Iraqi forces detain seven Iranian agents in Iraq

Iraqi police and border guards have arrested seven members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps since Oct 18. The arrests come as the senior US commander in Iraq accused Iran of attempting to bribe Iraqi members of parliament to vote against the status of forces agreement that will allow US forces to remain in Iraq past 2008.

Iraqi police captured three armed Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps officers today in the city of Al Kut in Wasit province, a police official told Voices of Iraq. “Three Iraqi Revolutionary Guards along with their guide were detained on the border region between Iraq and Iran in eastern Wasit after entering Iraq illegally,” said Police Major Aziz Latief al Imara. “The forces seized amounts of ammunitions found in their possession.”

On Oct. 18, Iraqi border guards captured four more members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps in the Mandali district in Diyala province. “A force from the 4th contingent of the Iraqi border brigade in Diyala province arrested last night four members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard inside the Iraqi territories,” an anonymous official told Voices of Iraq. “The four were in military uniform with guns in their possession and were moving within the Iraqi territories.”

The seven Iranians were likely members of Qods Force, the elite special operations branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The unit reports directly to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.

Qods Force has supported various Shia militias and terror groups inside Iraq, including the Mahdi Army, which it helped build along the same lines as Lebanese Hezbollah. Iran denies the charges, but captive Shia terrorists admit to being recruited by Iranian agents, and then transported into Iran for training.

Iran established the Ramazan Corps immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime to direct operations inside Iraq. The US military says Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah have helped establish, fund, train, and arm, and have provided operational support for Shia terror groups such as the Hezbollah Brigades and the League of the Righteous. The US military refers to these groups as well as the Iranian-backed elements of the Mahdi Army as the “Special Groups.” These groups train in camps inside Iran.

US and Iraqi forces have captured several high-level Qods Force officers inside Iraq since late 2006. Among those captured are Mahmud Farhadi, one of the three Iranian regional commanders in the Ramazan Corps; Ali Mussa Daqduq, a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative; Qais Qazali, the leader of the Qazali Network; and Azhar al Dulaimi, one of Qazali’s senior tactical commanders. The US has imposed sanctions on Major General Ahmad Foruzandeh, the former Qods Force commander, and Abdul Reza Shahlai, a deputy commander in Iran’s Qods Force, for backing Shia terror groups inside Iraq.

Iraqi and Coalition forces have maintained the pressure on the Iranian-backed terror groups operating inside Iraq during the month of October. Two Iranian-trained Special Groups fighters have been killed and fifty-six have been captured during since Oct. 1, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Thirty-three have been captured since Oct. 13.

Eleven of those captured were members of the Hezbollah Brigades. The Hezbollah Brigades is an Iranian-backed terror group that has been behind multiple roadside bombings and rocket attacks against US and Iraqi forces in Baghdad. The group films these attacks and posts them on the internet. More than 40 Hezbollah Brigades operatives have been captured since the beginning of August. The group is estimated at having several hundred members.

For more information on Iran’s involvement in supporting the Shia terror groups in Iraq, see:

Iranian Qods Force Agents Detained in Irbil Raid,

Jan. 14, 2007

The Karbala attack and the IRGC,

Jan. 26, 2007

Iran, Hezbollah train Iraqi Shia “Secret Cells”,

July 2, 2007

Surging in Wasit Province,

Sept. 18, 2007

Captured Iranian Qods Force officer a regional commander in Iraq,

Oct. 3, 2007

Iran’s Ramazan Corps and the ratlines into Iraq,

Dec. 5, 2007

Sadr forms new unit to attack US forces,

June 13, 2008

Sadrist movement withdraws from political process,

June 15, 2008

Mahdi Army decimated during recent fighting,

June 26, 2008

Iraqi forces detain Sadrist leaders, uncover Special Groups headquarters in Amarah,

July 2, 2008

US sanctions Iranian general for aiding Iraqi terror groups

Sept. 16, 2008

US, Iraq step up operations against Iranian terror groups

Sept. 27, 2008

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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  • slntax says:

    iran is going to do everything in its power to prevent the signing of the sofa agreement with the US. we should kill or capature every iranian on iraqi soil. they should be patroling the entire boarder with apaches and mine the boarder. to prevent special groups from entering with weapons.

  • amagi says:

    I realize that this is only tangentially related, but I’m wondering if anybody here can provide accurate attendance figures for the anti-SOFA protest last Friday/Saturday. Washington Post reported 50,000 people, WSJ’s Gina Chon reported “about 150,000.” Any idea which figure is more accurate?

  • brett says:

    are they all still in jail or do they just release them?

  • NS says:

    And in other news, the Sun rose in the East and set in the West.
    OTOH, I am GLAD that the Iraqi Govt is trying to tackle this problem as best as they can.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Looking at the spacing and the overheads of the entire area showing the crowd, both are exagerations. 10,000 at most. Well spaced to give impression of more than really there.
    Which is why US Military, AFP, and Reuters said “thousands” while AP said “tens of thousands” and the JAM spokesman claimed a million.

  • Rosario says:

    We have been reading these reports for months about confirmed iranian efforts to de-stabilize its neighbor… however we never hear an official statement from the Iraqi government concerning these actions. Is there one or does the Iraqi government have its head in the sand?

  • pedestrian says:

    It’s time for US to carpet bomb Iran! They won’t retalliate because of fears of revolution forcing Iranian security force to be occupied for national security and crushing local uprise. If US doesn’t do it now, US will lose the best chance before moving most of the troops to Afghanistan, and put Iraq under the risks of new waves of trained terrorists from Iran to flood Iraq regenerating the networks of Ramazan corps.
    I have called for surge in Baghdad and against the South months before it happened, and I was correct for my predictions in increase of security. I am confident carpet bombing Iran will contribute to the security of the region too.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Not correct. The Gov of Iraq has brought this subject up with the Gov of Iran several times diplomaticaly. Didn’t get much press but, it was reported on.
    Carpet bombing is not the answer to everything. It is a fairly inefficient waste of bombs unless the enemy is dumb enough to concentrate forces in a relatively small area. (E.G. 1991 southern Iraq and Kuwait) It is only in such target rich areas that such bombing makes any sense at all…

  • Rosario says:

    Thank you for setting me straight on that fact, I just never read a report on that fact. One wonders here in the US for all our efforts if we have created a province for Iran to annex or a built sovereign, independent nation….

  • DJ Elliott says:

    No problem. It was not mentioned much in the US press. The US press normally is 6-12 months behind in reporting such data. It was covered in the Iraqi, Russian, Iranian, and GCC press.
    At this point the ISF is not strong enough for the Iraqi Gov to play hard-ball with a neighbor that they have a 1,000KM border with. Not when the USG is not interested in a war with Iran…

  • Buff52 says:

    A Status of Forces agreement in Iraq similar to the one we have had in West Germany since 1945 is necessary to contain Iranian Jihadist Revolutionary Guards’ hegemonial ambitions. If the Iranians are paying bribe money to Iraqi legislature representatives to vote against us, it is necessary for our government or allies to pay “bonuses” for the Iraqi’s to approve the new status of forces agreement.

  • patrick says:

    The problem of Iraq seems solved at this stage. More or less. The problem if Iran still remains.
    Why not exit via Iran?.

    After the election Israel bombs Iranian nuclear sites. This would be a good excuse for USA to do a fullscale invasion and install a secular democratic state. An invasion would prevent the Iranians causing a major crisis after the Israeli strike.

  • Peter says:

    Yeah good idea lets invade Iran. Are you in the military or are you seggesting other people do it? Ive done my time deployed and Im going back we are way to streached in everyway with little to no public support for another invasion.

  • TS Alfabet says:

    We live in a democratic republic so the question is not what *should* be done but what *can* be done within the limits of public support and national will.
    Iraq seems to be stabilizing with U.S. forces moving into purely support roles so the only thing Iran can do there is continue clandestine actions unless a new POTUS yanks out the troops precipitously.
    The reporting from Iraq indicates that there is a large and growing feeling of outright hatred for Iran, even among the shiite population, who see that Iran is behind the continued violence and instability. At the same time, as DJ point out, Iraq’s military is not up to facing off against the Iranians without major U.S. support. The question for the Iraqi govt has to be whether the U.S. can be counted on, especially after Nov. 4, to stick by Iraq if they side with us. The Iranians have made no secret that the U.S. has a history of abandoning its allies to the wolves and one doesn’t have to listen to the presidential debates very closely to know that at least one candidate has little regard for the well-being of Iraq. So it would be prudent and culturally sensible for the Iraqis to play it both ways by getting the best SOFA they can from the U.S. while leaving themselves enough wiggle room for accomodation with Iran if the U.S. bails out.
    And of course the 6000 lb. gorilla in the room is the Iranian Bomb. Expect a nuke test from Iran sometime in 2009 or early 2010. That will greatly change the political table in the Middle East and, perhaps Europe as well. Israel simply does not have the political will to bomb Iran. Neither does the U.S. Unless Iran does something extremely stupid that would generate enormous anger in the American public, Iran will have the Bomb next year.
    How will Iraq respond to that?

  • danh says:

    Anyone heard anymore about the hijacked iranian ship that was supposedly a giant dirty bomb headed for Israel?

  • Private Finch says:

    Iran has major demographic and economic problems; they have a young population with few chances for jobs. Despit sitting on billions of barrels of oil, they have only one oil refinery. This one refinery seems like a good target for sabotage and bring their weak economy down more.

  • pedestrian says:

    >Carpet bombing is not the answer to everything. It is a fairly inefficient waste of bombs unless the enemy is
    >dumb enough to concentrate forces in a relatively small area.
    When I mean carpet bombing, I mean by geographical terms bombing in mass through the entire Iran against all sort of government facilities, not an indiscriminate one, nor mainly against moving objects, and mainly facilities: IED and other weapon factories, terrorist training camps, paramilitary facilities, military bases, and nuclear facilities. Facilities don’t run. The objective is to destroy the entire terrorist supporting infrastructures for terrorists operating in Iraq, and nuclear facilities to disrupt nuclear weapon building.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Then you do not mean carpet bombing.
    Carpet bombing has a definition. One 500lb bomb per every 100m sq is the objective of carpet bombing. A form of area bombing performed exclusively by strategic bombers since other aircraft do not carry enough bombs.

  • remoteman says:

    This is an excellent sign. It seems to me that the Iraqis are slowly developing a national sense of conciousness, which is a very good thing. That nationalistic pride will strengthen with each Iranian provocation.
    We don’t need to have too many forces in Iraq to dissuade the Iranians from doing anything precipitous. So long as we have air assets in Iraq and naval assets in the Gulf, they won’t do a thing. And with each passing day, the Iraqi Army gorws stronger and more capable.
    Even if Iran has an A-bomb, what are they going to do with it, other than use it on Israel? If they throw one over the border into Iraq, most of the radiation just comes back at them, given the prevailing winds. Oh, and they’d probably get hit with something hot too, or at least have their country destroyed by conventional weapons.
    The overt play is not in Iran’s interest. Instead, expect to see a continued low-level effort to destabilize or buy-off the government. They desperately want Iraq as a proxy. The prize, however, seems to be getting more elusive by the day.

  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 10/21/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  • Neo says:

    “This is an excellent sign. It seems to me that the Iraqis are slowly developing a national sense of conciousness, which is a very good thing. That nationalistic pride will strengthen with each Iranian provocation.”

  • Alex says:

    Another thing, the sanctions that the EU put on Bank Melli seem to have had a significant impact. Trade sanctions can always be worked around, since some country usually doesn’t play ball and can act as an intermediary, or you can just corrupt officials a la Oil For Food. Deny a country finance, and they’re in trouble.
    My opinion: Iran’s only real option at the moment to become a threat is the nuclear one. A conventional assault on Iraq would have too many international repercussions, and the Iraqi military couldn’t defeat them conventionally (yet) but could perhaps put up enough of a guerrilla fight for it to not be worth it after a while–plus we’d most likely be supplying them with weapons like Javelins, Stingers, and so forth. Their unconventional options keep winding up in Iraqi jails.
    So…looks like what will happen, barring the creation of an Iranian nuke, is that Iraq stabilizes, and Iran has a country friendly to the United States on its border with a free press, a free economy, and an American trained and equipped military. The next five years in the Middle East should be very interesting.

  • TS Alfabet says:

    “So…looks like what will happen, barring the creation of an Iranian nuke, is that Iraq stabilizes, and Iran has a country friendly to the United States on its border with a free press, a free economy, and an American trained and equipped military. The next five years in the Middle East should be very interesting.”
    Alex, what leads you to believe that there will *not* be an Iranian nuke in the next 18 months or less? It is happening right now. And as for the effect of a nuclear Iran, one has only to look at the effect of a *potentially* nuclear Iran on the Gulf states. Just the prospect of it has caused many of the Gulf states to moderate their support for the U.S. and express sympathy with the Iranians. When Iran has nukes, best case scenario is neighboring Arab states (like Iraq and Saudi Arabia) will go hell-bent for their own nukes or cave in to Iran as the new Boss in town. Either way, not good for the U.S.


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