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Reagan’s “October Surprise” is Still Getting Debunked

Emanuele Ottolenghi
27th April 2012 - Cited by Noah Kristula-Green, The Daily Beast

Twenty years later in 2012, Emanuele Ottolenghi has found new problems with this source. It turns out Ben-Menashe invented some of the people he spoke to Sick about:

As it turns out, the Mehdi Kashani described by Ben-Menashe in his conversations with Sick and in his 1992 memoir Profits of War,[10] does not exist. He is a phantom with a life story that casually blends public domain biographical information of two very different, real-life individuals with similar names—Mehdi Kashani, a government official involved in arms procurement, and Seyed Ahmed Kashani, scion to a prominent religious family and himself an Islamist politician—into a single, unlikely narrative. Ben-Menashe's descriptions of the fictional Kashani—his activities, his Iranian regime connections, and his whereabouts—suggest that he was not sufficiently familiar with either of the real life inspirations for his character, or with Iran in general, to detect his mistake. That Sick—by all accounts an intelligent, seasoned observer of the country—carried forth this ruse was not an honest mistake but a willful dereliction of professional ethics.

Sick acknowledged that there are "dozens of lapses" and "scores of dangling loose ends" in his elaboration of the October Surprise conspiracy.[25] He specifically cautions the reader about Ben-Menashe, "a colorful individual, full of extraordinary tales … [who] cannot be used as a sole source. Everything he says must be independently corroborated."[26]


However, Sick failed to perform such due diligence. The corroboration that apparently led him to put faith in Ben-Menashe's testimony was retroactive.

There is ample evidence to establish that the real Mehdi Kashani procured weapons for the Iranian regime during the 1980s and dealt with retired Israeli officials involved in the arms trade, making him a plausible participant in the October Surprise conspiracy. However, he bears little resemblance to the man Ben-Menashe purports to know intimately. He was not the scion of a prominent clerical family. Having lived in Spain continuously after 1984, he clearly was not the radical firebrand jailed by the Iranian government in 1986-89. Having worked as an oil ministry official in London prior to that, he could not also have been a sitting member of parliament from 1980-86.

Ben-Menashe's claim that he and Kashani were close friends and partners in the arms trade is not only wholly unsubstantiated but so poorly contrived as to undermine fatally Ben-Menashe's relevance and credibility as a source.

Read the full article here.


iran, iran-hostage-crisis, ronald-reagan