Thursday, October 13, 2011

Methods of doubt: questions about Iranian assassination plot


Marcy Wheeler at Empty Wheel notices something interesting about the criminal complaint filed against the alleged Iranian bomb plotters: it is an amended complaint, and this raises questions about what was contained in the earlier version::


Two things might explain this. First, that there was an earlier unrelated complaint–say on drug charges, but the charges are tied closely enough to this op such that this counts as an amended complaint. Alternately, that Arbabsiar was charged with a bunch of things when he was arrested on September 29, but then, after at least 12 days of cooperation (during which he waived Miranda rights each day), he was charged with something else and the new complaint incorporated Ali Gholam Shakuri’s involvement, based entirely on Arbabsiar’s confession and Shakuri’s coded conversations with Arbabsiar while the latter was in US custody.
Both of those scenarios suggest that what we see–the WMD and terror charges–might be totally different charges than what the original complaint included (or just focused less closely on Arbabsiar). In any case, the presence of an original complaint, even putting the docket weirdness aside, makes it pretty likely that Arbabsiar decided to cooperate because of what was in that complaint.


Now look at his status. “Detention on consent without prejudice.” Arbabsiar wants to be in jail. Given that his cooperation and implication of the Qods Force has turned into an international incident, I don’t blame the guy.
All of which does sort of make you wonder what medical attention the court ordered for Arbabsiar.
Now we may find there are perfectly reasonable explanations for why an already funky complaint that goes to great lengths to pretend the spooks weren’t involved in the case when they played an explicitly critical role has some oddities in its docket. But I would suggest–and I hope to at more length tomorrow–that DOJ’s records system might be the wrong place to look for background information on Manssor Arbabsiar.
And at the very least, the gaps in the docket mean that DOJ is currently unwilling to tell us when and on what charges Arbabsiar was first charged, and on what basis he cooperated with the authorities.
Other issues bug me, most prominently, the money. Why doesn't the complaint include the name of the bank which wired the money to the alleged assassin's account? One report indicated that the source bank was in Asia, but this was unattributed. Why wouldn't this information be included in the criminal complaint? Second, what was the connection between Arbabsiar and his Mexican fake contract assassin? Another report I saw suggested that the Mexican was a relative of Arbabsiar's neighbor in Texas, but that information was also unattributed. All sides agree that Arbabsiar is a particularly inept operator, making the question about his contacts in Mexico that much more pertinent. Third, didn't the idea of using a bomb instead of bullets come from the DEA informant? Did his handlers want a terrorism charge, which would come from plotting to use a bomb rather than a plain vanilla gun?

Along with Marcy and others, I can't help but think that there is drug business lurking in the background here. Which brings me back to the question: where did the money come from?

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