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Media Watch | 'Terror Club': Iranian TV's Prime-Time Assassination 'Confessions'

by PAUL MUTTER

09 Aug 2012 01:10Comments

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.

ScreenShotIRTV1.jpg 1:10 a.m. IRDT, 19 Mordad/August 9 Terror Club, a 39-minute documentary that aired on IRTV1 this past Sunday, purported to show the confessions of people accused of working for Israel to kill Iranian nuclear scientists. The report apparently featured 12 of the 20 individuals the Tehran Times says were arrested in June on suspicion of espionage and terrorism. This is the second known mass arrest of Iranian nationals accused of working for Israel this year, and the second state television documentary featuring "confessions" from those accused.

Bizarrely, Terror Club seems to have lifted part of its soundtrack from the popular video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The instrumental choice that brings the show to a close chillingly fits in with the documentary's take: "The Boneyard," which plays in a game level where the protagonist has just been betrayed by his commanding officer and is now on the run from both American and Russian agents, can be heard near the 31:50 mark as the scientists' relatives are being interviewed.

The documentary purports to detail how this "terror cell" carried out its operations in Iran and selected its targets: Masoud Ali Mohammadi, Majid Shahriari, Dariush Rezaeinejad, and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan Behdast. Earlier this year, independent reports offered confirmation of Iran's claims that Israel's Mossad intelligence agency and the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization (MKO) were responsible for the shootings and vehicle bombings that killed the men. A covert campaign between Israel and Iran is now being openly discussed. The debate over a series of arrests of Iranian nationals in several countries charged with attempting to bomb Israeli targets in retaliation for the scientists' murders constitutes the latest chapter in the shadow war. All of these claims and counterclaims have proven extremely difficult to verify, especially since it is not wholly clear why the unnamed Israeli and American officials who are often cited as sources for these stories are apparently leaking information.

Recently, one of Israel's best-known defense correspondents, Yossi Melman, challenged the earlier reports that attributed the scientists' murders to joint Mossad-MKO operations. According to Melman -- who wrote in 2009 that "I would advise Netanyahu to attack Iran" -- it is only Mossad, and not the MKO, whose people carried out the assassinations and possible sabotage operations. In his vivid new accounting of Mossad operations in Iran, he states that "[Majid Jamali] Fashi and the 20 other suspects now being held were not the killers. The methods, communications, transportation, and even the innovative bombs used in the Tehran killings are too sensitive for the Mossad to share with foreign freelancers."

Melman had earlier reported, though, that "it is unlikely these operations could have succeeded without inside support, meaning from individuals or groups ready to help sabotage the ayatollahs' regime." According to several other reports, Mossad is using Iraq and Azerbaijan as clandestine launching pads for covert operations in the Islamic Republic. Officials in all of these countries have categorically denied all such claims that have appeared in the Iranian, American, or European press.

Fashi, who was hanged at Evin Prison this past May for his alleged role in the 2010 killing of Ali Mohammadi, confessed on television to having traveled to Israel to train for the operation. The Iranian Foreign Ministry maintains that all of the killings evidence "the involvement of the Zionist regime [Israel], the US and their allies in Iran." The United States denies that it has had any involvement in the murders, which the Obama administration condemned, or that it has maintained secret ties to MKO operatives.

The claims of the IRTV1 documentary could not be independently verified. If the interviewees -- one of whom said she and the other women on the show had also sold their bodies for access to information -- have indeed been charged with espionage, they could well share Fashi's fate.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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