Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 14, 2006

Ides of March

Con Coughlin of The Daily Telegraph writes today: Iran 'is training the next al-Qa'eda leaders'

Iran is seeking to take control of Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda terror network by encouraging it to promote officials known to be friendly to Teheran, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

According to recent reports received by Western intelligence agencies, the Iranians are training senior al-Qa'eda operatives in Teheran to take over the organisation when bin Laden is no longer leader.

Well, the truthiness of this current piece is like that of Coughlin's 2003 piece titled: Terrorist behind September 11 strike was trained by Saddam

Iraq's coalition government claims that it has uncovered documentary proof that Mohammed Atta, the al-Qaeda mastermind of the September 11 attacks against the US, was trained in Baghdad by Abu Nidal, the notorious Palestinian terrorist.
The second part of the memo, which is headed "Niger Shipment", contains a report about an unspecified shipment - believed to be uranium - that it says has been transported to Iraq via Libya and Syria.

Although Iraqi officials refused to disclose how and where they had obtained the document, Dr Ayad Allawi, a member of Iraq's ruling seven-man Presidential Committee, said the document was genuine.

Obviously Coughlin has some really good sources. Back in 2000 the British Journalism Review remarked on him:

... readers of the Sunday Telegraph were regaled with a dramatic story about the son of Col Gadafy of Libya and his alleged connection to a currency counterfeiting plan. The story was written by Con Coughlin, the paper’s then chief foreign correspondent, and it was falsely attributed to a “British banking official”. In fact, it had been given to him by officers of MI6, who, it transpired, had been supplying Coughlin with material for years.
.. Coughlin was later briefed by an MI6 man – his regular contact. Some weeks afterward, he was introduced to a second MI6 man, who spent several hours with him and handed over extensive details of the story about Gadafy’s son. Although Coughlin asked for evidence, and was shown purported bank statements, the pleadings make clear that he was dependent on MI6 for the discreditable details about the alleged counterfeiting scam. He was required to keep the source strictly confidential.

Coughlin is the male UK version of Judith Miller. One can savely assume that any word he writes has been dictated by the US/UK disinformation campaign to justify an attack on Iran.

That campaign is obviously well alive, though not yet at its culmination point.

Beware the ides of March.

Posted by b on November 14, 2006 at 19:02 UTC | Permalink


"From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August. winter"...

~Andrew H. Card New York Times, September 7, 2002

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 14 2006 19:25 utc | 1

Kneepads Kon Koughlin

Posted by: markfromireland | Nov 14 2006 20:14 utc | 2

Someone wasn't very pleased about Blair's modest proposal to talk to Iran and Syria. There's also a report that the IAEA has found traces of plutonium in Iran.

Posted by: Dick Durata | Nov 14 2006 20:26 utc | 3

that the IAEA has found traces of plutonium in Iran

yawn - is there any place in the world you wouldn't find these - yes I know that is an exegeration but please:

the four-page paper made available to The Associated Press

Posted by: b | Nov 14 2006 20:45 utc | 4

I simply don't understand all the hubub about Plutonium.

Homer Simpson appears to bring it home all the time, and after over a decade of exposure, he doesn't appear to have aged a day. Neither has his wife and children, come to think of it. Or almost anyone else in Springfield.

Wait a minute....

Posted by: Austin Cooper | Nov 14 2006 21:10 utc | 5

And just two days ago, the same paper was setting the stage for a new star-bogeyman in step with the new doctrine: A vicious monster rises in Iraq's sectarian war – 'the Shia Zarqawi'

Apparently the codename for the disinfo campaign used to be Mass Appeal:

A former senior member of US intelligence today urged the British Parliament to hold an inquiry into what he alleges was a campaign of disinformation by British secret agencies in the run-up to war in Iraq.

Former United Nations (UN) weapons inspector Scott Ritter said he was involved with MI6 officers working on a secret operation codenamed Mass Appeal, designed to secure public support for action against Iraq by leaking dodgy intelligence to the media suggesting that Saddam Hussein continued to possess weapons of mass destruction.

And he said that disinformation was also supplied by a little-known body within the Defense Intelligence Staff called the Rockingham Cell, which provided intelligence officers to work as inspectors with the UN’s UNSCOM (UN Special Commission)team.

Posted by: Alamet | Nov 15 2006 0:38 utc | 6


that the IAEA has found traces of plutonium in Iran

yawn - is there any place in the world you wouldn't find these

One certainly hopes so; quite aside from its use in building atomic weapons, plutonium is extraordinarily toxic. As I recall, to fatally poison a population the size of New York City it would take much less than 10 cc of the stuff -- a couple of teaspoons, for us non-Metric folk. If you're finding it "any place in the world", then there's something seriously wrong.

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Nov 15 2006 1:22 utc | 7

alamet, i listened to an interview of ritter on a local kcts off the beaten path tv show. quite an intriguing,interesting, intellegent man.

Posted by: annie | Nov 15 2006 2:24 utc | 8

Wikipedia to the rescue:

On how common it is:

Plutonium (IPA: /ˌpluːˈtəʊniəm/) is a radioactive, metallic chemical element. It has the symbol Pu and the atomic number 94. It is the element used in most modern nuclear weapons. The most important isotope of plutonium is 239Pu, with a half-life of 24,110 years. It can be made from natural uranium and is fissile. The most stable isotope is 244Pu, with a half-life of about 80 million years, long enough to be found in extremely small quantities in nature.

On how poisoneus it is:

On the other hand, 5 kg of plutonium was spread over the Nagasaki area (due to incomplete fission) and never cleaned up. Many of the more extreme claims about Plutonium toxicity are inconsistent with the past and current habitability of the area and the health of the current residents.

Read All About It!

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Nov 15 2006 2:29 utc | 9

The "marketing campaign" is getting some speed ...

U.N. Says Somalis Helped Hezbollah Fighters

More than 700 Islamic militants from Somalia traveled to Lebanon in July to fight alongside Hezbollah in its war against Israel, a United Nations report says. The militia in Lebanon returned the favor by providing training and — through its patrons Iran and Syria — weapons to the Islamic alliance struggling for control of Somalia, it adds.

The report, which was disclosed by Reuters on Monday, appears to be the first indication that foreign fighters assisted Hezbollah during the 34-day conflict, when Israel maintained a tight blockade on Lebanon.

The report also says Iran sought to trade arms for uranium from Somalia to further its nuclear ambitions, though it does not say whether Iran succeeded.

The 86-page report was issued by four experts monitoring violations of a 1992 United Nations arms embargo on Somalia, which was put in place after the country lapsed into civil war and remains in effect. The report is to be discussed Friday at the Security Council.

The panel does not say how the information was obtained. But the members had access to information from the intelligence agencies of the Security Council’s 15 current members, including Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States, a United Nations official said.

Hmm - black Sunni(!) Somali fighters in Lebanon next to a well organized Shia Hizbullah which didn't activate it's on reserves?

Iran (which has natural Uranium) buying Uranium in war-torn Somalia? ... yawn ... but the NYT prints it anyhow ...

Posted by: b | Nov 15 2006 5:26 utc | 10

@3 Iran/plutonium:

A senior U.N. official familiar with the report cautioned against reading too much into the findings of traces of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, saying that Iran had explained both and that they could plausibly be classified as byproducts of peaceful nuclear activities.
IAEA Reports On Discovery At Iran Facility

Posted by: b | Nov 15 2006 6:23 utc | 11

@askod, #9:

While that jibes with a claim I've seen a few times (that the dangers of radioactive substances are generally overstated because the government tests which established the figures irresponsibly used much more than they admitted and then had to overstate the danger in retrospect) I refuse to accept any claim on the grounds of Wikipedia alone. Their quality remains, at best, questionable, despite the recent crusades -- term used deliberately -- against perceived problems. You can easily live in an area filled with toxins without significant ill effect, as long as you don't get any in your body. (Lead paint, for example.) If the plutonium in Nagasaki were in a form which didn't lend itself to being broken up into airborn particles, it wouldn't be getting in the mouths/lungs/whatever of the locals. (Except any very small children doing the "put everything possible into my mouth" thing which is their wont.) Any other sources you can quote?

Posted by: The Truth Gets Vicious When You Corner It | Nov 15 2006 6:34 utc | 12

It's hardly surprising that all these "stories" are surfacing this week - the reason is that "engagement" with Iran is back on the agenda, and there are factions who would prefer that this doesn't take place. Timing is often the key to understanding these things, and I doubt that they portend a marketing campaign to get another war on; the intent is to spike positive initiatives.

Hence the Con Coughlin piece which presents no evidence of any description ( rumint ) and is conveniently unverifiable, and the ludicrous Somali stories whipped out to assist in the propaganda pushback, which is about trying to convince people that the Iranians are horrid and the source of all evil and that diplomatic dealings are a really bad idea; incidentally, they probably drown puppies too and no doubt we'll soon get stories about new laws requiring Jews to wear Stars of David for easy identification whilst wondering around Teheran.

There's also an FAS report - again vague rumint with no actual concrete referencing or detail - floating around regarding Iran supplying the ICU with manpads; rather redundant as the Somali warlords who they're in conflict with don't actually have any aircraft, but it just goes to prove that the Iranians are recklessly endangering cute puppies everywhere who might be on a flight. I hate to think what happens when the secret Iranian plot to kill all ponies is discovered.

What no-one will be able to explain is why and how 700-odd Somali fighters, whilst in the midst of a winning military campaign to establish the writ of the ICU, decided to down tools on their personal priority and managed to teleport to Lebanon. The last time I checked there weren't any non-UN flights of any description from Somalia to anywhere, let alone Lebanon, which was under an IDF air blockade. It's just about possible that they could have done the boat trip to Yemen and then got a flight to Damascus, but these kinds of trips are long, time-consuming and very expensive as the bribes for transit/airfares without any proper documentation tend to be huge. It's also wierd that this is supposed to have happened some 4-5 months ago and that no-one noticed at the time.

Posted by: dan | Nov 15 2006 12:41 utc | 13

"but it just goes to prove that the Iranians are recklessly endangering cute puppies everywhere who might be on a flight."

Poor puppies. I remember an anti-war demonstration on my college campus in the late 60s that was advertized with fliers all over the city as a "Puppy Burn".

Huge crowd.

Posted by: beq | Nov 15 2006 13:20 utc | 14

Considering Iran has admitted "capturing" and "holding" a number of high ranking al Qaeda members who fled Afghanistan after the U.S. led invasion there is it really all that hard to believe that Iran didn't really put these guys in jail?

Give me a break with the utter naivete.

Posted by: Mark | Nov 15 2006 14:33 utc | 15

Since is it an article of faith among many here that Kos is the home of right wing Amerikan Zionist/Klan/Imperium and that Democrats are totally indistinguishable from Republicans even using the advanced methodology of solidarity group analysis, I thought I'd provide this link courtesy of Kos

Posted by: citizen k | Nov 15 2006 14:54 utc | 16

Considering hardcore Sunni fundies consider the Shia to be heretics and a bigger abomination than even US and the Zionists, is it really that hard to believe that the only reason why Iran would still keep AQ prisoners alive intead of just hanging them is because they hope to make some political bargain with Western powers?

CK: In fact, as I said recently, the awful problem is that DKos community is a bit more leftist/liberal than the average American, and the most prominent posters there are even a bit more leftist/liberal than the average Kossack, from what I've seen.

By the way, good for Webb, looks like he's seeing the light after years in the desert of Reaganism. Some may suspect this to be an act and leftist-posturing, but even if it's just a more old-school conservative who knows deep down that too much inequality is bad for even the rulers since it'll bring unrest, or if he's convinced for ethical reasons, it's always good to have a Senator going public with this kind of talk, if only because it legitimises it - even if it's done with hypocrisy -, and it may push more people to consider such points of view.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Nov 15 2006 15:20 utc | 17

@ck - Thanks for the link to Webb's WSJ Op-Ed - truly remarkable.

Now let's see how he votes ...

Posted by: b | Nov 15 2006 16:20 utc | 18

I think this is funny We have conditions too, say Iran and Syria

Responding to overtures by Tony Blair and American mediators, President Ahmadinejad said that Tehran had always been ready to talk to America if certain conditions were met. “The conditions concern the attitude of the American Government. If they correct their behaviour, we will talk to them like others,” he said.

He did not elaborate, but in the past Iran has demanded that the United States unfreeze Iranian assets held by the US Government, withdraw forces from Iraq, drop its support for Israel and stop its efforts to halt Tehran’s nuclear programme.
The question being asked by some of Syria’s political classes, however, is, why should we help? Ayman Abdel Nour, an economist and key reformer in the Baath party, said: “What can Britain offer Syria? It has followed America’s policy of isolating Syria, but has discovered it did not work. The Gulf States are flush with oil money and have been investing heav-ily in Syria, meaning economic sanctions have not worked.”

The US imposed trade sanctions on Syria in 2004 over its alliance with the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas, over interference in Lebanon and for alleged support for foreign fighters crossing its border to fight US troops in Iraq.

Payback time ...

Posted by: b | Nov 15 2006 16:33 utc | 19

My comment (#3) about the plutonium report was to point out the timing of the release. With Baker (and maybe Gates) calling for direct talks with Iran, there needed to be (for the neo-cons) some in the bud nipping of that idea.

Posted by: Dick Durata | Nov 15 2006 17:14 utc | 20

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