Counter-Terrorism: Lots of Iranians in Iraq

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March 11,2008: While Iran has reduced its support for terrorists in Iraq, it has not withdrawn its people from Iraq. U.S. and British troops are still seeking members of the Iranian Al Quds Force (an intelligence and commando operation that supports Islamic terrorism overseas) inside Iraq. Quds always attracted very bright and able people, and the organization was in charge of clandestine operations in Iraq while Saddam was in power. Many Quds officers actually warmed to the United States for removing Saddam. Many more Quds operatives were sent to Iraq in 2003 to see if they could establish another Islamic republic there. But they quickly found that Iraqi Shias were very divided on that subject. This got many Quds officers disagreeing with their commanders back home. The feeling was that the officials back in Iran were living in a dream world. This was reinforced by the debate over al Qaeda. Even though this Sunni terrorist organization was violently anti-Shia, and had killed many Shia in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, some Quds officials backed supporting al Qaeda, because of a common enemy, the United States in particular, and the West in general. The sort of thing can happen because the Iranian leadership is more a federation than a dictatorship. So Quds can keep being nice to al Qaeda as long as not too many other Iranian factions get mad at Quds. Currently, Quds operatives are believed concentrating on supporting radical factions of the Badr and Sadr organizations, in the hopes of persuading these Shia militiamen to make more attacks on foreign troops in the future.

The hundred or so Quds operators in Iraq are the smallest component of the Iranian force there. There are thousands of Iranian businessmen in Iraq, in support of the huge amount of trade that now takes place between the two nations. Some of these businessmen actually work for Iranian intelligence or secret police organizations. These operatives have been good at maintaining their cover, but some have been caught.

More difficult to catch are the hundreds of intel and security agents that have entered as religious students or instructors. Some 2,000 of these Iranians have moved into religious schools in the south. Most are legit, but many are not. Taking these guys down is difficult, since they spend some of their time on religious matters, and live in neighborhoods thick with Shia Islamic conservatives, many of them armed.

 


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