Richard Spencer – Telegraph.co.uk October 23, 2010
Hundreds of documents outline the intelligence, of variable quality, on which the Americans have based allegations of Iranian backing for the Shia militias which fought government and US troops.
They claim Iranian intelligence officers served inside Iraq, at one point manning checkpoints with local militias, and describe a firefight on the border in which American troops shot an Iranian border guard dead and then came under prolonged attack as they returned to base.
In one of the most tantalising documents, they also hint at Iranian involvement in al-Qaeda suicide bombing.
Whether the Shia Islamic Republic has offered support to the Sunni militant group has been one of the most controversial questions in the Middle East.
American leaders have both claimed the existence of such links and backed away from them.
But a threat report in the files dated Nov 17, 2006 claims that new techniques for suicide bombing, a favoured al-Qaeda and Sunni insurgent practice in Iraq, had “surfaced” in Iran and Syria.
Both involved the use of miniature cameras to allow remote monitoring of the attack.
“Al-Qaeda remains the strongest organisation among the insurgent groups in Iraq and directs the majority of attacks that take place in Iraq,” says the assessment. “Instructors at the Islamic Jihad Center in Tehran are teaching a new tactic for SVIED (Suicide Vest Improvised Explosive Device) deployment.”
It is not clear how credible the intelligence cited is considered, and there are no reports of camera-equipped suicide vests being found. Islamic Jihad is a militant Palestinian group that has been responsible for suicide bombings in the past and is backed by Syria and Iran.
The relationship between Iraq, Syria and Iran is one of the key variables of the jigsaw of the Iraqi insurgency. The current Iraqi government has claimed Saddam Hussein loyalists involved in an informal Sunni alliance with al-Qaeda are based in Syria.
Yet the government also has close ties with Iran, Syria’s close ally.
The Iranian strategy described in the leaked documents was to undermine security and weaken American influence over the Iraqi government. After President Barack Obama outlined his timetable for withdrawal, attacks continued so that Iranian-backed militias could claim to have “forced the occupiers to withdraw”.
The supported militias included the Mahdi army of the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, which controlled Shia areas of Baghdad and southern Iraq until taken on and defeated by Iraqi and American troops in 2008.
One apparently well-sourced report on December 1, 2006 describes a senior Mahdi arms supplier, named as Ali al-Saidi, receiving 108 mortars in a single delivery from Iranian officials. They were to be used to attack the “Green Zone”, the secure government and international area in the centre of Baghdad.
Another describes a diary captured by American forces in the possession of Mahdi army detainees outlining “materials trafficking” routes from Iran.
Iran is blamed in one report for supplying and training operatives to use a form of roadside bomb known as “explosively formed penetrator” that has caused fear across Iraq owing to its ability to penetrate armour.
Other powerful weapons supplied include .50-calibre rifles and the Misagh-1, an Iranian replica of a portable Chinese surface-to-air missile known to have downed at least one American helicopter.
Individual training was supplied to militia snipers, and the work of one operative trained by the Al-Quds Brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Azhar al-Dulaimi, is described in detail. He was hand-picked in December 2006 to supervise the kidnapping of American soldiers in Baghdad.
Although that operation never took place, a month later a raid on an American unit in the Shia holy city of Karbala killed one soldier. Four other Americans were abducted and later shot. Dulaimi, who was later killed, was said to be the mastermind of the operation, and his fingerprints were found on the getaway car.
Also involved in that operation were the brothers Qais and Laith Khazali, who led a breakaway militia group called the League of the Righteous believed to have been behind the kidnapping of the British information technology specialist Peter Moore and the killing of his four bodyguards.
The Khazalis were captured by the Americans in March 2007. They were released allegedly as part of the deal to free Mr Moore and are said to be now in Iran.
Threat assessments that cannot be tied to particular incidents include one claiming that the Iranians supplied rockets armed with “neuroparalytic agents” and several outlining Iran-originated assassination methods and potential targets.
Iranian instructions specify “what part of the target’s body should be targeted, for example, the head, stomach, back or heart.” A report from March 2007 says that Iranian agents inside the Mahdi army and another Shia militia, the Badr Corps, had identified industry ministry officials as targets.
“The desired effect of these attacks is not to simply kill the Ministry of Industry Officials, but also to show the world, and especially the Arab world, that the Baghdad Security Plan has failed to bring stability,” the report says.
Although not mentioned in the report, around this time a ministry official and his daughter were shot dead while he was on his way to work.
One of the most startling incidents described a firefight on September 7, 2006, between an American patrol assessing arms smuggling routes on the Iran border.
An American soldier shot and killed an Iranian border guard who had aimed a rocket propelled grenade launcher at the patrol. Iranian fire on the Americans continued as they returned to base “well inside Iraqi territory”.
The above report should only add to the growing doubts about the real agenda behind the Wikileaks disclosures. As we’ve noted elsewhere, there is good reason to believe that Western Intelligence may be behind the release of these documents that have been so eagerly seized upon by the corporate media.
Note how Iranian involvement in suicide bombings is reported in the above without question. The mere fact that Iranian involvement is “hinted” in these disclosures is viewed as sufficient to report without any corroboration.
Also note that the incidents referred to have no bearing on current operations, they all happened some years ago. However, they provide whoever was behind these disclosures with an opportunity to present Iran and its allies in a bad light. And that has a direct bearing on current affairs.