Mystery of Iranian Nuclear Scientist and the Duelling YouTube Videos

Aljazeera English reports on the two contradictory videos that have surfaced, in one of which Dr. Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist, maintains that he was kidnapped while on pilgrimage to Mecca and is being held against his will in Arizona (an irony, since he would then be an involuntary illegal alien in a state that seems to mind the latter). The second video, also put up at YouTube, contradicts the allegations the first.

The Original videos in Persian are here at Huffington Post.

WaPo cites retired CIA sources who allege that it is not US practice to kidnap people. But there is such a practice, and it is called rendition, and some allies such as Italy are angered that we do it on their soil. Another CIA source says that if Amiri were imprisoned by the US in Tucson, he wouldn’t be free to contact people by video.

There are many scenarios that can explain this odd turn of events.

1. The first video alleging kidnapping is an Iranian government forgery

2. The first video is valid but the second one is a US government operation

Possibility no. 2 could work like this: The US practices rendition on Amiri with the help of Saudi intelligence while he is in Medina. He is interrogated on film about Iran’s nuclear program, and he and breaks down and talks about the new Fardo enrichment facility near Qom. (Because of fatigue or fear or disenchantment with the regime).

The US authorities now have something to blackmail him with. They offer to let him stay in the US if he is afraid to go back to Iran after having spilled the beans. He reluctantly agrees.

Anyone who watches the USA cable television channel’s “In Plain Sight” can speculate on what has happened next. Amiri was possibly put in the federal Witness Protection Program, which involves a sort of social death (you are cut off from all former friends and from all family in you past so as to keep you safe from assassination). As with many of the characters in “In Plain Sight,” Amiri may have become bored and dissatisfied with Witness Protection, and he may have skyped an old acquaintance who recorded his plea for help. But then no doubt the federal marshals would have reminded him that he had thereby put his life in danger, and so perhaps he rethought and put up the second video, a disavowal of the first.

If Amiri went into Witness Protection, it would explain how he could use a program such as skype to contact an old friend. If he was despondent, lonely and missed Iran, claiming to have been kidnapped is the only plausible way to avoid being charged with treason. Or perhaps he really was a victim of rendition.

All this is just speculation. But if it is true that Amiri was a victim of rendition and then “aggressively” interrogated, there is every possibility that he lied and told the Americans what he thought they wanted to hear. And if that were the case, then whatever “intelligence” the US gleaned from the hapless scientist could be highly compromised.

The US started saying Iran had a secret nuclear enrichment site at Fardo. But the then head of the International Atomic Energy Agency went to the facility and inspected it, finding it just a hole in the side of a mountain, with no centrifuges yet installed. But the US began by insisting it was a hidden operating facility. It is almost as though someone told them about Fardo but then vastly exaggerated what it is. (In actuality, it is probably just an attempt to ensure that Israel cannot bomb Iran’s civilian nuclear program out of existence).

US officials are always saying something weird about Iran. You wonder if they tortured it out of rendition subjects.

15 Responses

  1. He may have needed to protect his wife and child, who are still living in Iran, by reading a script written by the Iranians — his American handlers would have helped him do this if he’d told them things worth knowing. But had he known highly sensitive information, the Iranians wouldn’t have let him travel at all — thus his information cannot hold much value irrespective of what his American handlers may think. This is the same CIA whose drones have been adept at bombing Iraqi and Afghani wedding parties, based on so-called valuable information. This is the same government that dismisses the efforts of Turkey and Brazil to bring Iran to the table.

  2. In the video where he says he defected to the US to continue his studies, he is clearly reading from a text. I think u can easily see that.
    Come on guys, either state the facts as they r, or keep silent and ignore the whole subject…
    This is not the first incident that shows America’s arrogance…

  3. “civillian nuclear weapons program”? Is there something that I’ve missed?

  4. Does Iran want to bring the IRGC along for a aid flotilla ride?

    link to csmonitor.com

    Iranian politicians have been quick to speak out against the Israeli raid, and propose joint aid convoys for Gaza. The narrow strip of land is jammed with 1.5 million people and has been subject to an Israeli blockade for three years, in an effort to stop materials used by Hamas and other militants to make bombs and rockets, and to increase deprivation to try to turn the population against Hamas.

    Supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative to the Revolutionary Guard Navy said Iran was duty-bound to provide military escort.

    “The duty of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the face of such an unchivalrous act [the flotilla raid] is to defend the innocent and defenseless people of Gaza,” said cleric Ali Shirazi, according to Iranian media translated by IranTracker.Org. “The Revolutionary Guards Navy has the power and preparedness to use all its potentials to escort freedom and peace caravans transporting humanitarian aid from the entire world to … Gaza.”

    • “Iranian politicians have been quick to speak out against the Israeli raid, and propose joint aid convoys for Gaza.”

      Well, yeah. Considering the grudge match going on between the two sides that’s to be expected.

      But Iranian involvement in attempting to break the siege is possibly the worst thing that could happen for Gazans. Iran is distrusted by most of the world, certainly European and Arab countries, their taking an active hand runs the risk of reinforcing the propaganda about Hamas being a tool of Iran. Israel’s apologists will have their evidence that Gaza is in fact an existential threat to Israel and do you really believe there’s just food and anti-biotics on those boats? Etc. etc. we’ve all heard enough of those fevered rants to know how they go.

      Bottom line, if Iran puts its navy to the task of breaking the siege then Israel gets its war and that’s why it’s not going to happen.

  5. In the second to the last paragraph, did you mean to write “Iran’s civilian nuclear WEAPONS program”?

  6. May be that there is a third possibility to consider : that Amiri is a gobetween. The whole question then is to which country goes his ultimate loyalty : US or Iran ? Or may be he is flipflopping under some measure of constraints, like you described at the end of your blog entry.
    Frankly, what we the US says concerning Iran sounds so much like the what we heard about Iraq before the invasion that I can’t believe anything the US says concerning Iran nuclear program/intentions/facilities. It is all intox and propaganda. Glad that you are going after these inconsistencies in the US discourse.

  7. The speculation here reflects how easy it is to get into the conspiracy business. Even with limited data, the prejudiced can make whatever case they wish.

    This reminds me of how one of those “balanced” analysts at WINEP proposed how the inspection of that “hole in the ground,” missed the chambers with the centrifuges, hidden 50-100 feet beneath their very feet. Of course, had they probed for such hidden chambers and found nothing, it could as easily be claimed that they existed just another 50 ft lower.

    Go figure why at some point, that I suspect we are long past, talking is pointless.

  8. Dr. Cole, you just wrote a great screenplay for a great movie. You should have the rights to it. Excellent Writing as always.

  9. Anyone familiar with the Curveball (WMD biowar trailers) fabrications has an excellent model for how the ‘subject expert’ and a cascade of debriefers and analysts can feed each others needs, in the creation of highly detailed and misleading stories.

  10. Hum.. A lot of bad things seem to have befallen Iranian scientists lately. Massoud Ali Mohammadi (who did not work on the nuclear program and who also openly supported Mousavi), was outright assassinated earlier this year, but my- that was an awfully big bomb for a minor academic dissenter. I think two others died suspiciously. I’m guessing a lot of people in the middle east would suspect some type of Israeli involvement. Not to deny it might have been a ruse designed to appear Israeli.

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