Silence is golden
And Ira Silverman—who now appears to be the one who sent Bob Levinson off to Iran—has essentially clammed up.
Mike Isikoff of Newsweek did get a brief comment out of Silverman for a story posted on Newsweek’s web site: “Silverman called to say that it was ‘untrue’ and a ‘fabrication’ to say that he was involved in any attempt to coax Salahuddin out of Iran. ‘I was not involved with the FBI to try to get him [Salahuddin] out of Iran,’ he said. But he declined to discuss what he knew about Levinson's trip to Iran, saying he had been asked ‘by the people conducting the investigation’ not to make any public comments that could interfere with the effort to bring Levinson home.”
What investigation? The U.S. intelligence community agrees on one thing: Levinson and Silverman were not working for them. Levinson’s clients in the PI world all insist he was not working for them in Iran. Since I seem to be the only reporter Dawud Salahuddin is communicating with, I can tell you the early stories that Levinson was there to do a cigarette smuggling investigation are probably not true. Salahuddin said he believes that the entire meeting was part of a scheme to lure him out of his fugitive’s safe haven so he could be arrested.
Certainly, Bob Levinson had no professional stake in trying to bring Salahuddin to justice, and it's unlikely (despite Belfield/Salahuddin's arguments to the contrary) he had any plan to do so. More probably, Levinson thought Salahuddin might be able to provide useful information on whatever it was that took him to the Middle East in the first place.
But, as Trento notes, unless Silverman comes forward, the real reasons for Levinson's ill-fated sojourn on Kish are likely to remain a mystery.
UPDATE: At intelligence blog, Kent's Imperative, there's a post about the Levinson case that echoes my own feeling that there's probably enough intrigue to fill a book: "While we are not given to indulging in conspiracy theories, this is certainly one incident in which the back story is likely to be even more interesting than what is already known."
That said, I think the back story is probably not quite so byzantine as Messrs. Salahuddin and Trento would have us believe. As I see it, Iranian intelligence used Salahuddin to set trap for Bob Levinson, with Ira Silverman as the unwitting intermediary. They're now using Levinson as a bargaining chip to swap for Iranian assets in Western custody—or (again using the Silverman-Salahuddin relationship) to lure other potential hostages to Iran (either security professionals like Jack Cloonan or members of the Levinson family) in an attempt to free their original target and add to Teheran's chip pile.
Don't forget to sign the Free Bobby! petition.
Posted by Rodger on April 27, 2007 at 11:47 AM | Permalink
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