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U.S. Interrogating Iranian Guardsmen in Iraq

Kenneth R. Timmerman

Friday, Feb. 2, 2007

 WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government, aided by an intelligence specialist from an Iranian opposition group, continues to interrogate Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers arrested in Irbil in northern Iraq on Jan. 10.

 NewsMax learned about the interrogations from Iranian exiles in Europe and the United States.

Six Iranians were arrested at an office in Irbil that the Iranians have described as a "consulate." One of them has since been released. The United States has not released the names of the individuals being detained, but Iranian exiles believe one of them is Hassan Abbasi, a well-known strategist who is close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Abbasi is known by his friends as "the Dr. Kissinger of Islam," according to Iran Press News, which has offices in Europe and the United States.

He is also reputed to be "the guru of the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guard Corps," IPN added.

Iranian sources have identified three senior Revolutionary Guards officers among the captives and said they have described Iranian terrorist networks in Iraq during interrogations led by an intelligence expert from the opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq group.

Among the captives, these sources told NewsMax, were Revolutionary Guards officers identified as Mojhadi and Safderi.

 "They are key people in the Sepah Quds," the overseas terrorist arm of the Revolutionary Guards, a former Iranian intelligence officer said.

 Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said last week that the United States was changing its approach toward Iranian infiltration of Iraq, and would now "go after their networks that are active here."

"Some of those we've arrested are Quds Force operatives," he told reporters in Baghdad. "One of them was director of operations for the Quds Force."

 Iranian exiles and Kurdish sources identified another captive as Brig. Gen. Mohammad Djafari Sahraroudi, a Kurdish affairs expert who is wanted by Interpol for his involvement in the 1989 murder of Iranian Kurdish dissident Abdulrahman Qassemlou in Vienna.

Also among those detained was Mohammad Jaafari, an aid to National Security Advisor Ali Larijani, the sources said.

Soon after the Jan. 10 raid, Iranian intelligence in Tehran arrested a professional staff member at the Majles, Iran's parliament, suspected of having ties to the opposition MEK, NewsMax has learned.

 Multinational forces apparently missed other Iranians when they raided the office in Irbil, according to Sardar Haddad, an Iranian exile with close ties to opposition movements inside Iran.

"We heard reports that Kurdish troops prevented U.S. soldiers from going to the airport, where more Iranians were trying to flee," he stated.

Sources close to the Kurdish government in northern Iraq said that the Irbil office was well known and had been open for years. "They processed visas for Kurds who want to visit Iran."

But a former Iranian intelligence officer said the Irbil office was a clandestine intelligence headquarters that was controlled by top Qods force officer, Ghassan Soleimani.

President Bush announced just before the raid on Irbil that the United States planned to crack down on Iranian operations in Iraq.

"Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops," he said. "We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

Multinational forces in Iraq were planning to release a "dossier" on Iranian terrorist operations in Iraq at a press conference in Baghdad this week, but put that plan on hold, U.S. officials told FoxNews on Wednesday.

Iran is believed to be operating a number of intelligence offices in Iraq similar to the one in Irbil, to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. forces and supply money and equipment to insurgents.

"The mullah infiltration of Iraq is far more extensive than the U.S. has thought," said Iranian exile Sardar Haddad. "They have infiltrated every single ministry, especially the defense and interior ministries, not just with one or two people, but massively."

Referring to the Irbil incident, "It's not five Iranian agents, but 5,000," he added.

The U.S. is also investigating Iran's alleged involvement in the kidnapping and murder of five U.S. soldiers near Karbala on Jan. 20, and reportedly has detained two high-ranking Iraqi generals suspected of collaborating with the attackers.

The attack occurred when at least 12 terrorists wearing U.S. military uniforms drove into an Iraqi government security compound in a convoy of black GMC Suburbans and kidnapped four American soldiers as they were meeting with Iraqi security officers. A fifth U.S. soldier was killed during the attack.

 According to the American Forces Information Service, the attackers spoke English, appeared to be well-trained, and had the vehicles, uniforms, identification, radios, and other items needed to carry out their mission.

 "The precision of the attack, the equipment used and the possible use of explosives to destroy the military vehicles in the compound suggests that the attack was well rehearsed prior to execution," said Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, spokesman for Multi-National Division-Baghdad. "The attackers went straight to where Americans were located in the provincial government facility, bypassing the Iraqi police in the compound," he said.

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