“[Daqduq], along with the Iraqi militia commanders he worked with, has admitted working with Iran’s elite Quds Force special operations unit.”
Act of war. “Officials: Captured Hezbollah agent helped plan deadly Karbala raid,” from CNN:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — A top special operations officer from Lebanon’s Iranian-backed militia Hezbollah has been captured in Iraq, where U.S. officials say he
played a key role in a January attack that killed five Americans.
A poster last year in Iraq shows Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, left, and Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Ali Mussa Daqduq, an explosives expert, was captured in March in the southern
city of Basra, where he was helping train and lead Shiite militias fighting coalition troops, U.S. intelligence officials told CNN.
Daqduq pretended to be deaf and mute when captured, and his identity was not
known for weeks. Once uncovered, however, U.S. officials said he began to talk, and they now believe he played a crucial role in the January 20 attack in Karbala.
In 2006, Hezbollah fought Israeli troops in southern Lebanon in a month-long war, which ended in a U.N.-brokered cease-fire.
Intelligence officials say Daqduq is one of Hezbollah’s top special operations commanders, an expert in the use of roadside bombs. The Americans say he, along with the
Iraqi militia commanders he worked with, has admitted working with Iran’s elite Quds Force
special operations unit.
U.S. commanders have said for months that Iraqi militants have been receiving
weapons and training from members of the Quds Force, an element of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Washington has demanded Tehran stop the flow of arms and militants across its
border — which, along with the diplomatic standoff over Iran’s nuclear fuel program, has raised fears of a wider war in the region.
Iran, which has close ties to the Shiite parties that control Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government, has repeatedly denied the allegations. But U.S. intelligence officials said the Quds Force has been backing the creation of Shiite “special groups” modeled on Hezbollah, which holds sway over much of southern Lebanon.
The U.S. military declined official comment on Daqduq’s arrest, as did the Iraqi government. But documents and forensic evidence, seen by members of the Iraqi government and shown to CNN, support the claims.
Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Daqduq was captured in a raid aimed at
seizing another Shiite militant leader suspected of involvement in the January 20 attack in Karbala — a well-planned attempt to kidnap five American soldiers that ended with the soldiers’ executions.
Qais Khazali, a one-time spokesman for anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s
Mehdi Army, was one of the men sought by American troops in connection with the attack. By
the time of his March arrest, he had left the Mehdi Army and was leading one of the
“special groups,” according to U.S. intelligence.
In searching for Khazali, U.S. and allied troops found computer documents detailing the planning, training and conduct of the failed kidnapping. And they found Daqduq, whom intelligence officials said has admitted working on behalf of Iran.
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