David Belfield / Dawud Salahuddin / Hassan Abdulrahman /Hassan Tantai and the missing Bob Levinson in Iran - is October "surprise" on the way ?
It must have been a bit of a surprise on the afternoon of Friday 21st November when Sean McCormack, Spokesman for the State department started his Press briefing with a statement about the curious tale of ex FBI agent Robert Levinson . (see video here )
The United States continues to call on Iran to cooperate with U.S. authorities on the case of Robert Levinson, an American citizen who has been missing since disappearing from Iran’s Kish Island over nineteen months ago. The U.S. Department of State remains committed to determining Mr. Levinson’s whereabouts, and returning him safely to his family that includes seven children, one grandchild and a second grandchild on the way. The quicker members of the Press saw that this was of course in response to Senator Nelson's remarks on the 20th November to raise a Senate resolution about the mysterious disappearance of Bob Levinson, a businessman who vanished after checking out of his hotel on the resort island of Kish on March 9, 2007.Bob is / was however no ordinary businesman and is/was an FBI agent who in his retirement was in some way involved in investigating cigarette smuggling. His signature appears in a resort log book, showing that he checked out. His passport has never turned up.
Florida Republican Senator (Bob lives in Coral Springs) also raised his case in the senate on November 20th . (Miami Herald) .
On September 5th Wapo reported that Levinson's trip to Kish island, an Iranian duty-free zone that does not require visas, wqas being investigate by Swiss diplomatic staff, anxious to find a duffle bag - but they had been refused access by the Iranian Governmnt.
Subsequently in December his wife Christine Levinson, accompanied by their 22 year old son, Daniel, visited Iran and met hotel staff and airport workers on Kish Island but obatined no further information.
Since then Iran continues to claim it has no information on the fate of Mr. Levinson and when his wife sought a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was at the United Nations for the U.N. General Assembly he declined to meet with her.
However CNN reported that Levinson met with a Dawud Salahuddin, who is a fugitive from American justice who now lives in Iran, shortly before his disappearance.
Salahuddin -- now known in Iran as Hassan Abdulrahman -- converted to Islam and was given refuge in Iran after admitting in interviews to killing Ali Akbar Tabatabai, a former Iranian diplomat under the Shah, in Maryland in 1980.
Salahuddin said Iranian officials in plain clothes detained him to examine his pasport and he was taken away from the room he shared with Levinson to be interrogated about his Iranian passport. He says he was told when he was freed the following day that Bob levinson had returned to Dubai.
Senior US administration officials have told CNN that they think Salahuddin met with Levinson, but do not believe him to be a credible source of information on Levinson's whereabouts.
Which is OK as far as it goes but Salahuddin is actually David Belfield, (born Roanoke Rapids, NC on November 10, 1950.) the disaffected son of a black father and white mother from North Carolina. He paid a postal worker $500 to borrow his Jeep and uniform. The 29-year-old then drove the few miles to the affluent Washington suburb of Bethesda, Maryland, where Ali Akbar Tabatabai, a former Iranian diplomat and critic of Ayatollah Khomeini, lived and shot him three times in the stomach with a handgun.(Guradian)
As if this is not enough, Belfield turned up agin 21 years later Hassan Tantai, in a false beard in an Iranian film called Kandahar, (Safar-e Ghandehar ("Journey to Kandahar") and, alternatively, The Sun Behind the Moon) directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, head of Iran's most celebrated film-making dynasty.
How so ?
Well in Montgomery County, Doug Gansler, the young state attorney who has been on Belfield's tail since he surfaced momentarily in Istanbul in 1995, to confess to the killing on ABC's 20/20 programme, couldn't quite believe his eyes when he saw David Belfield / Dawud Salahuddin /Hassan Abdulrahman /Hassan Tantai re-play the role of a black American who, like him, joined up to fight the Russians and then returned years later to tend to the women suffering under Mullah Omar's bizarre and cruel interpretation of Sharia law in Afghanistan.
As if that is not enough he seems to have tired of life in Teheran and in 1995 wrote to then US attorney general Janet Reno offering to surrender himself - but on quite novel terms. First, former president Jimmy Carter would have to testify at his trial, and Belfield was to remain free until a verdict was reached. "Even while awaiting possible execution," he wrote, "I would have to retain freedom of movement while, at the same time, waiving any right of appeal." Reno refused the offer. .. perhaps his frequent overseas travels to Arab countries and North Korea may have put him beyond the pale.
But yet he lives on in life and fillum..
In 2006 French born film-maker Jean-Daniel Lafond released a film entitled "American Fugitive: The Truth About Hassan", about Salahuddin. Lafond's film , which involves interviews with Belfield stirred controversy - especially as lafond was said to be a Quebec separatist and had ties to some terrorists. Some reviewers thought it was too sympathetic to Salahuddin. Other reviewers have expressed the opinion that Lafond should not address controversial topics because he is married to the current (Hiaitian by birth), 27th and 1st black Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency Michaëlle Jean.
It couldn't be possible that Dubya is about to spring a surprise detente with Iran - yet another volte face to up stage the new President ?
Help Bob Levinson
All very curious. As FDR sais, "Nothing happens by accident"