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Saturday, 30 December 2006
Iranian Operatives Captured in Iraq Sent Home
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WaPo: BAGHDAD, Dec. 29 -- Two senior Iranian operatives who were detained by U.S. forces in Iraq and were strongly suspected of planning attacks against American military forces and Iraqi targets were expelled to Iran on Friday, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.

The decision to free the men was made by the Iraqi government and has angered U.S. military officials who say the operatives were seeking to foment instability here.

"These are really serious people," said one U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They were the target of a very focused raid based on intelligence, and it would be hard for one to believe that their activities weren't endorsed by the Iranian government. It's a situation that is obviously troubling."

One of the commanders, identified by officials simply as Chizari, was the third-highest-ranking official of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' al-Quds Brigade, the unit most active in aiding, arming and training groups outside Iran, including Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, U.S. officials said. The other commander was described as equally significant to Iran's support of foreign militaries but not as high-ranking...

U.S. defense officials familiar with the raids said the captured Iranians had detailed weapons lists, documents pertaining to shipments of weapons into Iraq, organizational charts, telephone records and maps, among other sensitive intelligence information. Officials were particularly concerned by the fact that the Iranians had information about importing modern, specially shaped explosive charges into Iraq, weapons that have been used in roadside bombs to target U.S. military armored vehicles...

New Duranty has more: Whatever the case, the behind-the-scenes discussions were intense. An Iraqi politician familiar with the case said the Americans had been trying to get the Iraqis to expel the men and declare them persona non grata.

But the Iraqis pushed back. They agreed to release a statement that condemned interference by neighboring countries in general, but stopped short of capitulating fully to American wishes and declaring the men intruders.

The delicately worded statement said the government “emphasizes to Iraqi neighboring countries the necessity of respecting the independence of Iraq.”

But it added that Iraq wants “to continue good relations with its neighbor Iran and hopes that such incidents will not be repeated in the future, which may disturb these relations.”

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Posted on 12/30/2006 7:02 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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