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The mysterious Mr. Belfield

What's the truth about Hassan … or Dawud … or David … or whatever he calls himself these days?

Is he a repentant jihadist, as Joe Trento and Ira Silverman are inclined to think?

Or is he a tool of Iran's secret police, as Fred Burton of Stratfor (subscription required, but you can search the terms "Levinson" and "Iran" in Google News and get a free link) and I would seem to agree?

Much of the mystery surrounding Bob Levinson's appearance would seem to hang on the answer.

Here's an interesting snippet from today's press briefing at the State Department:

Question: We've had these claims from Mr. Belfield that he was the last person that met with Levinson on Kish and now Belfield is also claiming that Levinson was carrying a rather explosive file of documents with him. Do you have any comment on that? Are you aware of those reports?

Mr. Casey: I really don't. I've seen a lot of press reports on this. And there are press reports, as you've indicated, that say that he might have been picked up or otherwise detained by some element of Iran's security forces. And certainly we've pointed out those press reports to the Iranian Government and asked them to look into those matters.

But I don't have anything that I can offer you. We don't really know the details of his private business in Iran. And again, I think those are all questions that we would hopefully be able to have Mr. Levinson himself address when we locate him. But the important thing to us right now is that we do everything we can to be able to ascertain his whereabouts and to make sure that he gets home safely and securely and as soon as possible to be with family.

Question: Are you concerned about his safety? Are you becoming increasingly concerned about his safety?

Mr. Casey: Well, we don't have any information that leads us to conclude one way or the other where he is or what his status is. But certainly, anytime an American citizen goes missing, it's something we're concerned about and it's something we make efforts to try and deal with. There are -- while this is certainly a case that's gained a lot of attention for obvious reasons, there are thousands of cases each year that our embassies and posts overseas deal with to try and help find Americans who are missing or who simply have failed to make contact with their family members, and make sure that they're all right, give them help where they need help, and get them back to their families. And we're pursuing the same kind of procedures here.

But again, as time has gone on and as we have still not had any information that gives us an idea of his whereabouts or his welfare, we are continuing to reach out and reach out more broadly. And that's appropriate and we're going to keep doing so and we're going to keep pressing the Iranian Government for answers as well.

Question: One last thing, if I may.

Mr. Casey: Sure.

Question: I know it's difficult for you to comment on this, but Belfield seems to think this is all about him, this is all part of some scheme, whether official or not, to tempt him out of the country because, obviously, he's a wanted fugitive here. Do you have any comment on that, or with this in light of this? Are you concerned that the Iranians will think that Mr. Levinson was in any respect working for U.S. authorities?

Mr. Casey: Well, again, Mr. Levinson was in Iran on private business. He had no business there that was on behalf of the U.S. Government. I'm not sure about what Mr. Belfield's latest statements are, but this is about Mr. Levinson and this is about finding Mr. Levinson and bringing him home safely and quickly to his family, which is where he belongs.

Tom Casey's right, this is about finding Mr. Levinson.

But I think Mr. Belfield knows a whole lot more about how Bob Levinson wound up being yet another "guest of the Ayatollah" than he's willing to admit.

UPDATE: Catherine Herridge of FOX News has posted an "Intelligence Briefing" here. She writes: "The question now is whether Levinson is being held against his will, essentially hostage, at a time when Iran is clearly willing to use this tactic. First it was with the British … maybe the U.S. is next?"

Actually, Bob Levinson would have been taken into custody around March 8; the British sailors and marines weren't captured until March 23. Regardless, a pattern seems to be emerging.

Don't forget to sign the Free Bobby! petition.

Posted by Rodger on April 25, 2007 at 06:40 PM | Permalink


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