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Tehran Denies Discord in Response to Airliner Downing
[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 7 - July 9, 1988
Ludwig De Braeckeleer (ludwig)     Print Article 
Published 2008-07-09 14:09 (KST)   

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"We suggest that the United States has some additional crimes stored away for Iran, and that is why we do not push for any revenge. Wise people understand why we do not take revenge."
--Hojatolislam Hashemi Rafsanjani, speaker of Iran's Parliament and commander of the armed forces

July 9, 1988: Today, Hojatolislam Rafsanjani said that it would be unwise for Iran to seek revenge for the downing of the Iranian airliner by the USS Vincennes.

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Documents declassified and released by Rafsanjani in late 2006 indeed indicate that Iranian military had reached the conclusion that they could not win the war due to the US support to Saddam Hussein. This issue will be discussed in more details on July 19.[1]

Speaking to a crowd of several thousand who had gathered in an open-air theater, Rafsanjani argued that Iran should wait and see. Next Tuesday -- July 12 -- the United Nations Security Council is scheduled to discuss the downing of the civilian Iranian jetliner.

"If they give us justice, condemn the warmonger and tell the United States to leave the Persian Gulf, Iran may be satisfied," Rafsanjani said.

Earlier this week, Rafsanjani sought to encourage international condemnation of the United States and to gain sympathy for the Iranian people. But not everyone in Tehran agrees with his pragmatism.

Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, who is considered Khomeini's likely successor and is without doubt Rafsanjani's leading rival for power, has called for attacks against American interests and property in response to the downing of the jet. However, the apparent difference between the two leaders may not be as sharp as it would seem at first.

In fact, Rafsanjani denied that there were any such differences among senior leaders of the Iranian government. He said the seeming contradictions between his views and those of Ayatollah Montazeri were all part of a complementary policy debate.

Nevertheless, Montazeri appears adamant on the necessity of an act of revenge. In a message read on the Teheran radio, he asked Ayatollah Khomeini to order "revolutionary forces and resistance cells inside and outside the country to target America's material, political, economic and military interests."

North Trial Scheduled Sept. 20

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North has been charged with conspiracy to illegally divert profits from the sale of United States arms to Iran and use the profit to fund the rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government.

North was dismissed as an aide to the National Security Council and John M. Poindexter, a retired Navy rear admiral and former White House national security adviser.

Earlier this week, Judge Gerhard A. Gesell ruled that North had demonstrated that highly sensitive documents were relevant to his defense. North claims, among other things, that the profit was used in combination with US government money.

Consequently, Judge Gesell directed the independent prosecutor, Lawrence E. Walsh, to produce any documents to support North's assertions. Arms dealer Albert Hakim and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard V. Secord have also been indicted in the case.

Intelligence

Sanya Popovic was the girlfriend of the UN commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson, who was killed when Pan Am Flight 103 crashed at Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988.

According to Popovic, following a July 9, 1988, meeting between Mothashemi-Pur and Jibril, the PFLP-GC was awarded the contract to revenge the shooting down of Airbus 665.[2] A former Defense Intelligence Agency operative has told me that he knew of the existence of this contract.

The death of Bernt Carlsson deeply affected the future of Namibia. The South Africa delegation was saved by destiny. All its members cancelled their reservations on Pan Am 103 on the day of the tragedy.

Looking in the Mirror

As one looks back at the events surrounding the Irangate scandal and the Lockerbie bombing, it is hard to fail noticing many similarities between the two stories -- for instance, the involvement of such unsavory characters as international arms and drug dealer Monzer al-Kassar.[3]

Soon after his extradition to the US last month, R. Marquise, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who led the Lockerbie investigation, told me the following:

"When I read of al-Kassar's extradition, I sent e-mails to both the FBI agent handling Lockerbie as well as the DOJ [Department of Justice] attorney suggesting that he be interviewed. I certainly have no more clout in the government and can only suggest. I am not sure what will be done to see how he responds to the allegations made by Aviv and company. "

Some authors, including this writer, have alleged that in the second part of 1988, the Bush-Reagan administration was in contact with Tehran officials to negotiate the release of the US hostages held in Lebanon. (See, "Was There a Second Irangate?")

Al-Kassar was allegedly working as a go-between for Tehran and Washington. It is a fact that he had done the job successfully in the past for the French government. In exchange, al-Kassar is alleged to have been allowed to export heroin safely from the Bekaa Valley to the east coast of the US, transiting through Frankfurt and using Pan Am.

According to an Italian court ruling, such activity did indeed occur. Moreover, various authors, such as Roy Rowan writing for Time Magazine [4], have claimed -- but never showed evidence -- that the US covert operation had received a codename sounding like Corea, Courier, or Kourea.

According to Richard Marquise [5], the Drug Enforcement Agency investigated the claim and concluded that no such operation ever existed. It did not, however, escape the attention of this writer that a bank account in the name of KORE1 existed and was used by the Irangate actors, as evidenced by a letter from Poindexter to Central Intelligence Agency director William Casey. (The reader will notice that the letter, dated May 27, 1986, was also sent to Vice President George H. W. Bush. According to the official version of history, Bush learned about the affair in November 1986.)

Poindexter's letter to CIA director William Casey.

Back to the Present

Yesterday -- July 8, 2008 -- journalist Arthur MacDonald, writing in the Gulf Daily News of Bahrain drew parallels between the Piper Alpha disaster and the destruction of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, two events that he covered extensively in 1988.

"The people responsible for both events have never had to pay for the carnage they caused," MacDonald wrote. Speaking of Lockerbie, MacDonald added the following:

"Exactly when everyone decided Libya was responsible for this outrage, I can't actually remember. Mr. Gadhafi seemed to be everybody's whipping boy at the time, so that could explain it.

"What I do know is that none of the journalists I worked with on the story ever believed that Libya was guilty. And for some reason I just don't understand, no one is bothering to do anything about this."
1. "The Khomeini letter: Is Rafsanjani warning the hardliners? ," October 2006.

2. Globe and Mail, Toronto, November 27, 1993, page A17.

3. Monzer al-Kassar was arrested in June 2007 in Spain on charges that he had attempted to sell weapons to the Colombian FARC.

4. "Pan Am 103 -- Why did they die?," April 27, 1992.

5. SCOTBOM, Evidence and the Lockerbie Investigation, p 65.

References

"Iranian Plays Down Revenge," July 9, 1988.

"North Trial Scheduled Sept. 20, July 9, 1988.

--

Ludwig De Braeckeleer has a Ph.D. in nuclear sciences. Ludwig teaches physics and international humanitarian law. He blogs on "The GaiaPost."
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ludwig De Braeckeleer

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