Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Who Tortured Iran's Sharafi?

BBC is happy to bring us this news: Jalal Sharafi's feet, legs, back and nose have signs of injury on them. A Red Cross official saw the marks, we're told.

Sharafi (on the left in this BBC photo) is the Iranian diplomat who was abducted in Iraq and alleges the CIA tortured him "day and night." The CIA, as I'm sure you already know, says they had nothing to do with the Sharafi affair and did not torture him.

Gosh, who are we to believe?

Well, according to the Beeb, the Iranians! BBC tells us of the injuries, they tell us Sharafi said he was captured by "Iraqi agents operating under the supervision of the CIA," and that he was then tortured by the CIA -- "night and day" -- about Iranian involvement in Iraq.

We're told of Iranian government opinion, what's been shown and said on Iranian TV and what an Iranian doctor wrote in his report. (If you want to read more about the way the Iranians present the case, check out this Fars News report form Tehran.)

On the other side of the story, BBC dutifully quotes a White House spokesperson and an unnamed CIA official. They make up the last three paragraphs of the story -- that's how the media routinely telegraphs that it is dismissive of a source.

Well, before we jump on the Beeb bandwagon, two questions:

Who abducted Sharafi? Certainly it could have been agents of the Iraqi government working in concert with the CIA -- but doesn't it make much more sense that he was kidnappped by Sunni militia who are pretty darn inflamed about Iran supplying Shi'a militia with weapons that are used to kill Sunnis?

Given the propensity of the militia to use torture, I'd see them as more likely to be the whip and drill wielders than the CIA -- which, if it does use tough techniques, is far too sophisticated to leave drill holes on feet. C'mon.

The Sunni militia scenario is so much simpler than the requisite convoluted conspiracy of Iraqi and US agents, with all the necessary covering up and risk-taking. And I'd believe the Sunni theory all the more as I wait and wait and wait for Sharafi to give any single detail that confirms his CIA story.

The other question: What's Sharafi been up to since he's been back? Are we to simply dismiss the thought that the Iranian government, which routinely tortures and executes those who anger it, didn't torture Sharafi themselves?

Think about it. They want to know what he told and who he told it to, and they want to make sure Sharafi understands that getting captured does not sit well with the Mullahs. Plus, by inflicting some torure themselves, they put on Sharafi's body "evidence" that he was tortured in Iraq.

None of the reports I've seen talk about the age of the wounds.

I'll admit the latter scenario is a bit out of a spy novel, but who would discount the Iranian government's ability to behave badly? Not I.

But maybe BBC.

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