Friday, October 22, 2010
Leaked Reports Detail Iran’s Aid for Iraqi Militias - NYTimes.com
On Dec. 22, 2006, American military officials in Baghdad issued a secret warning: The Shiite militia commander who had orchestrated the kidnapping of officials from Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education was now hatching plans to take American soldiers hostage.
What made the warning especially worrying were intelligence reports saying that the Iraqi militant, Azhar al-Dulaimi, had been trained by the Middle East’s masters of the dark arts of paramilitary operations: the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in Iran and Hezbollah, its Lebanese ally.
“Dulaymi reportedly obtained his training from Hizballah operatives near Qum, Iran, who were under the supervision of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) officers in July 2006,” the report noted, using alternative spellings of the principals involved. Read the Document »
Five months later, Mr. Dulaimi was tracked down and killed in an American raid in the sprawling Shiite enclave of Sadr City in Baghdad — but not before four American soldiers had been abducted from an Iraqi headquarters in Karbala and executed in an operation that American military officials say literally bore Mr. Dulaimi’s fingerprints.
Scores of documents made public by WikiLeaks, which has disclosed classified information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, provide a ground-level look — at least as seen by American units in the field and the United States’ military intelligence — at the shadow war between the United States and Iraqi militias backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
During the administration of President George W. Bush, critics charged that the White House had exaggerated Iran’s role to deflect criticism of its handling of the war and build support for a tough policy toward Iran, including the possibility of military action.
But the field reports disclosed by WikiLeaks, which were never intended to be made public, underscore the seriousness with which Iran’s role has been seen by the American military. The political struggle between the United States and Iran to influence events in Iraq still continues as Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has sought to assemble a coalition — that would include the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr — that will allow him to remain in power. But much of the American’s military concern has revolved around Iran’s role in arming and assisting Shiite militias.
Citing the testimony of detainees, a captured militant’s diary and numerous uncovered weapons caches, among other intelligence, the field reports recount Iran’s role in providing Iraqi militia fighters with rockets, magnetic bombs that can be attached to the underside of cars, “explosively formed penetrators,” or E.F.P.’s, which are the most lethal type of roadside bomb in Iraq, and other weapons. Those include powerful .50-caliber rifles and the Misagh-1, an Iranian replica of a portable Chinese surface-to-air missile, which, according to the reports, was fired at American helicopters and downed one in east Baghdad in July 2007.
Iraqi militants went to Iran to be trained as snipers and in the use of explosives, the field reports assert, and Iran’s Quds Force collaborated with Iraqi extremists to encourage the assassination of Iraqi officials.
The reports make it clear that the lethal contest between Iranian-backed militias and American forces continued after President Obama sought to open a diplomatic dialogue with Iran’s leaders and reaffirmed the agreement between the United States and Iraq to withdraw American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.