The man Iran claims it sent out on a secret mission to infiltrate Western intelligence agencies, penetrate the White House, and dupe Iranian opposition leaders in exile is telling his story on Iranian state television.
The alleged spy, Mohammad Reza Madhi-Takezand, appeared in a 30-minute documentary produced by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) that aired in Tehran on Wednesday and was rebroadcast on Friday.
At times, the film seemed to be a caricature of a PBS “Frontline” investigation, complete with the omnipresent narrator, still photographs of clandestine meetings, and the re-enactment of a “top secret” motorcade through the streets of Washington, D.C., the Iranian spy claims was set up for him by the White House so he could met with Vice President Joe Biden.
In the film, Madhi-Takezand says that he was sent out on a covert mission by Iranian intelligence that took him to Bangkok, Munich, Paris, Riyahd, and D.C., to establish a “false-flag” Iranian opposition movement that was covertly controlled by the government of Iran.
Against footage taken at a public conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the narrator explains that FDD fellow Michael Ledeen and former CIA director R. James. Woolsey were in charge of a secret operation to establish a “government in exile” that would orchestrate wide scale unrest inside Iran, in the hope of bringing bring down the Tehran regime.
Ledeen has publicly called for U.S. support for pro-democracy forces inside Iran, and has lamented the lack of such a program by the U.S. intelligence community.
Rather than support an exile government, Ledeen openly supported the Green Movement leadership inside Iran at that same FDD conference, calling former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and his colleagues “the most lethal people imaginable to the Khameneis and Ahmadinejads.
“You'll hear a lot about what lousy leaders they are. And yet the reason that they're so threatening to the Islamic republic is that these are the people who built that regime. They know where every bone is buried. They know who sits at the end of every corridor in every important building in Tehran and elsewhere, and they are a mortal threat. And the regime knows it,” Ledeen said.
But Ledeen tells Newsmax he has never met Madhi-Takezand. “I’m supposed to be in cohoots with him and I’ve never even spoken with him,” Ledeen said. “Nobody at FDD has. It just shows that the Iranian regime is worried. They are terrified that at any moment the people are going to rise up and hang them all.”
The film, called “A Diamond for Deception,” claims that Madhi-Takezand introduced himself to the opposition and foreign intelligence officers as a former Revolutionary Guards official who commanded a broad following of disgruntled Guardsmen who were ready to foment a revolt if the West would support them.
"We had meeting and discussions, they [US officials] said that we could rely on their help," Madhi-Takezand said in the program.
He handed out diamonds to Iranians who claimed they could introduce him to European and U.S. intelligence officers. “I took one of his diamonds, and had it tested,” one of these intermediaries who met with Madhi-Takezand when he first came to Bangkok in 2007 told Newsmax. “It was a fake.”
The intermediary, himself a former Iranian intelligence officer, showed photographs of Madhi-Takezand meeting with U.S. embassy officials in Bangkok, Thailand, including a man who said he represented the CIA.
The film shows Madhi-Takezand lining up with well-known exiled politicians at a conference in Paris last year, singing the Iran’s pre-revolutionary national anthem.
“We met him around a year ago,” Khonsari told Newsmax. “He had made the circuit for a couple of years already, and no one took him seriously.”
I spoke with Madhi-Takezand in January 2010, to investigate claims that he had knowledge of Iran’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
“There is no doubt he was a senior Revolutionary Guards officer,” Khonsari said. “He fought in the Iran-Iraq war.”
But the regime’s own media has put out contradictory versions of Madhi-Takezand’s story, revealing a certain anxiety of what he might have revealed to Western intelligence agencies and reporters during the three years he was outside of Iran.
In his Newsmax interview, Madhi-Takezand claimed that he had worked under former parliament speaker Nateq-Nouri, the “comptroller” of the supreme leader’s office, a role something akin to a U.S. inspector general but that also includes a purview over intelligence operations.
The office he worked in was known as “Bureau 1100,” he told me, and was run by a committee of 15 ayatollahs, including former intelligence minister Ali Fallahian, who is wanted by Interpol for his role in the 1994 AMIA bombing that killed 86 people at the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
He acknowledged that he was personally acquainted with Iran’s top terrorist, Imad Mugniyeh, one of the most protected persons within the Iranian regime. But he nervously denied any knowledge of Mugniyeh’s ties to al-Qaida, or his role in the 9/11 attacks.
Mugniyeh was identified in documents discovered by the 9/11 Commission just one week before they issued their final report in July 2004 as a “senior Hezbollah operative” who accompanied eight to 10 of the future “muscle” hijackers from Saudi Arabia to Iran, en route to Afghanistan to receive instructions from Osama bin Laden.
For more, read "Lawsuit: Iran Knew About 9/11 Attack
Former Revolutionary Guards officer Reza Kahlili, who secretly spied for the CIA for 10 years while inside Iran, thinks the film is part of a “proxy war” between the CIA and Iranian intelligence.
He compared his case to that of Shahram Amiri, a nuclear scientist who defected to the United States, then returned to Iran last July after the regime detained his 7-year-old son. Amiri made a public confession and has never been heard from since.
“Iran’s nuclear program was penetrated by the CIA, so Iran is now trying to say, we have penetrated you as well,” Kahlili told Newsmax. “They are trying to rub the CIA’s nose in it.”
In the end, the Madhi-Takezand saga could prove to be an enormous embarrassment for Iran’s intelligence agencies, which spend huge sums of money to track and infiltrate the opposition and home and in exile and yet often fail to protect sensitive information.
Reports circulating among Iranian bloggers claim that opposition activists calling themselves “Anonymous,” have recently hacked into several government ministries and stolen tens of thousands of sensitive files.
“This could be the Iranian version of WikiLeaks,” one opposition activist who claimed to have knowledge of the hacking expedition told Newsmax.
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