Posted by Evelyn on Free Iraq Blog
"Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell tipped his hand just a bit when he recently opined that Syria may have been responsible for the February 12 car bombing in Damascus of Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh. McConnell, according to WMR's Middle East sources, provided only a small part of the intelligence cooperation that actually occurs in the Middle East between the Syrians, Iranians, Israelis, and Americans.
It is becoming apparent that the head of Syrian military intelligence, Assef Shawkat, and a group of his operatives in Syria and Lebanon have been carrying out a number of car bombings, including that of Mughniyeh and Lebanese politicians, in order to provide "plausible deniability" and a firewall between Syria and the Israelis and Americans. Significantly, Shawkat is the brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
WMR's sources report that a faction within the Iranian military decided to help the Shawkat faction take out Mughniyeh in order to avoid an outbreak of war between Hezbollah and Israel in south Lebanon and a possible concurrent "shock and awe" US air strike on Iran. Hezbollah's operational command maintains close links with the Iranian embassies in Syria and Lebanon. In addition, Hezbollah's Special Security Apparatus is provided with weapons, military training, and money by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Al Qods force of the IRGC.
Shawkat has maintained close ties with the CIA providing the agency with extraordinary rendition prisons and torture rooms for individuals grabbed by CIA operatives around the world, including Canadian citizen Mahar Arar, a native of Syria. In September 2006, a Canadian Commission of Inquiry concluded that Arar, who was kidnapped while transiting JFK Airport in New York, was tortured by Syrian military intelligence. The report stated that Shawkat's service tortured Arar "while interrogating him during the period he was held incommunicado at the SMI’s [Syrian Military Intelligence's] Palestine Branch facility.”
After the car bomb hit on Mughniyeh in Damascus, Shawkat's intelligence operatives ensured that the scene of the bombing was completely cleansed by first light the next morning. The only signs that the bombing had occurred were some black marks on the street and some minor damage to adjacent walls.
What is lost on the Western media is that there are covert channels between Israeli, Syrian, and Iranian intelligence. The Secretary of the conservative Islamic Coalition Society and close friend of Ayatollah Ali Khamanei is Habibollah Asgaroladi, a radical Muslim who rejected attempts by former President Mohamad Khatami to improve relations with the United States. Khatami's entreaties were also rejected by the neocons in the George W. Bush administration.
Asgaroladi is a member of the Expediency Council, an influential advisory group in the country chaired by former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who was the main Iranian interlocutor between the Americans and Israelis in the Iran-contra scandal during the Reagan-Bush administration in the 1980s. More noteworthy is the fact that Asgaroladi, counted as one of Iran's richest men, converted to Islam from Judaism during the time of the Shah's reign.
According to WMR's Iranian sources, beyond his radical rhetoric, Asgaroladi serves as an important back channel to Israel, especially in matters of trade matters. Asgaroladi's position in Iran has been likened by WMR's Middle East sources to the large number of Turkish leaders whose families converted from Judaism to Islam before and after the Turkish secular revolution of Kemal Ataturk. In fact, knowledgeable Turkish sources report that Ataturk, himself, was one such convert. These Turkish leaders provide much of the support for close Turkish-Israeli relations, including military and intelligence links.
Our Middle East sources report that the Syrians, Israelis, and Iranians prefer that U.S. intelligence remain largely ignorant of the covert and subtle links between Israel, the minority Alawite Muslim regime in Damascus, and the mullahs in Tehran. However, it is just that ignorance by the United States that could propel America into a disastrous military action in Iran."