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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Some analysts skeptical of alleged Iranian plot - 13th Oct 2011

Did an elite branch of Iran's military handpick a divorced, 56-year-old Iranian-American used-car salesman from Texas to hire a hitman from a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the ambassador to Saudi Arabia by blowing up a bomb in a crowded restaurant in Washington?

U.S. officials say they are certain the bizarre plot against Ambassador Adel Jubeir was real.

But some analysts say they are not. They find it unlikely that the Iranian government, or legitimate factions within, would be involved in such a tangled plot.

1. The alleged plot doesn't fit Iran's style

In the 32-year history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its Quds Force -- the branch implicated in the alleged plot -- has never been publicly linked to an assassination plot or an attack on U.S. soil. In cases where Quds Force members have been accused of plotting attacks, they had gone to great lengths to cover their tracks and hire proxy groups of the highest caliber, like the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Hiring an Iranian-American used-car salesman who, according to investigators, openly talked about his connections to the Iranian military and brazenly made a $100,000 wire transfer doesn't fit the Quds Force's modus operandi, analysts say.

"It would be completely uncharacteristic for Iran to be caught red-handed," former CIA operative Bob Baer told CNN.

"There are very few groups operationally better than Iran's Quds Force. They know what they are doing, The only proxies they use are ones they've vetted. They don't let their own citizens get involved."

2. Iran would lose more than it would gain

An assassination plot on U.S. soil would be costly for Iran, analysts say, inviting further sanctions and isolation by the international community, and perhaps military action as well.

"What we've seen unfold makes no sense in terms of Iran's national security strategy," says Hillary Mann Leverett, who was an adviser on Iran in former President George W. Bush's administration.

"There's no benefit; there's no payoff in them pursuing this kind of hit against Adel Jubeir. And it runs contrary to their entire national security strategy."

3. Iran has much easier targets to go after

Iran has potential U.S. and Saudi targets in its own backyard. In fact, Iran's Quds Force is frequently accused of waging proxy wars against U.S. troops in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan and against Saudi interests in places like Bahrain.

The notion that Iran's potential targets in its own backyard were not enough, and that its Quds Force was therefore compelled to carry out a plot on U.S. soil seems far-fetched, analysts say. Read More