Saturday, February 27, 2010

Iran carried out "two-plane" Rigi mission to embarrass Obama's Special Envoy

Iran carried out "two-plane" Rigi mission to embarrass Obama's Special Envoy

The government and intelligence services of Iran apparently have quite a sense of humor. Iran has managed not only to nab a top CIA-backed Baluchi terrorist but it also was able to keep the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan waiting for Abdolmalek Rigi in Bishkek. The Iranians, in a clever move, captured Rigi from the Pakistanis aboard a Pakistan to Dubai small commuter jet aircraft, while the world believed Rigi was taken off a Kyrgyzstan airline flight from Dubai to Bishkek that was forced to land by Iranian Air Force jets at Bandar Abbas in Iran.

With the entire highly-vaunted U.S. intelligence community at his disposal, Holbrooke and his State Department and CIA team were forced to resort to dealing with Bishkek-Manas airport officials when their Iranian-Baluchi Jundallah guerrillas leader failed to show up in Bishkek on the Kyrgyzstan aircraft from Dubai.

On February 24, 2010, WMR reported, "Our sources state that Iranian intelligence is claiming very loudly that they captured Rigi without any foreign assistance. This appears to be for cover story purposes. If ISI delivered him to Bandar Abbas aboard a Lear [or Falcon], the Iranians had at least a half day to arrange for the touchdown of the KYRGYZSTAN Dubai-Manas flight to cover up the actual flight from Gwadar. If the Iranians had a couple of their agents pretend to be Rigi they fooled the world and allowed Pakistan's ISI to get off the hook as far as their involvement was concerned. Rigi was reported not to be traveling with bodyguards from Dubai to Bishkek, which does not explain the detention of another individual, reported by some sources to have been Jundallah's 'number two man.'"

According to Iranian state TV, Rigi drove in his Toyota from his house on Sariab Street in Kuwaiteh in Pakistan on February 21, leaving at 0955 local time and arriving in Chaman on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border at 1300 the same day. After crossing the border and arriving in Spin Boldak, Rigi was met by a local contact team and taken to Kandahar airbase where final arrangements were made for him to fly to Bishkek to meet with Holbrooke. At some point in time, possibly before February 21, Rigi was given a fake Afghanistan passport under the name "Mohammad Khalib." Rigi was also given a fake Pakistani travel document.

But it is at this point in time where the Iranian cover story begins. Iranian TV reported that on February 22, Rigi flew from Kandahar to Kabul for a brief layover before boarding Ariana Airlines flight 401 to Dubai. The Iranians report that Rigi arrived in Dubai at 2000 local time. Rigi reportedly spent a short time in Dubai before boarding Kyrgyzstan 454 to Bishkek. The Iranians claim that the Kyrgyzstan flight, once entering Iranian airspace, was forced to land in Bandar Abbas, where Rigi was taken into custody.

In an interview on Iranian TV, Rigi says he was flying to Bishkek to meet an "important" American. The reason for the clandestine meeting in Manas was that the American would be easily spotted if he met Rigi anywhere else.

At the time of the planned meeting between Rigi and the "important" American, AF-PAK Special Envoy Holbrooke was on a meandering journey in central Asia and Afghanistan "without a fixed schedule." Holbrooke was in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on February 19.

Holbrooke landed in Manas on February 19 and spoke to U.S. troops at the Manas Transit Center. Holbrooke then left for Afghanistan but arrived back in Manas on February 21, the day before the planned meeting with Rigi. The official story of Holbrooke's return to Kyrgyzstan was for an official meeting with Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Iran conducted the charade with the Kyrgyzstan airline in order to keep Holbrooke waiting nervously at Manas. Iran had already captured their prize of Rigi when the ISI, possibly after Rigi's departure from Kuwaiteh or after he crossed into Afghanistan, took him under their protection and put him on the charter jet flight to Bandar Abbas. Possibly, ISI was at Spin Boldak and Rigi mistakenly believed the watch team was working for the CIA, when, in fact, they were working for the ISI, which had promised to turn Rigi over to the Iranians.

WMR's Asia-based intelligence sources believe that the Iranians discovered the plans for Rigi's movement to Kandahar and replaced the pre-positioned CIA team sent to meet Rigi. Another scenario is that Rigi was to be flown to Dubai from Gwadar on board a CIA-ISI charter plane after being convoyed by an American team, along with Pakistani minders, from the Shamshi airbase in Pakistan. Rigi and the Americans believed Rigi would be flown to Dubai for his connecting flight to Bishkek-Manas to meet the American VIP.

Pakistani agents on the plane then orderd the pilot to change course for Bandar Abbas, telling him it is a classified Pakistani military mission. The plane lands in Bandar Abbas and Rigi is taken into custody. Meanwhile, Holbrooke and his party become concerned when Kyrgyzstan 454 is late. When the flight arrives, Holbrooke is told Rigi is not on board the flight and that two men were taken off the plane at Bandar Abbas. Holbrooke, clearly embarrassed and angry, departs Kyrgyzstan knowing the Iranians have nabbed one of the CIA's top assets in the military operations being planned against Iran. Holbrooke, one of the most powerful American Jewish Zionists in the Obama administration, has egg all over his face, courtesy of a well-planned Iranian intelligence operation. Holbrooke flies to Tbilisi, Georgia and visits the Krtsanisi Military Training Center to thank Georgian President Mikhael Saakashvili for providing 1000 Georgian troops for Afghanistan. It was all Holbrooke could do to help cover up a major defeat for American intelligence operations in the region.

Iran and the CIA/State Department, for their own reasons, immediately go into spin mode. The Obama administration, caught with its pants down, denies the U.S. supports Rigi's Jundallah movement, which has carried out a series of terrorist attacks in southeastern Iran. Iran, wishing to protect Pakistan's involvement in the capture of Jundallah's leader, creates another cover story.

On February 26, Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made an extremely rare visit to Damascus to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Nasrallah, who is always in fear of Israeli assassination, was jovial and even seen laughing along with Ahmadinejad and Assad. Undoubtedly, the three were laughing about how Iran not only managed to avenge the assassination by Mossad of top Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh at a Dubai hotel on January 19 but also managed to have Holbrooke, Obama's special envoy, sweating it out at Manas-Bishkek airport in the middle of central Asia, waiting for Rigi who was already a "guest" of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Holbrooke, the master of nation-splitting after his success in dismantling Yugoslavia, is seen as trying to accomplish a similar outcome for Pakistan and Iran by supporting secessionist groups like Rigi's Jundallah Baluchi movement. Holbrooke's angst while waiting for Rigi in Kyrgyzstan is sure to bring a few smiles to some people in Serbia who still blame him for the break-up of that nation.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Iran eclipses Mossad action in Dubai by nabbing a CIA terrorist leader.....II

Iran eclipses Mossad action in Dubai by nabbing a CIA terrorist leader....II

The February 23 capture by Iran of the CIA-backed Jundallah Baluchi terrorist leader Abdolmalek Rigi when his plane was forced to land in Bandar Abbas airport in Iran is raising more questions about the role of Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan in the operation.

Published news reports appear to be exercises in disinformation by the western corporate media and the Iranian and Pakistani media. At least two planes appear to have been involved in the Iranian capture of Rigi and some of his associates.

A story was floated by the neocon-oriented Daily Telegraph of the UK on February 24 that indicated that Rigi was forced off a Kyrgyzstan Airways flight from Dubai to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The flight was said to have carried 119 passengers, including Rigi, when Iranian agents on board forced the plane to land at Bandar Abbas, Iran, where Rigi was taken into custody by four masked elite troops of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (see below). However, the photograph shopped around by the media, including the Iranian media, shows Rigi being taken off a plane that is much smaller than the Kyrgyzstan flight QH454 that normally flies the route between Dubai and Bishkek. The small plane pictured below resembles a small jet, possibly a Lear or Dassault Falcon. KYRGYZSTAN's fleet includes 3 Antonov AN-24s, 1 Tupolev TU-134a, and 2 Yakovlev YAK-40s.

The "QH" flight designator is for KYRGYZSTAN, not "Kyrgyzstan Airlines" as reported by the Telegraph. There is another airline, "Kyrgyzstan Airlines, that flies from Islamabad, Pakistan to Bishkek but it does not fly to Dubai as does KYRGYZSTAN. Kyrgyzstan Airlines uses the flight designator of "R8." Kyrgyzstan Airlines' fleet consists of two Airbuses, six Antonovs, one Boeing 737, five Tupolevs, one Ilyushin IL-76TD, and two Yakovlevs.

There is also an aircraft marking difference between the small plane from which Rigi is removed and KYRGYZSTAN. The small plane bears blue, white, and red striping while KYRGYZSTAN planes bear a solid red stripe (see far below).

The mystery of how Rigi was captured remains murky with even DebkaFile of Israel, seen as close to the Mossad, unable to report more than the following: "The sparse details filtering through from Dubai and Tehran by Wednesday morning, Feb. 24, indicate that Abdol Malek Rigi boarded Kyrgyzstan Airways flight QH454 bound from Dubai for Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, on Tuesday. He was not traveling with bodyguards. A group of Iranian special operatives were among the 119 passengers. The flight was intercepted as soon as it crossed into Iranian airspace near Bandar Abbas and forced by an Iranian warplane to land at a military air base.ital of Kyrgyzstan, on Tuesday." DebkaFile concedes that the Iranians pulled off a masterful operation in capturing Rigi.

Rigi being taken off plane by Iranian special forces at Bandar Abbas.

The Iranians are presumably not only finding out from Rigi the extent of the CIA's support for the anti-Iranian government Jundallah Baluchi movement in Pakistan but also how the CIA has armed and provided logistical support to anti-Pakistani Baluchi secessionists -- a fact that will further alienate Islamabad from Washington and help forge a new Pakistani-Iranian intelligence alliance.

Of particular interest to the Iranians and Pakistanis are the CIA's operations at the Shamshi airbase in Pakistan, control over which was ceded by Pakistan to the CIA in October 2001. Blackwater/Xe personnel also operate from the Shamshi base, an important air transit hub between the U.S. Fifth Fleet in the Gulf and U.S. bases in Afghanistan.

The CIA's support for Iranian Baluchis operating against Tehran has also had the effect of restoring the Baluchi Liberation Army, with CIA munitions destined for the Jundallah guerrillas falling into the hands of Baluchi secessionists in Pakistan, particularly among the Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes that now threaten to disrupt trans-Pakistani pipelines to the Pakistani port of Gwadar, which is being developed by Chinese engineers and construction companies. The CIA, apparently unable or unwilling to distinguish between the Iranian and Baluchis and their agendas, permitted explosives and detonators destined for use in Iran to be used against regular Pakistani army units and Chinese assets assisting in the Gwadar port project.

Pakistan also suspects American energy politics at play. By stirring up Baluchis on both sides of the Pakistani-Iranian border, the CIA stands to disrupt planned natural gas pipelines from Qatar to Pakistan that will transit through Iran and the Iran-Gujarat oil pipeline.

WMR's intelligence sources have provided a best guess scenario for what occurred in regard to Rigi and his capture by the Iranians. Our sources state that Iranian intelligence is claiming very loudly that they captured Rigi without any foreign assistance. This apepars to be for cover satrory purposes. If ISI delivered him to Bandar Abbas aboard a Lear, the Iranians had at least a half day to arrange for the touchdown of the KYRGYZSTAN Dubai-Manas flight to cover up the actual flight from Gwadar. If the Iranians had a couple of their agents pretend to be Rigi they fooled the world and allowed Pakistan's ISI to get off the hook as far as their involvement was concerned. Rigi was reported not to be traveling with bodyguards from Dubai to Bishkek, which does not explain the detention of another individual, reported by some sources to have been Jundallah's "number two man."

Passengers on the KYRGYZSTAN flight diverted to Bandar Abbas claimed that two men were removed by Iranian agents. The passengers assumed that one was Rigi. However, informed observers in the region now believe that the passenger plane diversion was a cover for the delivery of Rigi by the ISI to Iranian hands.

There is also a possibility that Iranian agents gained access to a CIA contractor charter flight from Gwadar to Dubai, commandeered the flight to Bandar Abbas, and grabbed Rigi. Oddly enough, a U.S.-based charter aircraft company does operate from Gwadar Airport, Stratos Jet Charters, which provides Citations, Beechjets, Lears, Hawkers, Falcons, Challengers or Gulfstreams. The firm is headquartered in Orlando, Florida.

The U.S. arming of the Iranian Baluchis is part of a CIA covert program to stir up Iran's ethnic minorities, including Kurds, Arabs in Khuzestan, Azeris, Turkomen, as well as Baluchis. Last November, the American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) organized a conference in support of Baluchistan at the National Press Club in Washington. The Washington event was reported to have had links to the CIA.

One major question that remains is why was Rigi traveling to the U.S. airbase at Manas, Kyrgyzstan some two days after meeting with senior U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan and, reportedly, Pakistan? It is something Iranian intelligence is keen to discover.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Iran eclipses Mossad action in Dubai by nabbing a CIA terrorist leader

Iran eclipses Mossad action in Dubai by nabbing a CIA terrorist leader

Iran has captured the leader of a CIA-backed Iranian Baluch terrorist group that has launched repeated terrorist attacks inside Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan province from base camps in western Pakistan. Abdolmalek Rigi, the leader of Jundallah, or "Soldiers of God," was taken into custody by Iranian agents. There are reports that other passengers were also removed by the Iranians, possibly other Jundallah members traveling with Rigi, including Rigi's "right hand man."

Iranian intelligence agents on board a flight from Pakistan to Dubai ordered the plane to land in Bandar Abbas on the Gulf where Iranian security forces apprehended Rigi. Iran claims that Rigi had in his possession a U.S.-issued forged Afghanistan passport and a fake Pakistani identity card and was spotted by Iranian agents at a U.S. base in Afghanistan one day before his capture by Iran.

Originally, there were reports that Rigi was captured on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan where the United States maintains a logistics and intelligence base at Manas outside the capital city of Bishkek. The plane forced down was a small aircraft and there have been no reports on whether the aircraft was a regularly scheduled commercial or chartered flight. There is speculation that the plane may have been a CIA charter flight that may have been based at Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan.

Last November, a Zimbabwe-registered MD-11 Avient Aviation Company cargo plane crashed en route to Bishkek crashed at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport. Three American crewmen were killed in the crash. Avient denied the plane was carrying a "sensitve" cargo. Another American was injured. The other crewmen included nationals of Zimbabwe, Indonesia, and Belgium.

Rigi was arrested by Pakistani authorities in September last year but, according to Asian intelligence sources, was released under pressure from the CIA. Rigi's Jundallah guerrillas carried out a deadly terrorist bombing in October last year that killed some 40 people, many of them members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Rigi's brother, Abdolhamid Rigi, already in Iranian custody, has admitted that Jundallah acts under the orders of the CIA. Abdolmalek Rigi allegedly also acts under the orders of the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal and also maintains links to Britain's MI-6 intelligence service.

Abdolhamid Rigi's execution was postponed by Iran with informed sources in the area believing that he has provided invaluable intelligence on the CIA's anti-Iranian operations being conducted inside Pakistan and Afghanistan. Former CIA agent Robert Baer confirmed the CIA's link to Rigi last October.

The capture of Rigi is certain to further exacerbate tensions between the CIA and its proxy private military operatives in Pakistan, including Blackwater/Xe, and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. After the capture by the United States of the Taliban's number two leader in Pakistan, while he was traveling to meet European and Japanese envoys to negotiate an offer from Afghan President Hamid Karzai to cease fighting and join the Kabul government, ISI quickly moved to detain other Taliban commanders in Pakistan's northwest tribal region to prevent their capture or assassination by the United States. The word from Islamabad is moving to carve out its own room for negotiations without the involvement of the United States, which the ISI and Pakistan's military no longer trusts.

There is a belief that Pakistan cooperated with Iran in the capture of Rigi in order to trade him for Pakistani and Afghan Taliban elements captured inside of Iran.

The arrest of Rigi is the second major defeat for the CIA in the Middle East/South Asia region. Turkey has arrested 51 current and retired Army and Air Force commanders and high-ranking officers for trying to stage a 2003 coup, code named OPERATION SLEDGEHAMMER, against the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The coup plotters were going to blow up two mosques in Istanbul and stage an air incident with Greece as a pretext for pointing to the weakness of the Erdogan government and move to take over to "restore order." We have learned that the CIA and Mossad were closely involved with OPERATION SLEDGEHAMMER.

Erdogan has maintained cordial relations with Iran and is opposed to any U.S. or Israeli military strike on Iran.

The take down of the Jundallah leader by Iran and the rolling up of the military coup plotters by Turkey represents a double body blow to U.S. and Israeli intelligence plans for the region.

Destabilizing Pakistan – Operation Breakfast Redux

Operation enduring turmoil

Click on image to see larger version

By Tom Engelhardt and Pratap Chatterje

Almost every day, reports come back from the CIA’s “secret” battlefield in the Pakistani tribal borderlands. Unmanned aerial vehicles – that is, pilotless drones – shoot missiles (18 of them in a single attack on a tiny village last week) or drop bombs and then the news comes in: a certain number of al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders or suspected Arab or Uzbek or Afghan “militants” have died. The numbers are often remarkably precise. Sometimes they are attributed to U.S. sources, sometimes to the Pakistanis; sometimes, it’s hard to tell where the information comes from. In the Pakistani press, on the other hand, the numbers that come back are usually of civilian dead. They, too, tend to be precise.

Don’t let that precision fool you. Here’s the reality: There are no reporters on the ground and none of these figures can be taken as accurate. Let’s just consider the CIA side of things. Any information that comes from American sources (i.e., the CIA) has to be looked at with great wariness. As a start, the CIA’s history is one of deception. There’s no reason to take anything its sources say at face value. They will report just what they think it’s in their interest to report – and the ongoing “success” of their drone strikes is distinctly in their interest.

Then, there’s history. In the present drone wars, as in the CIA’s bloody Phoenix Program in the Vietnam era, the Agency’s operatives, working in distinctly alien terrain, must rely on local sources (or possibly official Pakistani ones) for targeting intelligence. In Vietnam in the 1960s, the Agency’s Phoenix Program – reportedly responsible for the assassination of 20,000 Vietnamese – became, according to historian Marilyn Young, “an extortionist’s paradise, with payoffs as available for denunciation as for protection.” Once again, the CIA is reportedly passing out bags of money and anyone on the ground with a grudge, or the desire to eliminate an enemy, or simply the desire to make some of that money can undoubtedly feed information into the system, watch the drones do their damnedest, and then report back that more “terrorists” are dead. Just assume that at least some of those “militants” dying in Pakistan, and possibly many of them, aren’t who the CIA hopes they are.

Think of it as a foolproof situation, with an emphasis on the “fool.” And then keep in mind that, in December, the CIA’s local brain trust, undoubtedly the same people who were leaking precise news of “successes” in Pakistan, mistook a jihadist double agent from Jordan for an agent of theirs, gathered at an Agency base in Khost, Afghanistan, and let him wipe them out with a suicide bomb. Seven CIA operatives died, including the base chief. This should give us a grim clue as to the accuracy of the CIA’s insights into what’s happening on the ground in Pakistan, or into the real effects of their 24/7 robotic assassination program.

But there’s a deeper, more dangerous level of deception in Washington’s widening war in the region: self-deception. The CIA drone program, which the Agency’s Director Leon Panetta has called “the only game in town” when it comes to dismantling al-Qaeda, is just symptomatic of such self-deception. While the CIA and the U.S. military have been expending enormous effort studying the Afghan and Pakistani situations and consulting experts, and while the White House has conducted an extensive series of seminars-cum-policy-debates on both countries, you can count on one thing: none of them have spent significant time studying or thinking about us.

As a result, the seeming cleanliness and effectiveness of the drone-war solution undoubtedly only reinforces a sense in Washington that the world’s last great military power can still control this war – that it can organize, order, prod, wheedle, and bribe both the Afghans and Pakistanis into doing what’s best, and if that doesn’t work, simply continue raining down the missiles and bombs. Beware Washington’s deep-seated belief that it controls events; that it is, however precariously, in the saddle; that, as Afghan War commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal recently put it, there is a “corner” to “turn” out there, even if we haven’t quite turned it yet.

In fact, Washington is not in the saddle and that corner, if there, if turned, will have its own unpleasant surprises. Washington is, in this sense, as oblivious as those CIA operatives were as they waited for “their” Jordanian agent to give them supposedly vital information on the al-Qaeda leadership in the Pakistani tribal areas. Like their drones, the Americans in charge of this war are desperately far from the ground, and they don’t even seem to know it. It’s this that makes the analogy drawn by TomDispatch regular and author of Halliburton’s Army Pratap Chatterjee so unnerving. It’s time for Washington to examine not what we know about them, but what we don’t know about ourselves.