More on the Former Iranian Defense Minister (Updated)

The Washington Post is now confirming the Asharq Alawsat story I noted yesterday:

A former Iranian deputy defense minister who once commanded the Revolutionary Guard has left his country and is cooperating with Western intelligence agencies, providing information on Hezbollah and Iran’s ties to the organization, according to a senior U.S. official.Ali Rez Asgari disappeared last month during a visit to Turkey. Iranian officials suggested yesterday that he may have been kidnapped by Israel or the United States. The U.S. official said Asgari is willingly cooperating. He did not divulge Asgari’s whereabouts or specify who is questioning him, but made clear that the information Asgari is offering is fully available to U.S. intelligence.

[…]

Ram Igra, a former Mossad officer, said Asgari spent much of the 1980s and 1990s overseeing Iran’s efforts to support, finance, arm and train Hezbollah. The State Department lists the Shiite Lebanese group as a terrorist organization.

“He lived in Lebanon and, in effect, was the man who built, promoted and founded Hezbollah in those years,” Igra told Israeli state radio. “If he has something to give the West, it is in this context of terrorism and Hezbollah’s network in Lebanon.”

Cernig of Newshog called Asharq Alawsat transatlantic—the editors will decide today whether to post the story in English. The Arabic version is here. Thanks, Lounsbury.

I interpret the WP story as a confirmation from the State Department. Note that the details on Gen. Asgari tends to support my intuition that whatever information he may possess and convey to us is likely to be more helpful in providing details on the relationship between the Iranian regime and Hezbollah (and, hopefully, contacts with people in Iraq) than it will be in providing new information on an Iranian nuclear weapons development program.

It will be interesting to consider Gen. Asgari and whatever information he may furnish to the U. S. as a prism through which to view the statements of both the U. S. government and the Iranian regime of the last few weeks and, no doubt, the next.

Update

Fox News is contradicting the WP story:

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Ali Rez Asgari, who is credited with founding the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, was fully cooperating with and divulging information to U.S. and other intelligence services.

Click here to read the full Washington Post story.

However, a senior U.S. official flatly denied the report.

U.S. intelligence agencies remain extremely interested in Asgari’s case, the official said, but they do not know his current whereabouts.

The official did not rule out the possibility that Asgari, who once commanded Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and served as the country’s deputy defense minister, was conducting negotiations with an intelligence organization, but denied that there was any type of cooperation with the U. S.

The alternatives we seem to be left with include

  • The Washington Post is wrong.
  • Fox News is wrong.
  • They’re both right but you’ve got to parse the story very closely.

Hat tip: California Yankee (in the comments)

Cross-posted at The Glittering Eye.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. The U.S. denies that the missing Iranian General is cooperating with the U.S.

    Reuters reports the missing Iranian is best known to Israel as the “founder” of Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

    Maybe the Israelis know where he is.

  2. Jim Henley says:

    I’m all for listening to what the fellow has to say if he’s defected, so long as US intelligence isn’t overly credulous, as they were with defectors from Iraq. But while Hezbollah is a major threat to Israel, they’re not an important threat to the United States, so he’s not all that great a catch.