Unconfirmed reports that there was a large explosion at a Iranian nuclear site last week trace their origins back to two former Iranian intelligence officers who defected to the West, at least one of whom has been described as a “serial fabricator” by senior members of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
It has been widely reported in Western media outlets that there are unconfirmed reports that a massive explosion took place last week at Iran’s underground Fordow bunker near the religious city of Qom which may have trapped over 200 people inside and destroyed much of the nuclear equipment inside.
The Israeli-daily the Jerusalem Post traces the rumors back to Reza Kahlili, who told the newspaper in a separate interview that the alleged blast is “"the largest case of sabotage in decades."
Kahlili is a pseudonym for an individual who allegedly worked as a double agent for the CIA during the 1980’s when Kahlili was a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Iran.
Kahlili first reported the blast in a story on World News Daily in which he cited as his sole source, Hamid Reza Zakeri, another pseudonym for a former member in Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security(MOIS) who defected to the West in 2001. Zakeri, who is Kahili’s sole source for the story, in turn cited supposed contacts he has at the highest levels in Iran.
Among Zakeri’s past claims is that the Islamic Republic of Iran, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, was actively involved in helping al-Qaeda (AQ) plan the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. homeland.
According to reports by Kenneth R. Timmerman— co-founder and Executive Director of Foundation for Democracy in Iran and a prominent Zakeri supporter— Zakeri claimed to have personally overseen two meetings between high level Iranian and AQ officials in the months before the 9/11 attack.
One such meeting Zakeri claimed to have overseen involved AQ’s then-number two and now leader Anwar al-Zawahiri traveling to Iran in January 2001 with 23 other members of AQ, 12 of whom remained in Iran following the meeting. Zakeri also claimed that a follow-up meeting saw Osama bin Laden’s eldest son, Saad bin Laden, make the trek to Iran prior to 9/11 (after 9/11 he was held in Iranian custody but ultimately escaped to Pakistan where he was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2009). During this three-week trip, which took place four months before 9/11, Zakeri claims the younger bin Laden met with nearly all of Iran’s top non-elected leaders including Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, former head of the Judiciary Mohammad Yazdi, then-head of the Judiciary Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, and Ayatollah Ali Meshkini, at the time the head of Iran’s Assembly of Experts.