Thursday, September 28, 2006

U.S. says Iran buys Iraq militia with arms, cash

Armored SUV damaged by an Iranian-made EFP (explosive formed penetrator)

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iran is funneling weapons and cash to buy the loyalty of armed groups in Iraq, but its long- term influence is bound to wane as Iraqis focus more on their own interests, a senior U.S. military official said.

The United States and Britain have in the past accused Iran of fostering violence in Iraq. The Islamic Republic denies it.

But the official gave far more detail, and said the latest weapons finds -- including explosives bearing factory stamps indicating they come from Iran -- show that the policy of arming Iraqi militia is supported at high levels in Iran and not the work of rogue Iranian operatives.

"You see them enabling all comers," he said. "And by the way, nobody in this country stays bought. You're rented."

The senior military official was discussing intelligence issues under condition he not be named, in a briefing with journalists in Baghdad on Wednesday, the transcript of which was made available on Thursday.

He estimated that Iran has sent "millions of dollars" to the Mehdi Army militia of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, including rogue elements that had slipped out of Sadr's direct control.

Iranian weapons found in Iraq include surface-to-air missiles and anti-tank rockets like those used by Hezbollah in Lebanon against Israel, as well as tank-destroying Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFPs) that have become common in roadside bombs used to attack U.S. and British troops.

"When you talk about EFP's, that is almost uniquely Iranian. In fact, the fingerprint of copper plate being formed in a machine shop, I mean, the pattern is so identical that, you know, we can easily identify it right there."

Read the rest at the Washington Post

Related Link:
Newest Bombs Pose Major Threat to U.S. Troops in Iraq (10/25/05)