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News | Report: Israeli Source Claims Depot Blast Mossad/MKO Operation

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

13 Nov 2011 09:15Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Standard Time (IRST), GMT+3:30

1:30 p.m., 22 Aban/November 13 The AP is quoting a statement from the Revolutionary Guards stating that General Hassan Moghaddam, the Guard commander killed in the explosion, was "a key figure in Iran's missile program":

The Guard praised Moghaddam, saying the military force will not forget his "effective role in the development of the country's defense ... and his efforts in launching and organizing the Guard's artillery and missile units," the semiofficial Fars news agency quoted the statement as saying Sunday.

Iranian officials did not explain why Moghaddam was at the site at the time of the explosion.

Saeed Qasemi, a Guard commander, said Iran owes its missile program to Moghaddam.

DepotBlastLong.jpg9:15 a.m., 22 Aban/November 13 Richard Silverstein, who writes an influential blog on Israel and has credible sources there, reports on a significant claim that the explosion yesterday afternoon at an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) depot was the result of a joint operation by Israel's Mossad and the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization (MKO, also referred to as the MEK). According to Silverstein:
An Israeli source with extensive senior political and military experience provides an exclusive report that it was the work of the Mossad in collaboration with the MEK. It is widely known within intelligence circles that the Israeli intelligence agency uses the MEK for varied acts of espionage and terror ranging from fraudulent Iranian memos alleging work on nuclear trigger devices to assassinations of nuclear scientists and bombings of sensitive military installations. A similar act of sabotage happened a little more than a year ago [on October 11, 2010] at another IRG[C] missile base [Imam Ali base in Lorestan province] which killed nearly 20 [the actual toll was 18 dead and 14 injured].

Meanwhile, Alireza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the MKO's political arm, claimed that the explosion occurred at a Revolutionary Guard missile base, rather than a munitions depot, as officially reported. Jafarzadeh did not attribute the explosion to the MKO, nor did he specify what he thought caused the explosion.

Rooz, the online daily, reported that Hamed Ebrahimi said that the explosion occurred at a Revolutionary Guard missile storage facility where Shahab missiles are stored. According to Ebrahimi, who reportedly once served at the base, it has very tight security and, therefore, the possibility that the explosion was the result of a sabotage operation is very low.

The Revolutionary Guards have confirmed that a corps commander during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s was killed in the explosion. He was Brigadier General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, who had been heading the Guards' Organization of Self-Sufficiency Jihad. Moghaddam also worked at Imam Hossein University, which is controlled by the Guards.

The number of casualties has been a matter of dispute. Originally, it was announced that 27 people had been killed and 23 injured. But Lieutenant General Ramazan Sharif, head of the Guards' public relations department, declared the accurate figures were 17 and 16, respectively. At the same time, Iran Emrooz, an opposition website, put the number at "hundreds killed and injured." Citing "human rights and democracy activists in Iran," the website quoted unnamed sources as saying that the number of casualties is anywhere between 170 and 300.

The families of political prisoners incarcerated in Rajaei Shahr Prison near the town of Karaj, west of Tehran, have expressed concern over the safety of their loved ones, as the prison is not too far from the explosion site.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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