Remember the Karbala attack? Men dressed as American troops, speaking English and driving SUVs like the ones U.S. diplomats do, bypassed an Iraqi checkpoint in January and raided the governor’s office, killing one American soldier and kidnapping four more. All four were later found murdered, shot through the head. The theory was that it was a reprisal attack for the capture of the five Quds Force officers in Irbil by U.S. troops a few weeks earlier, and that it was carried out by a squad with unusually professional training — far beyond what the typical Shiite goon squad would be capable of.
Last month the military announced that it had busted a network led by Qais Khazali, a former Sadr spokesman who had allegedly become the leader of a breakaway wing of the Mahdi Army whose allegiance was to Iran. I wrote about Khazali and his network last month, theorizing that he and his boys must have been among those Shiites who are allegedly being trained in camps outside Tehran by the Revolutionary Guard for paramilitary operations against U.S. troops. And now here’s Petraeus today during his press conference, almost (but not quite) saying the same thing:
“There is no question that the Al-Qazhali network was connected to the Iranian Qods Force — received money, training, arms, ammunition, and at some points in time even advice and assistance,” Petraeus said.
Petraeus said the evidence of Qods Force involvement emerged in interrogations of the network’s captured leader and other cell members rolled up in subsequent raids over the past month.
“We discovered a 22 page memorandum on a computer that detailed the planning, preparation, approval process and conduct of the operation that resulted in five of our soldiers being killed in Karbala,” he said.
“There are numerous documents which detail a number of different attacks on coalition forces, and our sense is that these records were kept so that they could be handed in to whoever was financing them,” he said.
“No question, again, that financing is taking place through the Qods Force of the Iranian Republican Guard Corps,” he said.
The Blotter reported last month that ID cards belonging to some of the American soldiers killed at Karbala were found at the scene when Khazali’s men were arrested.
Petraeus went on to claim that the Quds Force is hooking people up with the parts needed to make super-explosive EFP charges (which the U.S. government has suspected them of doing for almost two years). What he didn’t claim was that the Iranian government knows this is going on; there’s no way he can prove that, obviously, and after the WMD debacle he’s not going to try. But the Quds Force is among the most elite units of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard and, according to WaPo, its commanding officer reports directly to Khamenei himself. You do the math.