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CNN reports that the US has expelled two members of the Iranian security detail at the UN for suspected espionage, and their activities certainly call into question the Islamic Republic's intentions towards the West:
The United States has expelled two Iranian security guards at the Iranian Mission to the United Nations for conduct unbecoming to their status, according to a U.S. official.
The two were seen taking pictures of New York City and transportation systems, the official said.
It was the third occasion that they were spotted videotaping and taking photographs, the official said.
The pair was expelled over the weekend, but one assumes that after three sightseeing tours, they have the film they need to further their mission, whatever that may be. The official who sourced the story refused to name the landmarks involved, and in New York, the possibilities are almost unlimited.
It recalls the information gathered after the 9/11 attacks that revealed the terrorists' activities in videotaping their intended targets as well as other potential attack sites. Of course, the terrorists weren't diplomatic personnel from Iran, either. Now that we've tightened our visa process (to whatever degree that's been successful), perhaps this is how al-Qaeda will operate -- through diplomatic assignments in order to infiltrate the US unmolested. If true, the expulsion puts Iran at the top of the list of high-focus countries in the war on terror.
Of course, the Republican National Convention takes place in New York at the end of August...
UPDATE: More information from the AP:
The guards were taking photos of infrastructure, modes of transportation and New York City landmarks, a U.S. official said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. They were the third set of Iranian guards caught taking pictures.
"The other ones were warned. This was the third time, and this time we kicked them out," the U.S. official said.
The two Iranians, who did not have diplomatic passports, left the United States in the last few days, the official said. ... According to the U.S. official, the first photographing incident took place in June 2002, the second in November 2003, and the third occurred recently, the official said.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in November that two Iranian citizens were questioned while taking video images of the subway tracks on the No. 7 line in Queens.
Counterterrorism is an unusual place to put in a "three strikes and you're out" rule, isn't it? After the first incident, we should have demanded the videotape back, and perhaps we did, but any further incidents should have resulted in immediate expulsion. After all, as the AP notes, it's not as though it would risk our diplomatic relationship with the Iranian mullahcracy, because we have none to damage.
Taking pictures of infrastructure and transportation appears to be more of a preparation for an attack on the ability to keep people alive in the city rather than just a showy (but deadly) attack on a building complex. Again, when would such systems be taxed to their limits? In August, when thousands of Republicans come to the Big Apple to nominate Bush for re-election, with the nation focused on the convention. I wouldn't be surprised if something similar has been happening in Boston, either, especially since two of the four 9/11 flights took off from Logan Airport and AQ terrorists continue to operate out of Beantown.
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