Sailors held as bargaining chips for Iranians captured by U.S. in Irbil? Update: U.S. warned UK of Iran reprisals after Irbil raid

posted at 3:40 pm on March 24, 2007 by Allahpundit

Big news if true. The report comes from Asharq al-Awsat, which you’ll recall had scoop after scoop about the Iranian general who disappeared last month. The jury’s still out on that story, though, so take their credibility here with a grain of salt. With thanks to John of Verum Serum for the tip:

The sailors, taken at gunpoint Friday by Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Al Quds soldiers were captured intentionally and are to be used as bargaining chips to be used for the release of five Iranians who were arrested at the Iranian consul in Irbil, Iraq by US troops, an Iranian official told the daily paper Asharq al-Awsat on Saturday.

In addition, a senior Iranian military official said Saturday that the decision to capture the soldiers was made during a March 18 emergency meeting of the High Council for Security following a report by the Al-Quds contingent commander, Kassem Suleimani, to the Iranian chief of the armed forces, Maj.Gen. Hassan Firouz Abadi. In the report, according to Asharq al-Awsat, Suleimani warned Abadi that Al Quds and Revolutionary Guards’ operations had become transparent to US and British intelligence following the arrest of a senior Al Quds officer and four of his deputies in Irbil.

According to the official, Iran was worried that its detained people would leak sensitive intelligence information.

The fears about transparency are plausible: just yesterday I mentioned that attacks involving EFPs (which the Quds Force is suspected of supplying to Shiite militias) are way down over the past few months, and on Thursday came the bombshell about the roll-up of that “rogue” Mahdi Army network that’s allegedly on Iran’s payroll and connected to EFP trafficking. The same network is suspected of having carried out the Karbala raid on U.S. troops in late January, which may have been Iran’s first attempt to retaliate for our Irbil operation. If these “rogue” JAM guys (who probably aren’t rogue) are as deeply involved with Iran as the news stories have alleged, then yeah, no surprise that the mullahs would be alarmed by news of their detainment. The problem is, the timing’s a little off. The first arrests of the Mahdi Army network supposedly happened on Monday, March 19, a day after the emergency meeting described here. Maybe the reports about the dates are slightly off? Or maybe Iran got tipped off the day before the arrests that they were coming? Or maybe this is all garbage? I rehash, you decide! Although it’s worth noting as we go forward that there were rumors of an Iranian plan to kidnap western personnel earlier this week — on March 18, in fact, the very same day the emergency meeting supposedly went down. Eeeenteresting.

Assuming it has nothing to do with revenge for Irbil, then what’s it all about, Alfie? JPost again:

Meanwhile, officials from Western countries expressed concern Saturday that Iran would engage in similar acts in the future in order to discourage the United Nation’s Security Council from imposing further sanctions, reported Army Radio.

Debka’s hearing the same and says there’s more on the way:

Our military sources report that Middle East and Persian Gulf nations as well as the US and UK are bracing for further Iranian marine, air or terrorist operations in Iraq and other places in reprisal for the sanctions measure before the UN Security Council in New York. On the ready too are the Saudi armed forces and some Israeli air and naval units…

DEBKAfile’s military sources say the incident was but a pretext. According to incoming intelligence, Tehran plans to release a series of reprisals after sanctions are approved in New York Saturday evening, March 24.

The Islamic Republic is also cautioning its Gulf neighbors Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, whose foreign ministers meet visiting US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in Assuan Saturday morning, not to cooperate with Washington’s regional policies and to stay neutral in the US-Iran dispute.

President Mahmoud Admadinejad’s last-minute cancellation of his appearance before the Security Council is further indication that Tehran gave up on diplomatic maneuvers for pre-empting the sanctions resolution and, assuming their approval was not preventable, turned instead to ramping up military tensions.

If their economy is as bad as advertised and if it’s really true that Russia is going to starve their Bushehr reactor, maybe they’re at the point where they’ve got nothing to lose by being provocative. If they get hit in response, so much the better for them; the affront to national pride would boost their popularity. But if they don’t get hit and they keep on provoking, the better the chances will be of getting Russia and China to agree to really tough sanctions — not the wrist-slap they’re going to pass this afternoon — after the next deadline passes. Can their economy really be so badly off that even draconian measures would do no further damage?

They’re starting to milk the hostage situation for propaganda value, too, which is not winning them friends in the EU. Should be an interesting last few months in office for Tony Blair.

Update: As expected. Mario Loyola says you can thank John Bolton, but don’t expect any more from the UN after this. We shall see. Meanwhile, Iranian blogger Kamangir says a website aligned with Ahmadinejad says Iran is looking for an apology.

Update: They don’t have the balls. Also, I was wondering when someone was going to bring up Asgari, the missing general. If Iran is really worried about their operations being transparent, he’d do as much damage as the five captured at Irbil. Well, the wait is over:

Intelligence sources said any advance order for the arrests was likely to have come from Major-General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards…

Safavi is known to be furious about the recent defections to the West of three senior Guards officers, including a general, and the effect of UN sanctions on his own finances.

Note that at the end of the article an Iraqi military officer says the Brits were, in fact, in Iranian waters, just as the Iranians claim. An Iraqi fisherman who witnessed the incident begs to disagree.

Update: Blair has called a meeting of his “Cobra team.” Says one British defense official about Iran, “There is nothing to be gained in provoking a confrontation, because that would be playing into their hands. But neither should we let them have it all their way. We tried that before and we’re still trying to get our kit back.”

Update: We figured it was coming.

British Intelligence chiefs were warned in January to expect reprisal attacks from Iran after America detained five suspected Iranian intelligence officers in Iraq.

Although the CIA alert led to the United States raising its official security threat level throughout the Middle East and elsewhere, Britain did not follow suit.

The warning came after the US received credible information that Iranian-backed extremists were plotting attacks on Western targets.

American intelligence analysts told their British counterparts that the arrest of the five Iranians would have a direct impact on southern Iraq. Crucially, they warned that there was evidence that Iran intended to step up attacks in the border area and around Basra, where British forces are based.

Needless to say, the British military doesn’t believe the incident was a “misunderstanding.”

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Jesus H. Christ!

Iran has been making war upon the USA since 1979. When the Hell are we going to start hitting them back?

Iran is a rogue nation. They ignore international norms and law, and they are KILLING American soldiers in Iraq and are now kidnaping the troops of our allies.


When are we going to start bombing their military bases or their seat of government?

You wrote: “If they get hit in response, so much the better for them; the affront to national pride would boost their popularity.”

Well the mullahs won’t be popular IF THEY ARE KILLED BY A JDAM DROPPED ON THEIR HOUSES!

georgej on March 24, 2007 at 3:49 PM

This is just a little too suicidal. If the RN boys are back within a week or so, unharmed, it will blow over. If not… I think it may be time to start packing my seabag. This is just a little too aggressive, even for Iran. They have been very carefully walking the line in order to look tough without getting smacked, but they may be over the line here.

Eh, who am I kidding? “World Opinion” will keep Britain from doing anything for fear of looking bad, and we can’t do a thing until they do.

All, the same, I think I’ll still make sure my seabag is packed…

Militant Bibliophile on March 24, 2007 at 3:57 PM

amen george !!

mrfixit on March 24, 2007 at 3:59 PM

Iran been asking for a smack down for many many years, I think we should give them one.

djohn669 on March 24, 2007 at 4:10 PM


Why do you continue to use DEBKA as a source? That site is almost always wrong on it’s predictions.

NPP on March 24, 2007 at 4:18 PM

Why do you continue to use DEBKA as a source? That site is almost always wrong on it’s predictions.

True, but what they’re saying jibes with what’s being reported on Israeli army radio so I figured it was worth mentioning. Plus, most of our readers know (hopefully) to take Debka with a grain of salt. Same with Asharq. Same with pretty much anything having to do with Iran from any source.

Allahpundit on March 24, 2007 at 4:27 PM

Finally, some good news coming from the U.N.

15-0 in the S.C. in favor of sanctions after Condi twisted the arms of the South Africans. BUT, is this more of the same old U.N. talk, or is it, as AP said “really tough sanctions”? (Isn’t that an oxymoron?) The sanctions include a ban on Iranian weapons SALES but not PURCHASES. I wonder of the Rooskies promised them something in return. MiGs?

Also, the little be-otch Ahamadingdong punked outta coming here to address the U.N. Why would Allah the Merciful allow this to happen? Didn’t Ahmadingdong say he was bathed in white light from Heaven the last time he spoke to the U.N.?

Bad news: Belarus is now gonna sell night vision sniper scopes to Hugo Chavez. The El Duce wannabe thinks he’s a badass. He’s got some learnin’ to do.

Tony737 on March 24, 2007 at 4:32 PM

What a circus. Ironically the only country willing to go to war with Iran has been Hussein’s Iraq. Now there’s an irony for you. Why don’t the Brits bomb one oil field per day until their people are returned. Once they run out of oil fields they could start bombing dams. Once they run out of dams then bomb all the bridges. And so on. There are so few men in Washington. Are there no men in London?

Mojave Mark on March 24, 2007 at 4:38 PM

Didn’t Ahmadingdong say he was bathed in white light from Heaven the last time he spoke to the U.N.?

After today’s vote, that white light turned into a golden shower.

That he can still import weapons is silly. Iran never sold weapons, did it? It gets all its stuff from elsewhere. Isn’t Iran buying some sort of super anti-aircraft carrier missile from the Chinese? It’s obviously bracing for a conflict.

lorien1973 on March 24, 2007 at 4:39 PM

Iran taking hostages? Whoever heard of such a thing? First Iraq becomes Vietnam. Now Iran takes hostages? What’s next? MTV starts playing Robert Palmer videos again?

Buck Turgidson on March 24, 2007 at 4:40 PM

It is time to test our new inventions especially those nukes that does not testing. This is a great for nuclear scientists. They will be geting fresh data from Iran. Till now, I still find it hard to believe that they kidnap those british soldiers.

Ouabam on March 24, 2007 at 4:45 PM

It’s always valuable to know what Walid Pharis’ thoughts are.

Stephen M on March 24, 2007 at 4:57 PM

Great link Stephen M.

Limerick on March 24, 2007 at 5:05 PM

Barbary Pirates, redux.

rockhauler on March 24, 2007 at 5:39 PM

Thanks for the link, Stephen. Walid’s always got good stuff, I hope he’s right about the Iranian people, we’ve been hearing that for years.

I just finished Walid’s book “The War of Ideas”. This man is a treasure trove of information on how the enemy thinks. I highly recommend his last book “Future Jihad”, it just came back out in paperback.

Tony737 on March 24, 2007 at 5:45 PM

the US and UK are bracing for further Iranian marine, air or terrorist operations in Iraq and other places in reprisal for the sanctions measure before the UN Security Council in New York.

Isn’t it time for the Nancy Peloci and the rest of the Democrats to introduce legislation to “defund” the UN?

PinkyBigglesworth on March 24, 2007 at 5:47 PM

On the ready too are the Saudi armed forces and some Israeli air and naval units…

Man, we live in interesting times…

Pablo on March 24, 2007 at 6:29 PM

Iran is looking for an apology for the way the Kuffarite Empire of Persia was depicted in 300.

VinceP1974 on March 24, 2007 at 6:52 PM

Barbary Pirates, redux.

rockhauler on March 24, 2007 at 5:39 PM

That was Libya but I see what you mean. We dealt with the threat back then in a very forceful manner and it’s time to do so again.

Yakko77 on March 24, 2007 at 7:14 PM

Yeah, that was Libya (known as Tripoli back then) but they were still members of the “Ummah”. Same war, different battle.

Tony737 on March 24, 2007 at 7:42 PM

Needless to say, the British military doesn’t believe the incident was a “misunderstanding.”

When it comes to Iran, is it ever? As others have said, they’ve pretty much known what they’re doing since 1979.

Yakko77 on March 24, 2007 at 9:52 PM

If Iran dsemands return of its troops before they release their hostages…

The British Government, in response to this act of war, should then capture an Iranian Navel vessel and crew, and offer to trade THOSE Iranians for the kidnapped British Sailors.

Jones Zemkophill on March 24, 2007 at 10:17 PM

Irans about to learn what “total war” means

If their current premier thinks he can shore up his waning political power by torturing 15 british troops he’s going to reap the whirlwind

EricPWJohnson on March 24, 2007 at 10:46 PM

maybe they’re at the point where they’ve got nothing to lose by being provocative

I’m not so sure. I’m still wondering how they managed to take the sailors to begin with -were they allowed to be captured to avoid escalating what may have been a minor misunderstanding? I can imagine the response of coallition forces will be much different the next time Iranian forces come anywhere close to their positions.

Fool me once and take prisoners, shame on you. Try to fool me twice and there won’t be anything left of you to try fooling anyone ever again!

At least I hope that’s the way it will work.

taznar on March 24, 2007 at 11:27 PM

We don’t have to attack them to make them feel the pain. Maybe a single domestic refinery accident could do the trick.

crosspatch on March 25, 2007 at 12:09 AM

I’m sorry, but no longer do we have terrorist coming out of the shadows to behead our citizesn, now we have a Nation State, “Iran” actively taken responsibility in hostile aggressions upon the United States Of America and on of it’s top allies, one of them, the United Kingdom…….. and this is not an act of war?

I know they want us to draw us into a limited scale battle, that they can manipulate, with the help of the United States Democatic Party and MSM, and milk for years, but what happens when the “Might of the Uhited States” is finally unleashed?

Let me guess, another Pelosi vote to de-fund it?

PinkyBigglesworth on March 25, 2007 at 1:04 AM

I look for Iran to release it’s victims before this can heat up (like in 2004) but what if they don’t. Will the British surrender to Iran without firing a shot or will they rediscover even a bit of Churchill’s guts at this late stage in the game? And what of our Democratic Congress? If the UK does stand up to Iran will Pelosi, Reid and crew stand beside her or risk looking limp in the face of Islamofascism on their way to the 2008 elections?

This is an act of war!

Buzzy on March 25, 2007 at 1:40 AM

Iran plays the game of “chicken”.

I recommend a fine mustard-based sauce, some capers, and a neutron tossed salad.

profitsbeard on March 25, 2007 at 2:20 AM

Profit, that sounds good, but I was thinking ‘roast duck with mango sauce’ … I mean, we ARE talkin’ about cavemen here, right? But, hey, I ain’t tossin’ NOBODY’S freakin’ salad! (double negative)

Tony737 on March 25, 2007 at 4:27 AM

Iranian Hostage Crisis redux… British Style.

I have to wonder how the hell they got the Brit soldiers, without the Brit soldiers knowing they were coming long before they got there. They don’t use radar? AWACS? Nothing to monitor the sea ESPECIALLY when they’re conducting ops launched from a warship? And off the FLAGSHIP of their fleet no less. Were the Iranians using a previously unknown of Stealth Boat?

I smell a rat. Something’s just not right about an incident like this happening in this day and age with all the resources we, and our allies, possess. We and our allies can practically detect the short-hairs on the gonads of a flea from outer space, but they can’t see an Iranian PT boat on open waters? Bull.

SilverStar830 on March 25, 2007 at 8:07 AM

Here is an ariticle in USA Today describing an attack by Iranian soldiers on US and Iraqi troops INSIDE OF IRAQ.

“According to a U.S. Army report out of Iraq obtained by U.S. News, American troops, acting as advisers for Iraqi border guards, were recently surrounded and attacked by a larger unit of Iranian soldiers, well within the border of Iraq.”

Clink on the link above to see the official response by the 101st Airborne HQ concerning this incident.

As I asked above — how much more of this Iranian crap are we going to put up with?

georgej on March 25, 2007 at 1:00 PM

What was it Nazsrallah said? Something along the lines of, “I didn’t think Israel would react that way to the kidnapping of two soldiers!”

rockhauler on March 25, 2007 at 1:19 PM

Iran using terrorist tactics? Who would have thunk it?

I’m with georgeJ and Ouabam on this. Time to do a little retaliation.

DannoJyd on March 25, 2007 at 2:09 PM

EXCLUSIVE Captured Britons in Tehran move Mullahs are holding them hostage
By Rupert Hamer Defence Correspondent [email protected]
HARDLINERS who seized 15 British sailors and marines will demand a “prisoners swap” of Iranian agents to secure their release.

Up to 50 Iranian “spies” have been captured and imprisoned by British troops in secret operations in southern Iraq in the last four years.–swap-sailors-for-our-jailed-spies&method=full&objectid=18805338&siteid=62484-name_page.html

TheBigOldDog on March 25, 2007 at 2:40 PM

Ten bucks says the “Can’t we get along?” crowd will win out in this situation. :(

I’d like to start kicking ass and taking names.

Tim Burton on March 25, 2007 at 5:12 PM

Perhaps Iran should consider what an American president can do when he has no re-election plans.

bloviator on March 25, 2007 at 5:48 PM

Perhaps Iran should consider what an American president can do when he has no re-election plans.

bloviator on March 25, 2007 at 5:48 PM

Heh. Yup.

I love Dubya 2001-2003. And I have this vague hope that any day now, he’s going to realize that he doesn’t have to worry about votes anymore, and get back to the cowboy I voted for. Maybe get back to doing what he actually thinks is right, rather than worrying about the politics.

Yeah. It’s a pipe dream, I know.

But I’ll tell you what: I wouldn’t want to be living in Tehran these days. Bush is not going to leave office without “addressing” that situation. One way or another.

Professor Blather on March 25, 2007 at 8:12 PM

The fact is, Bush is not running, but others are and they will pressure him to back off.
Just give them 24 hours…

right2bright on March 26, 2007 at 10:39 AM

From your Corner link thanking John Bolton

French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle joins American battle-groups for exercises in the Arabian Sea.

Yeah, but on whose side?

Veeshir on March 26, 2007 at 1:00 PM

Gerbil raid?

Is Richard Gere there?

Mr. Bingley on March 26, 2007 at 2:00 PM