US releases Iranian Qods Force agents
By Bill Roggio
July 9, 2009 2:50 PM
The US military released five Iranian Qods Force agents who posed as diplomats and were detained in northern Iraq in late 2006. The Iranian agents were released to the Iraqi government, who is expected to promptly turn them back over to Iran.
The five Iranian agents were detained by US forces in the Kurdish city of Irbil in mid-January 2007. Iran claimed the men were part of a diplomatic mission in Irbil and protested the arrest, however the men were operating from a liaison office which did not enjoy diplomatic privileges.
The US military accused the five Iranians of being Qods Force agents assigned to help support Shia terror groups inside Iraq.
"The five detainees are connected to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard – Qods Force (IRGC-QF), an organization known for providing funds, weapons, improvised explosive device technology and training to extremist groups attempting to destabilize the Government of Iraq and attack Coalition forces," noted Multinational Forces Iraq in press release announcing the arrest in January 2007.
The Qods Force agents have been turned over to the Iraqi government and will be turned over to the embassy in Baghdad, according to Ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qomi.
"The five Iranian diplomats abducted in Iraq were handed over by the occupying US forces to the Iraqi prime minister (Nuri al-Maliki)," Qomi said.
Qomi himself has been accused of being a Qods Force agent by General David Petraeus back in November 2007 while he commander Multinational Forces Iraq. Petraeus now commands US Central Command.
The detention of the Qods Force agents in Irbil along with Iranian agents in Baghdad at the end of December 2006 kicked off the campaign against Iran's terror network in Iraq. The US and Iraqi militaries cracked down hard on the Ramazan Corps, the command set up by Qods Force to direct operations inside Iraq. The campaign culminated in a major operation led by the Iraqi security forces to dismantle the Iranian backed Mahdi Army and allied Special Groups in Baghdad and central and southern Iraq.
The release of the Irbil Five, as they became to be known, was preceded by the release of Laith Qazali, the brother of Qais Qazali.
Qais Qazali was the commander of the Qazali network, which is better known as the Asaib al Haq, or the League of the Righteous. Qais was a spokesman and senior aide to Mahdi Army leader Muqtada al Sadr. The terror group, which was part of the Mahdi Army until the spring of 2008, has received extensive financial and military support from Iran's Qods Force.
The League of the Righteous was directly implicated by General David Petraeus as being behind the January 2007 attack on the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala as well as other high-profile terror attacks in Iraq. Five US soldiers were killed during the Karbala attack and subsequent kidnapping attempt. The US soldiers were executed after US and Iraqi security forces closed in on the assault team.
Laith was released as part of negotiations to free five British contractors who were taken captive by Qais' group shortly after their leader was detained. The League of the Righteous responded to Laith's release by turning over the body of two of the hostages and demanding all of the group's leadership before releasing any other captives. The two hostages were murdered months ago.
The US will continue to release the Iranian and Hezbollah agents captured in Iraq as power is transferred back to the Iraqi government.
US intelligence officials who directly deal with the Iranian threat in Iraq are dismayed by the release of the Qods Force agents, and say the release of more is in the pipeline.
"If you didn't like the release of Laith and the Irbil Five, you better get used to it," one official told The Long War Journal in disgust.
"We worked hard to catch these bastards, now we're cutting them lose with little thought to the consequences of doing this.”
10% of all US troop deaths in Iraq have been caused by Iranian-manufactured armor-piercing EFPs (explosively formed projectiles). Many more of our guys have suffered horrific injuries caused by these bombs. Here's just one example of what I have seen. Words cannot express how sick and outraged I am about this.
Bill has much more on the background of Iranian activities in Iraq as part of his report.
Update: Lance Fairchok at American Thinker, Betraying America's Soldiers: Iranian War Criminals Go Free