Washington Soon to Release Evidence of Hostile Iranian Activity in Iraq

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US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad and State department spokesman Sean McCormack said the US would soon present evidence of Iran’s hand in the violence besetting Iraq. The spoke as US-Iran military tensions over Iraq continued to rise. The ambassador stressed too that the charges against the Revolutionary Guards al Quds Brigade agents detained at the Iranian “liaison center” in Irbil on Jan 11 would be made public. The detainees are still in custody. McCormack spoke of “solid evidence” that Iranian agents sent by the Iranian government are working with individuals and groups in Iraq. He quoted President Bush who vowed to confront the networks and individuals “trying to harm our troops.”
Eight days after the US raid on Irbil, DEBKA-Net-Weekly 286 exclusively revealed some of the evidence referred to by the two US officials of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’s direct involvement in terrorist operations in Iraq.
Quote: Their biggest catch was Iranian colonel Fars Hassami, No. 3 in the Revolutionary Guards al Quds Brigade’s hierarchy, two below the Brigades commander, General Qassem Sulemaini. Officers of the al Quds Brigade also serve with Hizballah combat units in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The interrogation of Hassami and his four fellow detainees yielded some eye-openers, supplemented by sweeps of their offices and computers.
1. Col. Hassam was found to have been in charge of Iranian operations in northern and central Iraq – from Kurdish Irbil down to the northern outskirts of Baghdad – and all links with Iraq’s Shiite militias, including Moqtada Sadr’s Medhi Army, and Sunni insurgent groups.
Hassam was the live wire behind Iran’s military, intelligence and logistic operations in the violence-stricken towns of the northern half of Iraq, Tal Afar, Mosul, Haditha, Kirkuk, Samarra, the Banji refinery town, Tikrit, Ramadi, Falluja and Baquba.
2. This same RG colonel managed an intensive recruitment campaign for the Sadrist Mehdi Army, which controls a large section of Baghdad and against which a combined Iraqi-US crackdown is under preparation.
Hassam’s recruiting center in Ur (birth town of Abraham) north of Baghdad appealed to volunteers aged 15 to 45. Each was handed $1,500 in cash.
3. A second US raid in Irbil uncovered a stockpile of Iranian weapons. It consisted of 40 tons of explosives, shoulder-borne anti-air missiles, anti-tank missiles, hundreds of automatic rifles and a pile of ordnance made in Iran.
4. Inventories of the weapons and ammo supplied the Medhi Army in Baghdad and Kirkuk by Iran in the last two months were detailed on computer hard disks. Maps showed the locations of anti-air missile positions for shooting down American helicopters.
5. Questioning of the captives yielded the identity of the RGs’ overall commander for orchestrating Tehran’s program to dominate Iraq. The name of Col. Bassem Abtakhi struck a familiar chord with the American interrogators. Informed Middle East intelligence circles have come up against him before as the RGs representative attached to the Hizballah command in Lebanon in 2004 and 2005. They were told he now operates out of the Fajr base in Ahwaz, capital of the southern Iranian province of Khozestan.
Another familiar face is that of the RG officer nicknamed Mahdi Muhandes (Mahdi the Engineer – a terrorist euphemism for bomb-maker). His real name is Col. Muhammad Ali Ibrahimi and the captured men named him as responsible for smuggling Iranian supplies of arms and military equipment into Iraq.
End of quote from DEBKA-Met-Weekly
Khalilzad pointed out Wednesday, Jan 24, that Shiite political groups now dominating the Iraqi government had developed close relationships with the Iranian security forces while they were opposing Saddam Hussein. He singled out the biggest Shiite party, SCIRI for mention.
debkafile‘s military sources note that the threat by high US officials of detailed disclosures of Iran’s clandestine campaign to control Iraq and its hand in the spiraling sectarian violence further raises the military tensions between Iran and the United States. It adds fuel to the fears in Tehran that Washington may not be satisfied with filing a UN Security Council complaint against Iran’s complicity in terrorism, but may also conduct cross-border commando raids against the RGs’ al Quds bases near the Iranian-Iraqi border.

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