Iraqi intel chief: Iran sponsoring al-Qaeda in Iraq

The head of Iraqi intelligence, Muhamad Abdullah Al-Shahwani, accused Iran of sponsoring al-Qaeda in Iraq, specifically to attack Awakening organizations in western Iraq. He also alleged that the Iranians had paid to distribute a videotape made by rogue Shi’ite militias showing one of five British hostages held somewhere in southern Iraq. The accusations came at the same time that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad toured Iraq (via TMV):

The head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, Muhamad Abdullah Al-Shahwani, yesterday criticized the Iranian intelligence services for seeking to, “abort the experiment with the Awakening Councils,” which are battling elements of al-Qaeda in Iraq. For his part, an advisor to the Awakening Councils, Tamir Al-Tamimi, told Azzaman,” the Awakening Councils have been targeted by the Iranians, either directly or indirectly, through terrorist organizations that cooperate with Iran, such as al-Qaeda.

He explained that these targetings often consist of attacks with explosive devices, suicide bombers or car bombs. Replying to a question about the government’s relationship to the [Shiite] militias, Al-Tamimi said: “There is no contact or coordination with them,” but he stressed that, “the Awakening Councils are always exposed to misbehavior from the militias, as has frequently occurred in neighborhoods of Baghdad such as Abu Ghraib, Al-Taji, Al-Basam, and the neighborhoods of Al-Amil, Al-Azmia, Al-Fadal, and others.” And he said, “We have always opposed and responded to such misbehavior.”

The Iraqi newspaper Azzaman reports that over 80,000 Iraqis have now joined the Awakening Councils. This has the Iranians worried enough to fund terrorists to undermine them. They want to stop the Sunnis from playing any role in the new Iraq, no doubt motivated by the animosity between Tehran and the Sunni regime of Saddam Hussein. They want to see radical Shi’ites take over Iraq and have Baghdad come under the thumb of the Iranian mullahcracy.

Nor is their mischief limited to the south. Iraqi intelligence says that Iranians funded the videotape released recently that depicts Peter Moore, a British hostage abducted in May 2007 from Baghdad. Moore worked for an American firm and was kidnapped outside of the Ministry of Finance, along with four other Britons held by unknown militia members. Iraqi intel says that the group that claimed responsibility doesn’t exist as anything more than a front for Iranian proxies in the south. The tape came as a response to the arrest of 14 Iranian Revolutionary Guard members south of Baghdad, caught with maps and plans to build IEDS.

Al-Shahwani himself is a Sunni, but one opposed to Saddam’s reign. Until 1990, he served in Saddam’s military, but defected and worked with the US to overthrow Saddam since the Gulf War. He tried to coordinate a coup in 1996, and lost his three sons in the attempt. He has no reason to love Baathists, so his sectarian sympathies are likely to be low. His warnings should be heeded. Iran continues to interfere in Iraq on a large scale, and now it appears they have allied themselves with al-Qaeda as a last-ditch attempt to succeed in destroying its increasing stability.