Iranian Qods Force agent captured in northern Iraq

Camp Victory, Baghdad Province: The US and Iraqi Army continue to target Iran’s surrogates inside Iraq. Today, US forces captured an officer of Iran’s Qods Force during a raid in the northern Kurdish province of Sulimaniyah. US forces also conducted a series of raids against Mahdi Army and Special Groups cells inside Baghdad and Diwaniyah over the past 24 hours.

The Qods Force officer was identified as an Iranian citizen. “Coalition forces identified the individual on the scene from a photo, so we are confident we have the guy we were looking for,” said Major Winfield Danielson during an inquiry with Multinational Forces Iraq. The Iranian officer’s rank has not been identified at this time, said Danielson.

US Intelligence indicates the Iranian officer “has been involved in transporting improvised explosive devices and explosively formed penetrators into Iraq” and is “involved in the infiltration and training of foreign terrorists in Iraq.” Danielson indicated it was likely the officer was smuggling members of the Iranian-backed Special Groups, which has been organized along the lines of Lebanese Hezbollah.

US and Iraqi special forces conducted a series of raids against the Special Groups and the Iranian-backed rogue Mahdi Army in Baghdad and Diwaniyah. On September 19, Iraqi Special Operations Forces killed three Special Groups fighters and captured three others while targeting a Special Groups battalion commander in Baghdad.

“The targeted militant extremist Special Groups battalion commander is wanted for launching rocket and improvised explosive device attacks against Iraqi and Coalition Forces,” Multinational Forces Iraq reported. “Intelligence indicates he is also the media representative for the Jaysh al-Madhi militia [Mahdi Army] in al Baya’a.” Eleven other Special Groups weapons smugglers were captured in raids in Diwaniyah. On September 20, Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured seven “Shi’a insurgents” during a raid in Sadr City.

Coalition forces began targeting the Iranian networks and captured senior members of Iran’s Qods Force in Baghdad in December 2006 and Irbil in January 2007. Iranian surrogates — the Qazali and Sheibani networks, which are now collectively referred to as the Special Groups — stepped up their attacks on Iraqi and Coalition forces in January 2007.

The Qazali network conducted a sophisticated operation against US forces at the Karbala Joint Provincial Coordination Center, kidnapping and killing five US soldiers during the aborted operation. Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces have been heavily targeting these “Special Groups” and “Secret Cells” since General David Petraeus’ briefing on the Qazali and Sheibani networks on April 26.

In March 2007, Coalition forces captured Qais Qazali, his brother Laith Qazali, and several other members of the Qazali network. Qazali was a spokesperson and senior aide to Muqtada al Sadr. The Qazali network was behind the Karbala Provincial Joint Command Center attack, which resulted in the kidnapping and murder of five US soldiers. Multinational Forces Iraq has stated Iran is behind the Karbala raid, and satellite imagery discovered a mock up of the Karbala complex at a camp inside Iran.

In July, US forces killed Azhar al-Dulaimi, the tactical commander behind the Karbala PJCC attack. In early September 2007, Multinational Forces Iraq announced the captured of “a highly-sought individual suspected of being an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force” operative in Karbala.

The most significant capture occurred in the spring of 2007, when the US captured Ali Mussa Daqduq. Daqduq is a senior Hezbollah operative who was tasked by Iran to organize the Special Groups and “rogue” Mahdi Army cells along the lines of Lebanese Hezbollah. Documents seized during Daqduq’s capture, along with statements made during interrogations and information given by other captured Special Groups operatives confirmed Iran’s significant role in the Shia terrorist insurgency.

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

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  • I had seen reports that Iran was lowering their Qods involvement in Iraq, I suppose that this refutes that. Sad to hear.

  • bjjfiter says:

    The only good that can come of these arrests of Iranian military figures is if we can put together an easy-to-understand report, circulated to the UN and the rest of the world, outlining the depth of Iran’s involvement in Iraq and pictures and bios of every big fish we capture. It needs to be put into context so that we can make a case for war against Iran.

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  • The Chief says:

    It will be up to Bill and those like him to put together the “easy to understand report”. Unfortunately, the facts never seem to matter to people who have already made up their minds. It becomes even harder to get the point across when any attempts to show Iranian or Syrian involvement are met with skeptical allusions to how much this sounds like the “story leading up to” Iraq. Given the adminstration’s late, and sometimes clumsy, entry into the information battle, it’s an uphill fight.
    PS Soldiers don’t get “kidnapped”, they get “captured”

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 09/21/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  • Neo says:

    Actually Michael, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Kurds have a considerable number of contacts within the Iranian government or that they would send out diplomatic feelers and trade ties. Considering there is a significant chance we will prematurely leave Iraq leaving Iran very much in a position of political and military advantage in the region. The Kurds may at least want a few future options when dealing with Iran in case we leave.

  • MattR says:

    We don’t need a war with Iran, don’t have the resources, and the Iranian theocracy would benefit more than we would. Iran’s biggest fear right now is probably a strong economy in Iraq. It would diminish their power and increase our power. It’s going to take 50 years to reform the Mideast, just like it took 50 years to reform Eastern Europe, so we may as well take a long view and consider long term strategies. Another billion dollar a week war is not a long term strategy.

  • MikeE says:

    Most Iranians hate their current rulers. A stable, free and democratic Iraq will accelerate democratic revolution in Iran. That is why Ahmedinijad is working so hard to cause the US to run away and cuuse Iraqs new democracy to fail.

  • Neo says:

    The last thing we want is an emboldened Iran either within the context of Iraq or a broader regional context. Although this administration is ticked off at the Iranian government, and for good reason, it is also aware that it is in too weak a political position to press for war against Iran. Than why go to all the trouble of carefully tracking Iranian activity and make a case against Iran if you aren’t going to war? The most direct reason is to provide political cover for our current confrontation with Iranian irregulars and proxies within Iraq. A lot of potential problems can come up whenever you are having a military confrontation, even an indirect one such as we currently have against Iran. Suppose a potential embarrassing incident came up and the US hadn’t made an adequate case justifying your activities. We have already had problems with that.
    The case against Iran has also become the bases for our specific actions to dismantle their network within the Shiite militias. Instead of a general confrontation with Sadr’s political apparatus we have been able to identify and target specific factions within JAM. The evidence presented thus far by both the US military and Iraqi government also underscores the suspicions of the Iraqi general populous about which parties are directly responsible for the violence. It would seem that this evidence also seems to a wedge issue between Sadr himself and some of the more radical factions within his party. I doubt Sadr would be able to make his organization stand down while we pick off many of the more radical elements without such a clear case. We have essentially made the case for Sadr that many elements within his organization are beyond control. I don’t doubt that many of these radical elements would gladly take over Sadr’s position of leadership if given a chance. There may be something in this for Sadr too.
    Without the recent “surge”

  • Rhyno327/lrsd says:

    we are at war with Iran now. its by proxy, and when they capture people like this, they should use ALL means necessary to extracy intel. when we are done with him, take him out back and put 2 in the back of his head. then dump him outside the Iranian Embassy.


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