+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

'Israel, if you want to be welcome in U.S., don't pull this kind of crap'

Foreign Policy journalist Mark Perry talks to +972 about his revelation of Mossad agents pretending to be CIA men while trying to recruit Iranian terrorists, explains why Israel and the U.S. are unlikely to fall out over the affair, and offers Israel a free tip. 


A “senior Israeli official” called your report “complete nonsense,” and claimed that “had it been true, Meir Dagan would not be able to set foot in Washington.” Haaretz writer Amir Oren also described you as a “declared supporter of the Arab cause.” Your response?

I would not expect the Israeli government to confirm my report — it’s certainly not in their interest to do so. I would have been surprised if they had said “yes, this is absolutely true.” The story is as accurate as I could make it, and as well sourced as I could make it. It’s as true as the rising sun. Then too, people should realize that this is not the first false flag operation that Israel has conducted, as a published report by a colleague made clear in 2010.

My understanding is that a journalist in Israel has supposed that I wrote and published the story because I am “a known supporter of the Arab cause.” That’s an insulting slur — and one that I would not make against reporters here in Washington who regularly report on Israel. I am a supporter of the American cause. And what exactly is the Arab “cause?” To be friends with the US? To build stable and democratic societies? To educate their children and be at peace with their neighbors. If that is the “cause” then yes, I am for it.

Quite a few readers have questioned the coincidence of the story running just days after yet another assassination of an Iranian scientist. Is it a coincidence? How long have you been working on the story? 

I know there is a great deal of skepticism about the timing of the story. And I know too that people will simply not believe it is a coincidence. In fact, it is. I thought two weeks ago that, after eighteen months of work, the story was in jeopardy of being released by another publication. And in truth, I did not decide to actually publish the story until the Friday before its appearance. And even then, at the last minute, I put the story on hold — to give a number of contacts of mine a chance to weigh in, and to give the U.S. and Israeli governments a chance to respond officially — or off the record. And I made it clear to officials here that I was willing to withdraw the story if there was reason to doubt its accuracy for any reason, or if in their estimation, it would harm my country. I received no response. The story appeared yesterday because that is when I, and Foreign Policy, felt comfortable with every one of its details.

The same Haaretz report speculated the revelation could endanger Israel-US ties in the same way the Pollard affair did, and that this is why the Mossad is as a policy opposed to “adventurous endangerment of its relationship to the American community.” Is this likely? 

I am an historian — that is really my first career. I have studied and written extensively about the politics of the American and British high command in World War Two (Partners In Command is my book on George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower). During that alliance, key senior officers of both the U.S. and Great Britain held high level conferences to determine military strategy. During those conferences there was shouting, deep disagreement — in one case, nearly a fistfight. Allies disagree. Why wouldn’t the same be true now, between Israel and the U.S? No alliance is perfect, no country walks in lock step with another, and it would be naive to suppose it. There are problems between the U.S. and Israel, but that isn’t new. Nor should believe that the strategic relationship and deep friendship we have with Israel will change. My sense is that, despite the problems, there is a commitment on the part of the administration to make certain that, as with all alliances, a common purpose outweighs all disagreements. Frankly, if the Pollard incident didn’t end the U.S.-Israel relationship, then this won’t. My personal view is, and my advice to Israel, is — if you want to be welcome in America, don’t try to pull this kind of crap.

You say there is no evidence linking Jundallah to the assassination campaign. Is there any indication Israel is similarly using some other group, like the MEK? Was there any indication of what purpose the Jundallah recruits were used for? 

My article was focused on a single story — that Mossad officers attempted to recruit Jundallah operatives under the guise of the American intelligence services. I stayed strictly focused on that. I have no idea who is responsible for the murder of Iranian scientists, I have no idea whether, at present, Israel is using Jundallah or MEK operatives to conduct these operations. Iran has plenty of enemies, and it could be any number of organizations — or perhaps the killings are simply an internal matter. In one way, I suppose, I don’t care, so long as my country is not responsible. Because if we are, then we are a state sponsor of terrorism, and the “war on terrorism” is a lie. I don’t think it is. I think the U.S. government, my country, has lots of problems. But joining with terrorist groups is not one of them.

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article

    * Required


    1. aristeides

      I’d like to know if Perry actually thinks any amount of Israeli dirty tricks are going to cause the US to pull up the welcome mat. Israel seems to have no compunctions about killing US citizens, and the US government just regurgitates the “Israelhastherighttodefenditselrf” line.

      If Israel starts up a shooting war with Iran, is there any chance at all that the US will simply say, “You’re on your own, little buddy?”

      Reply to Comment
    2. She

      There are Jews living in Iran. Why aren’t they investigating THEM? Why would anyone think their brothers wouldn’t help ISRAEL leaders??

      Reply to Comment

      US intelligence considers this article a load of crap. The most likely scenario is that these hits were an inside job. In a highly policed area there were no witnesses to identify the assailant, his motorbike, nor his escape route. If this had been legitimate, the entire area would’ve been cordoned off.

      Further, at least one of the scientists slain was active in the green movement. All were technical/bureaucrats in administration and program management. The technical people that make the program go effectively are several echelons below.

      Since these assassinations will not actually delay the program ,it would be foolhardy for Israel to expand intelligence resources on these assassinations. Intelligence resources would be devoted to penetrating the Iranian hierarchy to determine plans and impending actions.

      Nasrallah has done similar things. He murdered some of his own high-level subordinates in order to give a warning to others: “don’t even think about betraying me”. The Mafia utilizes similar techniques.

      Reply to Comment
    4. M Hatherstone

      Yeah, I believe you Lt Col…whatever.

      Anyway, the US would not join with terrorists? Pull the other one Perry, the US has been joining up with terrorists since the end of the Second World War, and probably before that.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Noor Farah

      why the writer had not been good of putting the story in clear way. He talked like he is addressing his team in his office.

      Reply to Comment
    6. rose

      If Israel and the US said that the report is a crap, it means that is totally true.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Philos

      Apparently Lt. Col. L.M. Howard is reporting to us from beyond the grave.

      Lt. Col. L.M. Howard was in command of the 1st Tyneside Irish Brigade and was killed in the Battle of the Somme in WW1.

      Hasbara trolls are well and truly pathetic specimens 🙁

      Reply to Comment
    8. zayzafouna

      This comment was removed for advocating ethnic cleansing, aggravated by poorly researched stats.

      Reply to Comment
    9. I am currently reading a fascinating biography of Ghenghis Khan. Highly recommended. He would actively spread lies and propaganda about his own activities to strike terror in his enemies. He didn’t care a fig about his reputation – he just wanted to win as bloodlessly as he could. It was quite effective and many people still believe these lies even though modern historical research have debunked them.

      The Perry story may be true, but the fact that he believes his country does not “join with terrorists groups” means he denies facts published in the Congressional record of the CIA co-operating with Iran and the contras in the famous contras affair and even selling drugs! That sort of makes me a bit skeptical of his reporting.

      The bottom line is that all we see now is smoke deliberately put out by lot’s of different competing powers. Certainly one can make a case that Iran, Israel and the US all have interests which would want this storyout there. The truth, if it will be uncovered, is not likely to be so in our lifetime.

      Reply to Comment

      I appreciate Mr. Perry doing the research and exposing this information (which should not really shock anyone – spy agencies routinely do this sort dirty trick when they know they can get away with it, that’s what they’re paid to do – and Mossad clearly has exhibited this kind of arrogance repeatedly before), but the two final statements reveal his own sense of national pride distorting his judgment, and are patently false :

      “Because if we are, then we are a state sponsor of terrorism, and the “war on terrorism” is a lie. I don’t think it is. I think the U.S. government, my country, has lots of problems. But joining with terrorist groups is not one of them.”

      Panetta’s statements of ignorance as to these affairs may or may not be taken at face value (if you believe everything he says, I have a lot of land to sell you), but it’s almost irrelevant ; just as most everything Israel does in the region is interpreted as US/Israeli acts, so will this, as the US sanctions just about everything Israel does in the region, and almost nothing is done without some awareness and complicity on the part of US intelligence, whether military or CIA. Remember too that Saudi intelligence on counterterrorism in the region comes almost solely from the CIA (according to wikileaks cables).

      There is detailed, documented information of the US (and Britain) sponsoring state terrorism itself, and colluding with terrorist and mafia organizations across the globe, alliances of circumstance which furthered the interests of US elites. This is uncontroversial, really, one overview :

      Reply to Comment
    11. Lauren

      Of course the US engages with terrorists!!! In fact it can be argues that we are the terrorists. Look at our history…. it’s all about making money while we throw someone else under the bus.
      As long as we have AIPAC owned leaders, we will never question any Israeli activity…. even if they kill some Americans in the process.
      If there is a war with Iran, it is because some people figured out how to get super rich while slaughtering innocent civilians.

      Reply to Comment
    12. aristeides

      The US is pissed because apparently the Mossad didn’t clear this operation with them in advance and/or implicated the CIA.

      The Mossad MO is not really covert. It acts openly, so as to “send a message” that they can murder with impunity and always get away with it, nyah nyah nyah. Israeli officials issue denials that no one believes and then, off the record, make nudge-nudge/wink-wink comments to let everyone know what’s really going on.

      This is the kind of suprise the CIA and the Pentagon don’t like.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Philos

      Agreed Aristeides. Perry’s remark that the US doesn’t engage in “terrorist” activity is sheer baloney. Read the sad history of Guatemala or Nicaragua among the many other victims of US state-sponsored terrorism. However, what The Empire doesn’t like is one of its clients doing things without keeping it in the know. Especially, when that client is advertised as a bosom buddy rather than a US interest (e.g., Israel vs. Saudi Arabia)
      In fact this whole saga has got me thinking of trying to do a statistical analysis of what makes for strong allies and seeing if Israel fits that rubric vis-a-vis the USA. My hunch is that it is miles away on several parameters especially in Israeli blood and treasure spilled in aid of US causes.

      Reply to Comment
    14. M. D. Block

      Of course the U.S. is synonymous with state-sponsored terrorism! 490 members of congress supported a resolution for Israel’s terrorist attack on Gaza, “Operation Cast Lead,” during which time 1400 Palestinians were brutally murdered, which constitutes state sponsored terrorism.
      There were no grounds for claiming the right of self-defense (a defensive last resort necessary to protect her people) as Israel was not the object of a Hamas attack. Hamas is blamed for breaking the ceasefire, but Hamas had strictly observed the ceasefire until it was violated by Israel on Nov. 4 when Israel launched an air strike into Gaza that killed 6 and injured several others. Israel continues settlement expansion in the West Bank. (You Tube – Who Broke The Cease Fire – Hamas or Israel 2008)

      Reply to Comment
    15. chet380

      As to the Israeli attitude re US lives or its interests, remember the USS Liberty.

      Reply to Comment