The man at the center of an FBI probe into suspicions of spying for Israel was identified by officials as Larry Franklin, a high-level Iran analyst at the Pentagon. He is suspected of having informed the Israeli government about the content of a key US policy paper on Iran, as it was being developed. August 29, 2004 - The FBI is in contact with Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin, and is seeking his cooperation in its investigation into suspicions that he passed classified information to Israel via the pro-Israel AIPAC lobbying group, the New York Times reported Sunday, quoting unnamed US officials.
The man at the center of the FBI investigation is a career Pentagon employee, a colonel in the Air Force reserves and a national security analyst who at the end of the Cold War taught himself Farsi and refashioned himself as an expert on Iran, the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday.
US officials confirmed Saturday that the target of the investigation was Larry Franklin, the Pentagon’s top Iran policy analyst and a confidant of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, who, as undersecretary for policy, was the Pentagon’s third-ranking official.
The FBI is trying to ascertain whether Franklin turned over a draft presidential directive on policy toward Iran last year to two people affiliated with the Washington-based American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which may have given the information to Israel.
Officials are concerned because the directive was still being debated by US policymakers at the time, possibly putting the Israeli government in a position to influence the final document, the Los Angeles Times wrote. “US policy toward Iran is vital to Israel, which is gravely concerned about the expanding nuclear capability of the country run by Shiite Muslim clerics,” the Times added.
Larry Franklin’s name came up last Summer in news of a meeting he had with arms dealer-informer Manouchehr Qorbanifar in Rome, which, according to the New York Times saved the lives of a number of American troops in Afghanistan.
Qorbanifar was an arms dealer in the 1980s Iran-Contra transactions, during which spare parts for American-made Iranian fighter jets were swapped with for arms for anti-Sandinista fighters in Nicaragua.