WASHINGTON, March 21 (RIA Novosti) – A US Secret Service agent accidentally fired a shotgun near Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s motorcade during his 2006 visit to Manhattan for the United Nations General Assembly, jolting White House officials who learned of the incident in an intelligence briefing, according to a new book.
Ahmadinejad’s motorcade was preparing to leave the InterContinental Hotel in Manhattan when, “in an apparent accident,” the agent “discharged his shotgun,” an unidentified former White House official is cited as saying in “Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry.”
Excerpts of the book, written by national security journalists Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady, were posted this week on the website of the US magazine The Atlantic.
According to the authors, the secret service agent was adjusting the “side-mounted shotgun” on one of the security vehicles accompanying the motorcade when the weapon was fired.
“Everyone just stopped,” they cite an official as saying. “The Iranians looked at us and we looked at the Iranians. The agent began to apologize. Ahmadinejad just turned his head and got into his car.”
Senior White House officials worried that the incident could prompt Ahmadinejad to accuse Washington of trying to assassinate him at time that the administration of US President George W. Bush was pressuring Tehran over its nuclear ambitions.
“The Iranians told no one,” Ambinder and Grady write.
“Their silence led several White House aides to begin to see Ahmadinejad in a new light. Here was evidence that maybe Iran was acting strategically, and therefore cautiously.”