Congressman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) (R-MI), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, recently visited Lebanon to probe recent Hezbollah claims that dozens of CIA assets were compromised in Lebanon. According to GeoStrategy Direct.com, “officials said Hezbollah exploited CIA mistakes to track and identify U.S. operatives in Lebanon. They said that paid Lebanese informants, including Hezbollah members, formed two espionage cells, which were later exposed by double agents. In June, Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah announced the arrest of three suspected CIA informants.”
That was June. But later in November, Iran also claimed that at least a dozen CIA operatives were captured in the Persian state. Parviz Sorouri, a member of Iran’s parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, stated that “the US and Zionist regime’s espionage apparatuses were trying to damage Iran both from inside and outside with a heavy blow, using regional intelligence services.” This news comes during a time when U.S. citizen and combat veteran Amir Mirzaei Hekmati admitted working for the CIA while being held in Iranian custody–a claim likely made by false confessions based on Iranian torture.
Politicians and the CIA all conclude that, indeed, assets were compromised in Lebanon; they were likely compromised in Iran as well. More interesting is the fact that at least one of those assets is likely talking to Iranian intelligence. The recent killing of nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan demonstrates this.
Last week, the Commerce Deputy of Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment site, Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, was assassinated. Iran’s propaganda machine immediately went to work claiming that the CIA, Mossad, and UK clandestine services took part in the killing. Their propaganda was intended to hide an incredibly dreary reality.
In today’s early morning hours, an e-mail was delivered from a source (name must remain undisclosed as his life would be placed in jeopardy if revealed) operating in the Middle East with deep infiltrated human intelligence (HUMINT) operations inside one of Iran’s greatest assets–Hezbollah.
Within, it claimed that “the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) conducted the assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan”–not the CIA, Mossad, or any other foreign service. The insight continued stating that the “Iranians discovered that Roshan was linked to the network of the 12 CIA agents arrested in Iran and proceed with the rest of the arrests accordingly while diverting the media coverage through blaming the West.” If this were true, have more than twelve CIA assets been arrested in Iran? Could these additional assets include Amir Mirzaei Hekmati?
A few key points must be covered before anyone takes such insight to heart. The source who provided this morning’s insight works extremely close with foreign intelligence assets in their own country. This comes from a government intelligence operator who is friends with the United States and Israel. With that, some questions need answers.
Could those foreign assets have possibly dropped this newly discovered intelligence into the hands of the individual who delivered such message earlier this morning as an attempt to keep the international community at bay for the deliberate targeted killing of a nuclear scientist inside Iran? If so, it begs the question needed to determine still whether a foreign state has been involved in recent explosions and assassinations of Iranian nuclear assets.
If a foreign asset is later found not involved in the assassinations of key Iranian nuclear scientists and the revelations presented this morning are actually true, will the international community slam the hammer on Iran for additional human rights violations? That is highly unlikely; however, will the international community warn the people of Iranian about the unprecedented risks working directly within the Iranian nuclear industry which stems not from foreign entities rather Iran itself? Could such a play re-spark an internal revolution as seen in 2009 with the Iranian Green Movement?
Most importantly, the Director of National Intelligence, along with U.S. policy makers, must understand that source handling and tradecraft is utterly broken within the U.S. clandestine services. Having two cells of at least a dozen U.S. assets compromised in Lebanon and Iran is an utter failure and, truthfully, a disgrace within the U.S. Intelligence Community. Knowing this tragedy, which publicly includes a combat veteran Marine, who in the U.S. elite will determine enhanced tradecraft training for HUMINT operations must be brought back into the Intelligence Community similarly to the training conducted during the peak of the Cold War? Can such enhanced techniques be brought back to life during a time when the defense budget is about to be crippled?
Lastly, in observing these blunders, will the United States be more determined in reducing an already broken HUMINT discipline moving to the more risk adverse technical intelligence disciplines, or will the United States realize that human intelligence is critical in detecting, defeating, and destroying today’s asymmetric threat? If they determine the latter, the U.S. needs a dramatic overhaul within its intelligence community.
No matter who killed Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, be it the Iranians or a foreign service, flaws are now known within U.S. clandestine operations. U.S. assets have been compromised. At least one combat veteran’s life rests in the hands of the Iranians. Propaganda is being pushed from all sides of the house and no one knows the immanency of war with Iran. As Rambo once said, “peace is an accident, war is natural. Old men start it, young men fight it, everybody in the middle dies, and nobody tells the truth.”
Kerry Patton, a combat service disabled veteran, is a senior analyst for WIKISTRAT and owner of IranWarMonitor.com. He has worked in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, focusing on intelligence and security and interviewing current and former terrorists, including members of the Taliban. He is the author of Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies and the children’s book American Patriotism. You can follow him on Facebook.