Earlier reports stated that the figure captured was Revolutionary Guards Chief Strategist Hassan Abbasi.
The U.S. ambassador said Wednesday that one of the Iranians detained by U.S. forces in Iraq during two raids over the past month was the director of operations for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds faction, the organization responsible for funding and arming Iraqi militants.
Zalmay Khalilzad said the recent raids were part of a “new strategy” to “go after their networks that are active here.”
The United States is building up its troops in the region, beyond the additional 21,500 on their way to Iraq for a new security crackdown, in what U.S. officials say is a message to Iran. Khalilzad sought to reinforce Washington’s message that Tehran should keep its hands off Iraq, where it has enormous influence with the majority Shiite population.
Iran is ruled by a Shiite theocracy, which has confounded U.S. foreign policy for more than a quarter-century since the U.S.-allied shah was driven from power in the Islamic revolution.
At least eight Iranians have been detained in Iraq recently, including two diplomats in a Dec. 21 roundup of a group of 10 suspects. The diplomats were interrogated and released to Iranian officials eight days later.
Six others were captured Jan. 11 at an Iranian liaison office in the northern city of Irbil. One was released and five are still believed in U.S. custody.
“Some of those we’ve arrested are Quds Force operatives. One of them was director of operations for the Quds Force” who was in the country without the knowledge of Iraqi security officials, he said…
Khalilzad said Iranian agents were working with “a variety of groups, and there are groups that they fund and control, in my judgment, directly.”
The ambassador said U.S. officials soon would outline in detail the activities of the arrested Iranians, as demanded by Tehran’s ambassador in Baghdad.
But the New York Times reported on January 13th that this individual had been released.
A senior military official said last week that one of the Iranians seized in Baghdad late last month was the No. 3 Quds official. He said American forces uncovered maps of neighborhoods in Baghdad in which Sunnis could be evicted, and evidence of involvement in the war during the summer in Lebanon.
That Iranian official was ordered released, by Ms. Rice among others, after Iran claimed he had diplomatic status.
Hat tip to AJStrata.