Seymour Hersh: US Training Iranian Terrorists in Nevada
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What’s important to me about it is not only that it did end, this kind of direct training of this group that is, as you said, a terrorist group; it’s also very clear that the United States is still involved, as is Israel and as was, for many years, England, in using the MEK and other dissident groups inside Iran as surrogates for the continued pressure we’re putting covertly on inside of Iran. And that is, as you said, there are assassinations done by the MEK. And let me make it clear, the MEK has been in a virtual war with the mullahs in Iran since the fall of the Shah, and you don’t have to—you don’t have to urge them to kill anybody. They’re very eager to do it themselves inside that country. But still, nonetheless, we provide intelligence. We, the Americans, have continued to provide intelligence and other kinds of material support for the MEK. Don’t forget, they speak Farsi, which is a great asset to us. These are people who are able to translate intercepted communications inside Iran for us very quickly and very—with great skill. And so, we have a lot of reason to rely on them, as we rely on other dissident groups inside Iran—the Kurds, the Azeris and others—to cause—basically, to try and keep some sort of internal chaos and mayhem going inside the country.
AMY GOODMAN: Is it believed the MEK were involved in the assassinations of the Iranian nuclear scientists?
SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, nobody has a video of it, but that seems clear that one of their goals, obviously, is to prevent the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons. And it’s not clear who they’re really assassinating. I wrote about this in The New Yorker many years ago, in '05 or ’06. We've been actively involved, beginning in the Cheney-Bush days, of encouraging insurrection inside Iran—whether it’s aimed at regime change or not isn’t clear; I doubt that—but basically, blowing up things, etc. We did have a list at one time we created here in Washington of people we’d like to see gone, captured perhaps, turned over or turned into our agents, you know, double agents inside Iran. We tried to do that, too. But certainly, the Israelis are pawing the ground as if they are directly responsible or deeply involved with the MEK in the recent assassination of a 32-year-old scientist whose role in terms of—there’s not much evidence he was involved in making weapons, because there’s no evidence that Iranians are making weapons.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the bombs that were used in the assassinations?
SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, they’re most interesting bombs. They’re limpet bombs, Marine limpet bombs. They’re designed—they have a special charge, and they’re designed to go inside. They blow inside. And they’re, of course, of great use by the Navy SEALs. And the Navy SEALs, if you’re going to do an underwater demolition, if you’re going to blow up a ship from underwater, which as the SEALs traditionally were trained to do—most of them are involved in day-to-day combat in Afghanistan, etc., and much different from their initial role of underwater stuff. But if you want to blow up something underwater, you have to have a charge that explodes inward to cause water to rush in, etc. And these kind of very sophisticated charges have been used by the MEK in the assassinations.
And the reason we know it is that the car that was hit, for example, in January in Tehran that killed the young scientist, or the nuclear physicist or whatever he was, exploded inward. You can argue this is also good because it avoids non-combatant deaths. You know, you don’t want to kill a lot of people other than the one you’re trying to kill. It is also useful because you make sure anybody in that car gets it, because it does blow inside. It’s a very sophisticated shape charge. And there’s no question that some of the best mines in the Navy mine-making business were—some of that information was obviously passed on, whether directly to the MEKor through Israeli assets, or explicitly how. But it’s not an accident that these kinds of sophisticated weapons can be traced to the Navy SEALs, who are a major element of the Joint Special Operations Command.