Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bedein: U.S. Finds Evidence Of Iran Training Al-Qaida
By: David Bedein, The Bulletin
The Middle East News Line revealed last week that U.S. military has found evidence that Iran helped train and equip al-Qaida's network in Iraq.
Officials said the U.S. military has been analyzing Iranian intelligence memorandums and other reports that detail Tehran's support of al-Qaida in Iraq. They said the captured Iranian documents marked the strongest confirmation of long-standing assessments that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was aiding both Sunni and Shiite insurgents in the effort to undermine Iraq and expel the U.S.-led coalition.
"The documents have been determined as authentic and provide the most detailed evidence of Iran's strategy in Iraq," an official said. "In short, Iran has been helping everybody, with the possible exception of the Saddam people, against us."
The U.S. military captured the Iranian documents in December during the arrest of suspected Iranian intelligence commanders in Baghdad. The documents had been in possession of a suspected commander known only as Chizari. Chizari was captured inside a compound of Shiite leader Abdul Aziz Hakim, who earlier met President George W. Bush.
Officials said U.S. Army intelligence determined that the documents marked correspondence from and to the Quds Force. The Quds Force has been identified as the foreign arm of the IRGC and responsible for liaisons with insurgency groups throughout the Middle East.
The Iranian documents portray IRGC as a major facilitator of both Sunni and Shiite groups, some of them involved in the sectarian war in Iraq. They included Sunni groups responsible for the mass-casualty suicide car bombings against Shiites in the Baghdad area.
"The Quds Force has determined that Iran could convert some of these Sunni cells into allies of Tehran," an official said. "Otherwise, all of the Sunni fighters will come under Saudi control."
Officials identified the Sunni groups aided by Iran as al-Qaida in Iraq and Ansar Al Sunna. They said the documents also included names and cell phone numbers of the Sunni liasions with the IRGC.
Other documents were said to have outlined insurgency strategy and methods. The U.S. military also found an Iranian assessment of the Iraqi civil war and goals of the Quds Force.
Michael Ledeen, a former Pentagon official, said the Quds Force documents have left U.S. intelligence officials flabbergasted. Ledeen said the documents included charts that contain the links between Shiite and Sunni groups with Iran.
"It seems that our misnamed Intelligence community had grossly underestimated the sophistication and the enormity of the Iranian war campaign," Ledeen said.
Russian Anti-Aircraft Missiles For Iran
The Israeli security establishment is worried about the steady improvement in defense ties between Russia and Iran in general, and in particular the new arms deal which is taking shape between the two countries. According to the latest reports, Russia is about to sign a contract for the sale of a large quantity of the most advanced ground-to-air missile batteries. A senior official in the Israeli security establishment said Saturday that the missiles are intended for the "protection of the Iranian nuclear capability" and that "little by little Russia is increasingly becoming a negative factor in the Middle East."
The new contract which is being planned between the two countries will significantly upgrade the level of Iran's air defenses, and will enable Iran to deploy anti-aircraft missile batteries around all its significant nuclear facilities, to defend them against any foreign air strike, including a possible Israeli attack. In the security establishment, Russia's conduct is being condemned in the strongest terms, and in Jerusalem officials are expressing concern about this development.
"They have once again become a ruthless empire, without inhibitions, arrogant and dark," a senior Israeli official said Saturday. "They don't care about anything. They are willing to mortgage world security for the coming generations for just another arms deal and a few hundred million dollars. It is a total lack of responsibility."
For this reason, not a few elements in Israel are criticizing the plan of the Infrastructure Ministry to try to reach a multi-million dollar agreement with Gazprom, the giant Russian natural gas producer. "It is totally unacceptable to be dependent on Mubarak for natural gas on the one hand, and to be prisoners of Putin and the Russian gas on the other," the Jerusalem sources said.
The Russia-Iran deal comes in the wake of contracts which Russia recently signed with Syria, and the proof which Israel showed to Moscow of the large quantities of Russian arms, including missiles, which Syria had supplied to Hezbollah and which were captured by Israel in the recent war. The Russians are playing a double game, the Israeli sources said. They waste time, they always demand "proof," and then they promise to take measures, but in reality they are selling arms to anyone who asks for them. "They have become the main arms supplier of every one of Israel's enemies, just like in the dark days of the 1960s and 1970s," the Israeli sources said.

©The Evening Bulletin 2007

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