The Iranian threat to New York City (& Iran blames Israel for bombing itself)

February 15, 2012

Thai bomb squad officials inspect the site of an explosion in Bangkok yesterday

* Jewish film director Oliver Stone’s son converts to Islam in Iran

* Iranian foreign ministry spokesman: “The Zionist regime has bombed its own embassies in New Delhi and Tbilisi to tarnish Iran’s friendly ties with the host countries”

* After Argentina, India, Georgia, Thailand and elsewhere, America may be Iran’s next target

* On Feb. 3, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened the West. New York – especially with its large Jewish population – may be an increasingly attractive target

* This is neither an idle nor a new threat. Already in 2004, two security guards attached to the Iranian mission to the UN were sent home after being caught conducting surveillance of city subways and landmarks. Iran’s U.N. mission allows officials from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence to live and operate in New York with official diplomatic cover.

* In 2008, two Staten Island men pleaded guilty to providing material support to Hezbollah. Just down the road in Philadelphia, 26 people were indicted in federal court in 2009 for conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group.

* “Tehran is not alone in downplaying the significance of the country’s weapons program. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter told Time magazine last month that a nuclear Iran wouldn’t be “a major catastrophe.” Others, such as journalist Fareed Zakaria and Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German diplomat, believe the danger could be contained.”


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1. Another hate mail for Alan Dershowitz
2. Oliver Stone’s son converts to Islam in Iran
3. Iranians denied access to their Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail accounts
4. “The Iranian threat to New York City” (By Mitchell Silber, Wall St. Journal, Feb. 14, 2012)
5. “Containment won’t work against Iran” (By Daniel Schwammenthal, WSJ Europe, Feb. 15, 2012)
6. “Iran prepares suicide bomb boats in Gulf” (Arab News, Feb. 13, 2012)
7. “Iranian blogger sentenced to 14 years in prison” (RFE/RL, Feb. 7, 2012)
8. Iran blames Israel for bombing its own embassies (Islamic Republic News Agency)

[Note below by Tom Gross]

I attach eight items below connected to Iran.

Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz regularly receives hate mail for standing up for Israel and for human rights in general. (I receive quite a few myself, but nowhere near as many as Prof. Dershowitz.) Almost every day, Prof. Dershowitz shares some of these hate messages with me.

I attach one of these below, which followed Dershowitz’s Wall Street Journal article on Monday. (I have removed Mr. Kettler’s email address from the email below to protect his privacy.)

In that article, Dershowitz wrote that Israeli and American authorities believe “Iran is preparing attacks against Israeli embassies and consultants worldwide, as well as Jewish houses of prayer, schools, community centers, restaurants and other soft targets”. A few hours later on Monday Iranian agents launched terror attacks at Israeli targets in India and Georgia. Yesterday in Thailand, an Iranian man severely injured himself when his explosive device went off prematurely. Five other people were wounded in that attack.

The explosive used in Thailand, like the ones used the day before in New Delhi and Tbilisi, were in magnetic containers allowing them to be attached quickly to vehicles on the move. A Thai official confirmed that two other Iranians arrested in Bangkok yesterday were accomplices of the injured man and that an Iranian hit team had planned to assassinate Israeli diplomats including the ambassador.

These acts of terror follow the recent thwarted attack on the Israeli embassy in Azerbaijan.


From: Karl Kettler
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2012 13:58:07 -0500
To: Alan Dershowitz
Subject: There He Goes Again

14 February 2012

Prof. Alan Dershowitz
Harvard School of Law

Prof. Dershowitz,

Really Alan do you have to keep shouting fire-again? (your latest WSJ tirade) The world managed quite nicely to contain the Super Nuke Power USSR for 45 years. It contained N. Korea. It has been successful in having other nations back off their Nuke programs except for that Jewish State of Israel pariah in the Middle East and now America is supposed to quiver because that backwater Iran has a Nuke program. Really Alan? Oh but that’s not all . Even if Iran isn’t developing Nuke weapons you still seem to want America to trash them anyway because they’ve said some really nasty things about your beloved Israel. By the way are you an Israeli citizen??? Well if you and Israel are so upset why don’t you go after Iran yourselves. Oh no guts ah?? Well I doubt that America is inclined any more to do Israel’s dirty work as it did with Iraq that cost America $trillions & thousands of lives and a whole lot of enemies. Israel is doomed in the long run and it is doomed because of its own stupid self-serving attitude and people like you who thing the world exists to serve the interests of Israel . In fact the world is sick of the Jew’s self-serving attitude just like Hitler got sick of it in Germany ! Throughout the centuries the Jews have been getting trashed because they just have never learned to back off. There are no people on the planet that seem to be so despised as the Jews. Don’t you think it’s time that they got the message?

Karl Kettler


Sean Stone, pictured in Tehran, has converted Islam in a ceremony in the city of Esfahan in central Iran


Sean Stone, the son of Oscar-winning film director Oliver Stone (who is of Jewish heritage), has converted to Islam while in Iran to film a documentary. Sean Stone, 27, told the French news agency AFP that he has “accepted Mohammad and other prophets”.

Iran’s government-run FARS News Agency noted that Stone has become a Shiite and has taken the Arabic name “Ali.”

Stone is also a filmmaker and has collaborated on his father’s projects. His father is Jewish and his mother, Christian. Oliver Stone directed “Platoon,” “Born on the Fourth of July” and “JFK.”



Over the last few days, about 30 million Iranians have been denied access to their international email accounts, including Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail. Iran’s Mehr news agency reported that the denial of access outage began on Thursday, and has spread since.

Sources in Iran said the Iranian government was behind the closures.



The Iranian Threat to New York City
As the West’s conflict with Iran over its nuclear program heats up, New York City – with its large Jewish population – becomes an increasingly attractive target.
By Mitchell D. Silber
The Wall Street Journal
February 14, 2012

On Monday, Israeli embassy workers in the capital cities of India and Georgia were targeted in terrorist attacks that Israeli officials believe were planned and carried out by Iran and its client, the militant group Hezbollah. The bomb in Tbilisi was defused, but the bomb in New Delhi, planted in an embassy worker’s car, exploded and injured at least two.

Iran’s next target could well be on American soil. In Senate testimony last month, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated that Iranian officials “are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime.”

As evidence, Mr. Clapper cited an alleged plot foiled last October in which a naturalized U.S. citizen of Iranian descent, directed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, hired a member of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The plan involved blowing up a Washington, D.C., restaurant – potentially killing hundreds of Americans in the process.

Iran has a proven record of using its official presence in a foreign city to coordinate attacks, which are then carried out by Hezbollah agents from abroad, often leveraging the local community – whether wittingly or not – as facilitators. Most notable are the 1992 and 1994 bombings of Israeli and Jewish targets in Argentina, which killed 29 and 85 people, respectively. The New York City Police Department, where I work as director of Intelligence Analysis, sent a team to Argentina to study the modus operandi of those attacks and to meet with Argentine security officials who worked the investigations. Coupled with open source information, this is what the NYPD learned:

Iranian agents were sent to Argentina years before the attacks, where they integrated into society and became Argentine nationals. Mohsen Rabbani is believed to have been in charge of coordinating the 1994 attack and is subject to an Interpol arrest warrant for his involvement. He first came to Argentina in 1983, where he subsequently became the main imam at At-Tauhid, an Iranian-funded mosque in Buenos Aires.

After traveling to Iran in August 1993 to participate in a meeting that allegedly gave the planned attack the green light, Mr. Rabbani returned to Argentina as a cultural attaché to the Iranian Embassy, conveniently providing him diplomatic immunity. Then, Hezbollah agents from abroad received logistical support from members of the local Lebanese-Shiite community and the Iranian Embassy to carry out the attack.

The Argentine attacks were by no means isolated incidents. Hezbollah has been tied to failed attacks in 2009 against Israeli and Jewish interests in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Turkey. Last month, Thai officials arrested a suspected Hezbollah militant for possibly planning attacks there or perhaps facilitating the movement of weapons through Bangkok.

The NYPD must assume that New York City could be targeted by Iran or Hezbollah. On Feb. 3, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened that Iran “had its own tools” to respond to sanctions and threats of military action against it. Indeed, as the West’s conflict with Iran over its nuclear program continues to heat up, New York City – especially with its large Jewish population – becomes an increasingly attractive target.

This is neither an idle nor a new threat. As one example of Iranian agents acting in New York, in 2004 two security guards attached to the Iranian mission to the United Nations were sent home by the State Department after being caught conducting surveillance of city subways and landmarks. Iran’s U.N. mission allows officials from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence to live and operate in New York with official diplomatic cover.

Iran also has a presence in New York via the Alavi Foundation, a nonprofit ostensibly devoted to charity works and promoting Islamic culture. In December 2009, Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, described Alavi as having “effectively been a front for the government of Iran.” A contemporaneous complaint filed by Mr. Bharara’s office led to the seizure of Alavi’s assets – including the Islamic Institute of New York, the largest Shiite mosque in the city and the location most closely affiliated with Iran’s U.N. mission. The NYPD Intelligence Division also played a role during the initial stages of the Alavi investigation.

Hezbollah and its supporters have a presence in New York and the surrounding area as well. In 2008, two Staten Island men pleaded guilty to providing material support to Hezbollah. Just down the road in Philadelphia, 26 people – including a former Brooklyn resident – were indicted in federal court in 2009 for conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group.

Lebanese-linked businesses in the tri-state area and elsewhere have been implicated in a massive money-laundering scheme benefiting Hezbollah. This scheme was revealed in a civil suit filed against several Lebanese financial institutions last December by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Meanwhile, at least 18 other Hezbollah-related cases have been brought in federal courts across the United States since 2000.

Given the alleged plot against a foreign diplomat in Washington, Iran’s increasingly bellicose rhetoric and its long history of sponsoring terror attacks abroad, the NYPD must remain vigilant in attempting to detect and disrupt any attack by Iran or its proxies. Anything less would be abdicating our duty to protect New York City and its residents.

(Mr. Silber is director of intelligence analysis for the New York City Police Department.)



Containment Won’t Work Against Iran
Mutually assured destruction might be more of an incentive than a deterrent for Ahmadinejad and those around him.
By Daniel Schwammenthal
The Wall Street Journal Europe
February 15, 2012

Tehran’s first semi-official acknowledgment of its atomic ambitions appeared last April, in a bizarre article on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Gerdab website. “The day after Iran’s first nuclear test is a normal day,” read the article, which went on to suggest that far from spelling disaster, the bomb would cause life to go on much as before, except that Iranians would have a little extra national pride.

But Tehran is not alone in downplaying the significance of the country’s weapons program. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter told Time magazine last month that a nuclear Iran wouldn’t be “a major catastrophe.” Others, such as journalist Fareed Zakaria and Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German diplomat, believe the danger could be contained. “If it was possible to deter the Soviet Union successfully, then that will probably be possible with Iran as well,” Mr. Ischinger told the Berliner Morgenpost just ahead of the Feb. 3-5 Munich Security Conference, which he chairs.

As concerns grow that diplomacy and sanctions – including the recent European oil ban – may not stop Iran’s nuclear program, it is becoming popular to invoke the Cold War, when the policy of containment managed to avoid all-out war with a nuclear Soviet Union. But the analogy fails on several grounds, and simply accepting the previously unacceptable is not a policy option.

First, the fact that we survived the previous nuclear standoff is hardly evidence that deterrence was bound to succeed. On more than one occasion during the West’s struggle with Communism, the threat of mutually assured destruction did not prevent the two sides from stepping right to the brink, most famously during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

It would be a deadly game to try to replay MAD with Iran, in an international environment lacking many of the necessary conditions that helped keep the Cold War from unraveling into chaos. This is not just because mutually assured destruction might be more of an incentive than a deterrent for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and those around him. Even assuming Tehran will act “rationally,” MAD would still be too dangerous to contemplate.

Crucially, a nuclear standoff with Iran would lack a key component that helped keep the Cold War from turning hot: a modicum of mutual trust. Although they were ideological enemies, the Soviet Union and the U.S. had full diplomatic relations and clear channels of communication. Remember those famous red telephones?

Nothing of this sort exists between the U.S. and Israel on one side and Iran on the other. Even in promising to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, Tehran can’t even bring itself to so much as call the country by its proper name, referring to it as the “Zionist entity.” The absence of direct contacts raises the chance of either side misreading its opponent’s intentions.

In addition, Iran lacks second-strike capability and Israel is too small to absorb a nuclear attack. The temptation to launch a preemptive attack will therefore be far greater than that faced by the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Add to that the much shorter flight times for missiles between Iran and Israel than between the U.S. and the Soviet Union – giving both sides much less time to think and react – and the chances for conflict or mishap spiraling out of control grow exponentially. Even if the Iranian regime has no intention of launching an atomic strike, the risks of nuclear war by misinterpretation, technical error or miscalculation could prove unmanageable.

And unlike during the Cold War, in which there were only two main nuclear players, an Iranian bomb would inevitably lead other neighboring states to follow suit, producing a fragile standoff between several actors. Wolfgang Ischinger and other advocates of containment argue that U.S. security guarantees will not only deter Iran but also prevent further nuclear proliferation.

But will any country rely on Western promises to protect them from a nuclear Iran after the same promises failed to curtail a conventionally armed Iran? Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey would seek their own nuclear bombs, greatly complicating the game of deterrence. Back in 2008, the International Institute for Strategic Studies reported that at least 13 countries in the greater Middle East had announced new or revived plans to explore civilian nuclear energy. With so many nuclear actors, any of the region’s several unresolved conflicts could suddenly become the trigger for a nuclear exchange.

Not to mention that the Iranian regime can circumvent the logic of MAD by passing on a nuclear device to terrorists. Following an atomic attack against a Western city, it would take investigators weeks if not months to determine the culprits, who may never be identified beyond reasonable doubt. It is hard to imagine any Western leader ordering a retaliatory nuclear strike, and thus the deaths of untold numbers of Iranian civilians, on the basis of inconclusive evidence months after the initial attack. Tehran would be quite rational to count on Western scruples in such a case.

The day after Iran’s first nuclear test would not be a normal day. Nor could the danger be contained.

(Mr. Schwammenthal is director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute in Brussels.)



Iran prepares suicide bomb boats in Gulf: US Navy
Arab News (Saudi Arabia)
February 13, 2012

Iran has built up its naval forces in the Gulf and prepared boats that could be used in suicide attacks, but the US Navy can prevent it from blocking the Strait of Hormuz, the commander of US naval forces in the region said on Sunday.

Iran has made a series of threats in recent weeks to disrupt shipping in the Gulf or strike US forces in retaliation if its oil trade is shut down by sanctions, or if its disputed nuclear program comes under attack.

“They have increased the number of submarines ... they increased the number of fast attack craft,” Vice Admiral Mark Fox told reporters. “Some of the small boats have been outfitted with a large warhead that could be used as a suicide explosive device. The Iranians have a large mine inventory.”

“We have watched with interest their development of long range rockets and short, medium and long range ballistic missiles and of course ... the development of their nuclear program,” Fox, who heads the US Fifth Fleet, said at a briefing on the fleet’s base in the Gulf state of Bahrain.

Iran now has 10 small submarines, he said.

Military experts say the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet patrolling the Gulf - which always has at least one giant supercarrier accompanied by scores of jets and a fleet of frigates and destroyers - is overwhelmingly more powerful than Iran’s navy.

But ever since Al-Qaeda suicide bombers in a small boat killed 17 sailors on board the destroyer USS. Cole in a port in Yemen in 1996, Washington has been wary of the vulnerability of its huge battleships to bomb attacks by small enemy craft.

Asked whether the US Navy was prepared for an attack or other trouble in the Gulf, Fox said: “We are very vigilant, we have built a wide range of options to give the president and we are ready... What if it happened tonight? We are ready today.”

Iranian officials have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, the outlet to the Gulf through which nearly all of the Middle East’s oil sails.

Asked if he took Iran’s threats seriously, Fox Said: “Could they make like extremely difficult for us? Yes they could. If we did nothing and they were able to operate without being inhibited, yeah they could close it, but I can’t see that we would ever be in that position.”

He added that diplomacy should be given priority in resolving the tension.

“So when you hear discussion about all this overheated rhetoric from Iran we really believe that the best way to handle this is with diplomacy... I am absolutely convinced that is the way to go. It is our job to be prepared. We are vigilant.”

Contacts between the US Navy and Iranian craft in the Gulf region were routine, Fox said, referring to cases where his sailors helped Iranian ships that were in distress or threatened by pirates.

In addition to commanding the Fifth Fleet, Fox is also the commander of a multinational naval task force charged with ensuring Gulf shipping routes stay open. Although most of its firepower is American, the task force also includes other Western countries and the Gulf Arab states.

The European Union slapped an embargo on Iranian oil last month, which is due to kick in completely by July 1. The United States and EU have both imposed new sanctions on Iran’s central bank which make it difficult for countries to pay Tehran for oil and for Iran to pay for the goods it imports.



Iranian Blogger Mehdi Khazali Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
February 7, 2012

Iranian blogger Mehdi Khazali has been sentenced to 13 years and 10 months in prison and 10 years in exile.

In his blog, Khazali has criticized Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and Iran’s state policies.

Khazali’s lawyer told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that he will appeal against the sentence.

Khazali was arrested about a month ago and is currently on a hunger strike. The outspoken blogger and ophthalmologist has been detained a number of times in the past two years.

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities have arrested several people over alleged links to the BBC’s Persian service, Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency reported on February 6.

Quoting an unnamed “informed source,” Mehr said the detainees produced content and reported to the BBC. It is not clear how many people have been arrested.

In London, the BBC said in a statement it has “no BBC Persian staff members or stringers working inside Iran.”

The BBC said the report “should be of deep concern to all those who believe in a free and independent media.”

In October, Iran released two filmmakers who were jailed on similar charges. Last week, the BBC accused Iran of pressuring the staff members of its Persian service by targeting their relatives in Iran.



Any terrorist attack is condemned: IRI Envoy in India
Islamic Republic News Agency
February 14, 2012,-IRI-Envoy-in-India/30816257

New Delhi, Feb 14, IRNA (Iran news agency) - Any terrorist attack anywhere in the world is condemned, Iranian Ambassador to India Mehdi Nabizadeh said here on Monday.

The official has categorically denied Iran’s any type of involvement in the attack on the New Delhi embassy, whatsoever.

“Any terrorist attack is condemned and we strongly reject the untrue and irresponsible comments by an Israeli official; these accusations are untrue and sheer lies, like the previous times,” Nabizadeh added.

Iran Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast also in reaction to the Zionist regime claims noted that Tel-Aviv as source of international terrorism is trying to deviate world public opinion from its criminal acts by accusing Iran of terrorism.

“Recent Zionist regime terror scenarios in India and Georgia and claims by this regime about Iran’s role in these terrorist operations is another phase of psychological war against Tehran and meanwhile, a fruitless effort to deviate the world opinion from the Zionists’ crimes, such as this regime assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientists as well as the innocent Palestinians,” he underlined.

Iran foreign ministry spokesperson noted that existence of Zionist regime depends on dangerous adventurism and terrorism.

“Islamic Republic response to any illogical action by the Zionist regime would be discouraging,” the official underlined.

He added that the Zionist regime has bombed its embassies in New Delhi and Tbilisi to tarnish Iran’s friendly ties with the host countries.

Mehmanparast brushed aside Zionist regime’s accusation on Iranian involvement in the bombing and said that Israel perpetrated the terrorist actions to launch a new psychological war against Iran.

He said that such terrorist actions reflected the innate nature of Tel Aviv regime.

‘Tehran condemns terrorism in strongest term as Iran has been a victim of terrorism.’

The Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson said ‘The Zionist regime itself is based on state terrorism and occupation’ in reference to Israeli occupation of the Palestinians’ lands.

Referring to the removal of some well-known terrorist groups including the armed terrorist group of MKO from the blacklists of some western countries, Mehmanparast added that those countries which support the Zionist regime state’s terrorism as well as terrorist groups in Iran and the region should be held responsible for their advocacy on behalf of the terrorist groups.

“The Zionist regime has a high record of criminal actions against humanity and it is the first suspect of any terrorist operation in the world,” he continued.

The foreign ministry spokesperson underlined that eliminating the roots of terrorism in the world needs an international commitment.

Speaking to some members of his rightwing Likud party, Zionist regime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allegedly blamed Iran for the attacks that wounded at least two people, one of them an Israeli woman.

A hitman on a motorbike fixed a suspected magnetic bomb on an Israeli embassy car in the Indian capital on Monday, police said.

Separately, the Georgian interior ministry confirmed that police in the capital Tbilisi had defused an explosive device found in the car of an Israeli embassy employee.

In the Georgian capital Tbilisi, 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) to the west, an embassy employee found a suspicious device in his car and contacted police who were able to defuse the bomb before it went off.

The embassy car exploded in a ball of flames in central New Delhi, injuring a 42-year-old female embassy employee and her Indian driver who was pulled from the wreckage by bystanders, police and witnesses said.

Witnesses described hearing an explosion in the middle of the afternoon around 3:30 pm (01:00 GMT) and then seeing the car on fire.

The blast was of relatively low intensity. The charred remains of the car surrounded by debris stood in the street until the early evening, with the roof still intact but the back door missing.

‘We heard a huge explosion and then me and my workers ran to the site where we found the car on fire,’ petrol pump supervisor Ravi Singh told reporters.

‘I think there was a woman and a driver in the car and I think (other) people pulled her out. And then the fire tenders (trucks) arrived at the site,’ he said.

A Jewish center run by the the ultra-Orthodox Lubavitch movement was among the targets in the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai blamed on the Pakistani-based Lashkar-e-Taiba in which 10 gunmen killed at least 166 people.

The last militant strike in New Delhi was last September when a bomb outside the High Court killed 14 people -- the latest in a series of blasts that has shaken public confidence in the Indian government’s counter-terror capabilities.

This new round of anti-Iranian scenarios follows another scenario in which US officials claimed that Iran has tried a plot including an assassination attempt against the Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel Al-Jubeir, with a bomb and subsequent bomb attacks on Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington. Bombings of the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, were also discussed, according to US officials.

Iranian officials had strongly dismissed the US allegations as a fabricated scenario which is totally unfounded and described it as worn-out approaches which are based on the old hostile American-Zionist attempt to sow discord among Muslims.

While Iran is allegedly accused of terrorism, western states are real supporters of world terrorism. The EU removed the MKO terrorist group from its terrorism list in 2009, but it is still considered a terrorist organization by some countries, including the United States and Iran.

The MKO is designated as a terrorist organization under the United States law, and has been described by State Department officials as a repressive cult. The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it enjoyed the support of Iraq’s executed dictator, Saddam Hussein. The MKO is also known to have cooperated with Saddam in suppressing the 1991 uprisings in southern Iraq and the massacre of Iraqi Kurds. The group has carried out numerous acts of violence against Iranian civilians and government officials.


Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30816257

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.