http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/06/front2454020.109027778.htmlSPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Iran has transferred millions of dollars as well as weapons and expertise to Iraq’s Mahdi Army. Coalition officials said Mahdi fighters have been trained and equipped in Iran and have been deployed as surrogates of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps soldiers in Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government reported that 2,660 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the capital in September as Shi’ite and Sunni militia, and foreign insurgents continue attacks on one another and on civilians.”We’re having to block Shi’ite extremists from linking with Iran.” Maj. Gen. Richard Zahner, deputy chief of staff of intelligence for Multinational Forces in Iraq, said.
Zahner told a briefing on Sept. 27 that Iran has sought to dominate Iraq. He said Iran has been developing the Mahdi Army as well as splinter groups that no longer came under the umbrella of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada Sadr.
In 2006, the Mahdi Army received several millions of dollars from Teheran, Zahner said. He said the Shi’ite militia in Iraq has obtained light arms, military-grade explosives and shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles from Iran.
Zahner cited the Iranian transfer of explosively-formed penetrators, or EPFs. He said EFPs, explosives designed to penetrate thick armor such as main battle tanks, were produced with “the fingerprint of copper plate being formed in a machine shop” and have identifiable factory marking numbers.
“This is a deliberate decision on the part of elements associated with the Iranian government,” Zahner said. “And, thus, you see them enabling all comers, not just rogue JAM [Mahdi Army],” Zahner said. “They’ll take anybody.”
At this point, officials said, Iran has not sent IRGC units to conduct military operations in Iraq. Instead, they said, Teheran has been encouraging unrest through surrogates.
Zahner cited Basra, which has been rocked by Shi’ite militia violence. He said Iran was behind the escalation of unrest, although Teheran does not want to lose control over the city.
“Because it’s not in their [Iran’s] best interest to have a destabilized Iraq,” Zahner said.