The Times reports that US forces apprehended Iranians up to no good in Iraq, and clearly operating in cahoots with Shiite leaders and Iraq Government officials.
The American military said Tuesday that it had credible evidence linking Iranians and their Iraqi associates, detained here in raids last week, to criminal activities, including attacks against American forces. Evidence also emerged that some detainees had been involved in shipments of weapons to illegal armed groups in Iraq.
In its first official confirmation of last week’s raids, the military said it had confiscated maps, videos, photographs and documents in one of the raids on a site in Baghdad. The military confirmed the arrests of five Iranians, and said three of them had been released.
American officials have long said that the Iranian government interferes in Iraq, but the arrests, in the compound of one of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite political leaders, were the first since the American invasion in which officials were offering evidence of the link.
The raids threaten to upset the delicate balance of the three-way relationship among the United States, Iran and Iraq. The Iraqi government has made extensive efforts to engage Iran in security matters in recent months, and the arrests of the Iranians could scuttle those efforts.
Some Iraqis questioned the timing of the arrests, suggesting that the Bush administration had political motives. The arrests were made just days before the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.
The Iraqi government has kept silent on the arrests, but Tuesday night officials spoke of intense behind-the-scenes negotiations by Iraq’s government and its fractured political elite over how to handle the situation.
Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, had invited the two Iranians during his visit to Tehran, his spokesman said Sunday, but by Tuesday, some Iraqi officials began to question if Mr. Talabani had in fact made the invitation. His office was unavailable for comment Tuesday night.
Con Coughlin, in the Telegraph last week, discussed more of Iran’s activities.
Cpl Daniel James, who acted as the official translator for Lt-Gen David Richards, the British commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, has been charged with “prejudicing the safety of the state” by passing information “calculated to be directly or indirectly useful to the enemy” to a foreign power, whose identity sources have suggested is Iran.
Irrespective of the outcome of the James case, the mere suggestion that Iran should be seeking to recruit someone with access to the innermost counsels of Nato’s high command is indicative both of Teheran’s intense interest in Nato’s activities in Afghanistan, and its determination to ensure that the West is not allowed to succeed in transforming the country from Islamic dictatorship into stable democracy.
It also makes a mockery of the recent suggestion, advanced in both Washington and London, that the only way to resolve the region’s difficulties is by engaging in a constructive dialogue with Teheran. Whether it be in Iraq or Afghanistan, the over-riding priority of the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is to ensure the coalition’s efforts at nation-building end in failure.
As in Iraq, the history of Iran’s involvement in Afghanistan has been complex, but rarely benign. During the Soviet occupation of the 1980s, the Iranians supported one of the fiercest Mujahideen groups. More recently, the Iranians helped hundreds of al-Qa’eda fighters to escape from Afghanistan following the coalition’s military campaign to remove the Taliban from power in 2001. Recent intelligence reports have indicated that many senior al-Qa’eda leaders — including two of Osama bin Laden’s sons — are still living in Teheran under the protection of the Revolutionary Guards, where they are being groomed for a possible takeover of the al-Qa’eda leadership…
Given the extent of Iran’s interests in the region, it might appear strange that Nato commanders have appeared reluctant even to discuss the possibility that the Iranians might have their own agenda in upsetting coalition attempts to establish an effective government, particularly when commanders in Iraq have been frank in blaming the Iranians for helping to orchestrate the roadside bombs that have killed and maimed so many soldiers.
The reason for this apparent reticence on the part of Nato commanders is that, given the limited resources at their disposal, they have a big enough challenge dealing with the threat posed by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, without running the risk of extending their field of operations elsewhere. But all that might soon change if, as some intelligence reports suggest, concrete evidence emerges that Iran is actively supporting and providing equipment to Taliban-related groups fighting Nato forces in Afghanistan.
“The Iranians are playing a very clever game in Afghanistan,” a Western intelligence official based in Kabul recently told me. “On the surface, they give the impression they have no interest in what is going on, but behind the scenes they are working hard to influence groups such as the Taliban who are causing Nato the most problems.”
Which would explain why the heavily fortified Iranian embassy in central Kabul, which is located less than a mile from the British mission, is second in size only to that of the sprawling American embassy.
If, as now seems likely, the Iranians are to become serious players in the new Great Game taking place in Afghanistan, then it is essential that Nato be given sufficient numbers of combat troops to ensure that the hazardous mission it has been asked to undertake ultimately ends in victory.
And Depkafile reports that an Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer has been identified commanding Palestinian forces.
since Monday, Dec. 25, two changes were detected in the Palestinian offensive: A new type of homemade missile called Al Buraq 2 (after the Western Wall Jewish shrine in Jerusalem), and a new unit, calling itself the Mujahiddin Brigades, identified by military experts as the first Palestinian terrorist unit set up by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ al Quds Brigades.
This group’s first action was to fire the new missiles at Kibbutz Nahal Oz Monday. They were diagnosed at first as mortars, but the fragments did not match any ordnance seen before. It was then discovered that the Mujahiddin Brigades units – consisting of Hamas, Jihad Islami, Fatah-al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Popular Resistance Committees operatives – are commanded by an Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer.
Such direct Iranian command of front-line Palestinian missile units is another innovation; it did not occur even on the Hizballah side of the of July-August Lebanon war.
Monday, too, the Americans disclosed the capture in Baghdad of Iranian officers, members of the same RG al Quds Brigades, on another front line: against Iraqi and coalition forces. It looks as though the Islamic Republic has gone into action in Iraq and Gaza in reprisal for the tepid sanctions the UN Security Council imposed Saturday, Dec. 23, for its continuing pursuit of uranium enrichment.