"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Reliable Source?: The Ongoing Fight Over Ghorbanifar

Updated: 5:58 a.m. ET Oct. 19, 2003

Oct. 27 issue - Terrorism expert Michael Ledeen has refueled the fight between neocons close to the Pentagon’s civilian leadership and their foes at the CIA. Ledeen says that in early August, Manucher Ghorbanifar—an Iranian businessman whose claims of contacts among Tehran moderates touched off the Iran-contra scandal—put him in touch with an informant claiming to know where highly enriched uranium was hidden in postwar Iraq.

LEDEEN TOOK THIS info to top Defense contacts, who passed it to the CIA (which in the 1980s ordered its operatives to shun Ghorbanifar). Ledeen says agency spooks did meet in Iraq with Ghorbanifar’s subsource. The contact soured when the CIA demanded a sample of the alleged nuclear material.

Ledeen says Ghorbanifar’s post-9/11 track record has been impressive. He says info from a Ghorbanifar associate helped save U.S. lives in Afghanistan. (U.S. intelligence sources confirmed this.) A Ghorbanifar contact predicted developments in Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. The CIA remains wary. One of Ghorbanifar’s contacts recently asked U.S. officials for $250,000 to gather information in Tehran to foil a terror attack on the United States, scheduled for about Nov. 23 through Nov. 25 of this year, that would be “bigger” than 9/11. Ghorbanifar claims post-9/11 anthrax letters originated in Iran and that if the U.S. or Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities, the ayatollahs will attack Israel with chemical and biological weapons. CIA spokesman Bill Harlow reaffirmed that the agency considers Ghorbanifar “a fabricator” who sought to sell fake information for cash.

—Mark Hosenball

© 2003 Newsweek, Inc.

© 2004 Newsweek, Inc.


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