Flashback: Iran funds Shi’ite and Sunni jihadists in Iraq

posted at 1:00 pm on March 19, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

In the contretemps over John McCain’s assertion that Iran provides assistance to al-Qaeda in Iraq, perhaps a retrospective might be in order. McCain immediately corrected himself to say that Iran supported extremists, but as Eli Lake at the New York Sun reported in January 2007, American intel essentially made the same accusation based on captured documents (via the Weekly Standard):

Iran is supporting both Sunni and Shiite terrorists in the Iraqi civil war, according to secret Iranian documents captured by Americans in Iraq.

The news that American forces had captured Iranians in Iraq was widely reported last month, but less well known is that the Iranians were carrying documents that offered Americans insight into Iranian activities in Iraq.

An American intelligence official said the new material, which has been authenticated within the intelligence community, confirms “that Iran is working closely with both the Shiite militias and Sunni Jihadist groups.” The source was careful to stress that the Iranian plans do not extend to cooperation with Baathist groups fighting the government in Baghdad, and said the documents rather show how the Quds Force — the arm of Iran’s revolutionary guard that supports Shiite Hezbollah, Sunni Hamas, and Shiite death squads — is working with individuals affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna.

Another American official who has seen the summaries of the reporting affiliated with the arrests said it comprised a “smoking gun.” “We found plans for attacks, phone numbers affiliated with Sunni bad guys, a lot of things that filled in the blanks on what these guys are up to,” the official said.

And that reporting hasn’t been limited to the Sun. In April of last year, Major General William Caldwell told Congress essentially the same story (via Power Line):

Citing testimony from detainees in U.S. custody, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said Iranian intelligence operatives were backing the Sunni militants inside Iraq while at the same time training Shiite extremists in Iran.

“We have, in fact, found some cases recently where Iranian intelligence services have provided to some Sunni insurgent groups some support,” Caldwell told reporters, adding that he was aware of only Shiite extremists being trained inside Iran.

The issue hardly shows McCain as uninformed on the situation in Iraq. He perhaps walked the statement back for other reasons — maybe it wasn’t the specific point he wanted to make — but we have had evidence and testimony for months that Tehran has acted to support at least certain individuals in AQI, if not the entire organization as a whole. McCain didn’t make a “gaffe” in this assertion; he reiterated what American military intelligence has known for over a year.

Those arguing that Iran would never cooperate with Sunni terrorists appear to be the same people who insisted that Saddam Hussein would never work with radical Islamist jihadis, either. That has been proven false, especially with the review of the Harmony documents.  This is just as false.


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The Washington Post reported on the ties a few years ago, as well.

amerpundit on March 19, 2008 at 1:05 PM

Joe, say it ain’t true!

Johan Klaus on March 19, 2008 at 1:14 PM

Not a McVain fan; but give the man his due. He actually understands the war on terrorism. Doesn’t understand the regular joe/joesephine conservative but gets the biggest challenge to the US in the foreign arena. Not so much domestically.

Branch Rickey on March 19, 2008 at 1:15 PM

How long before the WaPo, the countless Liberal bloggers, Jonathan Martin at Politico, etc. report on the fact McCain was right and the ties aren’t “impossible” as they claimed?

amerpundit on March 19, 2008 at 1:23 PM

Let the libs try and use this. Iran does not care who they give weapons to they just want to kill Americans in Iraq.

TroubledMonkey on March 19, 2008 at 1:27 PM

How long before the WaPo, the countless Liberal bloggers, Jonathan Martin at Politico, etc. report on the fact McCain was right and the ties aren’t “impossible” as they claimed?

amerpundit on March 19, 2008 at 1:23 PM

(cricket)

(chirping)

(sound of wind blowing through the trees)

(somewhere off in the distance, ……. a lonely dog barks)

Seven Percent Solution on March 19, 2008 at 1:28 PM

Make glass out of the whole place.

Johan Klaus on March 19, 2008 at 1:44 PM

This is nothing more than the known media bias in action, Obama the racist is Lincoln while McCain the veteran in Iraq is a clueless chump.

I tossed this up last night when the story appeared in the HotAir Headlines

The Libotard insistence that the Sunni Shia divide is intractable and as such rules out cooperation between them is pure unadulterated BS. The Great Satan is the mutual enemy of Islamofascist regardless of their sect. Best the libs forget the trucks of weapons intercepted in Afghanistan that had originated in Iran, the last time I checked Afghanistan was 70 – 80% Sunni. Iran is the real deal state sponsor of terrorism, why they have not been called on the carpet is beyond my comprehension!

dmann on March 19, 2008 at 1:58 AM

dmann on March 19, 2008 at 1:53 PM

Iranian leadership has the same ambitions as the departed Abu Musab. Just like the former leader of AQ in Iraq, Iran does not care who is dying, as long as someone is dying.

chief on March 19, 2008 at 2:04 PM

He actually understands the war on terrorism. Doesn’t understand the regular joe/joesephine conservative but gets the biggest challenge to the US in the foreign arena. Not so much domestically.

Branch Rickey on March 19, 2008 at 1:15 PM

I agree, however protecting our nation and its people comes before domestic issues. Protecting our nation requires someone like McCain (as opposed to Obama and Hillary) that understands the war, how to prosecute the war, and how important it is to win it.

With the exception of securing our borders as it is my opinion securing our borders is part of winning the war domestic issues are a moot point without victory against fascist Islam. First things first lets elect a POTUS that will lead us to victory, then we can worry about domestic issues.

Liberty or Death on March 19, 2008 at 2:40 PM

Iran is supporting both Sunni and Shiite terrorists in the Iraqi civil war

The Sunni, peu, the Shiite, beaucoup.

Kind of like Bill has sex with both Hillary and young women, and probably in about the same ratio. The one the tactical exception, the other the rule.

Joe knows.

MB4 on March 19, 2008 at 3:08 PM

How many times has McCain been to Iraq?

tomas on March 19, 2008 at 3:16 PM

McCain didn’t make a “gaffe” in this assertion; he reiterated what American military intelligence has known for over a year.

The New York Sun also had a very interesting report in November 2006 about the Iran/AQ connection.

I suspect that McCain was just momentarily thrown off kilter and mistrusted his own knowledge when Lieberman corrected him.

How long before the WaPo, the countless Liberal bloggers, Jonathan Martin at Politico, etc. report on the fact McCain was right and the ties aren’t “impossible” as they claimed?

amerpundit on March 19, 2008 at 1:23 PM

I found my story yesterday in 2.5 seconds by Googling “Iran training terrorists to fight in Iraq”. Maybe Martin hasn’t mastered the art of Google yet.

Buy Danish on March 19, 2008 at 3:17 PM

This clash of cultures thing has some interesting revelations not always available.

Who would have thought the western mindset (right, left and center) would be our weakest point?

What is the source of western policy toward Islam? Saudi Arabia?

BL@KBIRD on March 19, 2008 at 3:17 PM

How long before the WaPo, the countless Liberal bloggers, Jonathan Martin at Politico, etc. report on the fact McCain was right and the ties aren’t “impossible” as they claimed?

amerpundit on March 19, 2008 at 1:23 PM

IMHO, Politico lost ALL credibility after what they did to Rudy with no retractions.

Rudy had to answer the BS at 3 debates in a row.

Chakra Hammer on March 19, 2008 at 4:23 PM

“In the contretemps over John McCain’s assertion that Iran provides assistance to al-Qaeda in Iraq, perhaps a retrospective might be in order. McCain immediately corrected himself to say that Iran supported extremists…”

Come on Ed. You know as well as I do…It was only after Joe whispered extensively into John’s good right ear during later questioning that John retracted and restated his earlier remark concerning Iran’s supposed training of Al-Qaeda.

First instance… [Provided you have the patience to listen for three minutes and thirty seconds?]
http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/?rn=3906861&cl=7020979&ch=4226716&src=news

Second instance…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6GBdyws5YU

Gives one pause to wonder; Will John want Joe at his side during every press conference concerning foreign relations? Maybe Joe’s warming up a chair over at the Department of State,now?

J_Gocht on March 19, 2008 at 4:31 PM

McCain immediately corrected himself to say that Iran supported extremists

No, it’s a lie. He didn’t “immediately correct himself” :))). He repeatedly said it until Lieberman corrected him by whispering in his ear.

freevillage on March 19, 2008 at 4:31 PM

Ed, after the news conference you have defended, I understand Senator McCain made the same assertion a third time on Huge Hewitt’s radio show, later.

The question now is… does Joe have to accompany John full time on the bus…?

My thought would be Joe’s getting quite comfortable over at the DoS. There’s drapes, curtains, furniture…so many things so little time…!

“HH: What’s the concern you have about Iran, and about, in particular, Ahmadinejad? Some people want to meet with him. He’s not on your agenda this trip.
JM: (laughing) The day I meet with the president of Iran will be the day after he announces his country no longer is dedicated to the extinction of the state of Israel, the day after they stop exporting these most lethal explosives into Iraq. Just yesterday, up in the Mosul area, they uncovered a cache of weapons, and a lot of it was these Iranian copper, high…most lethal explosives. As you know, there are al Qaeda operatives that are taken back into Iran, given training as leaders, and they’re moving back into Iraq…’
http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/talkradio/transcripts/Transcript.aspx?ContentGuid=ae522a49-6c82-4791-a76e-44ebb718bf32

J_Gocht on March 19, 2008 at 5:18 PM

I saw that on the news somewhere and I didn’t think it was a “gaffe” either.

oakpack on March 19, 2008 at 5:34 PM

The lefties are really gettin’ up a lather over this. Keep up the good posting!

Donald Douglas on March 19, 2008 at 7:35 PM

There could be another explanation.

There might be classified, or tightly held information that proves Iran is in fact funding and training AQ.

Remember the Centcom chief recently stepped down, he was against any action against Iran.

Perhaps John McCain knows something, that BHO doesn’t and/or most of the US doesn’t know and is slipping it out.

James on March 19, 2008 at 9:31 PM

I am getting really sick and tired of every time there is an intelligence dispute between the two parties that the media just by default takes the Dem side and it’s just tolerated.

We have such a disgustingly corrupt media.

ikez78 on March 20, 2008 at 12:20 AM

McCain did not correct himself. Someone else stepped in to correct his BS. It was not a slip… he made the errant point three times. It is worth pointing out that the US also provides money and arms to Islamacist cretins and Sunni radicals in Iraq. That is in fact one of the parts of the Patreus plan supported wholeheartedly by yourself Ed. He did correct himself… why was that… you seem to want to have both ways… he was either correct and should have stuck to his guns or he was corrected by another official for his errors… pick one please.

Osama and AQ were enemies of Saddam and remain enemies of the Iranian regime and the sect Iran seeks to support throughout the Near East. That does not mean that we need be friendly or accommodate Iran. Iran remains a dangerous foe of US interests. No need to BS as McCain has here to make that particular point. If McCain does not get a grip on the details he will look like a fool in a debate against either Democrat contender.

lexhamfox on March 20, 2008 at 2:49 AM