Iranian Plot More Fantastical Than Real

By Ali Younes – Washington, D.C.

The alleged Iranian assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adil Al Jubiar can be described as the dumbest covert operation in the history of intelligence. The plot outline as reported by the American media included shooting inside a popular American restaurant that Mr. Al Jubair normally frequents while filled with innocent diners in the heart of the capital of the United States.

The Washington Post, NY Times and other US outlets reported that American intelligence officials investigating the case, met the reported plot with skepticism giving how obvious and crude the plot appears to be.

There is no doubt that Iran holds a grudge against Saudi Arabia and the United States and had been linked in the past to several terrorist operations inside Saudi Arabia as in the case of the Khobar towers in 1996, or outside it as in the case of Kuwait in 1983, Argentina in 1992, and 1994, or as recently as in Iraq.

What characterizes those operations besides their reported links to Iran was the use of a third party or a proxy organization to do the job. The use of proxies would normally provide the real culprits with a legal alibi that would keep the heat off their back. Moreover, a country, like Iran  that does not want to claim responsibility for the attack later on, would not wire a $100,000 from an Iranian bank inside Iran to Mexico as it happened in this case which would certainly draw the attention of American and intelligence operatives from around the world.

American investigators were right to initially cast doubt about the whole alleged plot because it appears amateurish and uncharacteristic of government covert operations. The plot does not conform to known Iranian government tactics when it comes to its covert operations. Iranian leaders might be dangerous or extremists, but they are not crazy or suicidal.

 An American –Iranian used car salesman recruits what turned out to be an informant on the Mexican drug cartel to blow up a restaurant filled with American citizens, because it happened that the Saudi ambassador eats there, and with him scores of American citizens would die in a bloody carnage sounds more fantastical than real.

If the Iranian intelligence really wanted to assassinate any Saudi official, they can do that in any number of Middle Eastern countries where security would not be as tight as in the United States and the political and military price would not be as severe or as it would be in the America. Moreover, an attack on the Saudi official and killing American citizens in Washington would constitute a declaration of war against United States.

The Iranian government or any military or intelligence element of it does not need to predict what the American reaction would be to killing US citizens in a spectacular fashion in the heart of the capital, the symbol of American pride and power, because they can learn from history.

Iranians know that the last time anyone attempted to blow up American buildings and kill American citizens on American soil was on September 11, 2001. That act by Al Qaida resulted in an invasion of two countries and removing the regimes in power and eventually killing Osama Bin Laden himself.  Prior to that, former American president Ronald Regan bombed the headquarters of Moammar Qaddafi in Tripoli in 1986 in retaliation of an alleged Libyan involvement of bombing of a bar in Berlin frequented by American servicemen.

One theory holds that the alleged plan was so suspiciously sloppy that perhaps it was not intended to be carried out all the way as the theory goes. Accordingly, once the outrageous plan is discovered the American public would be so enraged with the brazen Iranian attempt to carry an attack on American soil that it would create a remake of the  of September, 11 effect. With that, calls for revenge against Iran would be all over the place.

The same dynamics took place during WWI when the British intelligence intercepted and deciphered a coded Nazi Telegram to its ambassador to Washington Arthur Zimmerman, which was later resent it to the Mexican leaders promising them aid if they would attack the United States to reclaim their previous territories which later became part of the United States.

The Zimmerman Telegram created intense anti-German feelings in the United States that forced the United States to abandon its neutrality and join the allies against Germany in WWI. Many historians believe that the Zimmerman affair was a British intelligence operation to deceive the pacifist and neutral America to join the war against Germany.

There are many in the United States and in the Middle East who want to see the United States attack and bomb Iran to punish it for its flagrant intervention in their affairs and for its flourishing nuclear program. Committing a bloody attack against American citizens and a foreign diplomat would certainly put pressure on the Obama administration and provide it with a pretext to activate its plans to bomb Iranian military and nuclear installations as a punishment for its actions.

 Even if this plot is a hoax, the Obama administration seems to want to play along with it because it will serve its policy objectives in the region that is to cripple Iran’s nuclear and political ambitions in the region. There is of course a possibility that some Iranian hands are in this plot, but it is highly unlikely that this plot was a work of the Iranian professional Intelligence services.

– Ali Younes is a writer and Middle East analyst based in Washington D.C. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

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