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Missing Iranian nuclear scientist defects 3, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran.
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The Iranian nuclear scientist who went missing on a pilgrimage to Mecca some months ago has apparently defected to the Americans. Initially it was suspected that he had been assassinated by the US.

This is potentially a gold-mine of information for America. Ahahram Amiri, the scientist involved, worked at Iran’s Fardu uranium enrichment plant near Qom. ABC news who broke this story describes him as one Iran’s top nuclear scientists.

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CIA attempt to persuade Europeans to maintain forces in Afghanistan 29, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Central Asia.
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Wikileaks has obtained a classified ‘not for foreigners’ CIA memo discussing strategies to shore up European support for ISAF forces in Afghanistan. In the wake of the Dutch Government’s demise over troop questions, the report states that there is a similarly grim outlook in France and Germany.

In France the report suggests focusing on the Afghan refugees as a way of ‘promoting’ the issue, whereas in Germany the notion of stressing the consequences that would negatively affect German interests is suggested as the way to proceed. Additionally, a focus on the multilateral and humanitarian nature of the conflict might shore up German support.

Using President Obama’s high regards in Europe was also suggested as a strategy. Were he to stress his full commitment to the process and the gains for Afghan women, this might also prove advantageous.

Who killed Abdullah Azzam? 1, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Terrorism.
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One of the many mysteries involved in the birth of Al Qaeda and similar groups in 1980s Afghanistan is the death of Abdullah Azzam. The founder of Maktab Al Khidmat (Office of Services – MAK), usually considered to be the direct forerunner to Al Qaeda, Azzam was assassinated in November 1989. Yet no-one really has much of an idea who lay in wait to explode the IED that killed him. Rather, there are plenty of ideas, but no proof whatsoever. The finger of blame swings from the KGB to the CIA to the Mossad to the ISI to Osama Bin Laden to Iranian Intelligence and on to any number of interested parties.

Interestingly,Thomas Hegghammer of  Jihadica, the one-stop-shop for all that needs to be known on the nitty-gritty of Islamic movements and personalities, thinks that there is some reasonably good evidence that it was in fact Jordanian Intelligence that did the deed. Go have a read and decide for yourself.

Uday Hussein: worse than a psychopath 3, December 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iraq.
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This link leads to an excerpt of an interview with a former army body double of Uday Hussein, one of Saddam Hussein’s sons. Latif Yahia, the solider in question, describes Uday as far worse than a psychopath, for example, turning a beautiful woman into little more than a ‘barely breathing hunk of meat’.

I am sure and believe 100% that Uday Hussein was a vicious and sadistic killer. However, I am not overly sure how much I believe  this man’s testimony. Firstly, it is obviously in his best  financial interest to make the stories as gory and over the top as possible. The worse the stories, the more sensationalist media (and the BBC…) will be interested in interviewing him and, perhaps, the better his book sales. Secondly, he claims that he escaped Iraq with the help from the CIA. This is either a part of the first reason, the CIA being quite a buzz-word for editors, or it could be suggested that he must make his stories interesting and gruesome for them too: he needs to prove worthy after they expended so much energy and money getting him out. Thirdly, Yahia just comes across, to me at least, as not totally believable. This isn’t based on too much, just a gut reaction when watching the clip. Feel free to comment if you feel I’m being unfair…

Newly declassified CIA documents 10, November 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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cia declassified document

There’s nothing quite like transparency and government accountability.

Hat tip: Comment Central