Evidence of Iran supplying weapons, expertise to Iraqi insurgents
Military officials provides evidence Iran is supplying EFPs, mortars, other deadly weapons to Iraqi insurgents; Qods forces members in custody
Handout photo released by the US military shows an 81mm mortar round believed to be from Iran and found in Baghdad in January 2007. Click photo to view.
The U.S. military unveiled the first round of evidence of Iran's complicity in supplying Iraqi insurgents with sophisticated explosive devices and weaponry. An unnamed military explosive expert and a defense intelligence official, along with Coalition Spokesman Major General Bill Caldwell presented the evidence to the Baghdad press corps this morning.
"Iran is involved in supplying explosively formed projectiles or EFPs and other material," such as "explosive charges, booby traps, mortar shells of different calibers and remote controls" to detonate IEDs to "multiple" insurgent groups." Those in attendance "were shown fragments of what the defense official said were Iranian-made weapons, including one part of an EFP and tail fins from 81-mm and 60-mm mortars." "More than 120 US and coalition troops have been killed by these things, and 620 wounded. There was a significant increase in there use over the past six months," said the defense official.
Markings on the EFPs and mortars, as well as the machining processes, identified the weapons as being Iranian made. "The weapons had characteristics unique to being manufactured in Iran ... Iran is the only country in the region that produces these weapons," according to the anonymous defense official. "The dates of manufacture on weapons found so far indicate they were made after fall of Saddam Hussein."
"We have evidence that Iran provided insurgents with explosive devices and trained them to use these weapons, produced between 2004 and 2006," Said MG Caldwell. "The Iranian suspects detained in Irbil have confirmed these reports and we have found with them maps and explosives-related material. Those Iranians were trying to get rid of these documents in the lavatories... the Iraqi government has notified us that (the Iranians detained in Irbil) were not diplomats and had no passports."
Evidence was also unveiled that Iranian agents are actively planting explosive. MG Caldwell displayed identification cards of Iranians captured while "involved in acts of violence."
"We assess that these activities are coming from the senior levels of the Iranian government," the defense official said, 'noting that the Al-Qods brigade reports to Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamanei.' "Iranian weapons were experimented in South Lebanon by Hezbollah and were later developed," for deployment into Iraq.
The Irbil raid in early January netted the most significant evidence, as well as a senior member of the Iranian Qods Force. Six Iranians were detained in Irbil, including Mohsin Chizari, the operational commander of the Qods Force, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps specialized force that is equivalent to U.S. Special Forces. During the Irbil raid, "the Iranians were caught trying to flush documents down the toilet," and "bags of their hair were found... indicating they had tried to change their appearance." Chizari was "apprehended after slipping back into Iraq after a 10-month absence." Earlier it was reported Chizari was detained in the Baghdad raid, and subsequently released.
The smuggling routes have largely been identified, with "most of the components are entering Iraq near Amarah, the Iranian border city of Meran, and the Basra area of southern Iraq."
This report was compiled from multiple sources to put together the full picture of Iran's complicity in supplying the insurgency with weapons and active support:
• AFP: Iranian bombs have killed 170 Iraq coalition troops: US
• Reuters: U.S.-led forces show evidence of Iran arms in Iraq
• The Los Angeles Times: U.S. Officer: Iran Sends Iraq Bomb Parts
• IraqSlogger: US Officials: Iran Caught Red-Handed