Former Iran assassin says alleged plot 'makes no sense'
Dawud Salahuddin, an American fugitive in Tehran who carried out 1980 hit near Washington, argues that Iran would not try to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US for fear of provoking war.
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Salahuddin's time in Iran – he speaks Farsi and is married to an Iranian – has given him particular insight into the workings of the regime. He has kept a close eye on world events, especially politics in his native United States. Salahuddin has in years past been contacted by US authorities, for a variety of reasons.Skip to next paragraph
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For him, the alleged assassination plot detailed by US officials this week portrays an unlikely Keystone Kops scenario that has been blown out of proportion by Washington as an election campaign gets underway.
President Barack Obama on Thursday slammed Iran's "dangerous and reckless behavior," and demanded "accountability" from Iran for any officials "engaging in this kind of activity."
US diplomatic missions around the world have been tasked with trying to convince their host governments to further isolate and pressure Iran, with special attention paid to Russia, China, and Turkey – all of which have been reluctant to add to four sets of UN sanctions already imposed upon Iran.
'Too many action movies growing up'
The US case centers around an Iranian-American from Corpus Christi, Texas, called Mansour Arbabsiar, and at least three members of the Quds Force, the elite branch of the Revolutionary Guard that handles covert operations abroad – apparently identified through intercepted communications and Mr. Arbabsiar’s confession.
News reports from Corpus Christi indicate that Arbabsiar is an unlikely Iranian 007, with his taste for whiskey and absent-minded demeanor.
"Do you think the Quds Force would choose a guy like that? I don't think so," says Salahuddin. "There is no real credible link between the guy and the government. ... I think he probably binged on too many action movies when he was growing up."
Arbabsiar "said he is the cousin of a famous general," but also conversed on open phone lines. The transfer of $100,000 to a US account, allegedly as a down payment to Mexican Zetas drug cartel hit men for the killing of the Saudi diplomat, is also strange, notes Salahuddin, because "every" Iranian knows that any transfer over $10,000 is reported.
"There is nothing in this guy's background that would prepare him for anything like that," says Salahuddin. "I mean, murder is something – you have to feel pretty intensely about something, in order to try that one. But here's a guy who, for all practical purposes, all he was interested in was making a living."