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Missing Iranian tied to Hezbollah

A former Iranian deputy defense minister who went missing in Turkey was among
the founders of Hezbollah, a retired Israeli spymaster said. International
speculation has been that Ali Reza Asgari was abducted, or defected, while
visiting Istanbul last month as part of Western intelligence efforts to probe
Iran’s nuclear program. But Ram Igra, a retired Mossad official, said Wednesday
that Asgari’s real value is in his knowledge of the workings of Iran’s Lebanese
proxy, Hezbollah.

“In the 1980s and early 1990s, Asgari was responsible for the
Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon,” Igra told Israel Radio. “He lived in
Lebanon and, in effect, was the man who built, promoted and founded
Hezbollah in those years. If he has something to give the West, it is in this
context of terrorism and Hezbollah’s network in Lebanon.”

Western analysts
have speculated that if Iran feels that its nuclear facilities are under threat
of U.S. attack, it could order Hezbollah to carry out terrorist strikes against
American interests abroad. Asked if Asgari might have information on the fate of
Ron Arad, an Israeli airman who disappeared after being captured by Iran-linked
militiamen in Lebanon in 1986, Igra voiced doubt.

“If we assume the Iranians
have a role in his disappearance — and this is an unproven assumption — then
Asgari has something to say about this,” Igra said. “But if it’s wrong, then
Asgari will not say more than the Hezbollah leader tells us via the media, which
is that Iran had nothing to do with it.”

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