Self-Proclaimed Former CIA “Double Agent” Inside Revolutionary Guards Under Scrutiny

Lectures at Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy

From Jeff Stein’s “Spytalk” blog at the Washington Post, July 2010:

Reza Kahlili, a self-proclaimed former CIA “double agent” inside Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, appeared in disguise at a Washington think tank Friday claiming that Iran has developed weapons-grade uranium and missiles ready to carry nuclear warheads.

…Kahlili was showcased Friday by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Washington think tank founded by a former senior official of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee.

…Several current and former U.S. intelligence officials in the audience “rolled their eyes” at Kahlili’s claims, said one observer who was present.

…A U.S. counter-proliferation official, who would discuss the highly sensitive issue only on condition of anonymity, dismissed Kahlili’s uranium claims.

“We’ve had real successes in acquiring some of the Iranian government’s most tightly held secrets, including discovery of its concealed enrichment facility near Qom,” the official said. “But things like 90-percent enrichment just don’t tally out.”

…”Three former CIA officers who ran Iranian operations in the ’80s and should have been knowledgeable said they had never heard of such a significant penetration of the Guard during this period,” The Washington Post’s veteran spy-watcher, David Ignatius, said in a review of Kahlili’s memoir, A TIME TO BETRAY: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran.

“A current U.S. government official, however, did vouch for Kahlili’s role as a spy,” Ignatius added.

Kahlili has since then made further revelations; here he is in April, writing for WND:

Terror cells have been placed on high alert to attack targets in the United States and Europe should Iran’s nuclear facilities be attacked, a source in the Revolutionary Guards says.

…The source says these cells are divided into two groups: one is operational and awaits the order to attack; the other gathers information, monitoring such sensitive sites as power plants, water and food distribution, refineries, railroads and others along with information on officials of the host countries and their activities.

…The operatives enter the Western countries through several means, but some use fake identities and claim to be part of religious minorities under persecution in Iran. According to the source, several hundred have entered the U.S. as members of the Baha’i faith whose lives supposedly are threatened by the Islamic regime.

…The most ominous message from the source is that an all-out response will not be based on a defense doctrine but rather on the belief that total chaos will hasten the return of last Islamic messiah for the final defeat of the infidels.

That last paragraph is somewhat ironic, given WND‘s own end-times fear-mongering. But who is this mysterious “source”? In a follow-up piece for the Daily Caller following the massacre of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, Kahlili describes him as

A source who served in the Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence unit and has now defected to a European country…


According to that source, and another located in the U.S., the regime’s assets have long infiltrated America and are coordinating operations out of mosques and Islamic centers, such as Imam Ali Mosques and the Iman Islamic Center.

One can see a familiar story arc here: Kahlili’s original selling point was his purported past experiences inside the Guards – but even if he’s telling the truth, such expertise is based on a special status which he no longer enjoys. How can he remain relevant as the news cycle moves on? The answer: he supposedly continues to enjoy privileged access to intelligence sources, who pass on to him dramatic new information. For some strange reason, Kahlili then shares this information via fringe-right outlets such as WND, which is best known for its anti-Islam animus (WND promotes a “Muslim anti-Christ” Biblical prophecy theory, and it co-sponsored last November’s anti-Islam “Preserving Freedom Conference” in Nashville), birther conspiracy-mongering, and for running adverts about “one weird spice” that cures diabetes (he’s also been interviewed by Glenn Beck).

There is also another familiar aspect to Kahlili’s story: although, so far as I can see from browsing Kahlili’s memoir on Amazon, his book does not discuss his own religious beliefs, Kahlili has converted to Christianity. In 2011, a piece appeared on WND in which he explained “Why I Renounce Islam and Choose Christ“:

…As I learned more about the Quran and what Muhammad prescribed, I concluded that Islam as now practiced in Iran is no true religion, that the Allah of the criminal ayatollahs is not the real God. Their religion turned against every principle of humanity. They instituted a cruel set of laws that represent intolerance, savagery and injustice, representative of an evil mind, not a loving God.

So I renounced Islam and began the quest to find the real God, the one who had blessed me so often in very dangerous times as a CIA spy.

This was followed just a few days ago with “The CIA Spy Inside Iran’s Revolutionary Guard who Found Jesus“, by Mark Ellis. Ellis published his piece on his Godreports website, and it was partially reposted at ASSIST Ministries:

…A friend gave him a copy of the New Testament and the JESUS Film, which touched his heart. Khalili studied the Scripture and asked many questions of his friend.

He found a sharp contrast between Jesus’ teaching in Luke 6 to love your enemies and the Quran (5:33), which urges punishment for those who oppose Islam — that “they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned.”

“I was never familiar with the life of Jesus, his words, his wisdom, and his pure love,” Khalili says. “His words were very revolutionary to me.”

Earlier this month, Kahlili was profiled in the Los Angeles Times by David Zucchino, who wrote that

…Brian Weidner, program coordinator for Iran instruction at the Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy, confirmed that Kahlili is a paid lecturer for the Pentagon agency. Other instructors are videotaped, Kahlili says, but his lectures are audio-only to protect his identity.

This is also mentioned on Kahlili’s website; Ellis similarly notes that

Kahlili teaches at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA), is a senior fellow with EMPact America and a member of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security.

It should be recalled that over the last 18 months or so a number of reports have highlighted how unsuitable individuals have been employed to give training to military and law-enforcement in the USA. It is reasonable to be concerned about Kahlili: his identity is unknown; his claims are unverifiable, and in some instances have been challenged by security professionals or are so vague as to be unfalsifiable; he uses Christianity polemically in writings that discuss Islam; and his choice of publishing outlets is not consistent with someone who wishes to be taken seriously (see ConWebWatch for more on WND).

The latest reports of Kahlili’s lecturing work have caught the eye of CAIR, which has issued a press release:

– The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the Department of Defense (DoD) to drop an anti-Islam lecturer at the Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA) in Elkridge, Md., who wrote on an Islamophobic hate site that he “renounced Islam and began the quest to find the real God.” (reza kahlili:”Why I Renounce Islam and Choose Christ)(reza kahlili:” WND)(reza kahlili:8/24/11)

…”This is yet another unfortunate example of our nation’s military and counterterrorism personnel being trained by individuals who weaken America’s security by promoting their own religious and political agendas,” wrote CAIR national Executive Director Nihad Awad in a letter sent to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Reza has responded by claiming that he is being persecuted by CAIR for being an ex-Muslim. According to WND:

“They actually cite my change of faith as a principal reason for targeting me,” Kahlili told WND in a phone interview. “I thought once I left Iran for America I wouldn’t have to worry about that kind of persecution.”

Further, in an article written himself:

My activity, which CAIR wants censored, focuses on Iranian human rights and the vicious violations of basic decency committed by a tyrannical regime, brutality that has been documented by human rights organizations worldwide.

…Perhaps CAIR does not know that I do not teach about Islam at the Counterintelligence Training Academy. I teach on the activity of the Revolutionary Guards and its intelligence operation.

….Perhaps CAIR does not know that I worked for the CIA – not only in Iran but in Europe – and with Iranian agents within a mosque. Perhaps CAIR does not know that much of the information that is not disclosed in my articles for security purposes is then given to the FBI. Perhaps CAIR does not know that even today through my contacts with Revolutionary Guard members, I provide information to protect America and the free world.

Is CAIR interested in the security of America, and does it not want to do whatever it can to weed out terrorists posing as ordinary Muslims? Does it not hurt the Islamic community when acts of terror are committed, such as 9/11?

I have detailed my life in my book, “A Time to Betray”, and I challenge CAIR to read it and determine whether I promote Islamophobia.

UPDATE: Reza’s “persecution” misdirection is now being repeated widely on Twitter, including by Joel Rosenberg:

please pray for my Iranian-American friend @Reza_Kahlili who’s being persecuted for renouncing Islam and becoming a follower of Jesus Christ

Rosenberg has appeared on this blog a number of times; he is a best-selling author of apocalyptic thrillers written to promote the message that to be a Christian is to prepare for an inevitable end-times war with Iran and other Islamic nations.