The Spectacle Blog

Iran’s Terror Plot… Color Me Skeptical

By on 10.13.11 | 4:11PM

A little while back, I composed a list of the ten greatest "state-actor" threats to American security interests, both at home and abroad. I ranked Iran #2, given their reckless bellicosity, nuclear ambitions and willingness to fight America by proxy.

Conspicuously absent from my security metric was the Islamic Republic's most diabolical catspaw: A 56-year old, naturalized Iranian-American divorcee who sells used cars for a living in Corpus Christi, TX.

If in fact Manssor Arbabsiar was involved in a high-stakes plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador by blowing up Café Milano, it's probably because he was dead broke and could use the money. Described by friends and neighbors as untrustworthy and disorganized, this international man of mystery was apparently involved in several used car lots, and a failing fast-food outlet at a local strip mall. Most of his properties were up for hock, or recently sold. A criminal mastermind, he ain't. Court records reveal a 2001 arrest for theft regarding some business deal gone sour.

Of course, charges were later dropped, so maybe I'm not giving him enough credit.

All this sounds considerably less diabolical than White House claims that "an Iranian American, operating in Texas and acting at the behest of the elite al-Quds Force, attempted to co-opt a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate Saudi Arabia's senior diplomat… before bombing the Israeli embassy in the nation's capital." Pretty scary, huh?

While the latter makes for good press, the former sounds utterly half-baked. Given Arbabsiar's curriculum vitae, I'd have guessed he was shooting his mouth off to Mexican drug-runners and DEA informants because he heard ATF and Eric Holder were giving away free guns and ammo, and figured he could turn a tidy profit.

If the best Iran can muster is a used-car salesman who couldn't shut up about his connections to the Iranian military, I ranked them way too high on my list of prospective threats.

Beyond that, the mission doesn't fit Iran's M.O.

Despite thirty-two years of rabid anti-Americanism and "Great Satan" chants, the Supreme Leader has never ordered a hit on U.S. soil. In the past, when understudies have been employed, they've been seasoned task-men, operating within the ranks of allied organizations such as Hizbullah or the Muslim-Bosnian government.

Let's put it this way: I'd be shocked to learn the Iranians decided to staff up at amateur hour to conduct a high-profile attack against their three most significant enemies.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated that "senior levels of the al-Quds Force were engaged in the plotting." Attorney General Holder stressed that high level officials in the Iranian government "were responsible for this plot." Fair enough. But I'm going to side with President Bush's leading expert on Iran, Hilary Mann Leverett, who has explained that "What we've seen unfold makes no sense in terms of Iran's national security strategy." If Iran wanted to hit Israel or the Saudis, there seems little reason to take the fight to the District of Columbia. Plus, a plot like this smacks of desperation. Iran is already a regional power broker and a would-be member of Club Nuke. Leave this sort of nonsense to Yemen or Sudan.

With little to gain, and too much to lose, why ruffle any additional feathers by attempting the most dramatic assassination in recent memory, while simultaneously enraging your nuclear bête noire in Israel? None of this makes any sense.

Which begs the question… if Arbabsiar wasn't a legitimate proxy, why cast him as one? Well, for the past two days, every news outlet in America, Europe and the Middle East has run spectacular headlines focused on the stunning allegations and wild speculation about the U.S. response.

I suppose the fact that these accusations against Iran broke on the same day Senate Democrats joined their Republican counterparts to quash President Obama's jobs bill (after weeks of Barry's barnstorming) could just be a coincidence… not to mention Eric Holder's appearance today before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to explain the sale of thousands of firearms to known and suspected straw buyers for the big, bad cartels in Mexico.

Some might suggest that these two black eyes for the Obama administration are clearly related to a spotty charge of proxy terror brought against a 56-year-old fall guy. I guess much like the Iranian terror plot, my cynicism doesn't mean it isn't true.

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