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WaPo unearths…. Iranian plot to assassinate US embassy officials

Israel/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
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Azerbaijan arrested 22 people on suspicion of spying for Iran, accusing them of links to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. (STRINGER/IRAN – REUTERS)

The Washington Post is reporting that a plot has been uncovered to assassinate Americans. US embassy officials in Azerbaijan were allegedly alerted to the plot via a “tide of daily cable traffic” last November. The culprits? Why Iran, of course.

A probe ensued:

The plot had two strands, U.S. officials learned, one involving snipers with silencer-equipped rifles and the other a car bomb, apparently intended to kill embassy employees or members of their families.

The threat, many details of which were never made public, appeared to recede after Azerbaijani authorities rounded up nearly two dozen people in waves of arrests early this year. Precisely who ordered the hits, and why, was never conclusively determined. But U.S. and Middle Eastern officials now see the attempts as part of a broader campaign by Iran-linked operatives to kill foreign diplomats in at least seven countries over a span of 13 months. The targets have included two Saudi officials, a half-dozen Israelis and — in the Azerbaijan case — several Americans, the officials say.

In recent weeks, investigators working in four countries have amassed new evidence tying the disparate assassination attempts to one another and linking all of them to either Iran-backed Hezbollah militants or operatives based inside Iran, according to U.S. and Middle Eastern security officials…….Strikingly, the officials noted, the attempts halted abruptly in early spring, at a time when Iran began to shift its tone after weeks of bellicose anti-Western rhetoric and threats to shut down vital shipping lanes. In March, Iranian officials formally accepted a proposal to resume negotiations with six world powers on proposals to curb its nuclear program.

March? But Iran agreed to a U.N. inspector mission and to hold talks in Turkey with the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany on its nuclear program…two months earlier, on January 13th.

The first link in the blockquote above — Azerbaijan’s “waves of arrests” — leads to WAPO’s March 14th article Azerbaijan arrests alleged spies, sourced by the BBC:

The authorities in Azerbaijan have arrested 22 people on suspicion of spying for Iran, accusing them of links to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

The undated arrests were confirmed in a brief statement by the Azerbaijani national security ministry.

Azerbaijani TV reported last month that a plot to attack the Israeli embassy and a Jewish centre had been foiled.

At the time, Iran was also suspected of attacking Israeli targets in Thailand, India and Georgia….. according to Contact, a non-government Azerbaijani news website supported by the US National Endowment for Democracy, the arrests took place between late January and 20 February.

Contact said the detainees were being charged with treason and illegal possession of weapons.


Iran says Azerbaijanis have been helping Israeli assassinations in Iran.

Iranian scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was assassinated January 11th. If a news site supported by the US National Endowment for Democracy places the arrests between late January and 20 February, one might assume these current allegations are connected to that plot.

There’s something eerily familiar in the playbook of thwarting Iranian plots to kill embassy officials. Let’s not forget it was the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador (“it reads like the pages of a Hollywood script“) that was used as the basis for arguing that Iran was willing to attack the US, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment:

“The 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States shows that some Iranian officials — probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime. We are also concerned about Iranian plotting against U.S. or allied interests overseas. “

Which reminds me:

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who visited Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, this week. “Our relationship is very intense,” Mr. Lieberman said.

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Car bomb attack in India Photo:Reuters

I’ll bet it is. We have not forgotten about that airfield: Rumor has it that Israel and the Azeris struck a deal allowing Israel to use that country’s air space and territory to stage an attack on Iranian nuclear installations.

Interestingly, the graphic used to accompany today’s report by both the Washington Post and Israel National News is from a car bomb attack in India– also blamed on Iran. Why? It’s worth scrutinizing: Who was behind the Delhi bombing?

We’ve got the car bombings, the plots to assassinate the ambassadors and probably scores of other crimes allegedly thwarted. And all of this came to a halt after Azerbaijan arrested the Iranians allegedly tied to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which proves………Azerbaijan is on the team?

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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36 Responses

  1. annie
    May 28, 2012, 4:46 pm

    i urge people to open the link to “the US National Endowment for Democracy ” and scroll down to “Covert embedded reporters”, “Meddling in Syria”, and “Meddling in Egypt”.

    above board? i don’t think so.

    • MRW
      May 29, 2012, 6:46 am

      Good report, Annie. And good comments here. This is journalistic swill; the plethora of unnamed sources a dead giveaway as noted below.

      The Ayatollah Khameini is Azeri. But ignorant Americans will fall for this vulgar manipulation of facts. It haheal the verisimilitude of the Israelis attacking Syria’s supposed nuke plant three years ago, which military reporter Trish Schuh–the only reporter physically on the scene checking radiation levels with the US guys who record them–said was “bullshit.”

      This report has the same odor. With 20 times the levels of disdain and disgust for the cretins who presume they are smarter than most of us who have to pack this crap down.

      • Taxi
        May 30, 2012, 12:18 am

        Hiya MRW! Glad to have your nose poking about the zionist garbage pile again!

      • annie
        May 30, 2012, 1:18 am

        i missed you mrw (can’t say how much..too embarrassing)

  2. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    May 28, 2012, 5:12 pm

    Q: … one involving snipers with silencer-equipped rifles

    R: only MSM refers to a marksman as a ‘sniper’ and never mentions it’s about a team [numbers vary depending on where you’re enlisted]. Silencers? Seriously?

  3. justicewillprevail
    May 28, 2012, 5:16 pm

    How can anybody believe a word that comes from these ‘sources’? Seriously. They are so inept and transparent they can’t even cook up a credible conspiracy.

    • annie
      May 28, 2012, 5:28 pm

      at the very least the bbc mentioned the source was funded by NED, who openingly admits

      Alan Weinstein, one of the founders of the NED, explained in 1991:

      A lot of what we [NED] do was done 25 years ago covertly by the CIA[2]

      They are so inept and transparent they can’t even cook up a credible conspiracy

      maybe they assume we’ll think ‘that is so outlandish it simply must be true!’

  4. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    May 28, 2012, 5:22 pm

    Hi Annie,

    WaPo @

    Donald E. Graham @

    Surprised Donald is Jewish?

  5. Kathleen
    May 28, 2012, 5:56 pm

    “Precisely who ordered the hits and why, was never conclusively determined.” No surprise there…being conclusive is not a strength of the WaPo or other outlets pushing a military confrontation with Iran.

    When is the last time you have read an article in U.S. outlets or heard one of our Reps or an MSM host or journalist asking why Israel has and continues to refuse to sign the NPT?

  6. Les
    May 28, 2012, 5:59 pm

    Missing is mention of non-official confirmation to latest fairy story “U.S. officials among the targets of Iran-linked assassination plots”

    May 28, 2012

    Reporting – The Washington Post Style

    Joby Warrick reports for the Washington Post:

    U.S. officials among the targets of Iran-linked assassination plots

    In November, the tide of daily cable traffic to the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan brought a chilling message for Ambassador Matthew Bryza, then the top U.S. diplomat to the small Central Asian country. A plot to kill Americans had been uncovered, the message read, and embassy officials were on the target list.

    The threat, many details of which were never made public, appeared to recede after Azerbaijani authorities rounded up nearly two dozen people in waves of arrests early this year. Precisely who ordered the hits, and why, was never conclusively determined. But U.S. and Middle Eastern officials now see the attempts as part of a broader campaign by Iran-linked operatives to kill foreign diplomats in at least seven countries over a span of 13 months. … the officials say.

    … according to U.S. and Middle Eastern security officials. An official report … said two officials who have seen the six-page document.

    Strikingly, the officials noted, …

    … said a Western diplomat briefed on the assassination plots …

    Many U.S. officials and Middle East experts see …

    The Obama administration has declined … U.S. officials say …

    … said a senior U.S. official

    … U.S. intelligence officials believe …

    … according to U.S. and Middle Eastern officials familiar with the incidents …

    … while officials in Washington tried to assess the seriousness of the threats, the officials said …

    … said a former State Department official

    … according to a Middle East investigator involved in the case …

    officials said …

    … U.S. and Middle Eastern officials said.

    … according to a brief statement issued by the Azerbaijani government …

    The Obama administration acknowledged …

    … said the former State Department official

    … the Iranian Embassy in Baku suggested in a statement that the plot was fiction.

    … Baku officials have …

    … Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Washington, said in an interview …

    U.S. and Middle Eastern officials say … U.S. intelligence officials note.

    The report presented to U.S. officials … the reports states.

    Israeli and Indian officials have described …

    … said the Western diplomat briefed on the evidence.

    How does one call this style of reporting that Judith Miller Joby Warrick is attempting here? What distinguishes this writing down what lots of officials, diplomats and investigator say from pure stenography?

    • annie
      May 28, 2012, 6:28 pm

      ha! i am really glad i wrote this prior to b’s publication (granted it wasn’t published for a few hrs later) and before i read it. he’s so righton.

  7. ToivoS
    May 28, 2012, 6:09 pm

    Azerbaijan is playing a very dangerous game. Look at a map. They are surrounded by Iran, Armenia and Russia with the Caspian Sea to its east that is controlled by Russia and Iran. Russia could with sufficient pretext overrun that country in a couple of days. Certainly Iran would have legal justification to invade if any airports were used to support attacks against Iran. If the Azeris think the West would save them they should stop and learn the lesson of Georgia.

  8. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    May 28, 2012, 6:54 pm

    My only question: How are the Iranians supposed to get the Mexican drug gang to Azerbaijan???

  9. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    May 28, 2012, 6:55 pm

    Hi Annie,

    This may seem to be a side note, but as I got the information off of a trusted source I’d add it to the mix [and let you judge whether it’s relevant or not].

    The one Israeli victim was found with 5 passports on him [you won’t find that in this article].

    2 Israelis arrested and convicted in 2004 [also NZ] @

    Seeing is believing…, until you watch magicians and people who think they’re magical.

    • annie
      May 28, 2012, 7:46 pm

      yes, i have read all about that. here is the 2004 story in the guardian:

      new zealand passports are coveted by mossad.

      The clue led to the uncovering of a complex conspiracy involving up to four Israeli agents, who had attempted to create a false identity for 36-year-old Zev Barkan, another suspected Israeli spy, using a fraudulent birth certificate, a fake voicemail message and letter box, and concocted medical symptoms.

      Uriel Kelman, 30, and Eli Cara, 50, were each sentenced to six months in prison yesterday for their involvement in the plot. Both men had gone to elaborate steps to conceal their identities: Kelman appeared at the court wearing a balaclava and covered his face throughout the two-hour hearing, while Cara had changed his hair colour, complexion and build since his first court appearance in March.

      Mr Barkan and a fourth man believed to have been connected to the plot are still on the run. Mr Barkan lived in a house just a few hundred metres from his target, a wheel-chair user who has not been named for legal reasons. Cara set up a false travel agency in Sydney to aid the deception.

      and that’s only midway thru! not only that, it’s challenging finding all that’s been written about it (there was more available last year). when i googled “israeli 5 passports” the first post that popped up had a really offensive title..clearly we are not supposed to be exploring why mossad agents need all these extra passports.

  10. CloakAndDagger
    May 28, 2012, 7:26 pm

    Come November (and even before then), I will look with disdain at those of you who protest war with Iran, but would nevertheless pull the lever for Obama or Romney, all the while doing nothing to get the only patriot, Ron Paul, elected.

    Whatever your misgivings with Ron Paul, and I suggest that many are due to manipulation by the MSM, he is our only chance for ending the duopoly in government and bringing AIPAC to heel.

    And no, sitting at home and not voting for anyone doesn’t let you off the hook as far as I am concerned. If you call yourself American, then go save America by ending Israel’s stranglehold on us. An opportunity like this may never come again.

    Go vote. Better yet, become a delegate and vote for Ron Paul.

    Your children and grandchildren may forgive you for your apathy or cowardice, or some self-righteous reason for rejecting the only anti-war candidate in the race.

    I won’t.

    • Daniel Rich
      Daniel Rich
      May 28, 2012, 7:59 pm

      @ CloakAndDagger,

      Despite the fact that I’m the anti-christ of politics, I have to agree with your assessment/s. From the get-go I’ve told everyone Obama wasn’t the messiah he was made out to be [way before he got elected]. After all that has transpired since he took office, nobody should vote for this or any other Democratic or Republican clown. There’s a reason why Ron Paul is marginalized and I think he’d be better of running as an independent. When youngsters and the military are interested in this guy, I’m listening, that’s for sure.

    • DICKERSON3870
      May 28, 2012, 9:38 pm

      I did make an early contribution (fairly large for me) to the Ron Paul campaign. I also voted for him in Georgia’s presidential primary.

  11. irishmoses
    May 28, 2012, 7:45 pm

    Re: ToivoS says:
    May 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm
    “Azerbaijan is playing a very dangerous game.”

    You’ve got that right but the threat is also from the Russians who are saying they will invade through Georgia to Azerbaijan to put a stop to Israeli meddling in the Caucasus once and for all. Israel could get a very bloody nose from the Russians and the US would be largely powerless to intervene. Meanwhile, the clueless Azeris promote rock concerts apparently not realizing the danger their new Israeli friends are putting them in.

    • lysias
      May 29, 2012, 12:15 pm

      Funny Azerbaijan didn’t notice what happened to Georgia when it tried to defy Russia in 2008.

      By the way, Russia wouldn’t even have to go through Georgia to invade Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has a long border with the Republic of Dagestan, which is part of the Russian Federation (and has been the scene of low-level guerrilla war for some time, which means that there is a substantial Russian military presence).

  12. traintosiberia
    May 28, 2012, 8:41 pm

    Azerbaizan is a country run by mafia known as secular administration. It came to power by one of those revolution engineered by fundamentalist muslim and US.

  13. marc b.
    marc b.
    May 29, 2012, 8:45 am

    annie, the delhi bombing fits a pattern.

    from gareth porter:

    If the bomb had been filled with shrapnel of iron filings, nails or glass, or if it had been attached underneath the fuel tank or on the door next to the passenger, that bomb would have seriously injured or killed the passenger, Tal Yehoshua-Koren, the wife of the Israeli Defense Attaché. But Delhi police were able to determine that the bomb contained no such potentially deadly shrapnel. And an examination of the videos and photos of the car after the bombing revealed that the bomb had been attached instead to the rear of the vehicle, where it would have the least impact on the occupants.

    similarly, the wife of the commander of the USS vincennes, which ‘erroneously’ shot down an iranian airbus, was the victim of a ‘terrorist’ bombing of her van, which she left in the middle of an intersection as it blew up, leaving her unharmed. i don’t think that anyone has ever been charged in that case, the investigation later shifting from international terrorism to a personal vendetta against captain rodgers.

    The wife of the USS Vincennes’ skipper narrowly escaped injury Friday when a bomb destroyed the van she was driving, police said. The San Diego-based Vincennes was the Navy ship that mistakenly shot down the civilian Iranian airliner last July while on duty in the Persian Gulf. Sharon Rogers, wife of Capt. Will Rogers III, was stopped at a red light at a San Diego intersection when an explosion rocked the vehicle, said police spokesman Bill Robinson. A construction worker nearby helped Rogers escape before the van was engulfed in flames, police said. She was taken to a police substation, where she was joined by her husband and investigators.

    • annie
      May 29, 2012, 9:04 am

      thank you marc,i linked to porter’s excellent article (last link in the main text “Who was behind the Delhi bombing?”) but had not heard of the second quoted paragraph. was that from this msm article? i had not heard of it before, thanks.

    • lysias
      May 29, 2012, 12:22 pm

      Capt. Rogers’s reputation in the Navy and the Pentagon at the time was that of a cowboy. I remember speaking about him to my boss in the Pentagon, who was the chief lawyer for international law and intelligence issues in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Commander David Carlson, who was then in command of the USS Sides, which was on station with the USS Vincennes at the time of the shootdown of the Iranian Airbus, wrote a scathing article on the shootdown devastating to Rogers for the Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute. The Sides and a third U.S. ship on the scene had no trouble identifying the Airbus as a scheduled civil aviation flight. I know from my own experience in Air Force signals intelligence that the identification should have been easy. But somehow Rogers and the Vincennes got it wrong.

      Nevertheless, both Rogers and his air-warfare coordinator, LCDR Scott Lustig, were given medals for the shootdown.

  14. chuckcarlos
    May 29, 2012, 12:05 pm

    Washington Post is in deep doodoo…when your main source of support (as it is for the Washington Post) is some shoddy fly-by-night commercial “university” then the end is near…

    The old grey mare ain’t what she used to be

  15. NickJOCW
    May 30, 2012, 5:41 am

    Israel appears to be trying to take ‘credit’ for Flame.

    Their ill concealed glee at Iran’s assumed discomfort is, frankly, juvenile.

    The targets are variously reported as Iran, Israel/Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt which suggests to me America or, much less likely, Russia.

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