Foreign governments using U.S. citizens in plots

From: J.J. Green, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – There is a common denominator in the alleged Iranian assassination plot and the Syrian spy case that came up recently in Washington.

“The use of naturalized American citizens for this kind of activity is deeply concerning,” says Fred Burton, vice president of intelligence at Stratfor.

He told me that foreign intelligence agencies often recruit naturalized American citizens specifically to do this kind of thing.

And this of course creates another problem.

Burton says: “The challenge that U.S. federal law enforcement face is, they have to find these people,” who are embedded in the fabric of American society.

In reality though, it’s not that simple for organizations like Iran’s Quds Force, which is said to be behind the plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador in Washington, to find capable and willing participants. Jamshid Sharmahd, the victim of an Iranian assassination plot in Los Angeles, has figured out a key failing.

“They have one problem in U.S. They have problem to hire professional” (his own words).

Whether it’s hiring a spy or a killer in the U.S., Iran, Syria and others are worried about leaving their own fingerprints on these operations.

“That is the reason they have to cooperate with Mexican or South American drug cartels,” Sharmahd says.

Burton says the cartels are one-stop-shops.

“You’re talking about an umbrella criminal enterprise that exists for the purpose of making money.”

The buyer can get all the nasty little details taken care of in one place.

Sharmahd says the fact that a connection between a de facto arm of the Iranian government and a drug cartel to kill an ambassador sends one message.

“It’s very dangerous, very dangerous, because they are very serious and they want to keep the power,” Sharmahd says.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp’s (IRGC) Quds Force exists solely to carry out covert operations to preserve the power of Iran’s hard-line government.

Washington is no stranger to Iranian assassination plots by the IRGC. The 1980 killing of an Iranian by the name of Ali Tabatabai, was the last time, Burton says, who remembers it well.

It took place in “Bethesda, Md. right off of Greentree Road near the Montgomery Mall area.”

Burton says it was a well-executed plot in which a “black Muslim convert dressed as a mailman, knocked on the door and shot Mr. Tabatabai at point blank range.”

The suspect, according to Burton, “fled and is still in Iran.”

Sources tell me the suspect, known as Dawuud Salahuddin, is sheltered and protected by the IRGC, and interestingly enough, has also been linked to the disappearance of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson in Iran.

Whether it’s Iran, Syria, China, Russia or Cuba, the U.S. has a new problem: All of them seem able to tap into naturalized U.S. citizens as tools of their foreign policy objectives or platforms to launch criminal acts.

 

 

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