Thursday, October 13, 2011

Iranian Plot or another Lackawanna Misfire?

The behavior of the Iranians has been so bizarre over the years that scarcely anything that that regime did would surprise, but there is reason to wonder about this new claim that they had hatched a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in the United States.  The central figure in this plot turns out to be “more a stumbling opportunist than a calculating killer” [NYTimes today; click on the title for a link].

The United States has a huge system of surveillance that costs billions of dollars, but for all they do – and they have to be good at what they do – they have been unable to claim many major discoveries.  Not to denigrate this history, because most of us agree that such a system is necessary in this complex world.  But the man they have accused of plotting to kill a Saudi diplomat?  If today’s paper is to be believed, this man can hardly be up to the task that he is accused of.  This guy has “left a string of failed businesses and angry creditors in his wake, and an embittered ex-wife who sought a protective order against him. … [he is] perennially disheveled, …and hopelessly disorganized.”

It is hard not to think back to the accusations against the so-called Lackawanna Six, who were shadowed for over a year because they had once been involved in a training camp in Afghanistan; as it happened no evidence of seditious activity was ever found against them.  They were however accused when one of them flew to Yemen and announced in a telegram to his friends that he was getting married.  To the intelligence community the word “wedding” in the telegram meant he was about to commit a suicide attack.  After a national alert the government quietly dropped all charges:  It turned out he did get married after all.  Suicide?  Well, it depends on what you think about marriage [!].

So now we have a 56 year old loser to accuse of a complex potentially heinous crime.  Lets hope it turns out better this time.  

Addenda on what others say:

How strong is the case against Iran plot suspect?
Jeffrey Toobin 10/14/11
Wagging the Dog with Iran’s Maxwell Smart
by Juan Cole 10/13/2011 

*Unanswered questions over the alleged Iranian assassination plot*
*Iran 'plot' raises unanswered questions*

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