Qods Force, the elite unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, steps up terrorism, heightens sectarian violence, and expands proxies in Iraq
President, Strategic Policy Consulting, Inc.
Author, The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis
National Press Club
January 5, 2007
Good Day Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank General Thomas McInerney, Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Iran Policy Committee; Professor Raymond Tanter, IPC president; and Mr. Bruce McColm who is chairing this press conference, for inviting me today.
I would like to share with you the information I have obtained from my sources inside the Iranian regime—sources associated with Iran’s main opposition, the Mujahedin-e Khalq—about Iran’s stepped up terrorism, and sponsorship of sectarian violence in Iraq.
Since 2003, the Iranian regime has spent billions of dollars in Iraq, has mobilized vast governmental resources and has unleashed the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), in order to impose its authority in Iraq.
However, the information I have received from my sources in Iran suggests a sharp increase in Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and sectarian violence especially in the past few months. The Qods Force secretly builds, trains, finances, and arms an extensive terrorist network in Iraq. Iran’s goal is to create insecurity in Iraq and compel the coalition forces to leave in order to establish an “Islamic Republic” in Iraq.
Command H.Q. of IRGC’s Qods Force for Terrorist Activities in Iraq
1- Brigadier-General Abtahi is commander of Qods Force’s terrorist network in Iraq. Formerly, Abtahi was among IRGC commanders in Lebanon. After the fall of Iraq’s former regime, Abtahi took charge of the activities of the Qods Force in the Persian Gulf region particularly in Iraq. Abtahi uses various front organizations in Iraq, including the Mobin Cultural Headquarters, run entirely by Qods Force, to keep contact with Iraqi elements and groups that are affiliated with the Iranian regime.
2- The command center for these terrorist networks is the Fajr Base which is located in southwestern Iran and is affiliated with the Qods Force. This Base is the tactical command center for the Qods Force operatives active in southern and central provinces of Iraq. Communications regarding the activities of terrorist networks and that of leaders of Iraqi groups and parties affiliated with Tehran is directed from Fajr Base. The Base is located in the city of Ahwaz in the north of Chahar-Shir Circle (Falake-ye Chahar-Shir). This base is one of the three command centers of the Qods Force for operations in Iraq. The Qods Force is commanded by IRGC Brigadier-General Qassem Soleimani who is stationed in Kazemi Garrison, located within the compound of former American Embassy in Tehran, near the joint command center of the IRGC.
3- Brigadier-General Abtahi is based in the Fajr Base in Ahwaz and is aided by the most experienced Qods Force commanders. Among Abtahi’s deputies are:
a. IRGC Colonel Ali Balalak, Commander of Operations in Fajr Base
b. IRGC Colonel Ahmad Saaki, Commander of Intelligence in Fajr Base. He makes contact with Iraqi elements under the alias Abu-Sajjad.
c. Ali-Akbar Tabatabaie who is in charge of a front organization called “Markaz-e Ezame Be’sat”. This front organization is used in the trafficking of the operatives of the terrorist networks and commanders of Qods Force into Iraq.
d. Moeini, a commander in Qods Force, is in charge of transportation of terrorist operatives into Iraq
e. Davoudi, a Fajr Base commander in Ahwaz is directly involved in terrorist activities and Qods Force operations in Iraq
f. Naeini, is in charge of propaganda and publicity affairs as well as the Cultural Unit of the Fajr Base which provides religious and fundamentalist briefings for the terrorist networks in Iraq
g. Emad Kalantar, a principal commander of Qods force who frequently travels to Najaf in Iraq under the guise of religious activities or making contacts with religious organizations.
h. Hadj Abbas, is a commander in Qods force and works under the pretext of an organization called “Global Association of House of the Prophet” in Najaf. He is in the intelligence division of the Qods Force and in the past has traveled to Baghdad for a special intelligence missions accompanied by two other agents named Abu-Aziz and Rezaei. They have had an active role in supporting armed groups which have clashed with the coalition forces in Iraq.
i. A high-ranking commander of Qods Force named Khoeiniha directs the communications of the terrorist networks from Qods Force’s Command HQ in Tehran’s Kazemi Garrison. He travels from Tehran to Ahwaz every other month.
4- In Iraq, the central base of this network is in the city of Najaf. This place works under the guise of a cultural institution named “Al-Najaf Al-Ashraf Al-Saqafieh Establishment.” This institution is headed by an Iranian mullah named Hamid Hosseini, and is located in a two-story house in Rasoul Street in Najaf—within 100 yards of Ayatollah Sistani’s office—and its main entrance is a black steel door.
Hamid Hosseini is a veteran commander of the Qods Force who used to live in the city of Qom in Iran. In spring of 2005, he was assigned to establish a covert operation center in Najaf to provide support, funding and weapons for the forces fighting against US troops in Iraq.
Hamid Hosseini has rented the above mentioned house for 10,000 dollars a month. This house is also used as a hub for secret trips to Iraq made by commanders of Qods Force. Among those who have stayed at this house is the IRGC Brigadier-General Ghassem Soleimani, the commander of the Qods Force.
5- The above institution in Najaf is in contact with Fajr Base in Ahwaz via phone, messengers and e-mail. One e-mail address used by this group is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Qods Force’s command and control of terror network in Iraq
1- The commander of this vast terror network in Iraq is Jamal Jafar Mohammad Ali Ebrahimi also known as “Mehdi Mohandes” who also uses the Iranian name Jamal Ebrahimi. In the 1980’s, as an experienced operative of a terrorist group, he was dispatched to Kuwait to plan the bombing of US and UK embassies. He is on the wanted-list of Interpol since 1984 and has since remained inside Iran.
2- Mohandes is among the veteran and more senior officers of IRGC Qods Force who has completed the command curriculum at the IRGC’s Imam Hossein University and is currently on the payroll of the Qods Force.
3- Mohandes is in contact with Abtahi in Iran, and with Hamid Hosseini in Najaf, Iraq. After the fall of former regime in Iraq in 2003, Mohandes secretly traveled to Iraq on the order of the Qods Force, to establish an organization called “Tajamo-e Islami” or “Islamic Gathering.” Within two years, by the direct order of Ghassem Soleimani, 950 of seasoned and trusted extremist operatives of the Qods Force were transferred to this organization. “Tajamo-e Islami” has offices in most Iraqi provinces and plays a major role in organizing militant Shiite groups loyal to the Iranian regime and directing their terrorist activities.
4- Mehdi Mohandes is currently a member of the National Assembly of Iraq from Babel province.
Creating Hezbollah as a new terrorist network:
Jamal Ebrahimi (Mohandes) has embarked on creating a new terrorist network and is calling it “Hezbollah” to mimic Lebanon’s Hezbollah. This network operates in Basra and Baghdad and is in contact with the Qods Force and the Hezbollah of Lebanon. Members of this organization receive military and terrorist training in Basra and their arms and ammunition is smuggled to Basra through the Shalamche border passage. Mohandes is also sending his forces to Iran via southern boarders for special military and intelligence training. These trainees are transported to Ahwaz and Tehran in groups of 20 to 50 and are trained in garrisons dedicated to this purpose by the Qods Forces. Length of training is 15 to 30 days.
Front institutions of “Mohandes” Network affiliated with Qods Force:
“Mohandes” or Jamal Ebrahimi’s network has contacts in different cities in Iraq who are responsible for directing and communicating with the terror networks. These contacts use the following institutions as their front organizations:
1- Dar-al-Quran Institution – This institution is active in Iraq’s southern cities and is one of the largest and most active cultural institutions associated with the Qods Force’s Mobin Cultural Headquarters in Iraq. The person in charge of this institution is “Adnan Ebrahim Mohsen Al-Mohseni” also known as Abu-Ali Al-Basri who is also kwon by Iranian name of Adnan Mohseni. He is a seasoned officer of IRGC Qods Force, who is currently working in southern Iraq using the Dar-Al-Quran front organization. He is on Qods Force’s payroll and his salary is equal to that of an IRGC Brigadier-general.
Dar-Al-Quran in Basra is located in Al-Ashar district in Um-Albroon circle, in front of Al-Ashar police station which is the second floor of Imam Al-Hadi library.
2- Imam Al-Hadi Institution – This institution is managed in Basra by Abu Tamazer also known by his Iranian name, Mohsen Al-Mohsen. He is on Qods Force’s payroll and for a long time lived in Iran. He is also an officer of Jamal Ebrahimi’s “Tajamo-e Islami” organization. His pay is equal to that of an IRGC Brigadier-General.
3- Medina Al-Monavareh Institution – This institution has offices in Shiite provinces and is headquartered in Basra in “Taviseh” district. The person in charge of this institution receives pay equal to that of an IRGC Brigadier-General.
Transfer of Funds for the Terror Network:
To cover the cost of terror network in Iraq, Abtahi sends millions of dollars from Ahwaz into Iraq every month. To transfer this money, every month Hamid Hosseini sends a special envoy from Najaf to Ahwaz. This envoy travels via the Shalamche border on a vehicle that goes to Ahwaz’s Fajr Base where he collects the money from Abtahi.
At Shalamche border the guards are affiliates of Mehdi Mohandes’ network and allow Hamid Hosseini’s envoy to illegally travel to Iran. Upon Hosseini’s return through the same boarder check point, his envoy is not searched.
After Hamid Hosseini’s envoy collects the money in Ahwaz, he is escorted by Iranian regime’s official security force to the Shalamche border, where he is handed over to Mehdi Mohandes’ agents who escort him to Najaf. Hamid Hosseini will then distribute the funds in different areas amongst the terrorist network. To ensure the secrecy of his money transfer system, Hamid Hosseini uses different vehicles for each mission.
In addition, the Qods Forces uses its affiliate currency exchange centers to send money to its front institutions and its terror network. Al-Qorai Company is one of such currency exchange entities that keep offices in Najaf, Iraq and also in Qom, Iran. This company is managed by Adel Fazel. Qods Force frequently sends hundreds of thousands of dollars from Qom to Iraq, where Iranian regime’s agents collect the funds at the exchange center in Sore Al-Ashrin Street in Najaf.
Sending Explosives and Arms to Iraq
1- Mohandes network, in association with Abtahi, conducts the operation of transferring arms and IEDs from Ahwaz, through the Shalamche border passage into Iraq.
2- Ahmad Sami Abdul-Majid Al-Halali, also known as Abu-Majed Al-Basri with an Iranian name of Ahmad Halali is currently in charge of Iraqi personnel at Shalamche boarder checkpoint. He is a member of Mohandes network and manages all aspects of trafficking cargo coming in from Iran through Shalamche. He is affiliated with IRGC Qods Force.
3- A major front organization used by Qods force for delivery of arms and ammunition into Iraq is “HQ for Reconstruction of Iraq’s Holy Sites.” Members of this organization are supposed to work on rebuilding holy Shiite sites in religious cities of Najaf, Karbala, Baghdad’s Kadhimiyah but they are all operatives of the Qods Force and are under command of a senior Qods Force commander Brigadier-General Mansour Haqiqat-Pour who has a long experience in directing Hezbollah’s terror networks in Turkey.
The Iraq Reconstruction HQ has reached agreements with local authorities in different Iraqi provinces so that containers of goods arriving from Iran are not inspected at the border and are delivered sealed to Najaf, Karbala and Baghdad. The Qods Force hides arms and ammunitions in these containers.
4- This command H.Q. in Iraq is currently lead by a Qods Force commander named Khosravi, who is Iran’s liaison with the Iraqi government. The headquarters of “HQ for Reconstruction of Iraq’s Holy Sites” is in Karbala and it has 30 to 50 personnel in border passages between Mehran and Shalamche. These personnel are there to ensure an easy flow of caravans carrying containers of arms from Iran into Iraq. Coordination of these activities is done by Mansour Haqiqat-Pour.
5- In order to adequately cover all areas of operation, branch offices of “HQ for Reconstruction of Iraq’s Holy Sites” are so far located in Basra, Amareh, Naseriyeh, Divanieh, Najaf, Karbala, Kut and Baghdad.
6- Headquarter of “HQ for Reconstruction of Iraq’s Holy Sites” is in Tehran and Mansour Haqiqat-Pour is stationed there. This organization also has an office in Ahwaz to assist with its activities in Iraq. The organization uses a series of bank accounts for money transfers one of which is listed as “Collecting Charity for Reconstruction of Iraq’s Holy Sites.”
This group also used the following email address: email@example.com
7- The highest volume of cargo sent by the Reconstruction HQ passes through the Mehran-Badreh border crossing in Vasset province. This province is extensively used by the Iranian regime for the smuggling of weapon cargos into Iraq.
Other Terror Networks
Following are additional terrorist networks that are affiliated with the Qods Force conducting attacks against the coalition forces in Iraq as well as assassination of their opponents:
1- Abu-Mustafa Shaybani network – consists of approximately 300 special force personnel with the primary task of attacking US forces in Iraq by using IEDs or sharp-shooters. The real name of the leader of this group is Abdol-Hamid Hossein Al-Atabi and his Iranian name is Mustafa Atabi. Abu-Mustafa is a senior member of the Qods Force and is considered a Brigadier-General who has graduated from IRGC’s Imam Hossein University.
Abu-Mustafa Shaybani has family ties with Yunesi (Iran’s former Intelligence Minister), IRGC Brigadier-general Ghassem Soleimani (Commander of Qods Force) and IRGC commander Reza Saifollahi (former commander of Nasr Command HQ)
Due to his terrorist activities in Iraq, Abu-Mustafa Shaybani is being sought by the Coalition Forces and his name is on the list of the 41 most wanted in Iraq (he is number 24). To avoid arrest, he has left Iraq with the help of Qods Force and he currently resides in the city of Kermanshah where he directs his terrorist network from the Iranian side of the border.
2- Abu-Zia Basiri network – After Abu-Mustafa Shaybani’s departure, Abu-Zia assumed the responsibility of some of the terrorist networks active against US forces in Baghdad. His activities are in coordination with other network leaders in Baghdad. As an experienced operative of Qods Force he has resided in Qom (Iran) for a long time. His real name is Habib Abdolhadi Mohammad Al-Tamimi and in Iran he is known as Habib Altamimi. He currently resides in Baghdad and is on the Qods Force’s payroll.
The new information received from sources in Iran further confirms Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp and its notorious Qods Force as the biggest threat and most challenging obstacle in Iraq. Unless Iran’s influence is curbed, its agents arrested and brought to justice, and its proxies exposed, a genuine national unity government cannot take shape in Iraq.
Thank you very much.