U.S. finds Karbala PJCC mockup inside Iran

The Fajr Garrison, a Qods Force training facility in Ahwaz. Click to view.

Satellite imagery links Iran to the Karbala attack which resulted in five U.S. soldiers killed

The January 20 attack on the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center by the Iranian backed Qazali Network, which resulted in the kidnapping and murder of five U.S. soldiers, has been long known to be an Iranian planned and sponsored strike. While Iran has insulated itself with its cutouts in the Qazali Network, Multinational Forces Iraq has captured members of the network as well as found documentation which proved Iran’s complicity in the attack. And now the U.S. has satellite imagery to prove Iran’s part in the attack. In the June 4 edition of Aviation Week and Space Technology, the magazine reported that Iran build a mockup of the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center inside its borders, which was used to train the attackers. The “training center” was discovered by a U.S. spy satellite surveying Iran.

“U.S. reconnaissance spacecraft have spotted a training center in Iran that duplicates the layout of the governor’s compound in Karbala, Iraq, that was attacked in January by a specialized unit that killed American and Iraqi soldiers,” Michael Mecham reported in the In Orbit section of the magazine. “The U.S. believes the discovery indicates Iran was heavily involved in the attack, which relied on a fake motorcade to gain entrance to the compound. The duplicate layout in Iran allowed attackers to practice procedures to use at the Iraqi compound, the Defense Dept. believes.”

An American military officer confirmed to us the report is accurate, but did not disclose the location of the training camp. In early January, Strategic Policy Consulting confirmed a two year old report by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society that Iran was using the “Arab populated city of Ahwaz, southwestern Iran, as a base of operations.” The city of Ahwaz is in Khuzestan province, which borders the southern Iraqi province of Basra. It is not publicly known if Ahwaz is the location of the Karbala mockup.

“The Al-Qods Force trains militants in manufacturing improved explosive devices and finances and organises pro-Iranian militias in Iraq,” noted the the British Ahwazi Friendship Society report. “According to SPC, the Iraq network is under the command of Jamal Jaafar Mohammad Ali Ebrahimi, who is also known as Mehdi Mohandes.”

We were the first to note, on January 26, that Iran’s Qods Force, which is responsible for planning and conducting foreign operations, intelligence gathering and terrorist activities, was likely behind the attack due to the complexity of the strike. General David Petraeus briefed of the Karbala attack on April 26, and noted the Qazali network was responsible for the strike.

On May 19, Coalition forces killed Azhar al-Dulaimi during a raid in Baghdad’s Sadr City. Dullimi was described as the “mastermind” and “tactical commander” of the Karbala attack. In March, U.S. forces captured Qais Qazali, the network’s leader, his brother Laith Qazali, and several other members.

Multinational Forces Iraq has been heavily targeting the Qazali Network’s “secret terror cells” as well as those of the Sheibani Network. Coalition and Iraqi forces killed 26 members of this network and captured 71 since April 27, 2007. Three more members of the “secret cell” were captured and another killed today.

The Sheibani Network the overarching organization that receives support, weapons, advice and targeting from Iran’s Qods Force. Senior members of the Qazali and Sheibani Networks are members of Iran’s Qods Force.

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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18 Comments

  • Tony says:

    The US government released classified photos taken by U-2 planes showing missiles in Cuba at the time of the Cuban missile crisis.
    At the time, possible release of these high altitude U-2 fotos was extremely controversial because of profound concerns it would divulge our technical capabilities along with sources and methods.
    President Kennedy made the final decision to release the photos and it decisvely assisted in explaining our position on the missiles to the world.
    The charges made in this piece are quite serious. All of us know that with Google Earth, spectacular insight is possible with satellite imagery. This is no longer a secret.
    What harm could possibly result from releasing the smoking gun satellite fotos you refer to here?
    Obviously if this is a full scale mock-up we do not need to release the fotos in such a way as to divulge our technical means of addressing ways of improving the resolution and quality of our images.
    We need not release our most high resolution fotos of this facility which you assert exists.
    What would be the drawbacks of releasing medium-resolution quality fotos of this site for all to see?

  • Tom W. says:

    Thankfully Bush doesn’t rely on “advice” from Internet posters on how to deal with Iran.
    It’s popular to fantasize all these John Wayne reactions to Iranian acts of war, but the reality is that we only recently got the Iraqi government and several other Arab governments on board in regard to recognizing the threat that Iran poses.
    When we retaliate–and we will–it has to be a single, fast, relatively antiseptic knockout blow that will cripple the Iranian war machine for decades. That will require cooperation from Arab Gulf states.
    It appears that we’re finally getting that cooperation, but we had to have all our ducks in a row first. To prematurely act would have been catastrophic. Iran would have rained thousands of missiles down on Israel and the Gulf oil facilities, most of which are now protected by antimissile batteries. Iran would also have given al Sadr the order to start a full-fledged civil war in Iraq. We had to neutralize the Madhi Army before we could take on Iran.
    The real world simply isn’t a John Wayne movie, as sad as that is. Even John Wayne wasn’t John Wayne. He was only an actor.

  • robert b says:

    Could it be possible that other parts of Karbala and other cities have mockup at this training center and can be tied into specific events? WOW, that would be something!! I would especially be interested in if the supposed targets of the Soldiers of Heaven “cult” army -the routes and location of Ayatollah Sistani and top clerics when they were to be attacked at the time of the pilgrimage. Something about clearing away the present clerical structure so that Moqtada would rule Shias screamed Iran involvement to me.

  • Neo says:

    “The real world simply isn’t a John Wayne movie, as sad as that is. Even John Wayne wasn’t John Wayne. He was only an actor.”

  • Rob says:

    Just a thought from a different angle. I have been in the Hazara area of central Afghanistan within the last year. This tribe speaks and reads Farsi just like in Iran. It is peaceful there and the Taliban is very unwelcome. The big problem when I was there was the drought and jobs.
    However, what struck me was that these people who have a language in common with Iran, do not like Iranians. They may even go to university in Iran, but they have been ill treated.
    We must remember that people, like Al Qaeda and the Iranian extremists, bent on a messianic mission, create their own enemies and forces that resist them. When we finally decide to deal with the terrorist masterminds in Iran, we will have allies.

  • anand says:

    Bill, this is one of the best documentations yet “on the public record.” If this becomes widely believed within Iran, it will not sit well with most Iranians, Iran’s military and clerics . . . who are sympathetic the Iraq’s Shia, and the Iraqi government.
    Khamenei will be weakened and discredited over time.
    Keep at it.

  • rob says:

    Extremely interesting post. The grammar, or perhaps editing, issues make it pretty hard to read, though.

  • Solomon2 says:

    Reagan bombed Libya armed with less proof than this. If the U.S. and its allies don’t feel confident enough to do the same, it’s time to increase our military capabilities. Think “Gordon and Omdurman”…

  • crosspatch says:

    “Reagan bombed Libya armed with less proof than this.”
    I would beg to differ with that statement. In the case of the Libyan involvement in the Berlin bombing, it was reported that communications were intercepted that directly tied Libyan government officials to the event to include the final approval and timing. I would have to believe that if we were had hard evidence of direct involvement of the government of Iran (as opposed to circumstantial evidence and speculation … any of the militias could have built such a mock-up) then we would have seen a direct military response.
    That being said, I would have to suspect that Iran is now walking on very thin ice indeed.

  • crosspatch says:

    And after some more thought on this subject, a scenario I could see unfolding would be some kind of action designed to degrade the Revolutionary Guards Quds without targeting the conventional military structure. The notion here would be to damage the Quds while not being seen to attack the basic official defense of the country itself. This would be similar to Israel attacking Hezbollah in Lebanon while leaving the conventional Lebanese military structure intact.
    It makes clear that it is not designed to conquer the country or leave it defenseless yet it serves to greatly reduce the abilities of the rouge “state within a state” elements that are causing trouble in the international community.

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 06/11/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

  • Tony says:

    I think it is the consensus among the Likud party that one of the critical mistakes made in the Lebanon war of last summer was believing that somehow air power alone would be sufficient to do the job.
    According to the Israeli blue ribbon commissions that have now published their reports on the war, this was an extremely serious and foolish mistake.
    The Likud fully subscribes to these difficult findings, which are mistakes that must never be repeated.
    I hope the US does not make the same extremely serious mistake in Iran.
    Air power alone simply will not do it. It takes boots on the ground. Recall that 4 years after aerial shock and awe we are still engaged in what General Petraeus calls an “extremely complex” situation in Iraq.
    I urge any person who believes that air power alone will somehow suffice in changing Iranian policy to study the findings of these recent Israeli reports, adopted by the Likud, who are not shrinking liberal violets.
    We need to learn from the Israelis.

  • John D says:

    As has happened in all large-scale conflicts like this, it will take many years for the full truth to come out. As much as I like the IDEA of the “John Wayne” response, I know that the time isn’t right for it. We know that Iran has been at war with US for almost 30 years. Unfortunately for them, we will be the ones who decide when that war ends. As Ledeen says, “Faster please.”

  • Our Colonial-style War, Michael Yon and Omar Fahdil on Iraq, and Bill Roggio on Iran in Iraq, including iron-clad proof of Iranian planning of attacks on Americans.

    By way of intro:  
    Despite the British press reports that make their own soldiers out to be cowering on bases in Basra, truck after truck of them here were in high spirits. News flash: Those reports are false. Derelict media coverage is another aspec…

  • Big Lizards says:

    Shades of the Cuban Missile Crisis

    In January this year, terrorists pretending to be American troops got through Iraqi security in the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center (Karbala JCC), managing to kill one US soldier and kidnap four. All four soldiers’ bodies were eventually r…

  • RHYNO says:

    I agree with TOM W’s comments above. before we do strike-yes, and we will, iraq has to be put in order. the iraqi gov., as we want it to be, will never survive if an armed “gang”, and thats wat they are, are allowed to roam the streets with AK’s and RPG’s. Sadr is an Iranian proxy who has his eye on power. the Mahdi must be ELIMINATED. The “Awakening” movements are a milestone, and there are reports the U.S. is fighting alongside them, providing air and fire support. I hope the Sunni’s have come to thier senses. with the Sunni’s change of heart[or minds?] comes a flow of intel. actionable intel, the best kind. i think its the reason U.S. forces have been able to kill or capture people responsible for violence sponsored by IRAN. with these sat. photos, the U.S. is building thier case for the eventual strike to come. in the meantime, the covert war against Iran must continue. the alleged mockup is close to Basra, and there must be other staging areas close to the Iraqi border. some way, they need to be shut down. or operations disrupted. will we take the risk and send our own across the border, to hit and run? or do we pay an indig. force to go to these places, kill or capture the Iranian proxies and the Iranians running it? or do we wait, while these camps keep pumping weapons and men across the border to wreak havoc in Iraq-that is a legit question.

  • Submitted for Your Approval

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  • section9 says:

    I post this in the wake of the Golden Mosque bombing in Samarra.

    The bombing points to an Al Qaeda operation. I doubt that the Quds force would have participated in the bombing of a Shi’ite Shrine. However, in the past, the Al Quds have not hesitated to help AQIZ under the rubric of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

    The Irianian Revolutionary Guards Corps is pursuing low intensity war against the United States, designed to bleed us slowly over time. However, the Corps faction, led by Ahmadhi-Nejad, is tempted to provoke us into an Israeli-type strike against strategic targets in Iran, in the hope that they would come out on top. Having spoken with experienced Navy people on our side, I can say that the Iranians have no idea what they are up against.

    The assumption underlying Rice’s diplomacy was that there were factions in Iran who wanted a settlement based on Kissinger’s General Theory: Iran has a choice to be a Nation or a Cause. If a Nation, then the U.S. and Iran can have a mutually acceptable accomodation based on mutual national interests. If a cause, if Iran is entering its Cultural Revolution phase, then there will be war.

    If there is to be war, Rice knows that the Iranians must commit the first overt hostile act, like the Japanese before them. That’s what her conservative critics in the Ledeen “Faster Please, Don’t Appease” crowd don’t understand. In a world where the political support for our effort in Iraq has fallen away, any attack against Iran must be made in an environment in which Iran is seen as the clear aggressor.

    The people over at The American Spectator and The National Review, Ledeen included, just don’t get this salient fact. Clausewitz’ Three Pillars of support for any war; unity of Nation, State, and Army, must be strictly observed here. Rice gets this. The Faster Please caucus doesn’t. The Iranian IRGC leadership is resolutely fascist. They will attack because it is in their nature. Scorpion and frog. That kind of thing.

    Props to Tom W. for a fresh dose of reality.

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