REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: Iran's Supreme Leader suspects Ahmadinejad in assassination plot, say Arab sources


by Aaron Klein

JERUSALEM – Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei suspects that members of his country’s Revolutionary Guard close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were behind an assassination attempt on Khamenei’s life, according to Saudi and Egyptian security officials.

Among those being questioned is Khamenei’s own son, Mojtaba, who heads the country’s Basij militia, a paramilitary volunteer militia that operates under the auspices of the Revolutionary Guard, the sources tell me.

The officials note the suspicion of Mojtaba goes all the way to Ali Khamenei himself, who has recently been disappointed his son has grown somewhat close to the rival camp of Ahmadinejad.

Mojtaba Khamenei has in the past been seen as a possible future replacement of his father.

Hours ago, the pan-Arab news Channel Al Arabiya reported that Khamenei ordered the arrest of a number of senior members of the Revolutionary Guard he suspects of plotting to assassinate him.

Both the Saudi and Egyptian officials say their information indicates Khamenei suspects Ahmadinejad’s camp even more strongly than the possibility of foreign involvement in the purported assassination plot.

Ahmadinejad and Khamenei have been locked in a public spat over disagreements about the future direction of the country, with Khamenei threatening to abolish the Iranian presidency altogether.

Khamenei strongly believes in the export of the Shiite Islamic revolution, while Ahmadinejad seems to favor a policy based on the expansion of Persian nationalism.

Just last month, Iran’s judiciary sentenced one of Ahmadinejad’s closest advisers, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, to a year in jail for articles he wrote that were deemed contrary to Shiite Islamic norms.

Last May, reports claimed Ahmadinejad was even contemplating resigning after Heidar Moslehi, the intelligence minister he had sacked, was reinstated by Khamenei.

Ironically, the latest developments come as the Iranian government filed a complaint with Interpol regarding comments made during U.S. congressional hearings last October in which calls to assassinate top figures in Tehran’s militias were made, CNS News reported today.

An Oct. 26 House Homeland Security Committee subcommittee hearing on “Iranian Terror Operations on American Soil” focused on the Revolutionary Guard Corps’ foreign operations wing, the Qods Force, which at the time stood accused of planning terror attacks on U.S. soil, including the assassination of the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

During the hearing, two American experts made the alleged threats against Iran — Former U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Jack Keane and Foundation for Defense of Democracies Senior Fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA operative.

Keane’s testimony included the suggestion of cyberattacks, covert actions and assassinations against the Qods forces.

“Why are we permitting the Qods Force leaders, who have been organizing this killing of us for 30 years, to go around, still walking around?” he asked. “Why don’t we kill them? We kill other people who are running terrorist organizations against the United States. These guys have killed almost a thousand of us. Why don’t we kill them?”

Gerecht made similar remarks. He said: “Iran would not look like the country it is today if they were concerned about the bottom line…So I don’t think that you’re going to really intimidate these people, get their attention, unless you shoot somebody – it’s pretty blunt, but I don’t think you get to get around it.”