Published on Clarion Project (http://www.clarionproject.org
Iranians Flying Russian Planes in Covert Ops in Iraq
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an opposition group dedicated to replacing the Iranian regime with a secular democracy, has provided the Clarion Project with intelligence from its sources inside the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps about its covert operations in Iraq.
The Iranian regime has deployed the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to Iraq to try to stabilize the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Key meetings were held with radical Shiite militia leaders on July 4-5 to plan offensives against the Islamic State (formerly ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and its Sunni allies.
“The clerical regime [of Iran] is extremely worried about their regional strategy and all of their investment in Maliki is on the verge of collapse, and thus, it is sparing no effort or expense in its attempt to keep Maliki in power,” a spokesperson for NCRI told Clarion Project.
The U.S. government has sent about 750 troops to Iraq to help protect the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and to advise the Iraqi security forces battling the Islamic State. The U.S. is considering airstrikes against the terrorist group because of its direct threats to the West.
NCRI says that the Iranian operatives are flying Sukhoi fighter jets given to Iraq and that helicopters and drones were also transferred to them. Russia has also provided fighter jets and reportedly even pilots. The Syrian regime has also dispatched pilots to Iraq, the organization claims.
On July 5, the official Iranian media reported that an Iranian pilot named Colonel Shoja’at Alamadari Mourjani was killed in Samarra. NCRI says he joined the IRGC in 1994 and his funeral was attended by senior IRGC officials and a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
The organization’s sources report that the IRGC counter-intelligence was angry at the exposure his death received. The IRGC has issued strict orders not to mention the rankings or functions of its personnel that are killed in Iraq. Instead, they will only be described in vague terms like “Shiite saints” and “defenders of the Velayat,” a term the connotes the current Iranian system of governance.
NCRI says at least three IRGC operatives have been killed in Iraq this year, including the pilot.
The first casualty was IRGC Major Kamal Shirkhani, a member of the Qods Force, who helped defend the Syrian regime and entered Iraq on July 2. He died two days later in Karbala. The third is a Pakistani named Javid Hossein who lived in Qom, Iran before fighting in Iraq.
NCRI provided several names of IRGC commanders in Baghdad overseeing the cooperation with al-Maliki. It is led by IRGC Major-General Qassem Soleimani, who is also named in a new book as the mastermind of the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya.
IRGC Brigadier-General Abdolreza Shahlai is a senior Qods Force commander with two decades of experience. He leads the radical Iraqi Shiite militias, particularly Kataib Hezbollah. The U.S. government says he coordinated an IRGC plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S. by bombing a restaurant in Washington, D.C.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis is the leader of Kataib Hezbollah and is also Soleimani’s chief of staff in Iraq. He was involved in a bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kuwait in 1983 and is a confidante of al-Maliki.
Hadi al-Ameri has led the Badr Organization, a radical Shiite militia, since 2003 and is an IRGC agent. He is a member of the Iraqi parliament and the Minister of Transportation. He has openly said that he “loves” Soleimani.
The NCRI says that the salary he gets from Iran is equivalent to that of an IRGC Brigadier-General and that his salary code is 3829597 and his account number is 3014.
Mostafa Abdul-Hamid Hossein al-Atabi is a senior Qods Force commander. The NCRI originally exposed him as one of 32,000 agents in Iraq on the Iranian payroll.
Iran openly desires for al-Maliki to remain as Prime Minister, even though momentum is building to replace him with a unity government. This puts Iran and al-Maliki at odds with Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani, the highest Shiite religious leader in Iraq.
However, despite al-Maliki’s Iranian support, he is violating Iran's stated opposition to American advisors in Iraq. Moqtada al-Sadr, a radical cleric and militia leader linked to Iran, is threatening the advisors. Al-Sadr supports the replacement of al-Maliki as Prime Minister with a unity government.
Ali Khedery, the longest serving American official in Iraq, explains in a recent editorial how Maliki behavior has changed since becoming Prime Minister in 2006. Khedery, a friend of Maliki and early supporter, began warning of impending disaster if Maliki was not replaced in 2010.
During the “surge,” Maliki collaborated with U.S. forces in battling the Iranian-backed militia of Moqtada al-Sadr. In 2010, Iraqi elections were held and the cross-sectarian Iraqiya bloc opposed to Iran won the most votes. Unfortunately, as Khedery explains, Iran politically outmaneuvered Iraqiya, assisted by the Obama Administration’s continuing support for Maliki.
The Iranian regime, specifically through Soleimani, essentially decided the makeup of the new government. Al-Maliki’s cronyism, political persecution of Sunni leaders and consolidation of power quickly increased. He even released members of al-Sadr’s militia from prison and defanged the Iran division of the Iraqi intelligence service.
The NCRI’s information illustrates the precarious situation that innocent Iraqis and the West are in. The rise of the Sunni terrorists stimulates the rise of the Iran-backed Shiites and vice versa. Only a unity government—one that rejects the Islamists of both sects—can save Iraq.