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Tehran’s new terror escalation meant to extend, solidify gains in Iraq

Fox News, February 14, 2008

Alireza Jafarzadeh

Last week I made public new information about another escalation in the terrorist meddling of the ayatollahs’ regime in Iraq. I obtained the information from my sources inside the Iranian regime. These intelligence sources are associated with a network of Iran’s main opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (also known as the MEK), based in Ashraf City, Iraq.

The ayatollahs’ surge is primarily being carried out through the notorious Qods Force and its Iraqi terror networks. On the one hand, this is alarming news: Tehran’s new terror escalation is meant to strategically extend and solidify its gains in Iraq. On the other, however, this is good news: clearly, the ayatollahs are worried about the spread and consolidation of an Iraqi counter force.

What is this dual-pronged escalation about and what does it mean? The facts on the ground indicate that Tehran has been consistently losing ground, politically and militarily, over the past few months to the awakening forces of independence in Iraq. These forces, in tandem with a more robust campaign by the U.S.-led Multi-National Forces, have had significant success in pushing back the Al Qaeda and Tehran-backed terrorists. This is particularly true in the central provinces bordering Iran, such as Diyala Province.

According to the new intelligence, Tehran is attempting to counter with a comprehensive plan to expand its terrorist network in Iraq. To this end, the Qods Force has created a new command headquarters in the western Iranian city of Kermanshah, from where it directs three operational axes — northern, central and southern. Each operational sector has been assigned its own border-crossings and arms smuggling networks. Each is in charge of managing those terror networks in Iraq located within its sector.

The HQ’s commander is a high-ranking veteran Qods Force officer named Haj Amiri. Many of the top commanders in this new HQ are Iraqi nationals who worked with the Badr Corps before serving in the Qods Force, such as Ali Al-Hosseini and Ali Haydari.

The Northern Axis, responsible for Baghdad, Diyala and Kurdistan provinces, is perhaps the most vital to the ayatollahs’ new terror build-up. So much so that Amiri, the HQ’s commander is also in charge of this axis. The Northern Axis is connected in Baghdad to Abu-Jafar Al-Boka, previously with the Badr Corps and its naval unit. He currently leads several terrorist networks in Baghdad.

The Central Axis is commanded by a Qods Force officer named Andami. The border cities of Mehran and Ali-Gharbi are the main access points for weapons smuggling in this axis.

Qods Force Commander Jafar Ansari commands the Southern Axis. He funnels weapons into Iraq via the Hoor-Abdullah and Faw passageways. An Iraqi national named Khalil Arab is on the Qods Force’s payroll as a network commander affiliated with the Southern Axis. His forces were very active against American and British troops in Iraq’s southern provinces.

To effectively train would-be Iraqi terrorists, the new command HQ in Kermanshah utilizes several fully equipped and staffed training bases. Two bases in Kermanshah’s Kenesht valley, the Jalil-Abad Hizbollah Base in Varamin near Tehran, and the Isfahan Training Base in central Iran are presently the primary sites.

Less than a day after I revealed this new intelligence about the Qods Force new terror campaign, the Northern sector command struck at a pumping plant in Diyala Province. Using nearly 600-lbs of T.N.T., terrorists completely destroyed the plant and cut off the water supply.

The plant supplied water to Ashraf City — the residence of the Iranian Mojahedin’s members, recognized as “Protected Persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention — and nearly 20,000 Iraqis living in neighboring areas.

This heinous act came just a few days after the assassination of an Iraqi tribal leader whose forces were in charge of providing security for the water plant. According to experts in international law, the Qods Force attack constitutes a war crime against “Protected Persons” and civilians.

Rather than shaking the resolve of local Iraqis, this despicable act was harshly denounced. These nationalist Iraqis work with U.S.-led coalition forces as protectors of Ashraf City. As independent Iraqis, they are strongly against the ayatollahs and their Qods Force.

Ashraf City’s support crosses religious and ethnic lines. The anti-fundamentalist ideas emanating from Ashraf and the MEK’s practical contribution bringing about a partnership among Iraqis of all backgrounds have been key elements in the creation of a united front among Iraqis. This front has both in words and deeds targeted Tehran as the main strategic threat to Iraq.

As I emphasized in my new book, The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis (Palgrave: February 2008), the evidence confirms there is only one viable way to bring about and solidify security and stability in Iraq: stop Tehran’s ideological, political, and intelligence onslaught. There is still time to achieve this imperative if the following steps are taken:

1 — The formation of a national unity government, consisting of a wide spectrum of Iraq’s people, which is free of Iranian operatives;

2 — Full and immediate disarmament and disbanding of militias, including the Badr Corps and the Mahdi Army, and a purge of Iran-backed individuals from the security forces and military;

3 — Empowerment of the more moderate voices of Iraq. The Iranian opposition members based in Ashraf City are a strategic partner in the fight against Islamic fundamentalism and a counter weight to the Iranian regime’s influence in Iraq; clearly, they would be a catalyst to accomplishing just that.