Reporter Details Congressionally Approved Covert Funding Of Terrorists In Iran
Military, intelligence, and congressional sources say secret war is vamped to bring down Iranian leadership
Steve Watson & Paul Watson
Monday, June 30, 2008
Award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has detailed a move by the Bush administration, with Congressional backing, which represents a “major escalation” in covert military operations aimed at destabilizing the Iranian leadership.
Hersh also details how The CIA and the United States Special Operations Forces have long-standing ties to the PEJAK, the outlawed breakaway faction of the PKK terrorist group in Iran, as well as other Sunni fundamentalists that former intelligence officials say “can also be described as Al Qaeda.”
Hersh describes how the neocon White House has vamped up secret efforts to work with the same terrorist groups that were once populated with figures such as Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was fingered as one of the leading planners of the September 11th attacks.
“The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money,” Hersh reveals, quoting an unnamed “person familiar with its contents.”
Congress, under Democratic leadership, approved a $400 million request for funding late last year, according to Hersh’s sources, military, intelligence, and congressional officials with direct knowledge of the top secret Presidential Finding, which by law must be issued when covert intelligence operations get underway.
The corporate media has somewhat downplayed the revelations, which essentially highlight once again how the so called “war on terror” is a complete fiction, as US elites are funding Sunni extremists intent on destroying the Shiite Iranian leadership.
Hersh spoke about the article in an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley:
“Well, one of the basic points is no matter what we say about diplomacy, you know, carrot and stick, the stick is working pretty hard and the stick is working overtime. This president did escalate the secret war inside Iran. We’ve been doing stuff inside Iran since ‘05 pretty heavily, Looking at the nuclear facilities, collecting intelligence and trying to undermine the regime, et cetera, et cetera but there was a significant escalation this year.” Hersh said.
“They got a great deal of authorization to spend up to $400 million. That doesn’t mean he’s spent it all yet but he’s got that kind of authorization. The secret committees — anyone who saw “Charlie Wilson’s war,” — Charlie Wilson was able to generate a lot of money secretly. That’s what happens in Congress and the other major thing is we’ve sent in a special task force that operates out of Afghanistan into Iran.”
“I did notice what Ambassador Crocker said about ‘not cross-border’ and I have a lot of respect for him and I don’t want to challenge him. But the fact is were inside but not necessarily cross-border. We have teams inside Iran. These include joint special operations forces, the most elite commando units and basically they’re guys go after high-value targets around the world. They capture them or kill them so it’s a significant increase in American potential for damage inside Iran.”
Hersh went on to state that one of the reasons former Commander of the U.S. Central Command Admiral Fallen was forced out and purged by the Bush administration was that he was unable to find out the full scope of clandestine operations inside Iran. Hersh also stated that the endgame for Bush and Cheney is to ensure that they do not leave office without first having eliminated Iran’s nuclear program, whether that be by attacking the country or forcing regime change inside the country.
Watch the full interview:
We have previously carried reports of how the US and Britain are already at war with Iran, have been at war with Iran for a number of years now and are funding anti-Iranian terrorist groups inside Iran in preparation for the fallout that will occur after overt military action is commenced.
High ranking CIA officials, Defense department officials, former UN officials and retired US air force Colonels have gone on record with the specific details.
In an article entitled The US war with Iran has already begun, written back in June 2005, former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, Scott Ritter described how intelligence gathering, direct action and the mobilizing of indigenous opposition is all being carried out already by CIA backed US special forces.
As with Iraq, the president has paved the way for the conditioning of the American public and an all-too-compliant media to accept at face value the merits of a regime change policy regarding Iran, linking the regime of the Mullah’s to an “axis of evil” (together with the newly “liberated” Iraq and North Korea), and speaking of the absolute requirement for the spread of “democracy” to the Iranian people.
But Americans, and indeed much of the rest of the world, continue to be lulled into a false sense of complacency by the fact that overt conventional military operations have not yet commenced between the United States and Iran.As such, many hold out the false hope that an extension of the current insanity in Iraq can be postponed or prevented in the case of Iran. But this is a fool’s dream.
The reality is that the US war with Iran has already begun. As we speak, American over flights of Iranian soil are taking place, using pilotless drones and other, more sophisticated, capabilities.The violation of a sovereign nation’s airspace is an act of war in and of itself. But the war with Iran has gone far beyond the intelligence-gathering phase.President Bush has taken advantage of the sweeping powers granted to him in the aftermath of 11 September 2001, to wage a global war against terror and to initiate several covert offensive operations inside Iran.
Ritter goes on to describe how Iranian opposition groups, including the well known right-wing terrorist organization known as Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), once run by Saddam Hussein’s dreaded intelligence services, but now working exclusively for the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, are carrying out remote bombings in Iran of the sort that the Bush administration condemns on a daily basis inside Iraq.
He also describes how to the north, in neighbouring Azerbaijan, the US military is preparing a base of operations for a massive military presence that will foretell a major land-based campaign designed to capture Tehran.
Ritter is not alone in his assertions.
During an interview on CNN in 2006, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner claimed that U.S. military operations were already ‘underway’ inside Iran.
“I would say — and this may shock some — I think the decision has been made and military operations are under way,” Col. Gardiner told CNN International anchor Jim Clancy.
“The secretary point is, the Iranians have been saying American military troops are in there, have been saying it for almost a year,” Gardiner said. “I was in Berlin two weeks ago, sat next to the ambassador, the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA. And I said, ‘Hey, I hear you’re accusing Americans of being in there operating with some of the units that have shot up revolution guard units.’ He said, quite frankly, ‘Yes, we know they are. We’ve captured some of the units, and they’ve confessed to working with the Americans,'” said the retired Air Force colonel.
The full seven minute CNN segment can be viewed below:
Around the same time that Gardiner revealed this, RAW story ran an exclusive, which also revealed that, according to counterintelligence officials, covert operations were underway that included CIA co-option and use of right wing terror groups:
“We disarmed [the MEK] of major weapons but not small arms. [Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld was pushing to use them as a military special ops team, but policy infighting between their camp and Condi, but she was able to fight them off for a while,” said the intelligence official. According to still another intelligence source, the policy infighting ended last year when Donald Rumsfeld, under pressure from Vice President Cheney, came up with a plan to “convert” the MEK by having them simply quit their organization.
“These guys are nuts,” this intelligence source said. “Cambone and those guys made MEK members swear an oath to Democracy and resign from the MEK and then our guys incorporated them into their unit and trained them.”
The MEK were notorious in Iraq, indeed, Saddam Hussein himself had used the MEK for acts of terror against non-Sunni Muslims and had assigned domestic security detail to the MEK as a way of policing dissent among his own people. It was under the guidance of MEK ‘policing’ that Iraqi citizens who were not Sunni were routinely tortured, attacked and arrested.
MEK has been linked with numerous bombings inside Iran over the course of the last few years. The organization has also killed U.S. troops and civilians since the 70’s, yet the Bush cabal continues to fund them.
According to Global Security.org, “In the early 1970s, angered by U.S. support for the pro-Western shah, MEK members killed several U.S. soldiers and civilians working on defense projects in Iran. MEK members also supported the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, in which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days.”
Here’s what I would suggest to you. Number one, we take the National Council for Resistance to Iran off the terrorist list that the Clinton Administration put them on as well as the Mujahedin-e Khalq at the Camp Ashraf in Iraq,” said McInerney.
“Then I would start a tit-for-tat strategy which I wrote up in the Wall Street Journal a year ago: For every EFP that goes off and kills Americans, two go off in Iran. No questions asked. People don’t have to know how it was done. It’s a covert action. They become the most unlucky country in the world,” he added.
Top Neo-Cons have been calling for the US to back terror groups in Iran and other reports clearly indicate that this program has already been in place for years.
Last November, Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade openly called for US support for acts of terrorism, such as car bombings, in Tehran. Colonel David Hunt, who has over 29 years of military experience including extensive operational experience in Special Operations, Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Operations, agreed with Kilmeade, stating “absolutely” in response to Kilmead’s question about whether cars should start blowing up in Tehran.
Another Iranian-based terror group that the Bush administration is already funding as a means of regime change in Iran is Jundullah – a Sunni Al-Qaeda terrorist group formerly headed by the alleged mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
“The CIA is giving arms-length support, supplying money and weapons, to an Iranian militant group, Jundullah, which has conducted raids into Iran from bases in Pakistan,” the London Telegraph reported last year.
The group has been blamed for a number of bombings inside Iran aimed at destabilizing Ahmadinejad’s government and is also active in Pakistan, having been fingered for its involvement in attacks on police stations and car bombings at the Pakistan-US Cultural Center in 2004.
As Seymour Hersh himself also reported back in 2004, U.S. intelligence and Israel’s Mossad are busy at work stirring up trouble in Iran in preparation for an attack on that country. In early 2005, the Guardian reported that “American special forces have been on the ground inside Iran scouting for US air strike targets for suspected nuclear weapons sites.”
If this all sounds a little familiar, it’s because it is. The fact is that the US has a long history of provocation and covert action inside Iran.
The In 1953 the CIA and MI6 carried out Operation Ajax (officially TP-AJAX), a covert operation by the United Kingdom and the United States to remove the democratically elected nationalist cabinet of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh from power, to support the Pahlavi dynasty and consolidate the power of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in order to preserve the Western control of Iran’s hugely lucrative oil infrastructure.
In planning the operation, the CIA organized a guerrilla force incase the communist Tudeh Party seized power as a result of the chaos created by Operation Ajax. According to formerly “Top Secret” documents released by the National Security Archive, Undersecretary of State Walter Bedell Smith reported that the CIA had reached an agreement with Qashqai tribal leaders in southern Iran to establish a clandestine safe haven from which U.S.-funded guerrillas and intelligence agents could operate.
The conspiracy centered around having the increasingly impotent Shah dismiss the powerful Prime Minister Mossadegh and replace him with General Fazlollah Zahedi, a choice agreed on by the British and Americans after careful examination for his likeliness to be pro-British.
Zahedi was installed to succeed Prime Minister Mossadegh. The deposed Mossadegh was arrested, given a show trial, and condemned to death. The Shah commuted this sentence to solitary confinement for three years in a military prison, followed by house arrest for life.
“If there had not been a military coup, there would not have been 25 years of the Shah’s brutal regime, there would not have been a revolution in 1979 and a government of clerics,” Ibrahim Yazdi, a former foreign minister and leading member of a political party that traces its origins to Mossadegh’s National Front, told the Christian Science Monitor on the 50th anniversary of the coup and installation of the Shah. “Now it seems that the Americans are pushing towards the same direction again. That shows they have not learned anything from history.”
“For many Iranians, the coup was a tragedy from which their country has never recovered. Perhaps because Mossadegh represents a future denied, his memory has approached myth,” Dan De Luce writes for the Guardian. “Beyond Iran, America remains deeply resented for siding with authoritarian rule in the region.”
Alex Jones’s latest film Terrorstorm covers the ousting of Mossadegh in depth.
After the Iranian revolution in 1979, the US again found itself sparring with Iran. Again we find a history of provocation and aggression. In particular, a fierce assault known as Operation Praying Mantis, is renowned. The operation began after a US warship had entered mined Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.
On April 14 1988, the guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts struck a mine while sailing in the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Earnest Will, the 1987-88 convoy missions in which U.S. warships escorted reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers to protect them from Iranian attacks. The explosion put a 25-foot hole in the Roberts’ hull and nearly sank it. But the crew saved their ship with no loss of life, and Roberts was towed to Dubai on April 16.
After the mining, U.S. Navy divers recovered other mines in the area. When the serial numbers were found to match those of mines seized along with the Iran Ajr the previous September, U.S. military officials planned a retaliatory operation against Iranian targets in the Gulf.The battle, the largest for American surface forces since World War II, sank two Iranian warships and as many as six armed speedboats. It also marked the first surface-to-surface missile engagement in U.S. Navy history.
U.S. naval forces on Monday attacked Iranian targets in the Persian Gulf to show the Iranians that “if they threaten us, they’ll pay a price,” President Reagan said.
In fighting conducted over nine hours, the U.S. forces knocked out two Iranian oil platforms, and then sank or disabled a fast-attack missile patrol boat, two frigates, and three speedboats when Iran attempted to fight back.
Note Reagan’s comments. Hence the name ‘Operation Praying Mantis’ was a reference to the fanning of the wings used to make the mantis seem larger and to scare the opponent.
On November 6, 2003 the International Court of Justice dismissed Iran’s claim for reparation against the United States for breach of the 1955 Treaty of Amity between the two countries. The court also dismissed a counter-claim by the United States, also for reparation for breach of the same treaty. As part of its finding the court did note that “the actions of the United States of America against Iranian oil platforms on 19 October 1987 (Operation Nimble Archer) and 18 April 1988 (Operation Praying Mantis) cannot be justified as measures necessary to protect the essential security interests of the United States of America.”
The fallout of Praying Mantis also resulted in the U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes shooting down an Iranian civilian commercial airliner, Iran air flight 665, between Bandar Abbas and Dubai, killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard, including 38 non-Iranians and 66 children. The Vincennes was inside Iranian territorial waters at the time of the shoot-down.
The On the morning of July 3, the Vincennes crossed into Iranian territorial waters during clashes with Iranian gunboats. Earlier in the day, the Vincennes – along with Iranian gunboats – had similarly violated Omani waters until challenged by an Omani warship.
According to the U.S. government, the Iranian aircraft was mistakenly identified as an attacking military fighter. The Iranian government, however, maintains that the Vincennes knowingly shot down a civilian aircraft.
According to the Iranian government, the shooting down of IR 655 by the Vincennes was an intentionally performed and unlawful act. Even if there was a mistaken identification, which Iran has not accepted, it argues that this constituted gross negligence and recklessness amounting to an international crime, not an accident.
Newsweek reporters John Barry and Roger Charles wrote that Rogers acted recklessly and without due care. Their report accused the U.S. government of a cover-up. An analysis of the events by the International Strategic Studies Association described the deployment of an Aegis cruiser in the zone as irresponsible and felt that the expense of the ship had played a major part in the setting of a low threshold for opening fire.
George H.W. Bush, at the time Vice President said “I will never apologize for the United States of America — I don’t care what the facts are” in reference to the incident.
The BBC later reported:
It took four years for the US administration to admit officially that the USS Vincennes was in Iranian waters when the skirmish took place with the Iranian gunboats. Subsequent investigations have accused the US military of waging a covert war against Iran in support of Iraq. In February 1996 the US agreed to pay Iran $61.8 million in compensation for the 248 Iranians killed, plus the cost of the aircraft and legal expenses.
So we see that Britain and the US have a long history of covert action against and provocation of Iran in their bid to aggressively control the region. Nothing has changed.