Iran Defense Official : “West Sent Lizards as Nuclear Spies” [UPDATE : Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi dies from Covid-19]

“We found out that their skin attracts atomic waves and that they were nuclear spies who wanted to find out where inside the Islamic republic of Iran we have uranium mines and where we are engaged in atomic activities.”

Hassan Firouzabadi — Former Chief of Staff of Iran’s Military (February 13 2018)

Hassan Firouzabadi: West ‘used lizards to spy on Iran’

February 16 2018 — The senior military advisor to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed in a press conference in Tehran that Western nations have deployed lizards as nuclear spies. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

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“The claim that lizards ‘attract atomic waves’ is nothing that I have ever heard of, and it sounds totally bogus to me.”

James Andrews — Scientist at the Vermont Amphibion Atlas

UPDATE (Sept. 4 2021) — The death of Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, 70, was reported Friday by Iranian news outlets.

General Firouzabadi was an ophthalmologist by training. Under Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he served as the chief of staff of the armed forces from 1989 to 2016, when he was succeeded by his deputy, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri.

General Firouzabadi, who was said to have struggled with obesity, went on to serve as an adviser to Mr. Khamenei. [NYT]

END of UPDATE

“That is insane.”

John Timmer — Ars Technica Science Editor

Have Intelligence Agencies really trained various animal species to spy on their enemies? 

Some stories are certainly well documented while others are just rumors never actually proven.

And to be sure, some allegations seem highly dubious, if not ridiculous. But this new one is completely out of the ordinary!

Agence France-Presse reports that Hassan Firuzabadi — former chief of staff of Iran’s military — justified the recent arrest of environmentalists by claiming that the West had used scientists and environmental activists to spy on Iran’s nuclear program by deploying lizards that could “attract atomic waves.”

There has been a recent wave of arrests of prominent Iranian environmentalists.

Kavous Seyed Emami, a sociology professor and environmental activist who also held Canadian citizenship, was arrested last month and died in prison this past weekend—reportedly hanging himself while held in solitary confinement.

Emami was the founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, a group dedicated to the protection of Iran’s endangered species.

A number of other activists associated with the foundation were also arrested in the sweep last month, including Iranian-American businessman Morad Tahbaz—a board member—and Hooman Jokar, a vice-chairman of the foundation and head of the Asiatic Cheetah desk at Iran’s Department of the Environment. Kaveh Madani was also arrested and briefly held over the weekend.

According to the Fars News Agency, the head of Iran’s Justice Department said that the activists were arrested “for transferring intelligence to foreigners, and it is likely that more activists will be arrested.” [Ars Technica]

Just in case people still care about the truth

There is no doubt that pigeons were used to convey secret messages during WWI and WWII.

As a matter of fact, the German considered that anyone who possessed such animals was a spy. The incontrovertible proof was followed by a death sentence.

Guess what? To any spy, there is a counter spy. And soon various intelligence agencies  trained falcons to intercept the pigeons!

Not long ago, we learned that the CIA had ‘equipped’ cats with (electronic) bugs to spy on people in the streets of Moscow.

The US NAVY trained dolphins and Sea Lions for spying activities while DARPA tried to train Sharks.

In 2000, India accused Pakistan of sending hawks across the border. The birds were equipped with surveillance equipment.

In 2013, Iranian intelligence operatives detained 14 squirrels, claiming the animals were carrying spy gear used for eavesdropping.

And in October 2017, the CIA tweeted that it had to make the tough decision to drop Lulu — 18-month-old labrador — from their bomb-sniffing program.

“Sometimes, even after testing, our pups make it clear being an explosive detection K9 isn’t for them,” the CIA stated.

RELATED POST: CIA — Lulu got fired… Would rather play than sniff bombs

Question — A Western European newspaper reported that Russian Intelligence Services had trained moose to spy on and invade Finland.

RELATED POST: Animal Spies & Warriors — Red Army Trained 1500 Moose to Invade Finland

Truth or Fake news?

This being said, I must admit that I have never heard anything about lizards’ skin having special properties for absorbing uranium. However…

“During the Napoleonic Wars, a French ship allegedly crashed off the English coast near Hartlepool. The only survivor was a monkey that was dressed in a French military uniform, presumably onboard to entertain the crew. Unfortunately, because the residents had never seen a Frenchman before and because the monkey didn’t speak English (obviously), they believed he was a French spy. As a result, the monkey was hanged.”

Animals Who May or May Not Have Been Used as Spies —  Jill Harness

On the other hand, this much is true!

On the other hand, how many people know that tobacco plants do exactly that?

Tobacco smoke contains a radioactive chemical element called polonium-210. It’s the same substance that poisoned the Russian Alexander Litvinenko in London.

RELATED POST: Alexander Litvinenko — UK Freezes Assets Of Two Suspects

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that tobacco companies have known about the danger of polonium in cigarette smoke for over 50 years.

These companies worked very hard at discrediting academics who had discovered this ‘inconvenient truth’.

Monique Muggli, who led the review, examined over 1,500 internal documents from tobacco companies.

Most of these have never been published and were made available through legal action.

“Internal tobacco industry documents reveal that the companies suppressed publication of their own internal research to avoid heightening the public’s awareness of radioactivity in cigarettes.”

Perhaps, one should start a campaign: “We are all Litvinenko.” That is scientifically TRUE.

In previous years, the U.S. has used electronic sensors installed in the ground in Iran to spy on the country’s nuclear program.

And YES, the US military has also floated the idea of using genetically modified plants for spy work in areas deemed unsuitable for traditional sensors.

“They slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity. They tested him, and tested him. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that. Finally, they are ready. They took it out to a park bench and said: ‘Listen to those two guys. Don’t listen to anything else – not the birds, no cat or dog – just those two guys!’ (…) They put him out of the van, and a taxi comes and runs him over. There they were, sitting in the van with all those dials, and the cat was dead.”

Victor Marchetti — Special assistant to the Deputy Director of the CIA

The CIA’s Trained Animal Spies

According to a former trainer, a variety of animals were conditioned and taught certain behavior to be used as spies for the CIA.

Working under the guise of the Animal Behavior Enterprises in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Bob Bailey reportedly trained animals to act as surveillance tools for government agencies.

Ravens have been trained to land in a specific window, open desk drawers, and carry large packages or files.

One infamous operation, known as acoustic kitty, utilized a cat to spy on an Asian diplomatic target that would have cats moving in and out of the room during meetings.

RELATED POST: Happy International Cat Day (August 8 2021) — Remembering CIA Operation Acoustic Kitty

The cat was trained to listen to a certain voice and was then used as a transmission device to listen to the target’s meetings. The cat could be controlled by ultrasonic sound to make it move in a certain direction.

Even insects were considered by the US military to be used as spies.

REFERENCES

West sent lizards as nuclear spies, claims Iran defense official — Ars Technica

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Iran Defense Official : “West Sent Lizards as Nuclear Spies”

Iran Defense Official : “West Sent Lizards as Nuclear Spies” [UPDATE : Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi dies from Covid-19]

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