Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Looks sophisticated to this ole' timer, but still no firm evidence as to who did it. Some speculation about Iranian involvement, although the White House isn't biting yet.

Update: More speculation here, but fairly convincing on the face of it and in the absence of hard proof.

Iranian Detainee Conflation Alert

I've seen this on a few blogs, and now Jim Krane & Robert Reid at AP are doing the same:

"Those five Iranians, who were arrested in the northern city of Irbil, included two members of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard force that provides weapons, training and other support to Shiite militants in the Middle East, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said last week. Iraqi and Iranian officials maintain the five were diplomats." [My italics]

Those two members are these guys, Chirazai and Davari, who were arrested in December and do not belong to the group of five detained in Irbil in January. All we currently know about the Irbil detainees is that they aren't official diplomats and that the US is claiming they are members of the IRG involved in facilitating attacks on US forces.

As for Khalilzad saying last week that 2 of the 5 belonged to the al-Quds force, I have no idea where Krane & Reid got this, and I don't think it exists at all. I have found him saying that the five belonged to the Revolutionary Guard and that "some" of those five belonged to the al-Quds force. As Borzou Daragahi notes, Khalilzad stated he was going to reveal the identities of the detainees today in a press conference (which has been postponed).

Is Iran supplying arms to Iraq militias?

No solid public evidence yet, say Zavis & Miller in this L.A. Times piece (registration required) and Mazzetti & Cloud in this NY Times piece.

We're waiting on Ambassador Khalilzad's press conference today in which he'll apparently be presenting "a dossier of Iran's efforts to fuel sectarian violence in Iraq."

Update: Looks like the dossier's been put on hold.

Bob Baer: 5 Iranians are IRGC

Bob Baer writes as fact that the five detained Iranians belonged to the Revolutionary Guard Corps:

"American forces still hold five members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Arrested by American forces in Erbil on Jan. 11, the five are accused by the Administration of helping the Iraqi opposition kill Americans."

No sources cited.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Who are the five Iranian detainees?

Don't know yet, but apparently we should find out soon. The US military says they're from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard al-Quds Force, which it labels as "an organisation known for providing funds, weapons, IEDs, technology and training to extremist groups attempting to destabilise the government of Iraq and attack coalition forces." The US did manage to capture two top al-Quds officials in December last year, but let them go after a week following pressure from Iraq.

Even if the US is right about their affiliation, Borzou Daragahi at the L.A. Times complicates the picture by describing the Quds Force as "an elite intelligence and paramilitary organization," and the Revolutionary Guard as "a parallel army" that "controls Iran's borders as well as its foreign policy toward neighboring countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan." [My italics]

The biggest concern on the US side, among other things, seems to be that Quds is helping to supply advanced armor-piercing IEDs to Shiite militias, so the best question is not who the five Iranians were, but what they were doing: Directly helping militias attack US forces, providing consular services, or gathering intelligence? And if the latter, the next question is: what sort?

[Jan. 31st edit: added "providing consular services"]