Iraqi police detain three Special Groups operative behind 2007 Karbala attack

Iraqi police have captured three Iranian-backed Special Groups operatives behind the kidnapping and murder of five US soldiers at the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center in January 2007. Meanwhile, US troops captured another Special Groups leader in the Al Kut region.

The Iraqi police captured the three “key criminals” behind the 2007 Karbala attack in Musayyib, just south of Baghdad, on June 5. The three Special Groups operatives are “suspected of trafficking and emplacing explosively formed projectiles.” Explosively formed projectiles are the signature weapon of Shia terrorists with links to Iran.

The US military immediately suspected Iran’s Qods Force, the elite external operations branch, of being behind the 2007 attack in Karbala. The raid was well planned and executed, as the attackers appeared to be Americans, spoke English, and used American equipment. One US soldier was killed and three wounded during the initial attack, and four soldiers were subsequently taken hostage. They were executed shortly afterward after Iraqi police and Coalition forces tracked their movement eastward towards Iran and went into pursuit. US satellite imagery specialists found a

mock-up of the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center at an Iranian base in southern Iran.

The US military gained insight on the Karbala attack and Iran’s involvement in operations in Baghdad and the South after stepping up pressure on the Iranian networks in late 2006 and throughout 2007. The US military killed or captured multiple high-level Iranian-trained agents and a Qods Force leader of one of the three subcommands inside Iraq.

Multinational Forces Iraq killed Azhar al Dulaimi, the leader of the Karbala attack, during a raid north of Baghdad in May 2007. Dulaimi is described as the mastermind and tactical commander of the Karbala attack, as well as other high-profile terror attacks in Iraq. Dulaimi was a senior leader in the Qazali network, which General David Petraeus noted was behind the planning, organization, and execution of the Karbala attack.

The Qazali Network was led by Qais Qazali, the former spokesman for Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army. US forces captured Qazali and his brother Layith in early 2007. Muqtada al Sadr has called for the release of Qazali in the past.

Coalition forces also captured Ali Mussa Daqduq, a senior Hezbollah operative, and Mahmud Farhadi, the Qods Force officer in charge of the Zafr Command, one of the three units subordinate to the Ramazan Corps, Iran’s military command directing operations inside Iraq.

Senior Special Groups leader captured near Al Kut

Coalition special forces teams also captured a Special Groups leader in the town of Numaniyah near Al Kut in Wasit province. The operative is described as an “Iranian-trained improvised explosive device expert” who “traveled to Iran several times for explosives training. Intelligence sources also said the suspect has numerous Iranian contacts with whom he would meet when smuggling weapons and bomb-making materials into Iraq.”

US and Iraqi forces detained four other senior Special Groups leaders in Wasit province since June 3.

Iraqi security forces have stepped up operations against the Mahdi Army Special Groups and the Iranian supply lines in Basrah, Dhi Qhar, Wasit, Kabala, and Najaf provinces over the past several weeks. Scores of Special Groups leaders have been captured or killed during operations to disrupt the terror networks.

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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  • masayo says:

    One thing I’ve found odd is the high percentage of “special group” members captured in these reports. Just my imagination or is it more the nature of the capture operations (night operations, while they are asleep etc)? Or is there something else at work, such as they know that they will eventually be set free.

  • ST333 says:

    How many Iranians do we have in custody at this point? If we keep sweeping up Qods Force commanders and soldiers, how can Iran deny involvement with a straight face?

  • mark armstrong says:

    “One of the big losers in the last few months has been Iran. The hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the Iraqi Shia militias evaporated quickly when the Iraqi army and police moved into militia strongholds in Baghdad and Basra. Many militia leaders were taken alive, and they talked, often of the support they received from Iran. Lots of embarrassing documents, were captured, and Iraqi officials hand carried these to Iran recently, to demand that the Iranians stop this kind of mischief. The Iranians agreed, but privately pointed out that most of the trouble was caused by extremists inside the Iranian government (mainly the Quds Force and Revolutionary Guards units). These fanatics are largely beyond control by anyone, but the Iranians apparently allowed as how these thugs would not be missed by many inside Iran, and the Iraqis should kill as many of them as possible, please. The Iranian government doesn’t want to harm the growing economic relations between the two countries, and terrorism kind of does that. ”
    Would that be other people’s understanding, it seems nearly to good to be plausible..

  • TS Alfabet says:

    i don’t buy that line from the Iranians for one second. Hopefully Maliki is not so stupid as to believe it either. More likely, he understands that the mullahs just opted for the lie that they think Maliki (and the U.S.) want to hear. In reality, the IRGC and Qods are part and parcel of the Iranian police state; they are the fist of the regime, not some rogue element of the government. Michael Ledeen is a good source on this.

  • EntropyIncreases says:

    I think the major occurrence of note and hope is the opening of Iraqis to the role Iran is playing in the anti-Iraqi behavior.
    My fear is that we have bought increased Iranian influence with American blood and money. So Iranian thuggery might mitigate certain tendencies. I understand Persians are generally mistrusted by Arabs even if they share their dominant religion, so there is already some mistrust. Iraqis are still negotiating with Iran so at least they hold out some hope their concerns will be addressed.
    It would be interesting to know what the impact of IRGC and Qods force activity within Iraq is influencing the SOFA between Iraq and the US.

  • remoteman says:

    “US satellite imagery specialists found a
    mock-up of the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center at an Iranian base in southern Iran.” Why was this site not blown to smithereens? Maybe at the time it was not a good idea, but I would guess that there have been several opportunities since that would work. Iran kills our soldiers with impunity and pays virtually no price for it. Maddening in the extreme.

  • Robert says:

    All this going on and America is at the mall.
    How can Iran deny involvement? Iraq denied Americans were even there while our tanks rolled by in the camera’s background!


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