Iran silent about deadly blast that ‘lit up sky’ near Tehran

Parchin military complexBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS |
The government of Iran is refusing to comment on a reported blast at a secretive military facility that some sources say “lit up the sky” last week. The blast is said to have taken place on Sunday night at the Parchin military complex, located approximately 20 miles southeast of Iranian capital Tehran. The semi-official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on Monday that the explosion had been caused by a “fire [that] broke out in an explosive materials production unit” east of Tehran, and that two people had died. Interestingly, however, the news agency did not specify the precise location of the blast, nor did it identify the “explosive materials production unit” in question. There was also no mention of the cause of the fire that allegedly resulted in the blast. A few hours later, the Iranian-language news site SahamNews, which is politically linked to the Iranian opposition, claimed that the blast happened at Parchin and that it was a “massive explosion” that “lit up the evening sky” and caused windows to shatter as far as 9 miles away from the complex. It is worth noting that the blast was reported just hours after Israeli officials accused Iran of conducting nuclear implosion tests at a host of nuclear facilities, including Parchin. Israel is among several countries, including the United States, that have accused Iran of conducting nuclear experimentation at Parchin. The last time that the site was inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency was in 2005. Since then, Iranian authorities have rejected repeated IAEA requests for access to the site. There are suspicions that the latest explosion may be part of what many suspect is a longstanding campaign of sabotage against the Iranian nuclear program, orchestrated by Israel with the possible cooperation of the US and other countries. The campaign is believed to include psychological operations, sabotage, as well as targeted assassinations of senior Iranian nuclear scientists. Read more of this post

Failed Nazi spy mission in UK ‘was sabotaged by German dissidents’

Abwehr clerks in 1939By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS |
A new book authored by a German historian argues that a botched Nazi spy mission in World War II-era Britain was deliberately sabotaged by anti-Nazi intelligence officials within the ranks of the Third Reich. In 1940, Adolf Hitler was actively laying the groundwork for Operation SEA LION, Nazi Germany’s plan to invade the United Kingdom. In preparation for the invasion, the German leadership authorized the Hamburg bureau of the Abwehr, Nazi Germany’s military intelligence agency, to send into Britain a group of Nazi spies tasked with helping pave the way for the invasion. In September of 1940, a dozen Nazi intelligence operatives entered Britain during nighttime infiltration missions, some by parachute, and some by small inflatable boats. They had ostensibly been selected for the mission based on their ability to assimilate into British society. But Operation LENA, as the Abwehr codenamed the project, ended in abject failure. The near-comical behavior of the Nazi spies led to all of them getting arrested by British authorities within weeks. Some were detained after locals reported that they spoke English with heavy foreign accents. Nearly all of them lacked basic understanding of even the simplest British customs: indicatively, two of the spies were arrested in Scotland when they were found cycling on the wrong side of the road. Others were caught carrying German sausages and other continental consumer items among their personal belongings. The mainstream historical explanation of Operation LENA’s utter failure coincides with a British wartime report, which attributes it on the Nazi spies’ “own stupidity”. But a new book published this summer by German historian Monika Siedentopf, argues that LENA had been compromised from the very beginning by anti-Nazi officials inside Germany’s military intelligence community. The book, published in German by DTV Premium, is titled Unternehmen Seelöwe: Widerstand im deutschen Geheimdienst —in English, Operation Sea Lion: Resistance Inside German Intelligence. It is based on Siedentopf’s six-year study of material in the German National Archives, as well as in the personal wartime archives of senior German intelligence officers. She argues that Operation LENA stands out in its amateurism compared to other wartime infiltration operations by Germany’s Abwehr. And she concludes that LENA’s failure was not due to operational incompetence, but rather resulted from deliberate sabotage by a group of anti-Nazi intelligence officers. Read more of this post

Iran announces spy arrests after Ahmadinejad helicopter ‘accident’

Iran and its regionBy IAN ALLEN | |
Iran announced the arrest of an alleged 12-member spy network on Sunday, just hours after a helicopter carrying the country’s President was forced to make an emergency landing due to an unspecified “accident”. Iran’s state controlled media reported late on Sunday that the alleged spy ring had been instructed “to carry out terrorist acts” aimed at disrupting the Iranian presidential election, which is to be held on June 14. In a carefully worded statement, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry said the alleged spy ring operated under the direction of Israel’s covert-action agency, Mossad. The statement added that the ring’s leader had been recruited through “a reactionary Arab country” in the region and his espionage and sabotage activities in Iran were directed from “a headquarters in Britain”. Unconfirmed news reports claimed yesterday that “a remarkable amount of weapons” had been confiscated by Iranian counterintelligence forces as they apprehended the 12 ring members. The government’s statement said the weapons were meant to be used to “conduct terrorist acts” before and during the June 14 election day, and to “create ethnic and religious divisions” inside the country. On June 14, Iran is scheduled to hold its first presidential election since 2009, when the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sparked mass demonstrations organized by the opposition ‘Green Movement’. Some have called these demonstrations a precursor of the Arab Spring, which led to the toppling of regimes in several Arab countries, including Egypt and Libya. Read more of this post

MI6 archives reveal plans for WWII and Cold War black operations

Sir Stewart MenziesBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
Recently declassified British archives reveal a host of audacious plans for covert operations aimed at Nazi-occupied Europe during wartime and, after 1948, inside the Soviet Union. The plans, proposed by British intelligence officials, ranged from relatively innocuous psychological operations to assassinations of key political figures. The wartime plans were proposed in 1944 by Charles Peake, a British intelligence officer detailed to the headquarters of General Dwight Eisenhower. The iconic American military commander was in charge of plans for Operation OVERLORD, the allied troop landings on the beaches of Normandy in northern France. According to documents released last week by the United Kingdom National Archives, Peake’s proposal was entitled “Assassination Priorities for OVERLORD”. It contained an extensive list of senior German and French Axis officials that should be targeted for assassination in preparation for the D-Day landings. The hit list included “certain Germans in key positions in France”, notably Field Marshals Gerd von Rundstedt and Erwin Rommel. It also incorporated several senior members of France’s Nazi-controlled Vichy administration under Marshal Philippe Pétain. The proposal, however, was quickly shot down by no other than General Stewart Menzies, Director of the Secret Intelligence Service (known as MI6), who feared that intrusive covert actions by allied operatives would cause brutal reprisals against allied prisoners of war. Ironically, Menzies, known in government simply as “C”, drafted an ever more ambitious plan for black operations after the end of World War II, this time targeted at the Soviet Union. Read more of this post

Iran allegedly busts ‘Israel-backed’ sabotage ring

Israel and IranBy IAN ALLEN | |
The government of Iran has announced the arrests of a “terrorist network” that was allegedly planning sabotage and assassination operations inside the Islamic Republic. The announcement was released by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry and aired by a host of state-controlled media on Tuesday. The reports were vague, but claimed that the sabotage ring was supported by Israel, and that its members were “plotting fresh attacks” against Iranian government targets. The Intelligence Ministry said that Iranian counterterrorist teams decided to move against the “large and sophisticated” network after preparing the ground during “months of operations”. An unidentified Iranian government official was quoted as saying that the arrests of the group members involved the “recovery of large bombs, automatic weapons, handguns, [as well as] telecommunications equipment” from houses and apartments belonging to alleged sabotage group members. One report stated that some of the arrests were concluded following “firefights” between the suspects and Iranian government forces. Reports also claimed that the network led officials to the discovery of a separate “regional command center in a third country”, which was not named, but which is widely suspected to be Azerbaijan. Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that American intelligence agencies had ramped up intelligence and sabotage missions directed against Iran’s nuclear program. Read more of this post

Blast reported in Isfahan, site of major Iranian nuclear facility



Iranian media are reporting a blast in the city of Isfahan, in central Iran, which is home to one of Iran’s most active nuclear facilities. News reports, including one from Iran’s state-operated FARS News Agency, say that the blast was heard across the city at 2:40 p.m. on Monday, and that an investigation is currently underway to determine its cause. With a population of nearly two million, Isfahan, capital of the province by the same name, is Iran’s third largest city. It is also home to one of the country’s premier nuclear research facilities, which includes a nuclear plant that produces uranium pellets for use in nuclear reactors. Intriguingly, after an initial period of silence, regional government officials in Isfahan appeared to downplay reports of the explosion. Speaking to Iran’s Mehr news agency, the Deputy Governor of Isfahan, Mohammad-Mehdi Ismaeli, said characteristically that reports of an explosion were “unfounded”, and speculated with a dose of sarcasm that “maybe someone’s water heater blew up”.  But Western reports from Iran, including one by United Press International, interpret the media attention given to the Isfahan blast as an indication of “how the country is being spooked by cover operations against its nuclear program”. Reports of the alleged blast come only weeks after a major explosion at a military base 25 miles west of Iranian capital Tehran killed 17 members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, including Major General Hassan Moqqadam. The late General was described by Iran’s state media as the “founder of Iran’s missile program” and a pioneer in the country’s missile development after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Meanwhile, the former Director of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, Meir Dagan, has reiterated his warnings against plans by Tel Aviv to attack Iran. Speaking on Israeli television on Tuesday, Dagan cautioned Israel Read more of this post

Intel official claims Mossad was behind Iran missile depot blast

Iran blast siteBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
A Western intelligence official has told Time magazine that an Israeli spy agency was behind a weekend blast at an Iranian missile depot, which killed at least 17 people. The government of Iran claims that the powerful explosion, which wrecked a heavily guarded base belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, was an accident, caused during the transport of munitions. But Time quotes an unnamed “Western intelligence source”, as saying that the blast was a deliberate act of sabotage carried out by agents of the Mossad, Israel’s primary covert operations agency. The source urged Time not to “believe the Iranians that it was an accident”, and added that the operation was part of an ongoing covert action effort to impede Iran’s nuclear program, saying characteristically that “there are more bullets in the magazine”. The base, located approximately 25 miles west of Iranian capital Tehran, is reported to house several of Iran’s Shahab-3 long-range missiles, with an alleged reach of up to 2,000 miles. The blast was reported to have been powerful enough as to have been audible across Tehran itself. The victims of the blast included Major General Hassan Moqqadam, described by Iran’s state media as the “founder of Iran’s missile program” and a foremost pioneer in the country’s missile development after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The death of Moqqadam, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander, was so important that his funeral was attended by none other than Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader. Read more of this post


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