Last week Defense Tech pulled out an interesting line from a June 22 briefing given to Pentagon reporters on operations in Iraq by Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno.
Odierno was asked several questions about the involvement of Iran in Iraqs insurgency. As youll remember, he said specifically that Iran had been training insurgent mortar teams on how to quickly set up in cover, accurately fire and extract mortar teams before U.S forces could nab them.
He also said, in what probably passed through most reporters ears, this sentence in reference to evidence of Irans training and direction of Iraq insurgents (emphasis added):
And I think, you know, we've had some indications of that through some of the people we've detained, and I think in the future here we're going to lay some of that out for you. So I think -- we feel pretty confident about those links.
Well, now it looks like that has happened. Our sister site, Military.com, is reporting this morning an Associated Press story that indicates Lebanese Hezbollah was involved in a kidnapping attempt of U.S. troops in January. The terrorists were trained and advised by Iranian Quds force officers and instructed to carry out a high-profile hostage taking similar to the one that sparked the war with Israel last summer.
Iran is using the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah as a "proxy" to arm Shiite militants in Iraq and Tehran's Quds force had prior knowledge of a January attack in Karbala in which five Americans died, a U.S. general said Monday.
U.S. military spokesman Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner said a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative, Ali Mussa Dakdouk, was captured March 20 in southern Iraq. Bergner said Dakdouk served for 24 years in Hezbollah and was "working in Iraq as a surrogate for the Iranian Quds force."
The general also said that Dakdouk was a liaison between the Iranians and a breakaway Shiite group led by Qais al-Kazaali, a former spokesman for cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Bergner said al-Kazaali's group carried out the January attack against a provincial government building in Karbala and that the Iranians assisted in preparations.
Al-Khazaali and his brother Ali al-Khazaali, both captured in March, have told U.S. interrogators that they "could not have conducted it (the Karbala attack) without support from the Quds force," Bergner said.
Documents captured with al-Khazaali showed that the Quds Force had developed detailed information on the U.S. position at the government building, including "shift changes and defense" and shared this information with the attackers, the general said.
And CNNs top investigative reporter in Iraq, Michael Ware, never an apologist for the U.S. invasion and occupation, bolstered the AP report with his own work based on interviews with Iraqi government officials whod seen the forensic evidence and interrogation transcripts.
U.S. sources and Iraqi militia sources have said the carefully planned operation was meant to take captives who could be traded for five Iranians held by U.S. troops since a January 10 raid in Irbil, in northern Iraq. But the Karbala attack went awry, resulting in the deaths of the five Americans.
Qais Khazali, a onetime spokesman for anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army, was one of the men sought by American troops in connection with the attack. By the time of his March arrest, he had left the Mehdi Army and was leading one of the "special groups," according to U.S. intelligence.
In searching for Khazali, U.S. and allied troops found computer documents detailing the planning, training and conduct of the failed kidnapping. And they found Daqduq, whom intelligence officials said has admitted working on behalf of Iran.
And an interesting postscript to Wares report (watch the video here): Dakdouk pretended to be a def-mute for a while until interrogators got him to talk, then he spilled the beans. Wonder how they got him to talk?