U.S.: Iraqi Shiite Terror Squads Receiving Training in Iran,"special group criminals"WASHINGTON — Iraqi Shiite explosive and assassination teams are being trained in at least 4 locations in Iran by Tehran's elite Quds force and Lebanese Hezbollah. The Karbala raid in Jan 2007 was a Iraqi Shiite Terror Squad who had Trained in Iran, "special group criminals". 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 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. Arrested leaders of the "Special Group Criminals" in Iraq during 2007 were Ali Musa Daqduq, Qais Khazali and Layith Khazali,(see photos above) they were the Iranian operatives who helped plan a January 2007 raid in Karbala in which five American soldiers were killed, as per a American military spokesman in Iraq. The attackers carried forged identity cards and wore American-style uniforms, they drove 6 white GMC Suburban SUV's. One American died at the start of the raid, but the rest of the American soldiers were abducted before they were killed. General Bergner declined to speculate on the Iranian motivations. But he said that interrogations of Qais Khazali, a Shiite militant who oversaw Iranian-supported cells in Iraq and who was captured several months ago along with another militant, Laith Khazali, his brother, showed that Iran’s Quds force helped plan the operation.
Similar information was obtained following the capture of a senior Hezbollah operative, Ali Musa Daqduq, General Bergner said. The capture of Mr. Daqduq had remained secret until mid July 2007. “Both Ali Musa Daqduq and Qais Khazali state that senior leadership within the Quds force knew of and supported planning for the eventual Karbala attack that killed five coalition soldiers,” General Bergner said. Documents seized from Qais Khazali, General Bergner said, showed that Iran’s Quds Force provided detailed information on the activities of American soldiers in Karbala, including shift changes and the defenses at the site. 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.
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 trainees in the Iranian camps include three Iraqis already wanted by the Iraqi government for terrorist attacks: Haji Mahdi, Haji Thamir, and Baqir al Sa'idi, the officer said. He identified two Iraqi Shiite militia groups in Iran by name: "The League of the Righteous," or "Asaib al Haq," and the "Kataib al Hezbollah." The "special group criminals" are offshoots of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Jaysh al-Mahdi militia. They spun off their own groups after al-Sadr declared a cease-fire with the Iraqi government in August 2007 and are not thought to be under his control now. "We continue to conduct precision targeting against special group criminals in order to provide security and stability for the people of Baghdad," said Lt. Col. Steven Stover, spokesman for Multi-National Division – Baghdad and the 4th Infantry Division. "We will protect the population against an enemy who fires rockets and mortars, small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades without regard for where they land."
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