Saudi and Kuwaiti intelligence services presented the White House in Washington and the CIA this week with a joint report outlining the kinds of terrorist operations the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and its Al Qods Brigades external arm were preparing for the Persian Gulf region, should the Strait of Hormuz crisis escalate to armed hostilities.
Iran's four Iranian plans of operation outlined in the report are:
1. Sabotage of oil production installations: Iran has organized and trained teams of saboteurs in Iraq and other Arab countries in methods of blowing up oil wells and sabotaging the equipment used to pump oil and load tankers. The saboteurs are all Shiite Muslims, some of Iranian descent, whose families settled in Arab lands in the latter half of the twentieth century. Some of the teams stand ready in Basra, southern Iraq, Kuwaiti coastal villages and the Saudi eastern oil region of Dahran.
They are hard to pick out by local intelligence and security agencies because they are indistinguishable from the local populaces in which they are embedded.
No saboteurs are deployed in Qatar because it shares offshore oil reserves with Iran in the Persian Gulf.
2. Frogmen and speedboats. Iran has deployed a large number of trained frogmen to sabotage tankers at loading docks or right after they set sail. Most are Iranian members of the Revolutionary Guards. They are to approach their prey aboard speedboats disguised as fishing vessels and then dive toward their targets.
Some units are trained to guide booby-trapped boats by remote control to tankers and blow them up by the push of a button. Other units are trained to operate "mobile" mines, tossing them into the water from motor boats one kilometer from an oil tanker's scheduled route. If the mine is not activated for some reason, it is taken out of the water so as not to jeopardize other shipping.
Three methods for blocking Hormuz
3. Closing the Strait of Hormuz. The report refers to the three methods:
– Firing shore-to-ship missiles against tankers as they pass through the strategic strait. The report discloses Iran's heavy investment in a multi-layered system for sinking ships, including missiles fired from silos hidden in the hills overlooking the waterway. Vessels passing through the strait are easy prey for aggressors, the report said.
– Sowing the strait with sea mines.
– Blowing up old, disused vessels and sinking them to block the crossing. Dozens of these hulls are ranged at Iranian ports opposite the Strait of Hormuz with tugs for towing them to the edge of the waterway.
4. Striking US targets in the Persian Gulf region.
Tuesday, January 17, the Turkish Security General Directorate-EGM warned all the country's 81 district governates to watch out for Iranian Al Qods Brigades terrorist cells bound for Turkey to stir up mass anti-government demonstrations and attack the American embassy and consulates in Turkey.
The Al Qods units would enter Turkey at the same time as Hizballah terror cells under the same Iranian command.
Thursday, January 19, Iran’s UN ambassador Mohammad Khazaee said on the Charlie Rose show: "There is no decision (in Tehran) to block and close the Strait of Hormuz unless Iran is threatened seriously and somebody wants to tighten the noose. But if foreign powers want to create trouble in the Persian Gulf of course it would the right of Iran as well as the other countries in the region to defend themselves."
According to a transcript of the interview, the Iranian diplomat said. “All the options are or would be on the table."
US forces beefed up for countering Hormuz closure
Rear Admiral Farhad Amiri, Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Army's Self-Sufficiency Jihad, had earlier boasted that his country had the best electronic diesel submarines in the world, and "even its enemies have noted Iran's astonishing subsurface capabilities."
Submarines are important, he explained – not just because of their arms and equipment but tactically, given
the geographical features of the waters surrounding the country.
On Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta referred obliquely to the Iranian boast. Asked whether Washington had recently increased its forces in the area, he said: "We are not taking any special steps at this point in order to deal with the situation. Why? Because, frankly, we are fully prepared to deal with that situation now."
But DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military sources report that in fact, Washington has trebled its aircraft carrier fleet in the waters around Iranian shores, from one to three with strike groups. Deployed there now are the USS Stennis, USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln.
The Pentagon and the US Navy tried to give the impression the USS Stennis had ben recalled to home port in the US, but our sources confirm it is very much present in the Arabian Sea.
In addition, special forces units in the Persian Gulf have been substantially augmented with reinforcements, including Explosive Ordnance Disposal-Expeditionary Diving and mining/demining forces, Expeditionary Combat Readiness Salvage forces and a number of spy planes.