Petraeus: Interrogations Reveal Iranian Influence in Iraq
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 26, 2007 Through interrogations of key detainees in the past month, the United States has learned a great deal about Iranian involvement in terrorist activities in Iraq, specifically the financing and training of insurgent groups, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said here today.
The interrogation of leaders and members of the Qazali terror network who have been in detention for more than a month revealed that Iran provided the network substantial funding, training on Iranian soil, advanced explosive munitions and technologies as well as arms and ammunition, and in some cases advice and even a degree of direction, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, said in a Pentagon news conference.
When these terrorists were captured, coalition forces discovered a number of documents describing attacks on U.S. forces, including a 22-page memorandum that detailed the planning, preparation, approval process and conduct of the Jan. 20 attack on the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, Iraq, that killed five U.S. soldiers, Petraeus said.
“Our sense is that these records were kept so that they could be handed in to whoever it is that is financing them,” he said. “And there's no question, again, that Iranian financing is taking place through the Quds force of the Iranian Republican Guards Corps.”
The U.S. has learned more about Iranian involvement in Iraq through the detention of one of the heads of the Sheibani network, which brings explosively formed projectiles into Iraq from Iran, Petraeus said. This leader’s brother was in Iraq, and was the conduit who received munitions from Iraq and distributed them among the extremist elements.
“Those munitions, as you know, have been particularly lethal against some of our armored vehicles and responsible for some of the casualties, the more tragic casualties, in attacks on our vehicles,” Petraeus said.
The coalition has not found a link between Iran and the spectacular car bomb attacks in Iraq, Petraeus said, as many of these attacks are conducted by foreign fighters coming into the country through Syria. Also, the U.S. has no evidence that indicates how high in the Iranian government the knowledge of this involvement goes, he said.
Petraeus called Iran’s activities “exceedingly unhelpful” as Iraqi leaders and security forces battle al Qaeda, extremist militias, sectarian violence, and limited political capacity to rebuild society. The situation in Iraq is exceedingly complex and challenging, he said, and while there have been successes under the new security plan, perseverance will be needed for the coming months.
“Success will take continued commitment, perseverance and sacrifice, all to make possible an opportunity for the all-important Iraqi political actions that are the key to long-term solutions to Iraq's many problems,” Petraeus said. “Because we are operating in new areas and challenging elements in those areas, this effort may get harder before it gets easier.”