Are Crackpot Liars Being Used to Tie Iran to 9/11?
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Behind a mysterious December 22 Associated Press story about "finding of fact" by a District judge in Manhattan Friday that Iran assisted al Qaeda in the planning of the 9/11 attacks is a tapestry of recycled fabrications and distortions of fact from a bizarre cast of characters.
The AP story offers no indication of the nature of the evidence in the case except that former members of the 9/11 Commission and three Iranian defectors provided testimony. What it didn't say was that at least two of the Iranian defectors have long been dismissed by US intelligence as "fabricators" and that the two "expert witnesses" who were supposed to determine the credibility of those defectors' claims are both avowed advocates of crackpot conspiracy theories about Muslims and Shariah law who believe the United States is at war with Islam.
The ostensible purpose of the case brought by families of 9/11 terror attack victims was to win damages from those responsible for 9/11. Dozens of such cases involving different terrorist attacks have been brought to US courts over the years, in which "default judgments" have been made against Iran over various attacks in which Iran was allegedly involved, but there is no chance of getting any money for the families.
The only real effect of the case is to promote right-wing political myths about Iran. One of the peculiarities of such cases is that the witnesses are not subject to cross examination in court. The witnesses have every incentive, therefore to indulge in false testimony, knowing that there will be no one to challenge them.
"A Fabricator of Monumental Proportions"
The lawyers and the "expert witnesses" behind the accusation of Iran in regard to 9/11 hoped to sell the press and public on recycled claims first made by Iranian "defectors" several years ago that they had personal knowledge of Iranian participation in the 9/11 plot. The lawyers produced videotaped affidavits by three such defectors who were identified, with a dramatic flourish, as Witnesses "X," "Y" and "Z."
In the one public hearing held on the case, the lawyers revealed the identity of purported former Iranian intelligence official Abolghasem Mesbahi - probably a pseudonym - and described his testimony that he had received a series of "coded messages" from a former colleague in the Iranian government in the late summer and early fall of 2001 warning that a terrorist attack against the United States was being planned, and that it was a plan that had been concocted by Tehran in the late 1980s.
Although the judge and the public were being led to believe that this is somehow new information going beyond what was known by the 9/11 Commission report, it is, in fact, very old information and has long been completely discredited. Mesbahi's story doesn't hold up, for several reasons, and the most obvious is that, despite his claim that he was warned nearly a month before the 9/11 attacks that civilian airliners would be crashed into buildings in major US cities, including Washington and New York on September 11, he never conveyed that information to the US government before that date.
In October 2001, Mesbahi claimed to right-wing journalist Kenneth R. Timmerman, as reported in Timmerman’s 2005 book that he had tried calling the legal attaché at the US Embassy in Berlin, but was "unsuccessful in several attempts." But he did not claim any other attempt to reach a US consulate or the US Embassy in Germany by fax, e-mail or letter before September 11, nor did he go to the US Embassy in person to convey this warning. He told Timmerman that he called an Iranian dissident contact in the United States who, he believed, had contacts with US intelligence agencies only some hoursafter the attacks on New York and Washington.