Iran’s ‘involvement’

US soldiers report Iranian intelligence officers manning checkpoints, building bombs and smuggling weapons.

On October 2005, US troops warned that Adnan al-Dulaymi, an Iraqi Sunni politician, would be the target of an assassination attempt. The hit would reportedly be carried out by “an Iranian trained insurgent cell” – led by a member of Iran’s intelligence services.

The cell will be led by an Iranian intelligence officer named Dhia ((LNU),NFI. Dhia will travel into Iraq (IZ) with an Iraqi passport with the notation that he is mute. (Source comment: the reason for this notation is that Dhia speaks broken Arabic and would easily be detected as an Iranian.)

Iran’s role in Iraq, like Syria’s, is the subject of hundreds of reports, many of which suggest Tehran was heavily involved in equipping and aiding Shia groups. These reports only tell one side of the story, of course, and a limited one at that; they lack higher-level analysis, and many of them are based on interviews with informants of often-questionable credibility.

Reading the Documents

  • Glossary: Military jargon
  • Editor’s note: About the documents

That being said, the reports allege extensive links between Iran and the militant groups. The militants often targeted Sunni politicians, like al-Dulaymi, but other attacks were apparently intended to undermine confidence in the government.

A March 2007 report blames “Iranian intelligence agents” within Jaysh Al-Mahdi (JAM) and the Badr Corps of “influencing attacks on ministry officials in Iraq”; their next target was to be the minister of industry, who survived an earlier assassination attempt in Baghdad in 2006. “[This] is a media campaign designed by Iranian intelligence officers, to show the world, and especially the Arab world, that the Baghdad security plan has failed to bring security to Baghdad,” the US military concluded.

What is striking about the Iranian reports – separating them from the reports about Syria – is the apparent degree of integration between Iran’s security services and various militia groups operating in Iraq, particularly the Badr Corps and the JAM. In February 2007, a US army unit got word of a checkpoint manned jointly by JAM members and Iranian intelligence.

There are four UI JAM members with AK-47 assault rifles controlling the checkpoint. Along with the four JAM members, are two UI Iranian intelligence officers, members of Badr Corp. NFI. These two Badr Corp members are in charge of the checkpoint.

Two years later, a US cavalry unit received reports that an Iranian intelligence agent was taking more aggressive action – staging rocket attacks against the international zone in Baghdad, again acting as a member of the Badr Corps.

On the evening of 04MAY09, C/5-73 CAV received reports from 3 different informatns [sic] that [REDACTED] was an Iranian intelligence agent and was responsible for the three 107MM rocket attacks from the Palestine street into the IX in the last 11 days… during initial questioning the detainee admitted to being a member of Badr Corp.

One report recounted the arrest of Hajji Juwad, an alleged Shia militia leader, who targeted Sunni volunteers patrolling neighbourhoods as part of the “Concerned Local Citizens” (CLC) programme.

Hajji Juwad is a historic Shia extremist militia leader associated with multiple attacks on coalition forces, including two catastrophic attacks on COP Callahan. Reporting indicates that religious edicts are being issued by Shia extremists residing in Iran to continue to attempt to dismantle the CLC organisation.

An equally serious set of allegations deals with Iran’s alleged role in funneling weapons to armed Shia groups in Iraq.

Soldiers of Heaven

Iran’s role in transporting conventional weapons across the border is made to seem serious, as literally hundreds of reports describe JAM, the Badr Corps, and other groups receiving arms from Iranian agents. In October 2005, for example, US forces receive what they assess to be a “credible” report that “Iranian intelligence operatives” are distributing machine guns, rocket launchers and other arms to groups near the southern city of Basra.

The US has also long blamed Iran for some of the deadliest unconventional attacks in Iraq, particularly the growth in popularity of explosively formed penetrators (EFP), an especially lethal form of IED.

It is difficult to determine from these documents whether those allegations are true – though in a few cases, they offer reason to doubt the official US line. In February 2007, for example, the US claimed that a weapons cache uncovered in Hillah in Babil province showed evidence of Iranian involvement. “The new evidence includes infrared sensors, electronic triggering devices and information about plastic explosives used in bombs that the Americans say lead back in Iran.”

But the actual report from that incident suggests a more complicated picture:

Warrior 42 reports they have found books, some of which are “Soldiers of Heaven” books who were individuals involved in Najaf.

[…] The first area identified contained 10x 107MM Iranian Haseb rockets and 10X J-1 PD rocket fuzes in a false compartment under the bed of a red Chevy 1988 pickup truck. The second area contained 1X fully assembled 3-array EFP; 1X PIR and telmetry device; 2X military style compases; 1X Garmin GPS; 1X sextant; and 1X 1-gallon oil jug filled with unknown explo [sic]

The rockets were indeed Iranian-made, but the “Soldiers of Heaven” literature was never publicly reported before. That was a Shia group which fought a number of pitched battles with US forces in 2006 and 2007; a staunchly nationalist group with no known ties to Iran.

On the other hand, a raid the next week in Diyala uncovered a sizable cache of Iranian-made weapons, including EFP-making materials.

Notably, though, there appear to be no reports of US forces detaining Iranians with a direct involvement in building EFPs. There is a great deal of guilt by association – caches of Iranian weapons often show up at “EFP-making sites” – but no reports of direct involvement.

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Source: Al Jazeera

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