Thursday, September 02, 2004

Iran and Al-Zarqawi

Baghdadi brought this article to my attention. The article is written by Ali Nori Zada and was published on Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper. It's a very interesting report. Here's the English translation of the article:

Iran admits it provides facilities to Al-Zarqawi to conduct his operations in Iraq

A reliable Iranian source confirmed that Brig. Gen. Qassim Sullaimani, the commander of Al-Quds corps in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, told a closed seminar that Iran provides facilities to the Jordanian extremist scholar, Abu Mosaab Al-Zarqawi. Al-Zarqawi is accused of conducting most of the suicide operations and attacks in Iraq. Sullaimani justified this cooperation because Al-Zarqawi's activities in Iraq "serve the high interests of the Islamic Republic." Among these interests is the prevention of a federalist secular regime in Iraq that cooperates with the United States.

The source, who attended the closed seminar for students of strategic and defense studies at the university of Imam Al-Hussein told "Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" newspaper that Brig. Gen. Sullaimani said, "Al-Zarqawi and members of his organization (Ansar Al-Islam) don't need prior permission to enter Iran. There are specific border points which stretch from Halabja in the north to Elam in the south where Al-Zarqawi and more than 20 Ansar Al-Islam commanders can enter Iran whenever they want."

The source said Brig. Gen. Sullaimani, who oversees the activities of the revolutionary guards intelligence units and Al-Quds corps operating in Iraq, answered questions from students about why Iran supports a person who is anti-Shia, like Al-Zarqawi, who previously was accused of his involvement in the killing of Ayet Allah Mohammed Baqir Al-Hakim, president of the high council of Islamic revolution in Iraq.

Despite the accusation coming from close circles to the Iranian regime leader Ali Kham'ani, Sullaimani considers Al-Zarqawi's involvement in Al-Hakim's killing unconfirmed. Instead, he said Al-Zarqawi's activities now serve the high interests of the Islamic Republic. The establishment of a secular Iraq that cooperates with the United States is more dangerous than the former Baath regime. The new regime will form – according to Al-Sullaimani – a real threat to the pure revolutionary Mohamedi Islam and the scholars' state – according to the source.

"Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" newspaper was told that Al-Zarqawi moved to Iran a few months after events in Falluja. He spent a few weeks in a military camp, subjoined to the revolutionary guards in Mahran on the border with Iraq, before he left it to go to the city of Baquba with the help of Al-Quds corps.

It's worth mentioning Al-Quds corps was formed toward the end of Al-Khumaini era to hunt for opposition personalities and powers inside and outside Iran. Their jobs and responsibilities changed during the last few years. Today, it is responsible for Iraq, Afghanistan, Arab and Islamic countries with indirect connections to the United States.

A former corps chief said Abu-Mosaab Al-Zarqawi escaped to Turkey last year, after being in Iran and entered Iraq more than a year ago. He confirmed to the newspaper that a meeting was held last June between Al-Zarqawi and a Lebanese fugitive, Emad Mughania, at one of Al-Quds corps centers in Kermanshah providence in western Iran. The source said Mughania played an influential role in forming the Al-Mahdi Army. Al-Mahdi Army belongs to the strict Shia religious cleric, Muqtada Al-Sadr, and trains its members in camps inside Iran. He also mentioned the entrance of Shia fighters from Lebanon to Iraq dressed as religious studies students. These fighters then join Al-Madi Army under the supervision of Emad Mughania. Mughania underwent a cosmetic surgery recently in a sanitarium for the revolutionary guards in northern Iran to change his face. This is the 5th surgery for Mughania, who's been chased by Western and Arabic intelligence organizations for a number of years now.

The source said Mughania kept his relationships with Aymen Al-Thawahiri, the number-two man in Al-Qaida organization despite the difficulty of contacting him lately. He added that Mughania submitted a report early this year to chief of the revolutionary guards intelligence after a visit to Iraq. The report outlined the importance of expanding a framework of collaboration between Al-Mahdi Army and Al-Zarqawi's group. Muqtada has lost his standing among the Iraqi shia, especially Al-Najaf, while gaining more supporters in the Sunni triangle.

The source also said Iranian president Mohammed Khatemi objects strongly to the interference of the revolutionary guards in Iraq's interior affair. He said he was surprised lately by a report he received from an official in the Iraqi government, who is a friend of Iran. It included detailed information consolidated with numbers on the wide involvement of Al-Quds corps and revolutionary intelligence in the terror operations that targets the Iraqi people and government in addition to its infrastructure.

No "Arabic Word of The Post" today. I did my homework by translating this article.

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