A Time To Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran Reviewed By Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
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Publisher: Threshold Editions (A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc)
How often do readers have the opportunity to experience a unique glimpse into the mind of a CIA operative, particularly one who witnessed the 1979 Iranian revolution and its disastrous aftermath, which still prevails today?
Reza Kahlili ( not his real name) was no ordinary Iranian. He was a member of the dreaded “Sepah-e-Pasdaran, the Ayatollah Khomeini's Revolutionary Guards and was privy to some extremely invaluable information.
In 1981, after witnessing the murder and executions in cold blood of his close friends and the lack of freedom that had been promised by the Islamic government to its citizens, Kahlili decided to become a spy for the CIA. He had enough of the merciless bloodshed, raping of young girls and “thugocracy”of the ignorant and treacherous mullahs that engulfed his country.
This was not an easy decision for Kahlili to make, as he would be betraying his wife, son, parents, grandparents and his country. He would be leading a double life, wherein half would be that of a loving devoted husband and loyal member of the Revolutionary Guards, and the other half would be reporting to the CIA every salient fact about the Guards. He would now be entering a world of deception, suspicion, lies, and secrets. This no doubt would put everyone in danger, and he wasn't sure, how long he could keep up the facade without being discovered-a prescription for certain torture and death. Nonetheless, as he recounts, it was his duty that obliged him to commit treason against an outlaw regime. This was the only way he believed that he could bring democracy and fairness to the Iranian people.
In A Time To Betray, Kahlili recounts how he passed along critical information to the CIA, such as the names and positions of the Revolutionary Guards' commanders, their connection to other radical groups and their plans to export their treacherous Islamic beliefs all over the world. In addition, readers are given some informative background material concerning the political and social climate that reigned in Iran prior to and after the revolution in 1979.
It was quite surprising to read that when Kahlili first met with the some CIA agents, they kept calling the Revolutionary Guards “the Red Army,” confusing them with the Soviet Union. If this is true, was the CIA asleep at the switch? What did they know about the revolution and the ambitions of Ayatollah Khomeini and his henchmen? How many other agents did they have working for them in Iran at the time of the revolution? Before meeting with Kahlili, did they know anything about the dreaded Evin prison and Asadollah Lajevardi, the head of the Iran Prisons Organization, and whom Iranians referred to as the “Butcher of Evin?” Here was a beast who murdered thousands of prisoners and had their blood drained in order to use the plasma for soldiers injured in the war with Iraq. In fact, Kahlili mentions that he was surprised how little the Americans knew about what was going on in Iran such as the three branches of the armed forces that were formed after the revolution and that some of the Guards were trained by The Palestinian Liberation Organization. When one of the CIA agents told Kahlili that they were concerned that Khomeini was extending his tendrils of control to surrounding nations, Kahlili assured him that this goal had been accomplished. These are just a few of the fascinating revelations brought to light in A Time To Betray-a book that reads like a great spy thriller.
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