March 6, 2007

Where In The World Is Ali Reza Asgari?

The Iranians seem to have misplaced one of their intelligence-service generals. Ali Reza Asgari, last seen in Turkey last month, has not phoned home for the last few weeks, and the Iranians blame the US for his disappearance:

The mysterious disappearance of an Iranian general in Turkey in early February has led to speculation he either was kidnapped or defected.

Iran has reportedly asked Interpol to investigate the general's disappearance. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted by Iran's news agency today as saying that a foreign ministry official was currently in Turkey to investigate the disappearance and has asked the Turkish government "to inquire into the issue and give explanation on Asgari's whereabouts."

One respected analyst with sources in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard says Gen. Ali Reza Asgari has defected and is now in a European country with his entire family, where he is cooperating with the U.S.

Other reports have suggested that the general may have been kidnapped by the Israeli secret service, the Mossad. A spokesperson at the CIA declined to comment on the reported defection.

"This is a fatal blow to Iranian intelligence," said the source, explaining that Asgari knows sensitive information about Iran's nuclear and military projects. Iran called tens of its Revolutionary Guard agents working at embassies and cultural centers in Arab and European countries back to Tehran out of fear that Asgari might disclose secret information about their identities, according to the analyst.

Sources offer competing theories for his disappearance. Some believe the Mossad captured Asgari, hoping to learn more about Iran's nuclear program. Others claim he surrendered himself voluntarily to the US. Asgari could also have been captured by the US in retaliation for the abduction and murder of five American soldiers in Iraq, an operation that Asgari likely ran.

Regardless of where he went and who has him now, the loss creates a huge headache for the Iranians. They have to assume that either we or the Israelis have him, and that all of his information has become exposed. Their agents, their networks, their system of safehouses -- anything Asgari used or knew has to be trashed. That means a massive effort to repenetrate Iraqi institutions, and that may be more difficult than ever with the new surge in Baghdad suppressing the reach of the Mahdi Army.

It's not just Iraqi areas in which Asgari has critical knowledge. He worked with Hezbollah in the 1990s and would probably still have contacts within the Iranian proxy terrorist group. Asgari also has extensive knowledge of the Revolutionary Guard -- its organization, its capabilities, and the location of its units.

Another possibility exists. Asgari exposed fraud in Iranian defense procurement, which led to the arrest of several officials earlier. Some Iranians may not have been as pleased with his reformist zeal, especially those allied to the disgraced officials that wound up in prison. These Iranians may have killed Asgari themselves, although it would not do them much good to make the body disappear.

The Iranians have no clue about what may have befallen Asgari. That works in our favor. If the Iranians have to defend all possibilities, it could tie them up for months and seriously damage their intel capabilities. (via Hot Air)


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ABC's The Blotter is reporting that an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general has defected (or was kidnapped) with his family in Istanbul and is now cooperating with Western authorities: One respected analyst with sources in the Iranian Revolutionary Guar... [Read More]

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