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Posted at 5:05 PM ET, 07/12/2010

"Reza Kahlili," self-proclaimed ex-CIA spy, makes new Iran claims

By Jeff Stein

Reza Kahlili, a self-proclaimed former CIA “double agent” inside Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, appeared in disguise at a Washington think tank Friday claiming that Iran has developed weapons-grade uranium and missiles ready to carry nuclear warheads.

The pseudonymous Kahlili, whose previous accounts have been greeted with widespread skepticism, also said Iran was planning nuclear suicide bombings with “a thousand suitcase bombs spread around Europe and the U.S.”

“This is a messianic regime. There should be no doubt they’re going to commit the most horrendous suicide bombing in human history,” Kahlili said. “They will attack Israel, European capitals and the Persian Gulf region at the same time, then they will hide in a bunker [until a religious prophecy is fulfilled]… and kill the rest of the nonbelievers.”

Kahlili was showcased Friday by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Washington think tank founded by a former senior official of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee.

He appeared wearing dark glasses, a surgical mask and a San Francisco Giants baseball cap, and spoke through a voice altering apparatus. Bodyguards stood nearby.

“Yes my appearance was as such for security purposes,” Kahlili told SpyTalk over the weekend, “to protect my family both here and back in Iran and more so to protect the one individual whom I recruited, who may be still working inside.”

The Washington Institute posted an audio recording of his appearance.

“From my sources,” Kahlili told his audience Friday, “I have heard Iran has successfully enriched uranium over the 90-percent threshold, and that was even before they announced the 20-percent experiment. And that they have missiles that they have not publicly shown, because that would verify their intention of carrying out [sic] nuclear warheads.”

Kahlili said he passed along that and other information to the CIA, which he suggested was suppressing his report on uranium enrichment.

“The last information I passed on from my sources within the Guards in Iran was several months ago about another possible nuclear site. I passed that information to the CIA for verification,” he said.

But he also criticized the CIA for allegedly rejecting his proposal that it “should help Iranians free themselves of this evil regime.”

“I wish my CIA handler were here today so I could ask him, ‘How is that working out for you?’” he said.

Several current and former U.S. intelligence officials in the audience “rolled their eyes” at Kahlili’s claims, said one observer who was present.

Some in attendance compared Kahlili with Ahmed Chalabi, the former Iraqi exile who helped convince the George W. Bush administration that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the claims were proved false.

CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano, who was not present, challenged the some of Kahlili's implications.

“As our government as a whole has made clear, Iran’s nuclear program is a high-priority security issue. It would be wrong for anyone to suggest that the United States doesn’t recognize that.”

A U.S. counter-proliferation official, who would discuss the highly sensitive issue only on condition of anonymity, dismissed Kahlili’s uranium claims.

“We’ve had real successes in acquiring some of the Iranian government’s most tightly held secrets, including discovery of its concealed enrichment facility near Qom,” the official said. “But things like 90-percent enrichment just don’t tally out.”

Kahlili was also questioned skeptically about his claim that he was welcomed into the Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence section despite his involvement in "the freedom movement."

Kahlili said that came later. He grew up in a prosperous Tehran family. In the early 1970s, his father sent him to the University of Southern California and bought him a red Ford Mustang.

When he returned home after the overthrow of the shah in 1979, he was initially enthusiastic about the revolution, he said. But he soon became disenchanted. Instead of endangering his family by quitting, he reached out to the CIA and worked as a "double agent" inside the organization.

“Three former CIA officers who ran Iranian operations in the '80s and should have been knowledgeable said they had never heard of such a significant penetration of the Guard during this period,” The Washington Post’s veteran spy-watcher, David Ignatius, said in a review of Kahlili’s memoir, A TIME TO BETRAY: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran.

“A current U.S. government official, however, did vouch for Kahlili's role as a spy,” Ignatius added.

"I can't confirm every jot and title in the book," the official told Ignatius, "but he did have a relationship with U.S. intelligence."

“I can say without any doubt that Mr. Kahlili’s relationship to the U.S. intelligence community is legitimate,” his lawyer Mark Zaid said. “His book was cleared.”

By Jeff Stein  | July 12, 2010; 5:05 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy, Homeland Security, Intelligence, Military  | Tags:  AIPAC, Washington Institute for Near East Policy  
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Comments

Mr. Stein, your ideological leanings are showing! We Iranians are SICK to death of you westerners who have so little qualification to define us Iranians. I suggest that you listen and learn for a change. Your opinion (rather than factual comments) isn't worth anything.

Posted by: banzanbon | July 12, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Stein - Why would you make such a claim: "whose previous accounts have been greeted with widespread skepticism,"? I've read Mr. Kahlili's book and have followed his writings on Pajamas Media, the Christian Science Monitor and his website. Widespread skepticism? Care to prove that - give a citation? I haven't seen even a hint of that. Why make such a stupid claim?

"Several current and former U.S. intelligence officials in the audience “rolled their eyes” at Kahlili’s claims."

Were you there? (No you weren't) Did you see it? (No you didn't) How do you know they were intelligence officials? Do you just repeat gossip without sourcing it from some other place?

And this..."despite family connections to the government of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi."

There's was no claim EVER that his family had connections to the Shah - not in his speech, not in his article and not in his book. So YOU lied.

"Kahlili was also questioned skeptically"

I listened to the entire Q&A section. There wasn't one "Sceptical" question. There were a lot of questions showing how uninformed the audence was. Again, were you there? How do you define Skeptically?

So "three former CIA officers who ran Iranian operations in the '80s" never heard of him. So? Did it occur to you that not everyone in the CIA knows what other people in the CIA are doing? Ya think maybe his handlers might have been trying to protect him?

And finally, how big of you to acknowledge "A current U.S. government official, however, did vouch for Kahlili's role as a spy,”

Oh, and this as the last line... "I can say without any doubt that Mr. Kahlili’s relationship to the U.S. intelligence community is legitimate,” his lawyer Mark Zaid said. “His book was cleared.”

How can anyone take you seriously when you write such dishonest crap. Shame on you for your shallow reporting. You've lost all credibility. Quit your job and make room for someone who knows how to be honest. Gossip, hearsay is what you do - go to Hollywood and cover Lindsay Lohan. That's more your speed.


Posted by: JoeP3 | July 12, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Instead of taking a third party's word for what happened, why didn't you just listen to the tape?

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

You said, "Some in attendance compared Kahlili with Ahmed Chalabi"

Some? Who? There was one person who asked a question about Chalabi but he didn't compare Kahlili to him.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

You've broken all the rules of good journalism. Don't quote unless you hear the quote yourself; Don't misquote; Don't take someone else's word for it unless you double source it. Don't make things up. Check your facts and don't make false claims.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Posted by: JoeP3 | July 12, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

I am also Iranian but as angry as the so called fellow countryman banzanbon. The fact is that the threat from Islamic Republic is too real and seriously dangerous, but I really wonder how an stunt man like Mr. Khalili find his way to the tribune of Washington Institute for Near East policy?
This is not even a Chalabi type crook, because Mr. Chalabi somehow tried to make his claims reasonable spy fictions and as far as I can remember there were no UFO abduction type stories (such as thousand of suitcase nuclear bombs planted in Europeanian cities) when he openned his bachpack. Mr Stein if you were there can you be sure that one lecturer did not lose his invition card in a cheap bar the night before?
On the other hand, maybe that's a true statement form CIA officials they do not know him, I think if we ask Islamic Republic Guard Corps officials maybe they do not know him either,except in case they have sent Mr. Khalili to turn out very real nuclear threat of Islamic Republic into a chilish comic movie.
By the way, at least his publisher or inviter could use some advice from junior physic students to make the story a little bit better: there is no way to produce a suitcase type nuclear bomb with HEU, unless you want to carry your bag around with a forklift.

Posted by: hmd0 | July 12, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

I am also Iranian but as angry as the so called fellow countryman banzanbon. The fact is that the threat from Islamic Republic is too real and seriously dangerous, but I really wonder how an stunt man like Mr. Khalili find his way to the tribune of Washington Institute for Near East policy?
This is not even a Chalabi type crook, because Mr. Chalabi somehow tried to make his claims reasonable spy fictions and as far as I can remember there were no UFO abduction type stories (such as thousand of suitcase nuclear bombs planted in Europeanian cities) when he openned his bachpack. Mr Stein if you were there can you be sure that one lecturer did not lose his invition card in a cheap bar the night before?
On the other hand, maybe that's a true statement form CIA officials they do not know him, I think if we ask Islamic Republic Guard Corps officials maybe they do not know him either,except in case they have sent Mr. Khalili to turn out very real nuclear threat of Islamic Republic into a chilish comic movie.
By the way, at least his publisher or inviter could use some advice from junior physic students to make the story a little bit better: there is no way to produce a suitcase type nuclear bomb with HEU, unless you want to carry your bag around with a forklift.

Posted by: hmd0 | July 12, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

"We Iranians are SICK to death of you westerners who have so little qualification to define us Iranians. I suggest that you listen and learn for a change."

? excuse me ? who cares what your sick of and i suggest you listen. we know your coming, we won't be able to stop you until your deeply embedded into our society. the softies will allow you to get that far but then we know they will be turning to our home militia and honestly i'm voting for pretty much extinguishing you cock roaches...

So yank up yer balls and quit with all the damned talking and get on with what it is your planning to do... see you on the battlefield.

Posted by: hoosierdonk | July 12, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Well done, Mr. Stein. I see you've made some corrections. ::clap, clap::

What has his father buying him a red Ford Mustang got to do with anything? LOL Spot on man - you've nailed it this time.

And I love this one:

"CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano, who was NOT PRESENT, challenged the some of Kahlili's IMPLICATIONS"

He wasn't there, he probably didn't listen to the audio version, but got YOUR interpretation of what was said (and you weren't there either) and responded incorrectly to it.

Again, WELL DONE Mr. Stien.

Oh, and here's a new one: He was involved in the "Freedom Movement." What pray tell is that?

Do your homework, man.

He never mentioned any freedom movement. There was never any freedom movement.

Read up a little, man. Get yourself informed.

How can you have a column called Spy Talk and be so incredibly dumb and misinformed?

Come on. Try a little harder.

Posted by: JoeP3 | July 13, 2010 1:52 AM | Report abuse

Is this story a cover for the failure of CIA in getting Mr. Amiri to come to our side?! Is this being prompt up so we can feel better about CIA operation and whitewash the Amiri's abduction in Saudi Arabia? Are we that naive? What this has to say that worth listening to? What could Mr. Amiri say that worthed listening to? NOTHING. This is just smoke and mirror. Sensationalism for public consumption.

Posted by: Esther_Haman | July 13, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Despite all the murdering, terrorist acts, piracy acts and acts of defiance of the international laws including our own laws, the rogue Zionists state, which has 200+ A-bombs is not a messianic regime?! A Jewish state who just today bulldozed 6 Palestinians home for no reason?! How can anyone defend this colonial fascist state?

Get a life.

Posted by: Esther_Haman | July 13, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe this guy.

First of all, this is a conference sponsored by AIPAC. This guy could easily be a shill for Israel to scare the piss out of our policymakers so we can do Israel's dirty work once again by striking Iran.

He lost me at "thousands of suitcase nukes." That's the stuff of pure fantasy-- fantastic enough to frighten folks into thinking an attack is imminent from this "messianic regime." Nice try Mr. Kahili.

If Iran truly possessed missiles capable of delivering a nuclear payload, they would only know by testing these weapons. We would know they existed once they tested these weapons. The lack of any test proves that these weapons exist only in Mr. Kahili's imagination.

A comparison to Chalabi is only unfair on one ground only-- Chalabi was likely an agent of Iran, this schmuck is probably an agent of Israel. In all other regards, this seems to be another false flag op.

Posted by: taureanb | July 13, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

I am "Reza Kahlili's" attorney and I am quoted in the article above. I have to respectfully disagree with Jeff on some of the sentiments expressed in his article. There simply is no dispute that my client was affiliated with the U.S. Intelligence Community as an agent against Iran.

While I cannot, nor will I, defend the substantive claims in the book because I simply do not have personal knowledge of his experiences or reporting, I can unequivocally state that I represented him during the pre-publication review process of his book with the US Government. I cannot reveal the agency in question because of my own Secrecy/Non-Disclosure Agreement that I executed, but beyond that unquestionable fact I also happen to know his last USGOVT handler who actually referred Mr. Kahlili to me.

Also, Mr. Kahlili was a recent guest speaker at the Spy Museum and I highly doubt Peter Ernest, a former high-level CIA official who serves as the Museum's Executive Director, and Melissa Mahle, a former CIA Case Officer, both of whom PRAISED Mr. Kahlili for his activities, would have shared a podium with him if they believed him to be "self-proclaimed" or a fake.

In fact, today FoxNews reported that CIA officials had confirmed a relationship: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/shepard-smith/index.html#/v/4282380/iranian-double-agent-fears-for-life/?playlist_id=86915.

Mark S. Zaid, Esq.

Posted by: ZaidMS | July 14, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

So, WINEP, AIPAC and Fox News vouch for this guy. I'm convinced. Why, and yes, I am interested in buying that bridge you have for sale.

Seriously, how many people with serious access in the Iranian Republican Guards have disappeared, leaving their family in Iran? My guess is close to zero. If the guy was for real, the Iranians would know who he was and where his family were. So, all the pantomime about keeping his identity secret is to mask deception. Who is being deceived and why? What is the famous Israeli saying? - Make War Through Deception or something like that.

The worst thing is I don't know which is more scary - the fact that the people promoting this imagine it is believable or that some people (US lawmakers, lookin' at you here) will actually believe it. Hello, this crap was tried with Iraq and look how that turned out.

Posted by: Egbert1984 | July 15, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

@Egbert1984: Read the book. He didn't leave his family in Iran. His wife and child are with him. His parents and grandparents are dead.

Who he is trying to protect are other agents in the Guards that he helped recruit.

Are you an Iranian agent? He said there are those who try to discredit him.

The question is: Why don't you believe it? His lawyer, the CIA, the Spy Museum, the Washington Institute all verify he worked as an agent inside the Guards. Do you think that is such an impossible thing to believe? How do you imagine the intelligence community works?

Posted by: JoeP3 | July 15, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

JoeP3. This is a repeat of the sequence leading up to the illegal war of agression against Iraq, in which thousands of US troops died. For whose benefit? The same people. WINEP agent of Israel, AIPAC agent of Israel, International Spy Museum people funded by Israel Firster. If Iran is attacked, American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will be in the firing line. Remember the Liberty when a US ship was deilberately attacked? Who did that? Its time to put America First.

This man claims to be a highly placed Iranian Guard person who has disappeared from Iran, and claims to have recruited others. If so, the Iranians will know who he is and what he looks like. So who is he hiding his face from? Not the Iranians.

Posted by: Egbert1984 | July 16, 2010 5:04 AM | Report abuse

JoeP3, you should save your breath when it comes to people like Egbert1984. Nothing we say, no matter the evidentiary value of our information, will persuade someone like this poster who obviously is far more experienced and knowledgeable about intelligence activities and world affairs than everyone else.

It is obviously all the fault of the Jews. Sigh. It continues to amaze me that there are still so many anti-semitic and/or bigoted people in our great country to such an extent as it so significantly shapes their views of the world. Someone like this is simply not worth debating.

And, yes Egbert1984, I do remember the USS Liberty as I used to represent the survivors of the incident.

And, by the way, I am Jewish too so I must be part of the conspiracy as well. Congratulations, you got me!

Posted by: ZaidMS | July 16, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

ZaidMS.

Why do you conflate the Jewish faith with Zionist Israel? True Judaism would have no truck with a racist, apartheid state like Israel. In addition, the various respondents religious beliefs are irrlevant to the subject. Evidence is all that counts.

Regarding your so-called conspiracy, there is no conspiracy. Bibi has spilled the beans.

Regarding the Invisible Man, the return of Amri nows clariifies things. He was being groomed to be Curveball (see Ray McGovern at antiwar.com) but didn't want to play. My guess is WINEP et al. had some presentation arranged and rather than pull the plug, dragged out the Invisible Man.

Posted by: Egbert1984 | July 18, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse


The CRAZY part of all this is where are the technical people to tell us just what is the minimum amount of plutonium or U 235 required to achieve a critical mass.. So any claims about mini nukes are subject to these "rules" of physics. All the info I've ever read it's not in the realm of caryable... E.G.

*"The critical mass for lower-grade uranium depends strongly on the grade: with 20% U-235 it is over 400 kg; with 15% U-235, it is well over 600 kg."

From wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_mass

What makes all this propaganda hard to follow is the dichotomy of political and technical expertise.. Wasn't Iran trying to get 20% enriched uranium for it's research reactor by trading a ton or two of lower enriched uranium for it..?? So if they NEED to buy 20% enriched uranium, what exactly IS their capability?? Is it 15%..?? At 15% the bomb must contain 1320 pounds of uranium.... Just keep this in mind.. At 90+% it's 104 pounds of just the uranium... What is real and what is possible. That is the real question.. Whatever the case Iran is no threat to the U.S.. This is all about Israeli hegemony...

Posted by: palacehomez | July 18, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

@ ZaidMS: You are so right. It's a waste of time. It still amazes me how people can draw conclusions without doing any research.

If Egbert had read the book, he would know the facts; he would know why the Iranians wouldn't know who he is. He never claimed to be "highly placed," just another grunt that nobody would miss. He left after all his friends had been killed. All three of his bosses were killed. He was granted permission, as were hundreds if not thousands of other Iranians who used a variety of reasons to leave. Look at the large communities of Persians all over the U.S.

It is a useless exercise to try to reason with a hater, whether it's the Jews they hate or anyone else who doesn't subscribe to your ideology.

And thank you for representing Reza. He is a very brave man who is trying to let the rest of the world know about the dangers the current mullah regime represents.

If you've read anything Reza has written, whether it's his articles or his book, or followed him on the many radio and TV shows he's been on, you would know that the last thing he wants is war.

Reza speaks for peace and freedom. He repeats that over and over. He warns of Ahmadinejad's threat to wipe Israel off the face of the map. If anyone wants a war, it's the mullahs of Iran - not Israel. They are simply trying to defend themselves.

Reza's focus is and has always been on Iran and the lack of freedom for the Iranians. He cares about Iran and doesn't want the country destroyed because of some nutballs that are running the country. It has nothing to do with Israel.

Egbert: Quit being a hater. Work for peace.

Posted by: JoeP3 | July 19, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

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