CIA recruits agents among Iranian expatriates

According to media report published on Sunday, the American city Los Angeles has become a key location for U.S. spy agencies' operation on Iran, intensifying their activities to gather as much information as possible about the country's nuclear activities.

A CIA station in Los Angeles, the second biggest U.S. city, has been recruiting agents among Iranian expatriates and businessmen who travel to Iran for decades, while the local FBI field office is trying to use Iranians as sources -- and investigating others as potential ‘terrorists’ or spies.

Washington has intensified its spy operations on Iran, as Bush administration tries to gather intelligence about Iran's nuclear programme, the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday.

According to the report, some Iranian exiles fear that someone of them could emerge as the new Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi opposition leader accused of helping the United states launching its war on Iraq with his now-discredited intelligence indicating that the toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

But the ghost of Chalabi makes many U.S. officials cautious in endorsing the Iranian exiles now volunteering to provide intelligence.

Gary Sick, who served on the National Security Council under presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan and was the principal White House expert on Iran during the hostage crisis, say that the Los Angeles exiles won’t be providing credible intelligence.

"I just have very low regard for the quality of analysis and opinion coming out of the expatriate community in Los Angeles," said Sick.

However, a former CIA official suggest that it is possible that the CIA will obtain valuable intelligence from its contacts in Los Angeles.

"A lot of interesting Iranians travel outside of the country," he said. "A lot of Iranians come to the United States. There is a definite flow, and some of them may have information that is valuable."

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