The Smoking Gun
Thanks to the estimable Bill Roggio for his excellent summary of yesterday's U.S. military press conference, which detailed Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq. During that event, American experts provided convincing evidence that Tehran is actively aiding the insurgents with arms, weapons expertise, and training. According to coalition spokesman Maj Gen William Caldwell:
"Iran is involved in supplying explosively formed projectiles or EFPs and other material," such as "explosive charges, booby traps, mortar shells of different calibers and remote controls" to detonate IEDs to "multiple" insurgent groups." Those in attendance "were shown fragments of what the defense official said were Iranian-made weapons, including one part of an EFP and tail fins from 81-mm and 60-mm mortars." "More than 120 US and coalition troops have been killed by these things, and 620 wounded. There was a significant increase in there use over the past six months," he said.
And, General Caldwell left no doubt as to the level of complicity in Iran:
"We assess that these activities are coming from the senior levels of the Iranian government," the defense official said, 'noting that the Al-Qods brigade reports to Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamanei.' "Iranian weapons were experimented in South Lebanon by Hezbollah and were later developed," for deployment into Iraq.
The Irbil raid in early January netted the most significant evidence, as well as a senior member of the Iranian Qods Force. Six Iranians were detained in Irbil, including Mohsin Chizari, the operational commander of the Qods Force, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps specialized force that is equivalent to U.S. Special Forces. During the Irbil raid, "the Iranians were caught trying to flush documents down the toilet," and "bags of their hair were found... indicating they had tried to change their appearance." Chizari was "apprehended after slipping back into Iraq after a 10-month absence." Earlier it was reported Chizari was detained in the Baghdad raid, and subsequently released.
Now, compare General Caldwell's comments with those of Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, who discussed the Iranian connection on "Fox News Sunday." Despite the compelling evidence presented in Baghdad--which suggests involvement at the highest levels of Iran's government--Reed actually suggested that "rogue elements" in Tehran might be running the support operation.
"I think the evidence is confused. There are certainly indications, as Mr. Gates pointed out this week, that these explosive foreign projectiles seem to be coming from Iran. They've been used.
The question is is this a deliberate policy of the Iranian government at the highest levels. Is it rogue elements within the government? And then the other question is to what extent are there countervailing signals that the Iranians actually are trying to — not control, but not to further raise the stakes in Iraq.
So it's a very complicated situation."
Not being a member of the "World's Greatest Deliberative Body," my world view is considerably less nuanced than Senator Reed's. But, what we've found in Iraq seems clear enough; let's do a quick review: Forensic evidence of Iranian-produced weapons and shaped explosive devices being used against our troops. The arrest--in Iraq--of six members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Qods Force, which reports directly to that nation's supreme leader. One of the six arrested in Irbil was a senior operational commander of the Qods force. And, that raid also netted documents that further highlighted the Iranian connection, including reports to the Supreme Leader.
As for the purpose behind these operations in Iraq, that too, seems abundantly clear: kill Americans and force the U.S. to withdraw, setting the stage for Iran to dominate the scene once we're gone. That's not the sort of operation runs by a few rogue elements in the Revolutionary Guards; it's a policy with clear ties to the highest levels of Tehran's government. Even Senator Reed, a West Point graduate, ought to be able to figure that one out.