Posted: 13 Oct 2011 01:10 PM PDT
The Associated Press reports on the official US Government response to the Iranian plot to kill a Saudi ambassador in Washington, DC.
Posted: 12 Oct 2011 10:25 PM PDT
The commanding general of Iran's Qods Force, the special operations branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, has been accused by the US government of being involved in the recently disclosed plot to kill the Saudi ambassador on US soil.
Lieutenant General Qasem Soleimani "oversees the IRGC-QF [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force] officers who were involved in this plot," the US Treasury Department stated in yesterday's terrorism designation that identified four other Qods Force officers involved in the plot.
The Justice Department indictment does not explicitly name or charge Soleimani.
The other men named in the designation include Hamed Abdullahi, "a senior IRGC-QF officer who coordinated aspects of this operation"; Abdul Reza Shahlai, Abdullahi's deputy, "who coordinated the plot" and undertook "to carry out follow-on attacks against other countries' interests inside the United States and in another country"; and Ali Gholam Shakuri, Shahlai's deputy, who met with and provided money to Manssor Arbabsiar, the man assigned to direct the attacks. Arbabsiar himself, who is Shahlai's cousin, was also named in the designation and identified by Treasury as being a Qods Force officer. Only Arbabsiar and Shakuri were indicted by the US Justice Dept., however, for their roles in the plot to carry out attacks in the US. Arbabsiar is currently in US custody.
While exact details of Soleimani's role in the terror plot have not been disclosed, the Justice Dept. indictment said Shakuri had informed Arbabsiar that Soleimani was aware of the plot and supported it. Shakuri had also told Arbabsiar that Soleimani was willing to meet with him.
While some Iran analysts have speculated that the plot to kill the Saudi ambassador and conduct other attacks may be "a rogue operation launched by zealots within the group," as reported by The New York Times, Soleimani's involvement makes this theory highly unlikely. Soleimani is one of the most powerful IRGC generals in the country; he reports directly to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader. Khamenei, in turn, has ordered Soleimani to direct Iran's operations against the US in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Afghanistan and the Ansar Corps
In August 2010, the US Treasury Department added two senior Qods Force officers to the list of designated global terrorists for their activities in directing operations in Afghanistan. General Hossein Musavi and Colonel Hasan Mortezavi were designated "for their roles in the IRGC-QF's support of terrorism" and for providing "financial and material support to the Taliban."
General Musavi is the commander of Qods Force's Ansar Corps, the Iranian command that is assigned to direct military and influence operations in Afghanistan. The Ansar Corps was established by Soleimani, and is headquartered in Mashad in northeastern Iran.
Musavi's "responsibilities include IRGC-QF activities in Afghanistan," the Treasury noted. "As Ansar Corps Commander, Musavi has provided financial and material support to the Taliban." Colonel Hasan Mortezavi was described as a senior Qods Force officer who "provides financial and material support to the Taliban."
Several Taliban commanders based in western Afghanistan have stated that they have received weapons, cash, and training from Iranian forces. Taliban commanders and units train inside Iran to conduct attacks against NATO and Afghan forces. In addition, al Qaeda operatives are also known to receive support from the Ansar Corps; Mashad is a transit point for al Qaeda operatives en route to Afghanistan.
US commanders have accused Iran of directly supporting the Taliban. On May 30, 2010, former ISAF commander General Stanley McChrystal said that Iran is training Taliban fighters and providing them with weapons.
"The training that we have seen occurs inside Iran with fighters moving inside Iran," McChrystal said at a press conference. "The weapons that we have received come from Iran into Afghanistan."
ISAF has targeted Iranian-supported Taliban commanders in at least 14 raids in western Afghanistan between June 2009 and February 2011, according to Coalition press releases compiled by The Long War Journal (note: ISAF inexplicably stopped reporting on raids against Iranian-supported Taliban commanders in early February 2011; queries to ISAF on this subject went unanswered). ISAF officials have directly linked Qods Force to several of the Taliban commanders.
Iraq and the Ramazan Corps
Qods Force's Ramazan Corps has been crucial in supporting various Iraqi Shia terror groups. The Ramazan Corps helped anti-American cleric Muqtada al Sadr create the Mahdi Army, which has battled US and Iraqi forces in central and southern Iraq. Qods Force helped the Mahdi Army establish itself along the lines of Lebanese Hezbollah. An Iraqi intelligence official claimed that some Mahdi Army fighters were sent to camps in Lebanon that were run by Suleimani and Imad Mugniyah, the Hezbollah terror master who was killed in Syria in early 2008. Sadr also admitted that his fighters trained with Hezbollah.
Musa Ali Daqduq, a top Hezbollah commander, was recruited by Qods Force to aid the Mahdi Army. Daqduq met and coordinated with top level Qods Force leaders, according to the US military. Daqduq is currently in US custody for supporting terror groups in Iraq.
Qods Force has been directly implicated in the murder of five US soldiers. One of the men designated yesterday, Abdul Reza Shahlai, and Akram Abas al Kabi, a senior Mahdi Army leader who now commands the Mahdi Army offshoot and Iranian-backed Asaib al Haq, or League of the Righteous, were designated as terrorists for their roles in the January 2007 assault on a base in Karbala that led to the kidnapping and murder of five US troops.
In the aftermath of the attack, General David Petraeus, then the commander of US forces in Iraq, brushed aside claims that the Karbala attack was carried out by rogue elements of Qods Force.
"I do not know of anything that specifically identifies how high it goes beyond the level of the Qods Force, Commander Soleimani," Petraeus said. "Beyond that, it is very difficult to tell -- we know where he is in the overall chain of command; he certainly reports to the very top -- but again, nothing that would absolutely indicate, again, how high the knowledge of this actually goes."
Iran and al Qaeda
In addition to supporting terror groups in Afghanistan and Iraq, Soleimani maintained a direct link to the top tier al Qaeda leaders and also sheltered top al Qaeda in Iran for years.
In September 2008, Soleimani communicated with Ayman al Zawahiri, now al Qaeda's emir, through Sa'ad bin Laden, Osama's son, after the deadly attack on the US embassy in Yemen. Sa'ad had entered Pakistan's northwest to meet with Zawahiri to pass along a message from Soleimani sometime in early September of that year, according to Mike McConnell, the former Director of National Intelligence. Sa'ad, his brother Hamza, and other senior al Qaeda leaders are known to routinely travel back and forth between Iran and Pakistan.
Zawahiri spoke directly to Soleimani, a senior US intelligence official told The Long War Journal. "Zawahiri was concerned that the al Qaeda-manned militia fighting on the side of the government against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels might threaten Iran's interests in Yemen," the official said. The Yemeni government swelled the ranks of the militia by inviting Arabs willing to fight the Shia Houthis in the north.
After the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Soleimani's Qods Force provided shelter under the guise of detention to top al Qaeda leaders. Members of the families of both Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri sheltered there for years, as also did top al Qaeda leaders, including Saif al Adel, Atiyah Abd al Rahman, Abu Hafs al Mauritani, and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith.
Posted: 13 Oct 2011 08:36 AM PDT
US Predators struck today in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan, killing six "militants" in the first recorded strikes in nearly two weeks.
In the first strike, the unmanned, CIA-operated Predators, or the more deadly Reapers, fired a pair of missiles in the village of Danda Darpa Khel just outside Miramshah, the main town in North Waziristan, according to AFP. Pakistani officials said that three "militants" were killed in the attack.
A Haqqani Network "coordinator" named Jalil and two fighters were killed in the airstrike, according to The Associated Press. Jalil is said to be related to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network. AFP reported, however, that Jalil was not related to Siraj but was "very close" to the commander.
The village of Danda Darpa Khel is in the sphere of influence of the Haqqani Network. In the past, the US has carried out several attacks against the Haqqani Network in the village. On Feb. 18, 2010, the US killed Mohammed Haqqani, one of the 12 sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, in an airstrike in Danda Darpa Khel. Mohammed served as a military commander for the Haqqani Network.
In the second strike today, Predators fired missiles at a Taliban team in South Waziristan that was launching missiles and rockets at a US base across the border in Afghanistan, killing three, Dawn reported. The exact location of the strike was not given, but the area along the border is controlled by Mullah Nazir, the Taliban commander who also identifies himself as an al Qaeda commander [see LWJ report, 'Good' Pakistani Taliban leader Nazir affirms membership in al Qaeda].
The airstrikes took place as the US and Pakistan are waging a war of words over the latter's support of the Haqqani Network. Several US officials, including Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, have accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, of directly supporting Haqqani Network attacks inside Afghanistan. Most recently, the US said that the ISI aided the Haqqani Network in attacking the US Embassy and I.... Mullen described the Haqqani Network as a "veritable arm" of the ISI.
The Predator strikes, by the numbers
Today's strikes are the first in Pakistan's tribal areas this month. The last strike took place 14 days ago, on Sept. 30, in South Waziristan. Haleem Ullah, a deputy to South Waziristan Taliban commander Mullah Nazir, was killed in the attack.
The pace of the US strikes has been uneven over the past year, and the monthly strike totals have generally decreased. From January through September 2011, the strikes in Pakistan were as follows: nine strikes in January, three in February, seven in March, two in April, seven in May, 12 in June, three in July, six in August, and four in September. In the last four months of 2010, the US averaged almost 16 strikes per month (21 in September, 16 in October, 14 in November, and 12 in December).
So far this year, the US has carried out 55 strikes in Pakistan. In 2010, the US carried out 117 strikes, which more than doubled the number of strikes that had occurred in 2009; by late August 2010, the US had exceeded 2009's strike total of 53 with a strike in Kurram. In 2008, the US carried out a total of 36 strikes inside Pakistan. [For up-to-date charts on the US air campaign in Pakistan, see LWJ Special Report, Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2011.]
In 2010 the strikes were concentrated almost exclusively in North Waziristan, where the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, and a host of Pakistani and Central and South Asian terror groups are based. All but 13 of the 117 strikes took place North Waziristan. Of the 13 strikes occurring outside of North Waziristan in 2010, seven were executed in South Waziristan, five were in Khyber, and one was in Kurram.
This year, that pattern has changed, as an increasing number of strikes are taking place in South Waziristan. So far in 2011, 33 of the 55 strikes have taken place in North Waziristan, 20 strikes have occurred in South Waziristan, and one took place in Kurram.
The US campaign in northwestern Pakistan has targeted top al Qaeda leaders, al Qaeda's external operations network, and Taliban leaders and fighters who threaten both the Afghan and Pakistani states as well as support al Qaeda's external operations. The campaign has been largely successful in focusing on terrorist targets and avoiding civilian casualties, as recently affirmed by the Pakistani military.
For a list of al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in the US air campaign in Pakistan, see LWJ Special Report, Senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders killed in US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 - 2011.
I would say Father Death had a good day! 6 more "allah tickets" punched.
Our nation has been using Drones in Pakistan for many years now. We are at the point to where this nation does not need a human milititary force because of the robotic army they now have. Folks you cannot always believe the reports of al Qaeda killed. This recent report that Anwar Awlaki had been killed was the second time he died in two years. Awlaki was the terrorist who also dined at the Pentagon with the top brass- http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/10/20/al-qaeda-terror-leader-dined-p...
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