Iran official in secret visit to Egypt to discuss ‘new spy agency’

Qassem SuleimaniBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A senior Iranian intelligence official paid a secret visit to Egypt earlier this month, allegedly to discuss the establishment of a new intelligence service controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. Several Egyptian newspapers, including the quality broadsheet Al-Masry Al-Youm, said that the Iranian official was Qassem Suleimani, commander of Quds Force, a unit inside the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is specifically tasked with exporting the Iranian Revolution abroad. The Quds Force has traditionally constituted the primary channel of communication between the government of Iran and a host of international groups allied to it, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine. Suleimani is said to have traveled incognito to Cairo at the personal invitation of Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi, who is also a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group, which was legalized in Egypt after the 2011 revolution, is the Egyptian branch of a Pan-Islamic political and social movement that assumed control of the government after the ousting two years ago of Egyptian longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak. According to reports from Egypt, Suleimani met with “senior officials” in the Egyptian capital, including President Mursi’s chief adviser on foreign affairs, Issam al-Haddad, as well as prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Masry Al-Youm said the Iranian commander discussed plans to develop a new civilian intelligence service in post-Mubarak Egypt, which will be answerable to the government of the country. The apparent plan of the Muslim Brotherhood is to create a brand new spy service that will operate outside the control of Egypt’s military, which currently commands the bulk of the country’s intelligence community. Read more of this post

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Ex-CIA officer says US may be ‘dangerously wrong’ on alleged Iran plot

Robert Baer

Robert Baer

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Robert Baer, who spent over two decades working for the CIA in the Middle East, has warned that the FBI may be “dangerously wrong” in its assessment that Iran is behind an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The Obama administration said yesterday that two Iranian agents had been arrested for planning to kill Saudi diplomat Adel al-Jubeir in Washington, DC, with help by members of a Mexican drug cartel. The FBI said that the two Iranians, Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, were operating on behalf of Iran’s Quds Force, a unit inside the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) specifically tasked with exporting the Iranian Revolution abroad. The arrests prompted a strong reaction from the United States, which said it will impose new punitive measures against the regime in Tehran —a move that is certain to further-ignite tensions between the two countries. But speaking on Australian national radio, Baer said that the alleged assassination plan does not appear to be connected with the IRGC or any other part of Iran’s state apparatus. The operation, as outlined by the FBI, does not fit the “modus operandi” of the Iranian security services, said Baer. The latter are “much better than this [...]. They wouldn’t be sending money through an American bank; they wouldn’t be going to the cartels in Mexico to do this. It’s just not the way they work. I’ve followed them for 30 years and they’re much more careful. They always use a proxy between them and the operation, and in this case they didn’t”. Baer also spoke to the BBC World Service and to The Washington Post, where he is quoted as saying that there is “sloppiness about the case that defies belief”. The former CIA case officer urged the Obama administration to step back, re-examine its case, and avoid “retaliatory attacks [such as bombing] a Quds Force base in Tehran [...], which would lead to a huge escalation”. Instead, he urged Washington to open “direct diplomatic channel with the Iranian regime or risk igniting an uncontrollable war”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #445

  • WikiLeaks files show Iranian involvement in Iraq. The latest WiliLeaks release of nearly 392,000 US military reports from Iraq shows, among other things, that Iran was a major combatant in the Iraq War. According to the documents, Tehran’s elite Quds Force trained Iraqi Shiite insurgents and imported weapons like Explosively Formed Projectile bombs into Iraq for use against civilians, Sunni militants and US troops.
  • WikiLeaks founder on the run. Julian Assange’s fate seems as imperiled as that of Private Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old former Army intelligence operative under detention in the US for leaking Iraq and Afghan war documents to WikiLeaks. Last Monday, Mr. Assange’s bid for a residence permit in Sweden was rejected. His British visa will expire early next year.
  • Money problems of US spies may threaten US security. Elizabeth Bancroft The executive director of the US Association of Former Intelligence Officers, has suggested that government agencies should monitor intelligence service employees with security clearances, who may have fallen into bankruptcy during the ongoing economic crisis. Spy agencies are worried that financial problems might leave these employees open to bribery or blackmail.

Analysis: Iranian spymaster a major player in Iraq

Suleimani

Qassem Suleimani

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Newsweek’s Chris Dickey has penned an accurate analysis on Qassem Suleimani, leader of the mighty Quds Force, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) unit tasked with exporting the Iranian Revolution abroad. Relatively little is known about Suleimani, a soft-spoken intelligence operative who oversees Iran’s links with Shiite movements in the Middle East and beyond. His influence inside Iraq has grown in recent years. Although the Quds Force intelligence network in Iraq was solid before the 2003 US invasion, the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime turned Suleimani’s agency to what is probably the most powerful organized intelligence force in the country. Indeed, Suleimani’s links with the Kurdish north and with the Shiite paramilitary groups in Iraq is so encompassing that, as Dickey correctly notes, “this 53-year-old Iranian general could pull the strings that make or break the new government in Baghdad”. Read more of this post

Alleged Iranian intelligence agent arrested in Iraq

The US Pentagon-controlled American Forces Press Agency has reported the arrest of an alleged Iranian intelligence agent in Qastin, approximately 30 km north of Baghdad. The unnamed arrestee, who was captured after an intelligence tip, is allegedly a “commander of Iranian special operations” forces stationed covertly on Iraq’s soil. The US information claims he helped facilitate training of Iraqi resistance fighters at clandestine camps operated by Quds Force (Jerusalem Force), a paramilitary unit of Iran’s Republican Guard Coprs, whose mission is to organize, train, equip, and finance foreign Islamist revolutionary movements. The US has long ago accused Quds Force and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps of providing direct assistance to Iraqi resistance groups, including providing them with weapons. [IA]

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