4 years, 4 months ago
It is no secret that the Iranians continue to supply weapons to Iraqi Shi’a insurgents, and even deploy their own Quds to perpetrate violence inside Iraq. From the June 2009 issue of the Sentinel at the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point.
On may 6, 2009, Iraqi Army and police auxiliary units supported by U.S. advisers discovered a cache of weapons hidden along the banks of the Tigris River in Amara, the capital of the majority Shi`a Maysan Province. The hoard included 150 copper plates for use in Explosively-Formed Projectile (EFP) roadside bombs, which have the highest per-incident lethality rate of any explosive device used in Iraq. Along with the professionally milled copper cones were 70 passive infrared firing switches used to precisely detonate EFP devices as vehicles enter the killing zone. Fifty rocket launching rails were also located, composed of modified carjacks designed to elevate 107mm and 122mm rockets for relatively accurate long-range attacks.
This is recent indication of the extent and magnitude of involvement of Iranian elements in the affairs of Iraq – and by extrapolation the U.S. because so many U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have died in Iraq. While this was a weapons cache, a static display of involvement, the kinetic fight against Iranian elements went on on unabated even as late as autumn 2008 according to intelligence reports mined by the Sentinel.
The Hawr al-Howeiza marshes further to the south offer another clear example of insurgent groups seeking to defend their lines of communication and supply to sanctuaries and logistical networks in Iran. The Hawr al-Howeiza has long been a major smuggling route between Iran and Iraq due to the difficulties of policing the maze of waterways that permeate the border. U.S. and Iraqi Army forces have strung a line of border forts across the Hawr al-Howeiza, supported by FOBs north and south of the marshes at Musharrah and Qalit Salih, respectively. U.S. forces met resistance as soon as the process began in the autumn of 2008. Large Iranian-made 240mm rockets were used to attack U.S. FOBs around Qalit Salih, and the frequency of mortar and rocket attacks increased against the U.S. FOB in Majar al-Kabir. Each month since September 2008, two to four EFPs have been laid on U.S. access routes to the marshes. These attacks have borne the classic hallmarks of Lebanese Hizb Allah training in terms of configuration of passive-infrared telemetry, remote-control arming switches and encasement in molded insulation foam “rocks.” Other roadside bombs included 10 well-concealed daisy-chained 155mm artillery shells on the access roads between the FOB in Qalit Salih and the Hawr al-Howeiza field. These attacks confirmed to patterns previously noted by UK explosives ordnance technicians when British forces last patrolled the areas in 2005.
So just how effective has Iranian involvement been in Iraq? Steve Schippert gives us an important metric.
Immediately, the context you need: Since the beginning of U.S. operations in Iraq in 2003, fully 10 percent of our combat fatalities there have come at the hands of just one Iranian weapon — the EFP (Explosively Formed Penetrator), designed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps specifically to penetrate the armor of the M1 Abrams main battle tank and, consequently, everything else deployed in the field. It is how the Iranian regime has been killing your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers serving in Iraq.
I’ll wager you were not aware of that rather damning statistic. How do I know it? Well . . . I asked a friend in the Pentagon in 2007. If ambitious journalists would like to share this with their readers and viewers, please do. The numbers are not secret; I am sure they have even been updated. Perhaps they were published elsewhere around the same time. If they were, chances are you never saw it. And those who have seen the figure likely saw it right here at The Tank on National Review Online. Because I wrote it. Over and over.
The current number of U.S. warriors who have perished in Iraq is at 4322. This means that some 430 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have been killed in Iraq either by Iranians or Iranian supply weapons or trained insurgents. We judge even this number to be likely a very low estimate. Take note, however, that this doesn’t include the many more thousands or U.S. warriors who have no legs, who have lost hearing or eyesight, or who have lost proper brain function because of Iranian-supplied IEDs.
The previous administration battled Iran in Iraq, while still failing to see and treat this as the regional war that it is. Democracy programs at the State Department were killed under Condi Rice, and up until late 2008 Iranian elements were given free access to Iraq. The only success in battling Iranian elements came within Iraq itself, a victory to be sure, but costly nonetheless.
Has Iran learned any lessons from this, and how will the current administration interact with Iran? If the recent failure even to give verbal and informal support to fledgling freedom fighters on the streets of Tehran wasn’t enough, we now have the Obama administration to thank for one of the the most shameful incidents in American history.
There are a few things you need to know about President Obama’s shameful release on Thursday of the “Irbil Five” — Quds Force commanders from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who were coordinating terrorist attacks in Iraq that have killed hundreds — yes, hundreds — of American soldiers and Marines.
First, of the 4,322 Americans killed in combat in Iraq since 2003, 10 percent of them (i.e., more than 400) have been murdered by a single type of weapon alone, a weapon that is supplied by Iran for the singular purpose of murdering Americans. As Steve Schippert explains at NRO’s military blog, the Tank, the weapon is “the EFP (Explosively Formed Penetrator), designed by Iran’s IRGC specifically to penetrate the armor of the M1 Abrams main battle tank and, consequently, everything else deployed in the field.” Understand: This does not mean Iran has killed only 400 Americans in Iraq. The number killed and wounded at the mullahs’ direction is far higher than that — likely multiples of that — when factoring in the IRGC’s other tactics, such as the mustering of Hezbollah-style Shiite terror cells.
Second, President Bush and our armed forces steadfastly refused demands by Iran and Iraq’s Maliki government for the release of the Irbil Five because Iran was continuing to coordinate terrorist operations against American forces in Iraq (and to aid Taliban operations against American forces in Afghanistan). Freeing the Quds operatives obviously would return the most effective, dedicated terrorist trainers to their grisly business …
Third, Obama’s decision to release the five terror-masters comes while the Iranian regime (a) is still conducting operations against Americans in Iraq, even as we are in the process of withdrawing, and (b) is clearly working to replicate its Lebanon model in Iraq: establishing a Shiite terror network, loyal to Iran, as added pressure on the pliant Maliki to understand who is boss once the Americans leave.
Fourth, President Obama’s release of the Quds terrorists is a natural continuation of his administration’s stunningly irresponsible policy of bartering terrorist prisoners for hostages. As I detailed here on June 24, Obama has already released a leader of the Iran-backed Asaib al-Haq terror network in Iraq, a jihadist who is among those responsible for the 2007 murders of five American troops in Karbala. While the release was ludicrously portrayed as an effort to further “Iraqi reconciliation” (as if that would be a valid reason to spring a terrorist who had killed Americans), it was in actuality a naïve attempt to secure the reciprocal release of five British hostages — and a predictably disastrous one: The terror network released only the corpses of two of the hostages, threatening to kill the remaining three (and who knows whether they still are alive?) unless other terror leaders were released.
Michael Ledeen has reported that the release of the Irbil Five is part of the price Iran has demanded for its release in May of the freelance journalist Roxana Saberi. Again, that’s only part of the price: Iran also has demanded the release of hundreds of its other terror facilitators in our custody. Expect to see Obama accommodate this demand, too, in the weeks ahead.
So this report begs the question: is a free lance journalist so valuable that the President of the U.S. would release terrorists who had managed the killing of well over 400 U.S. servicemen? The obvious answer to that question is no, which leaves us with only one other alternative.
Finally, when it comes to Iran, it has become increasingly apparent that President Obama wants the mullahs to win. What you need to know is that Barack Obama is a wolf in “pragmatist” clothing: Beneath the easy smile and above-it-all manner — the “neutral” doing his best to weigh competing claims — is a radical leftist wedded to a Manichean vision that depicts American imperialism as the primary evil in the world.
Sadly, McCarthy’s analysis is the only logical one left. If there is no pragmatic reason to take an action, one must search next for ideological ones. And the ghosts of hundreds of sons of America haunt us still.