Friday, October 07, 2005

Former Iraqi Defense Minister: Iraqi politicians fully aware of Iranian interference

Iraq's former Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan has a shockingly revealing interview with Asharq Alawsat in which he accuses some Iraqi politicians and ministers who, in his word, "are not only aware of Iranian interference in Iraq but whose interests collude with Iran" and also the liaison between Al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. This is the first time an Iraqi official--though he's not in office any more--talks this candidly about Iran's intereference in Iraq:

...Speaking to Asharq al Awsat from the Jordanian capital Amman, where he now resides, Shaalan attacked those “Iraqi politicians and ministers whose interests collude with Iran. Some are afraid of the consequences of speaking while others prefer to remain silent and hold on to power.”

He added, “Arab politicians and some Kurdish leaders are aware of Iranian meddling but chose to remain silent for their own benefit.”

Indicating he had concrete proof of Iran’s involvement in its neighbor’s affairs, compiled during his tenure as governor of Al Diwaniyah province, Shaalan revealed that Iranian officers traveled to Iraq, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, with forged identity cards from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to harm these countries if they were ever detained.

...In addition, during his tenure as Defense Minister, Shaalan pointed out that two trucks filled with ammunition from Iran were discovered on their way to Najaf. Weapons in the confiscated cache had Persian writing on them saying, “Made in Iran”. He also indicated that a Lebanese man was arrested after murdering a Spanish soldier serving in the multinational forces. He was discovered to be a member of the Lebanese pro-Iranian Hezbollah group and had identity cards signed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, “allowing him to travel around Iraq freely and requesting assistance be provided to facilitate his movements.”

As governor, Shaalan revealed that he escaped four assassination attempts, the last of which was carried out by an Iraqi man trained in Iran who aimed seven missiles at his convoy but missed.

...The former cabinet minister said an “important document” discussing Iranian interference in Iraq included the interrogation of one of the heads of al Qaeda in Iraq who acted as a liaison between al Zarqawi and others in Osama bin Laden’s organization in Iran. Only addressed by his initials, AHD, the man hails from a well-known tribe and acted as a mediator between Ahmad al Ghamdi, Bin Laden’s assistant and Zarqawi...