to "hold Iran accountable" for purportedly mounting a plot [.pdf] to kill the Saudi ambassador, bomb the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, and strike at the Jewish community in Argentina.

The alleged plot was supposed to have been carried out by a member of the Zetas drug cartel, who was to be paid up to $1.5 million to implement the plan. US officials, even while acknowledging the "B-movie" aspect of the story, reportedly "fanned out" to convince our allies the plot was real and — with Congress already demanding new sanctions on Iran — that the economic vise be tightened. Not only are the more hysterical neocons calling for military action against Iran — no surprise there — but the headlines had the normally staid and relatively reserved Steve Clemons, a prominent Obama shill, babbling that "this is a serious situation" and "the U.S. has reached a point where it must take action," and Sen. Carl Levin calling the plot "an act of war."

Less than 24 hours after Holder’s press conference, the whole fantasy began to unravel under closer scrutiny. Gary Sick, of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, averred that the alleged plot "departs from all known Iranian policies and procedures," and went on to write:

"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."

Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East analyst with the Congressional Research Office, concurs:

"There is simply no precedent – or even reasonable rationale – for Iran working any plot, no matter where located, through a non-Muslim proxy such as Mexican drug gangs. No one high up in the Quds, the I.R.G.C. command, the Supreme National Security Committee, or anywhere else in the Iranian chain of command would possibly trust that such a plot could be kept secret or carried out properly by the Mexican drug people. They absolutely would not trust such a thing to them, given Iran’s undoubted assumption that the Mexicans are penetrated by the D.E.A. and F.B.I. and A.T.F., etc – and indeed this plot was revealed by just such a U.S. informant….

"Are we to believe that this Texas car seller was a Quds sleeper agent for many years resident in the U.S.? Ridiculous. They (the Iranian command system) never ever use such has-beens or loosely connected people for sensitive plots such as this."

Ridiculous — that just about says it all.

But as Ayn Rand once said: "Don’t bother to question a fallacy, ask yourself only what it accomplishes." The idea is to target Iran as the next al-Qaeda: with the late unlamented Osama bin Laden out of the picture, the US has to find a replacement — and quick! — in order to justify its decade-long post-9/11 rampage across the Middle East and much of the rest of the world. What’s a war without an enemy? Iran has always been the War Party’s ultimate Middle Eastern target, and now they are making their move.

As an opening shot in a propaganda war, Holder’s startling announcement had high impact — but low credibility, as the excitement died down and the details came into focus. The problem with the narrative woven by the Justice Department is that the supposed fulcrum of this heinous plot, Senor Arbabsiar, is hardly the sort of character who makes a convincing terrorist/foreign agent. Longtime associate Tom Hosseini, a fellow Iranian-American who has known Arbabsiar for over 30 years, wondered aloud to a Washington Post reporter "how anyone — but most especially an elite military organization such as Iran’s Quds force – would get involved with Arbabsiar in the first place."

"Maybe," says Hosseini, "somebody offered him some money. He doesn’t have the brain to say no."

Arbabsiar certainly had a lot of money on him when he and Hosseini met in Iranian Kurdistan last August: the Post reports he was "waving around crisp $100 bills" and declaring that there was a lot more where that came from. Yet Arbabsiar’s many businesses — "from used cars to kebabs" — had all failed. Perhaps this lack of business acumen was tied to his general inability to think straight, or, as the Post puts it:

"Within the small Iranian American community in this Gulf Coast city, Arbabsiar, 56, was well known and well liked. But he was also renowned for being almost comically absent-minded, perpetually losing keys, cellphones, briefcases, anything that wasn’t tied down."

Read the rest of the article

Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.

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