A story posted in April noted that “The Quds Force have played it all, political, military, intelligence, economic. They are Iranian foreign policy in Iraq.” Here is more on the military angle.
“U.S.: Iraqi Shiite Terror Squads Receiving Training in Iran,” from the Associated Press, August 15:
WASHINGTON “” Iraqi Shiite explosive and assassination teams are being trained in at least four locations in Iran by Tehran’s elite Quds force and Lebanese Hezbollah, according to intelligence gleaned from captured militia fighters and other sources in Iraq.
A senior U.S. military intelligence officer in Baghdad also said the fighters planned to return to Iraq in the next few months to kill specific Iraqi officials as well as U.S. and Iraqi forces.
The U.S. military also wants the Iraqi government to take steps to protect the targets. “Wanted” posters picturing men believed to be heading the special groups are being posted around Baghdad, the military officer said.
The fighters are expected to return to Iraq between now and October, but the officer said there’s no intelligence suggesting they are actually in Iraq yet.
Many of the fighters fled to Iran this spring after Iraqi government forces cracked down first on militia sanctuaries in Basra and Sadr City in Baghdad, then Amarah, and now in Diyala province, the military officer said.
One of the reasons the U.S. believes the special groups moved out during that period is the sharp decline in the number of deadly roadside bombs using explosively formed penetrators.
In March, there were 55 such attacks. By July, that number had dropped to around 18, the officer said. U.S. intelligence believes those sophisticated bombs can be traced back to Iran.
The officer said training is going on in at least four locations in Iran: Qom, Tehran, Ahvaz and Mashhad.
The elite Quds Force is a branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The Islamic militant group Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, is believed to receive weapons from Syria and Iran.
The number of “special group criminals” “” the U.S. name for Iraqi fighters sponsored by Iran “” is unknown but is estimated to be in the hundreds and possibly more than 1,000.
According to the officer, the training camps are operating under the direction of Quds force commander, Brig. Gen. Ghassem Soleimani, with the knowledge and approval of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The training includes how to conduct reconnaissance to pinpoint targets, small arms and weapons training, small unit tactics, and terrorist cell operations and communications.
They are also learning how to use explosively formed penetrator bombs and other improvised explosive devices and rocket propelled grenades, including the RPG-29, a signature weapon of Lebanese Hezbollah and the Quds force.
Lebanese Hezbollah conducts much of the training in the camps because its members speak Arabic, the dominant language in Iraq.
The intelligence officer described the information Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the intelligence information.
The officer on Wednesday provided Iraq’s national security adviser with several lists of the assassination teams’ expected targets. The country’s intelligence service is now preparing operations to determine where and when the specially trained fighters will enter Iraq and will provide an assessment to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the intelligence officer said.
Iran, Hezbollah’s mentor, denies giving any support to Shiite extremists in Iraq.
The U.S. official disclosed the information in an attempt to create political pressure on Iran to suspend the training and prevent the militia fighters from returning to Iraq….