Is Assassinating Iranian Nuclear Scientists ‘Characteristic of the Mossad’?

Eli Lake reports at the Daily Beast:

…Patrick Clawson, the director of research at the Washington Institute for Near Policy, said the signs point to Israel.

“This sophisticated technique is uncharacteristic of the Iranian armed opposition and the Iranian government, it is characteristic of the Mossad,” he said. “I am unaware of episodes when Americans and Europeans have done this kind of assassination. Of course, the Americans are involved in assassinations using predators, but not this kind of operation with agents on the ground, the natural suspect is the Mossad.”

A former Mossad officer now living in Canada who goes by the pseudonym Michael Ross said the attacks bore the hallmarks of an Israeli operation. “This tactic is not a new one for the Mossad, and worked very effectively against Egypt’s rocket program in the 1960s. During that period, the scientists involved in that project were assassinated and the program suffered immensely.”

The United States and Israel have cooperated on intelligence-gathering in Iran as well as, in some cases, sabotage operations such as the 2009 Stuxnet cyber attack that stymied the logic board that controlled the spinning centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment facility. Much of this kind of cooperation intensified in George W. Bush’s second term.

One document that hints to this cooperation is a diplomatic cable from Aug. 17, 2007 disclosed first by WikiLeaks that details a conversation between then Mossad chief Meir Dagan and then undersecretary of state for political affairs, Nicholas Burns.

The cable says there are five pillars to Israel’s approach to Iran: “Political Approach,” “Covert Measure,” “Counter-proliferation,” “Sanctions,” and “Force Regime Change.” Under the section of the memo that deals with “covert action,” there is this tantalizing sentence: “Dagan and the Under Secretary agreed not to discuss this approach in the larger group setting.”

See here and here for some of my coverage of the assassinations. Lake discounts charges that the U.S. had any direct involvement in the kills and points to his earlier reporting which tried to show the U.S. working to dissuade the Israelis from a unilateral attack. I would only say that, given the reality of U.S. support to Israel – it exceeds any other state in the world – it’s fair to characterize Israeli policy, whether in the West Bank, Gaza, or towards Iran, is de facto sanctioned by the U.S. It’s possible these assassinations are solely the work of Mossad with no direct help from the CIA or the Obama administration. But even if that’s the case, Israel would not be able to do such things without faithful economic, military, and diplomatic support from America.

23 thoughts on “Is Assassinating Iranian Nuclear Scientists ‘Characteristic of the Mossad’?”

  1. Your'e very naive, cindy. IF Israel is behind this, then that is their choice to make. I get it, the majority of you people hate jews, whatever. However, even Ron Paul would agree they have a right to protect themselves. They are in a sea of danger. Most of you are just the opposite of neo-cons when it comes to the middle east. Israel knows it's dangers more than anybody else. Iran, and by extension I mean islamists, has never made it a secret of their disdain for Israel. Their desire to end it. Does that mean we should be giving any money to Israel, or anyone for that matter? No. Israel is a rich country that can handle itself. But this constant gnashing of teeth from the antiwar crowd whenever Israel does what it feels it needs to protect itself from it's enemies is ridiculous. It's their fight.

    1. You're very naive, RFN. PROBABLY Israel is behind this and it's NOT their choice to make. Israel has no legal right to assassinate people in Iran, Gaza, the West Bank, Newark, or anywhere. Why you would drag Ron Paul into the discussion is curious. Israel is in a "sea of danger" that they created by themselves. All that apartheid insanity does tend to create some animosity. I'm not so certain that Israel "knows it's dangers" as, they sure like to stir the violence pot on a regular basis. I would imagine that Islamist "disdain for Israel" is more a matter of Israeli policy.
      I've never heard any of the "antiwar crowd" gnashing teeth on "Gnashing?" Seriously?
      IF Israel were not about the business of apartheid on Palestinians, incessant atrocity on Lebanon, piracy and the murder of American citizens in open and international waters, and their interminable warmongering maybe things would be different. You are correct to infer that "it's their fight." So Israel should man-up and go it alone. Leave America and our world out of the mix.

    2. "….They are in a sea of danger. …"
      As long as Israel is occupying/stealing other people's land and denying their rights, Israel will be in danger.

    3. Iran won't attack Israel because it knows it will be obliterated by Israel if it does. Assassinations of scientists is disgusting. If Iran did this to another country it would be a different story (like the fake Saudi Ambassador plot, which Glen Greenwald has pointed out, was called terror/terrorism). Of course, only Muslims (or Islamists) commit terrorism, never western governments.

  2. The assassination of the Iranian scientist is quite similar to that of Imad Mughniyeh (co-founder of Hezbollah), carried out in 2008 in Damascus. Both executed by Mossad, in more sophisticated ways than meets the eye. By the way, Mughniyeh was tracked by Mossad agent Ali al-Jarrah who happened to be (surprise!) the uncle of Ziad al-Jarrah, suicide pilot of 9/11.

    1. I'm reading loud and clear. Wondering how they did not manage to sheep-dip the agent uncle of Ziad who supposedly flew a plane on 9/11. Perhaps these trailing bits of inconsistency are there to make the flimsy stories full of human interest – you know, having some bleached blond matron on 60 Minutes to interview the family and ask the question: "So why do you think one family member decided to be a heroic agent for the Mossad, while the other was a black sheep who started the GWOT?"

  3. Whether the U.S. or Israel committed these crimes is irrelevant because they both represent the same power base. A tail must be attached to its dog in order to wag.

  4. The far more important question is to ask why it is that this is being blamed on Mossad – true or not. Interesting that Patrick Clawson should weigh in on this given that Clawson recommended sabotaging the Iranian nuclear plants indicating that this would 'kill' less people than an all out war (C-Span, Woodrow Wilson Center 2005). This followed remarks made by his WINEP colleague, Michael Eisenstadt, who recommned in his book "The Challenges of U.S. Preventive Military Action".

  5. In it, he suggested the following covert actions against Iran's nuclear facilities: :
    "harassment or murder of key Iranian scientists or technicians;"
    "introduction of fatal design flaws into critical reactor, centrifuge, or weapons components during their production, to ensure catastrophic during use;"
    "introduction of destructive viruses into Iranian computer systems controlling the production of components or the operation of facilities;"
    "damage or destruction of critical facilities through sabotage…"
    A far more interesting article on the terrorist assanssination was conveniently neglected – see article "US-Backed Terror Group Responsible For Assassination of Iranian Nuclear Scientist" by Paul Joseph Watson.

  6. Beggar and geld my neighbor. This is contemptible to an American, at least as we style ourselves. To see that Israel once employed this technique against Egypt is to understand that such a program is within the acceptable behavior of the suspect. Does the scientist have to be developing a bomb to wipe out Israel? Not necessarily.

    Is it okay to eliminate the competition, to kill off rivals? Well, let's look at the mentality prevailing in the Soviet Union during their succession of communist dictatorships. Not only were political rivals snuffed or sent to Siberia, but within the academic world, people jostling for power were apt to call the police on their colleagues, the better to take them out of the running for top posts (according to a mathematician – quite a famous one too – who was visiting at Caltech in the late 70's. He simply posing this question, which indicated that he knew this kind of thing went on in his country: "You're very competitive here. Tell me, do you ever sic the police on someone who might publish before you do?"

    Is there any history of Iranians snuffing out their own colleagues out of rivalry? Or is it more a macro picture of Israel wanting to be surrounded by lesser rivals, and thus destroying anyone who might pose a threat to what they regard as their top position in terms of modernity, high tech and defense?

    The road the US has started down with NDAA could lead to becoming a country in which terror stalks the academic halls. But we aren't there yet. Killing Iranian professors and Ph.D.'s strikes me as the sort of thing one would associate with tyrannical systems. As far as some people in Israel are concerned the tipping point may have almost been reached domestically (Rabin's assassination was an early symptom). But practicing these killings in a wider world bodes ill for the future of this so-called Western nation, which is looking more eastern by the day.

    1. It is amazing that they do consider themselves a civilized nation and a democracy. One of the great fairy fables of all times. Who would call something that expels the majority of the population so the minority can be in charge and claim to be a democracy. There are towns in Israel that do not allow anyone but jews to own or rent property. That is not anti arab but anti all religions but the chosen. As much as they try to make the Christians believe it is the bad arab who are the problem they also include the "christian' in the banished.

  7. Israeli scientists work openly all over the world without any protection. Thanks to Netanyahu a number of them will turn up dead fumbling for their door keys. Let see if the Likudniks have any clever quips this time, they didnt when Iran took out their embassy in Argentina for previous assasinations and sent the video tape to Mossad HQ.

    1. You live by the sword you will die by the sword. Maybe those Israeli scientist working all over the world (actually the USA) should go back to visit Israel and vote the mad man Bibi out of office. YOu know Bibi the rich kid who grew up on the main line of Philadelphia and now cries about the suffering of the european holocaust victims.
      I think you are correct that the world will see many murdered because of their religion but you have to look at who started it and who clearly refuse to obey international laws.

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