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An Iranian: Did Washington's Door's Open For Him? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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There’s no question that the story of the Iranian scientist or researcher, Shahram Amiri, is one of the strangest stories in the US – Iranian crisis, and one of the strangest tales of espionage. For what the Iranian Amiri related on how he appeared in America is unbelievable and illogical, from the moment of his disappearance until his return to Tehran, while the American version is also illogical and hard to believe.

Amiri tells a story about the circumstances surrounding his disappearance during Hajj in Medina that is like a fictional detective film, from his story of a pistol, the kidnapping, the syringe full of drugs, to ending up on a military jet heading toward America. This did not happen, and there is no information about anybody disappearing from Saudi Arabia under such circumstances, and his case is against unknown perpetrators; his passport also did not record that he was a scientist, or researcher, therefore it is hard to believe that he was kidnapped on Saudi Arabian soil.

While the American version, that he came of his own free will, and left of his own free will, is also unbelievable. If even respectable individuals face difficulties in the process of obtaining an entry visa to America, how did Amiri obtain one so easily and quickly? It is not believable that his movements were unrestricted, that he was given $5 million, and that he even went to the Pakistani embassy in Washington of his own free will. This [story] is equally unbelievable. However what is worth mentioning is a statement attributed to an American source who said that “we obtained information, and they obtained Amiri, which is more important?”

From here it appears that we are either facing a repeat of the story of Hussein Kamal al-Majdid, Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law who defected to Jordan, he could not bear the consequences of his actions, and nobody believed his claims [that Iraq had destroyed all of its weapons of mass destruction]. He returned to Iraq under the pretext of forgiveness, but was later killed. Or perhaps Amiri was unable to resist attempts made to threaten his family, according to rumours. However what is important to note here is the lack of information, and the strange nature of the story which means that the analyst is unable to decipher this puzzle.

It is important to wait and see whether the Iranians will release the 3 American prisoners who are being held in Iran to uncover whether we are looking at a deal that may not necessarily be similar to the one involving the [exchange of] Russian spies for US spies, but rather a deal such as the one resulting in the release of an Iranian defendant months ago in France. This was following the release of the French researcher who was arrested in Tehran following the outbreak of fighting in Iran’s streets following the Iranian presidential elections. In that case, it will be easier to unlock the mystery of the Iranian Shahram Amiri.

As for today, it is difficult to believe the American story, while it is equally difficult to believe Shahram Amiri’s story as well. But it is important for those monitoring the Shahram Amiri case to not be too concerned with today’s news, but rather with tomorrows. In other words, let us observe Amiri’s fate in Iran after receiving a hero’s welcome upon his return, especially after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told AFP: “We first have to see what has happened in these two years and then we will determine if he’s a hero or not. Iran must determine if his claims about being kidnapped were correct or not”. This is something that also calls into question Amiri’s story of being kidnapped from Saudi Arabia.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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