17 Feb 2009

Israel Waging Covert War Against Iran

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Today’s Intel leak in the British Telegraph provokes curiosity about the leakers’ intention.

Israel has launched a covert war against Iran as an alternative to direct military strikes against Tehran’s nuclear programme, US intelligence sources have revealed.

It is using hitmen, sabotage, front companies and double agents to disrupt the regime’s illicit weapons project, the experts say.

The most dramatic element of the “decapitation” programme is the planned assassination of top figures involved in Iran’s atomic operations. …

Reva Bhalla, a senior analyst with Stratfor, the US private intelligence company with strong government security connections, said the strategy was to take out key people.

“With co-operation from the United States, Israeli covert operations have focused both on eliminating key human assets involved in the nuclear programme and in sabotaging the Iranian nuclear supply chain,” she said.

“As US-Israeli relations are bound to come under strain over the Obama administration’s outreach to Iran, and as the political atmosphere grows in complexity, an intensification of Israeli covert activity against Iran is likely to result.”

Mossad was rumoured to be behind the death of Ardeshire Hassanpour, a top nuclear scientist at Iran’s Isfahan uranium plant, who died in mysterious circumstances from reported “gas poisoning” in 2007.

Other recent deaths of important figures in the procurement and enrichment process in Iran and Europe have been the result of Israeli “hits”, intended to deprive Tehran of key technical skills at the head of the programme, according to Western intelligence analysts.

“Israel has shown no hesitation in assassinating weapons scientists for hostile regimes in the past,” said a European intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity. They did it with Iraq and they will do it with Iran when they can.”

Is all this by way of being a pouting spooks’ spoiler intended to rein in Israeli efforts too violent and extreme for thin-blooded liberals in the Agency? Or is it actually a warning to the mullahs that the covert gloves are off and Mossad is going to do the wet work with Washington’s blessing?

Meanwhile, DEBKAfile (the Mossad press blog), was hinting darkly about the mysterious fate of an American doctor of Iranian extraction.

Iranian media this week offered a glimpse into the purported double life of an Iranian-born American physician alleging he was a secret bio-weapons scientist. They reported that Dr. Noah McKay (formerly Nasser Talebzadeh Ordoubadi) died in mysterious circumstance Saturday, Feb. 14 aged 53, vaguely accusing “intelligence agencies” of causing his death. …

The Iranian reports only hint that he may have met a similar fate to the British ministry of defense’s bio-weapons expert Dr. David Kelly, whose body was found in an Oxfordshire wood on July 17, 2003.

This close conjunction of two quick tours of Israeli Intelligence’s trophy room seems to argue that the intent is to send a pretty explicit message indicating that conspicuous involvement in Iran’s WMD procurement efforts poses a significant hazard to one’s health.

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