Sunday, November 15, 2009

Report: Missing Iran general abducted by Mossad, being held in Israel

(Haaretz).A former Iranian defense official who disappeared in 2006 was kidnapped by forces collaborating with the Mossad and is currently being held in an Israeli prison, an investigative news website in Iran claimed on Sunday in a report picked up by Army Radio.

Ali-Reza Asgari, a onetime commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, went missing in Turkey in 2006.

Iranian officials and Asgari's family have claimed that he was abducted.

On Sunday, the Iranian website Alef reported that German, British and Israeli intelligence agencies were responsible for Asgari's disappearance.

"On the basis of a two-year investigation carried out by concerned bodies, Asgari was abducted by foreign intelligence services and is being held in a Zionist prison," the site reported, apparently referring to an Iranian intelligence probe into the matter.

The report claims that Asgari was kidnapped in an effort to get information about Iran's nuclear program and about missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad.

The report added that after his questioning, Asgari was secretly transferred to a prison facility in Israel, where he is currently being held.

Hans Ruehle, a former chief of the planning staff of the German Defense
Ministry, wrote in a Swiss newspaper in March that Asgari told the West that Iran was financing North Korean steps to transform Syria into a nuclear weapons power, leading to an Israeli airstrike that targeted a site in Syria on Sept. 6, 2007.

The U.S. claims the site was a nearly finished nuclear reactor, but Syria denies that and says the facility was an unused military installation.

Ruehle said Asgari, who was instrumental in establishing the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon, changed sides and provided information to the West on Iran's own nuclear program.

Iranian officials have said Asgari was not linked to Iran's nuclear program, but Western media reports have said he has cooperated with U.S. intelligence and is considered a high value defector.

Asgari, who became involved in the olive business after retirement, arrived in Turkey on a private visit from Damascus, Syria, on Dec. 7, 2006, and disappeared on Dec. 9, according to Iranian officials.

The Foreign Ministry has refused to comment on the report.