While Iran’s leaders continue to pursue their dual-track policy review regarding the American war on Iraq, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terrorism sources report that radical factions of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have established Iranian-Iraqi commando squads of suicides for striking at… American forces building up in the region for the Iraq offensive.
In an abrupt switch, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Hakim, head of the opposition Iraqi Supreme Revolutionary Council, who has been promised a large role in post-war Baghdad, is deeply involved in the creation of the anti-American suicide terror units. The Supreme Revolutionary Council is one of the three Iraqi opposition groups promoted actively by Washington as a bulwark for a stable post-war government in Baghdad. Its representative took his seat alongside Sunni and Kurdish opposition leaders at US- and British-sponsored conferences in Washington and London. US officials consult with its members frequently.
Nonetheless, the Supreme Revolutionary Council’s leaders have turned against the Americans and joined forces with the hard-line Revolutionary Guards.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Iranian experts explain why.
Hakim received information that Washington had secretly promised a rival Iraqi Shiite opposition group, Hizb Ad-Dawah, a prominent role in a future Iraqi government, despite the expectations of Hakim and members of his family to be awarded half of the cabinet portfolios.
Hizb Ad-Dawah is a veteran party in Iraq with influence among secular Shiites. Hakim, a fundamentalist who enjoys Iranian patronage, fears that Washington will favor the secular Shiite group over his Council.
Furthermore, influential officials in Tehran continue to raise the specter of America not only downgrading its interests in Baghdad, but turning on the Islamic Revolutionary Republic of Iran after Saddam Hussein is disposed of. They also fret about the influence of an American victory in Iraq on ordinary Iranians, who they fear will be moved to rise up and overthrow the regime of ayatollahs.
Iran’s leaders have therefore decided to garner all the available benefits from helping the Americans vanquish Saddam, while at the same time preparing to clip American wings and undermine its entrenchment in Iraq after Saddam has been overthrown. Their plan is for Iraqi fundamentalist Shiites to wage an armed struggle against US forces and install a government that will meet with their approval in Baghdad. Iran’s theocrats and their protege, Hakim, are alarmed by America’s planned interim military government to rule the country for a year at least, under either an American officer, a non-Iraqi Arab or a secular Iraqi, and are preparing an anti-American terror campaign to combat that eventuality.
The terror-masters of Tehran are recruiting for their terror squads from the following forces and groups:
1. Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen experienced in battling Israeli troops in Lebanon, who trained Hizballah fighters in such guerrilla arts as planting roadside bombs and laying ambushes.
2. The Hizballah’s most seasoned operatives in Lebanon, the hard men who in the 1980s engineered the campaign of hostage-taking against Western foreigners in Beirut and the deadly bombing attacks against US, French and Israeli forces in Beirut and southern Lebanon.
3. Elite units of Sepah Badr, a contingent the Revolutionary Guards established during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s and trained for guerrilla attacks behind Iraqi lines. Its members are experts in infiltration techniques, ambushes and the use of anti-tank and shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles as well as Katyusha rockets. Since then, Sepah Badr has been employed in dozens of missions against Iran’s most dangerous opposition group, the Mujahedin al-Khalq guerrillas.
4. Iranian naval commandos who belong to a branch of the armed forces that is completely under Revolutionary Guards control.
The new teams of terrorists are in special training programs tailored for specific guerrilla operations:
— Suicide bomb-attacks against US warships in the Gulf. The commandos are taught to zoom up to their target-vessels on jet skis or aboard small speedboats packed with explosives.
— Blowing up US or British embassies and facilities in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and other Gulf emirates. After receiving intelligence information about Iran’s new terror campaign, the Kuwait foreign minister hastened to Tehran last week, to find out if terrorist activities were to be resumed in the emirates on the pattern of the bombing of the US embassy in Kuwait by Iranian agents in the 1980s.
— Assassinations of senior US officials in the region. The Kuwaitis suspect that the latest spate of shooting attacks against US military personnel based in Kuwait were carried out with Iranian cooperation, possibly as training exercises to get recruits into harness.
— Blasts at US military barracks and operational centers in the emirates and inside Iraq.
— Hostage-taking is projected despite the difficulty in finding hiding places for the captives. Iran is reluctant to let the abductees be kept on its soil and are trying to establish hideouts in Qatar or Bahrain.
— Al Qaeda operatives present in Iran. Until now, they have refrained from joint operations with Iran. Now they will operate together with the Iranians to strike at US forces in Iraq.