New Commentary – January 14, 2010
Disinformation Masquerades as Journalism, Again
Two very different versions of the same event follow. We leave our own comments at the end and explain why one may be the work of western intelligence and why the Western media can no longer be entirely trusted. Ed
Angry mourners bury slain Iran nuclear scientist
AFP – January 14, 2010
Angry mourners chanting anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans joined a funeral procession Thursday for the Iranian nuclear scientist killed in a bomb attack Tehran blames on the US and Israel.
An AFP correspondent said that some 2,000 people thronged the house in an affluent north Tehran neighbourhood of Massoud Ali Mohammadi, who died Tuesday when a booby-trapped motorbike exploded as he was leaving home.
Around 100 policemen were deployed in the area.
All of these photos accompanied the Associated Press report
Relatives and members of the elite Revolutionary Guards placed the body of Ali Mohammadi, a particle physics professor at prestigious Tehran University, in an ambulance which then took off for the burial at a nearby shrine.
A military marching band led the procession to the shrine, followed by hundreds of mourners many of whom were chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America."
Mourners also chanted slogans against the so-called "hypocrites" – the Islamic republic's term for the outlawed People's Mujahedeen.
Some chanted, "Nuclear energy is our undeniable right" in an allusion to accusations by Iranian officials the killing was an attempt by Western powers to disrupt Iran's controversial nuclear programme.
People close to Ali Mohammadi have stressed his close links with the elite Revolutionary Guards, where he seems to have worked for more than 20 years until 2003.
Neither the police nor the intelligence services have yet reported any leads in their investigation but several top officials have pointed an accusing finger at the CIA and Israel's Mossad spy agency.
On Thursday the media advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told AFP that the United States, Britain and Israel were "high on the list of suspects."
"Our security and intelligence apparatus are pursuing those behind the blast to bring them to justice as soon as possible," said Ali Akbar Javanfekr.
"America, Britain and Israel have the most animosity towards our scientific progress, especially the nuclear programme, so when our scientists are targeted they become high on the list of suspects," he said.
Similar allegations by other Iranian officials of US involvement in the attack have been dismissed out of hand by Washington.
Parliament speaker Ali Larijani, Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator, on Wednesday accused US President Barack Obama of state terrorism over the killing.
But Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has stopped short of explicitly accusing Washington of being behind the bombing.
"The action taken ... by the enemies of logic, justice, humanity and the Iranian people is being investigated by relevant authorities," Mottaki said when asked about accusations of US and Israeli involvement.
The above report seems fairly straightforward. However, the following Associated Press report is different, so different in fact that it could almost be another funeral entirely. Ed.
Dueling protests erupt at Iran professor's funeral
Nasser Karimi – Associated Press January 14, 2010
The funeral Thursday for an Iranian physics professor killed in a mysterious bomb attack turned into competing demonstrations by pro- and anti-government supporters with hundreds of security forces standing by.
Witnesses said half of about 1,000 people at the funeral for Masoud Ali Mohammadi were opposition supporters and there were some minor scuffles with police during the burial. Some carried green banners, the color symbolizing their movement, and shouted support for the opposition. The other side chanted "Down with the U.S." and "Death to Israel" as mourners carried the body shrouded in an Iranian flag on their shoulders.
No prominent 'green banners' in this photo
Some cameramen and photographers covering the funeral were taken to a police station, where their press IDs were checked. They were later released.
The 50-year-old Tehran University professor was killed when a bomb-rigged motorcycle exploded Tuesday morning outside his home as he was leaving for work. It remains unclear why the researcher with no prominent political voice, no published work with military relevance and no declared links to Iran's nuclear program was targeted for assassination.
Authorities blamed an armed Iranian opposition group acting on behalf of Israel and the U.S. The U.S. government forcefully denied any involvement and Israel did not comment.
Before the disputed June presidential election, Ali Mohammadi had signed a list of 420 Tehran University faculty supporting the leading opposition candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi. In recent weeks, hard-line government supporters have called for the execution of the opposition leaders.
But the professor did not take any known high-profile role in anti-government protests after the election.
Mousavi's supporters claim he was the rightful winner of the election and allege Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared president through fraud.
Comment – January 14, 2010
The Associated Press report about “duelling protests” does little to substantiate its version of events beyond claiming: “witnesses said”.
Who are these witnesses and in what capacity did they attend the funeral? At least the AFP report is able to cite an AFP “correspondent”. But beyond claiming, “witnesses said” the Associated Press report offers no other corroboration.
Indeed, it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that the so-called “witnesses” were the creation of a Western intelligence operative. One who was intent on fomenting dissent in Iran, or at least creating that impression.
Note also that first report was at least able to cite the location of the funeral at “the house in an affluent north Tehran neighbourhood”. Whereas the Associated Press report doesn’t bother to locate the event at all, almost as if they read about the funeral on newswire somewhere and wrote a new version of events.
However, the Associated Press does offer some further perspectives by claiming “half of about 1,000 people at the funeral for Masoud Ali Mohammadi were opposition supporters”.
Going to far as to claim: “Some carried green banners, the color symbolizing their movement”. But then given that green is the colour of Islam and Muslim ceremonies, it would not have been out of place at Masoud Ali Mohammadi's funeral either.
Nor are any prominent 'green banners' here either
Strangely the AFP report makes no mention of “half” the mourners being “opposition supporters”. No mention whatsoever, which seems odd given that they attended the funeral in such numbers and with “green banners” too, as the Associated Press claims.
Also a little odd is the fact that none of the photos accompanying the Associated Press report show any of these “green banners”.
Moreover, the Associated Press report doesn’t attempt to ask who was behind Masoud Ali Mohammadi's assassination. In fact you would almost think they were trying to conceal that point by claiming:
“It remains unclear why the researcher with no prominent political voice, no published work with military relevance and no declared links to Iran's nuclear program was targeted for assassination.”
In fact Masoud Ali Mohammadi was a particle physics professor at Tehran University and as such would have been a key personal component if – and I repeat IF – Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Making him a prime target for assassination by Iran’s enemies.
The morning following Mohammadi's funeral the Times of London took another angle on the proceedings. It claimed that "regime loyalists" had hijacked the event.
All of which illustrates why Iran has accused the western media of working in conjunction with western intelligence to foment recent unrest.
They may have a point. Or as a friend and former journalist once told me: “half of Fleet Street is in the pay of British intelligence.”
Last updated 27/06/2010