The Obama government has clearly decided the Iranian-backed plot to blow up a restaurant to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington was not an act of war, security expert Fred Fleitz tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
But if President Mahoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei were aware of it, that is exactly what it was added Fleitz, who has quarter of a century in the intelligence world. Fleitz is managing editor of LIGNET.com, a new Washington-based global intelligence and forecasting website.
“It’s pretty clear the United States is not really considering it an act of war because we did not take military action and the two suspects are being treated as criminal suspects, although we assume they have a relationship with the Iranian government,” said Fleitz.
“But if the Iranian government is behind it, it’s an act of war.”
Fleitz predits that there will be “a significant ratcheting up of sanctions” against Tehran after the plan to kill the ambassador was announced by attorney general Eric Holder today.
“I am sure we are also working with our European allies to try to find out what this was about and, if it looks like the Iranian government was behind it, there will be a significant ratcheting up of sanctions.”
Fleitz said some good may come out of the thwarted plot in that it might make China and Russia more willing to apply sanctions on the Tehran government. “. An action like this makes it difficult for Russia and China, both of which have already been holding their noses when it comes to diplomatic action against Iran at the UN. It could pressure Russia and China to finally take the step of agreeing tougher sanctions against the Khamenei regime.”
Fleitz said the fact that the plot has been foiled and has been kept secret since at least June when President Barack Obama was told about it, is another huge victory for the U.S. intelligence community. “It is really a credit to the professionalism and the capabilities of our intelligence officers,” he said.
If the plan had been successful the consequences, he said, “would have been enormous.”
“There would have been significant collateral damage and in the indictment, the arrested plotter said he didn’t care about collateral damage.
“We also need to consider when we look at the size of this attack that if Iran is able to do this in the United States, it is a very serious concern for U.S. security. How could Iranian agents pull off such a thing, or get so close to pulling off such a thing? That’s something that really needs to be looked into.”
Fleitz, who has worked in the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department and the House Intelligence Committee over his distinguished career, said it is hard to know what Iran thought it could gain by its involvement in the terror plot. “At first glance it appears almost unbelievable and an incredibly reckless move by a nation that is already increasingly isolated,” he said.
“This development doesn’t really make a lot of sense, however we know that one of the two accused terrorists who were arrested has confessed to having a relationship with Iran, that he was ordered to do so. There are records of money transfers from a foreign entity which the FBI has identified as Iran and there is a source that the Drug Enforcement Agency has been working with who says this person was supposedly working with Iran.
“This case will have to be studied very carefully to see whether these individuals were rogue agents, were they working with a rogue element of the Iranian regime or not? It looks like it’s something that the Iranian government was behind, but we need to examine this very closely to see if that is the case.
He said Ahmadinejad could have cooked ups the scheme without Khamenei’s knowledge.
“What’s interesting about Ahmadinejad is that he can’t run for reelection, we know his political situation in Iran is perilous right now, there is a separation between him and the Supreme Leader Khamenei and there is an effort by Khamenei’s people to keep Ahmadinejad’s people from winning this spring’s elections.
“One has to assume that if Ahmadinejad is bold enough to do this, he is probably thinking of other acts of terrorism. Is this related to Ahmadinejad’s loss of power, perhaps some way to hold on to power, or some other critical dynamic in Iran?”
Fleitz also said the Saudi involvement in putting down Shiite-led riots in Bahrain could be behind the plot.
“Iran has a terrible beef with the Saudis, they are very angry with the Saudis for assisting with the revolution in Bahrain.”
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