The man who knew too much?
Under the headline "Trento's Column: Levinson Had Damaging Information on Iranian Leadership" he spins a 3,000-word tale of intrigue that begins: "Iran is dissembling" (Now there's a shock.) "Despite official denials, the government there has had former FBI agent Robert Levinson under their control since March 8." (Another big shock.)
The semantic game they are playing has to do with who in Iran is holding Levinson. New information from the last man known to meet with Levinson may demonstrate that the Iranians may have a very good reason for not owning up to be holding Levinson. It seems the former FBI agent in their custody may have brought highly embarrassing allegations of wrongdoing about at least one top-tier former Iranian leader.
But if you're looking for the "highly embarrassing allegations of wrongdoing," you won't find them in Trento's story. You won't find the name of the "top-tier former Iranian leader" either, since Trento's National Security News Service "is not releasing it at this time." (Though I suppose one might hazard an educated guess.)
The sole source of Trento's story would seems to be Islamist assassin Dawud Salahuddin (aka David Belfield), who strikes me as a less-than-entirely-credible witness. Salahuddin, moreover, seems to discount the idea that Levinson really had much by way of damaging information. According to Trento, "Salahuddin was not impressed with what Levinson was trying to sell."
I don't think there ever was any material. Though Levinson knew some general information and he knows the language so it’s easy for him to make something appear big when it’s only him talking and his hands are empty. As I said earlier, even the cigarette smuggling conversation was smoke, no meat and potatoes. And if they think I would get booted out of here, again they were off base and out of context.
What makes Trento think Levinson had some sort of "embarrassing financial information" that caused the mullahcracy to want to put him in the deep freeze is never quite made clear. So, while we get more a few more tantalizing details of the meeting (or at least as Salahuddin tells it), there's very little to suggest (1) what prompted Bob Levinson to want to meet with Salahuddin or (2) what (beyond capturing an American bargaining chip to trade for some errant Revolutionary Guards) Iran hoped to accomplish in detaining Bob Levinson.
As with all the recent accounts of Levinson's purported meeting with Salahuddin, we know only one side of the story, Salahuddin's. And despite Trento's attempt to paint Salahuddin as a "reformed" terrorist and assassin (as well as a possible Western intelligence asset), I see no reason not to believe that he was and is a very dangerous member of Iran's security apparatus. I think it's likely he lured Bob Levinson into Iranian custody just as he lured to Ali Akbar Tabatabai to his front door and sudden death.
So read Joe Trento's story by all means. But don't expect it to shed much light on the mysteries surrounding Bob Levinson's disappearance.
Don't forget to sign the Free Bobby! petition.
Posted by Rodger on April 23, 2007 at 11:12 PM | Permalink
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