IRGC’s Qods Force is the prime suspect in the Karbala attack which killed 5 soldiers; we broke story on Friday, January 26
On Friday, we reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Qods Force was very likely behind the attack on the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, which resulted in the kidnapping and execution of four U.S. soldiers. Five soldiers total were killed in the operation, and three others wounded. We noted, based on multiple sources in the military and intelligence community, that the attack was far too sophisticated for Shia militias (particularly the Mahdi Army) and it was unlikely al Qaeda in Iraq carried out the operation. We also noted the attack and kidnapping may have been revenge for the Baghdad and Irbil raids on Iranian diplomatic missions. Today, CNN is reporting the Pentagon is seriously investigating Iran’s involvement in the attack, and the Irbil raid was likely a motive for the Qods Force operation:
The Pentagon is investigating whether a recent attack on a military compound in Karbala was carried out by Iranians or Iranian-trained operatives, two officials from separate U.S. government agencies said.
“People are looking at it seriously,” one of the officials said. That official added the Iranian connection was a leading theory in the investigation into the January 20 attack that killed five soldiers. The second official said: “We believe it’s possible the executors of the attack were Iranian or Iranian-trained.”
Both officials stressed the Iranian-involvement theory is a preliminary view, and there is no final conclusion. They agreed this possibility is being looked at because of the sophistication of the attack and the level of coordination. “This was beyond what we have seen militias or foreign fighters do,” the second official said.
Some Iraqis speculate that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps carried out the attack in retaliation for the capture by U.S. forces of five of its members in Irbil, Iraq, on January 11, according to a Time.com article published Tuesday.
The United States had planned to detail Iran’s involvement in supporting the Shia death squads, as well as the Sunni insurgency, al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunnah during a press briefing with Major General Bill Caldwell on Wednesday at 7:00 am Eastern. The briefing was purported to have detailed “specifics including shipping documents, serial numbers, maps and other evidence which officials say would irrefutably link Iran to weapons shipments to Iraq.”
The Bush administration has decided to put the briefing “on hold for several reasons, including concerns over the reaction from Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – as well as inevitable follow-up questions that would be raised over what the U.S. should do about it,” according to FOX News.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.