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.”

The slides of evidence from the briefing can be seen at the BBC.

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

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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23 Comments

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Anyone who wants to post insulting comments or make this into a political debate should be forewarned your comments will be deleted. I suggest you read the comments policy. I work hard to keep this forum open to discuss the issues on the war without the nasty political debates and personal attacks that you will find elsewhere. Several of you repeatedly ignore my wishes, despite my taking the time to send personal emails. I ask you respect the policies of this site, or I will be forced to switch comments back to moderated status, where they won’t be published until I have the time to read and review them.

  • Julkorn says:

    Dont moslems use another timetable like according to which it is the year 1350 or so? Why is there 2006 on that grenade?

  • Phil Bowman says:

    This would seem to corroborate the statements of those who claim we have been fighting a proxy war with Iran for some months now. The questions are seemingly simple, yet fraught with complexity: Do we negotiate with Tehran? Do we rely on others in the region (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, e.g.) to bring about a diplomatic resolution? Should we quietly “let” Israel bomb key points in Iran similar to the alleged nuclear power plant they took out in Iraq circa 1981? So many questions, so little clarity.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Julkorn
    Not the Iranian military. They do not follow arab calendar…

  • Bill
    You have been presenting evidence for some time that Iran has been providing both men and material to the war in Iraq. This latest statement confirms that you were correct.
    This is without a doubt a significant development, which leads to various questions. What does this new information imply or demonstrate about Iranian intentions? What are they trying to accomplish through these actions?
    Secondly, how should the United States respond to these actions? What is the intent of the U.S. in releasing this information to the public?
    As for the first set of questions, I believe that this is a response to U.S. pressure on the international community to sanction Iran. Iran is demonstrating one of many ways that they can inflict costs on the United States.
    As for the second set of questions, this is one more example of Iran’s outlaw behavior and can aid in our diplomatic efforts to isolate Iran in the world community.
    Finally, this revelation by the U.S. is the first step down the long road toward justifying military action by the U.S. against the soverign territory of Iran. The scope and size of such a military action would depend on the objectives of the response and the expectation that such an action would change Iran’s behavior.
    Right now, I don’t believe cruise missle strikes or short term incursions into Iran from Iraq or Afghanistan would change Iranian behavior. Rather, I believe such an action would provoke Iranian counterattacks on U.S. interests or even the homeland by Iranian forces that are now in place or moving into place.

  • vinny says:

    Simpy demonstrates US unable to control Iraq borders via military and underscores that there is a need for dialogue and negotiations with Iran.
    Does Bush have the moxy to lead the world toward peace?
    The Sunni insurgency has raised its head and offered Bush admin opportunity for peaceful negotiations. Once again, the Sunni side has raised legitimate concerns about the Iraq constitution, which the Bush admin has finally admitted (in SOTU) needs to be fixed.
    (Imagine if the Bush and MSM addressed these concerns when Sunni leadership initially raised them before constitutional referendum. That’s right, it is reasonable/logical to say that we are fighting a civil war because of Bush admin’s complete inaction with regard to Sunni interests in the consitutional referendum process.)
    So will Bush engage in diplomacy with Sunni insurgency? With the Sadr’s militia going to ground, wouldn’t it be smart for the Bush admin to take up negotiations with the Sunnis (aka Iraqi citizens that we supposedly liberated) rather than continuing to fight and kill them? Rather than simply blaming our failures/troubles on Iran, shouldn’t we do every thing with our means to secure Baghdad?
    IMHO, Iran is a side-issue. Our biggest impediment to success in Iraq are the Sunni/Shiite brigades. For me, it doesn’t take much imagination to see how public negotiations with these warring factions could (eventually) turn the situation around in Baghdad. What it will require though is a Commander-in-Chief who will sieze and expand any/all diplomatic opportunities.
    What do you think?

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Michael,
    I’ve been giving serious thought to the Iranian involvement, and I will play devils advocate. I in absolutely no way condone any of Irans actions.
    Iran suffered huge casualties during the Iran-Iraq war…any country that suffers that level of casualties exhibits what an outsider would consider paranoid delusions. The Soviet Union exhibited those delusions for many years after the end of WWII. The nutcase running North Korea is beyond any doubt delusional.
    So put yourself in the paranoid shoes of Irans glorious leader. Which group of barbaric thugs is going to run Iraq when the US cuts and runs?
    Another Saddam protege? Moqtada? AlQueda?
    What would you do to insure a “positive” relationship with whoever is going to end up running Iraq?
    Then throw in a belief that the US is going to invade Iran.
    How do you make sure the Americans don’t invade?

  • CharlesC says:

    I have a question that might not get deleted. Is the allegation that these IEDs are being supplied to Sadr or to Sunni goups? I havn’t seen an allegation as to what groups are using them.

  • Tom W. says:

    “Simpy demonstrates US unable to control Iraq borders via military and underscores that there is a need for dialogue and negotiations with Iran.”
    They kill our troops and we’re supposed to sit down with them and shake their hands? Smile for the cameras? Show them respect?
    That’s the old James Baker school of “realism.” All it begets is more dead Americans and more dead Israelis.
    Kill all Iranian agents inside Iraq first. Then let’s see what happens.

  • vinny says:

    The U.S. officer said Iran was working through surrogates – mainly “rogue elements” of the Shiite Mahdi Army – to smuggle the EFPs into Iraq. He said most of the components are entering Iraq near Amarah, the Iranian border city of Meran, and the Basra area of southern Iraq.

  • greg says:

    What can we do to get some pay back on Iran ? This behavior can’t be ignored or we will be seen as weak or impotent. I know we could make things worse by a clumsy move but there must be some things we could make happen through proxys or covertly that hurts them while giving us some denialbility on the world stage ?

  • CharlesC says:

    vinny:
    So there is not even a claim that Iran is helping the Sunni insurgents that are killing most Americans? It is merely a claim that they are supplying the Mahdi Army which is part of the US supported government?

  • Speller says:

    I agree that Iran is a problem in the area, but what about all those American M-16s we are always seeing in the hands of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Al-Aqsa terrorists in the Israeli territories?
    Doesn’t seeing American weaponry in the hands of terrorists mean the same thing? Is America supplying those arms and the ammo they fire to kill Israelis?
    What about the Russian made AKs with the beveled muzzles? Does that mean Russia is in the same boat?
    I’m not arguing against the idea that Iran is supplying our enemies with arms but that isn’t the same thing as demonstrating the Iranians are planting the explosives and pulling the triggers.

  • grognard says:

    My question is a bit off topic but here goes. Iran, due to a lack of refinery capacity, imports about 40% of it gasoline. My question is what countries export gasoline to Iran? The reason I ask is that if the suppliers are Gulf states it might be that the US fleet is being positioned to cut off gas supplies. Considering that an attempt to remove the gas subsidy resulted in considerable civic unrest it might be the sanction that would have the most effect on the Iranian government.

  • vinny says:

    Obviously Tom W., you don’t have a stake in this. Those with family/friends in Iraq are eager to see this conflict reach its conclusion and would like to see de-esculation and movement toward resolution.
    The Bush admin unwillingness to negotiate with Iran can be interpreted as one more example of lack of foresight and thus an uncaring attitude about the safety and future well-being of our troops. The direct consequence of not coming to terms with Iraq’s neighbors at this stage has been arms smuggling from Iran and Syria.
    So you can tiptap on your keyboard all you want, but it still won’t change the reality that nothing has been accomplished on the political front to prevent arms and militants from coming into Baghdad. Instead, there has been a steady public rhetoric from the Bush admin and MSM that Iran and Syria are enemies rather than partners in solving the situation in Baghdad.
    Our military commanders have repeatedly stated that there must be a political solution. Yet, so far Bush has sat on his hands, letting the situation devolve into utter chaos, spending his ‘political capital’ on coming up with excuses for who is at fault, rather than undertaking diplomatic initiatives. Exactly, what has Bush done to bring interested parties together? Nothing. And now we are supposed to swallow the master narrative that Iran is undermining our efforts in Iraq? Get real.
    Bush’s strategic incompetence is indicative of a player who is more interested in geopolitics than the safety and well-being of people.
    Our civilian leadership has a responsibility to do whatever it takes to ensure security for our troops and for the people of Iraq. Those borders should have been secured a long time ago, and they are not. Ultimately, Bush’s narrow-minded leadership is accountable for this more than anybody else.

  • Patrick says:

    My question is WHY is Khameini not DEAD yet? What sense is in proving a foreign state is at war with you if you do nothing?
    Khameini should be dead.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I’m shutting down the comments in this thread. I’ve deleted enough childish comments for the day. Email me if you have any problems with that.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I’ve reopened the comments for this thread. Let’s remain civil and discuss the issues. If you disagree with the intelligence presented, then give specifics. Hackneyed political catchphrases aren’t constructive and won’t be tolerated.

  • Toad says:

    I suspect that there are many of these weapons in Iraq that have been delivered to the Shiite militias at the orders of the Khameini. Maybe some directed to Sunni forces also just to keep stirring the pot against us. However, there are a lot of wealthy Sunni in ajacent countries that are likely donating large amounts of money that can be used to buy whatever they want, even if it is advanced weapons from Iran or China.
    I don’t want to see Iran’s killing and maiming of so many of our troops go unanswered, but I don’t think that any attack that doesn’t aim directly at hurting or taking out their leadership is worthwhile. The people in Iran are suffering due to their president’s saber rattling. Their economy sucks and their people are hurting and getting more agitated. Iran is quietly hurting our guys so why not quietly turn up the screws on them by sabotaging their already short supply of gasoline and do other things to cause unrest in their country in such a way that the people will blame their leaders more than and instead of us? Beyond that, we should be brutal with any Iranians caught in Iraq and maybe target some of the Republican Guard forces and installations if we have to go that far. It seems we could also quietly take out one or more of their subs (don’t they have 3 diesels?) and maybe light off a tanker in a key harbor or fuel transfer facility. Short of nuking the whole area, I think this might be a good start. Oh, and don’t forget to accidently or otherwise take out Sadr.

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 02/12/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

  • Evidence of Iran supplying weapons, expertise to Iraqi insurgents

    Courtesy of The Fourth Rail:
    Military officials provides evidence Iran is supplying EFPs, mortars, other deadly weapons to Iraqi insurgents; Qods forces members in custody
    The U.S. military unveiled the first round of evidence of Iran’s compli…

  • David E. says:

    It seems to me that the US should evaluate what would hurt the people in Iran who are responsible for these acts of war. Identify who is responsible, find out what they fear, and then punish them. Blockading their ports, executing any agents we capture, and bombing selective targets all seem like reasonable responses to me. The message should be simple so that Iran and all the other barbarians in the Middle East understand it. If you meddle with American interests, you will pay the price!

  • John F. Opie says:

    Hi-
    There is now, literally, a smoking gun for Iran’s involvement in Iraq. This has been reported in the Austrian news media and in the Daily Telegraph as well: Steyr-Mannlicher HS .50 sniper rifles sold to Iran have been seized in Iraq within the last 24 hours or so.
    Not one, but more than 100 of them.
    See my blog:
    http://21stcenturyschizoidman.blogspot.com/2007/02/smoking-gun-in-iran.html
    This is, literally, the smoking gun of Iranian involvement: this is the one that cannot be ignored or denied or discounted.

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