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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