Theodore's World: Hezbollah Said to Help Shiite Army in Iraq

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November 30, 2006

Hezbollah Said to Help Shiite Army in Iraq

Gen. Michael V. Hayden, left, director of the C.I.A., and Gen. Michael D. Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testifying earlier this month before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Hezbollah Said to Help Shiite Army in Iraq

A senior American intelligence official said Monday that the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah had been training members of the Mahdi Army, the Iraqi Shiite militia led by Moktada al-Sadr.

The official said that 1,000 to 2,000 fighters from the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias had been trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon. A small number of Hezbollah operatives have also visited Iraq to help with training, the official said.

Iran has facilitated the link between Hezbollah and the Shiite militias in Iraq, the official said. Syrian officials have also cooperated, though there is debate about whether it has the blessing of the senior leaders in Syria.

The intelligence official spoke on condition of anonymity under rules set by his agency, and discussed Iran’s role in response to questions from a reporter.

The interview occurred at a time of intense debate over whether the United States should enlist Iran’s help in stabilizing Iraq. The Iraq Study Group, directed by James A. Baker III, a former Republican secretary of state, and Lee H. Hamilton, a former Democratic lawmaker, is expected to call for direct talks with Tehran.

The claim about Hezbollah’s role in training Shiite militias could strengthen the hand of those in the Bush administration who oppose a major new diplomatic involvement with Iran.

The new American account is consistent with a claim made in Iraq this summer by a mid-level Mahdi commander, who said his militia had sent 300 fighters to Lebanon, ostensibly to fight alongside Hezbollah.

“They are the best-trained fighters in the Mahdi Army,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The specific assertions about Iran’s role went beyond those made publicly by senior American officials, though Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, did tell Congress this month that “the Iranian hand is stoking violence” in Iraq.
The American intelligence on Hezbollah was based on human sources, electronic means and interviews with detainees captured in Iraq.

American officials say the Iranians have also provided direct support to Shiite militias in Iraq, including explosives and trigger devices for roadside bombs, and training for several thousand fighters, mostly in Iran. The training is carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, they say.

In Congressional testimony this month, General Hayden said he was initially skeptical of reports of Iran’s role but changed his mind after reviewing intelligence reports.

“I’ll admit personally,” he said at one point in the hearing, “that I have come late to this conclusion, but I have all the zeal of a convert as to the ill effect that the Iranians are having on the situation in Iraq.”

Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, offered a similar assessment in his testimony.

Neither General Hayden nor General Maples described Hezbollah’s role during the hearing.

In the interview on Monday, the senior intelligence official was asked for further details about the purported Iranian role.

“They have been a link to Lebanese Hezbollah and have helped facilitate Hezbollah training inside of Iraq, but more importantly Jaish al-Mahdi members going to Lebanon,” the official said, describing Iran’s role and using the Arabic name for the Mahdi Army.

The official said the Hezbollah training had been conducted with the knowledge of Mr. Sadr, the most influential Shiite cleric.

While Iran wants a stable Iraq, the official said, it sees an advantage in “managed instability in the near term” to bog down the American military and defeat the Bush administration’s objectives in the region.

“There seems to have been a strategic decision taken sometime over late winter or early spring by Damascus, Tehran, along with their partners in Lebanese Hezbollah, to provide more support to Sadr to increase pressure on the U.S.,” the American intelligence official said.

Some Middle East experts were skeptical about the assessment of Hezbollah’s training role.

“That sound to me a little bit strained,” said Flynt Leverett, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and a Middle East expert formerly on the National Security Council staff. “I have a hard time thinking it is a really significant piece of what we are seeing play out on the ground with the various Shiite militia forces.”

But other specialists found the assessment plausible. “I think it is plausible because Hezbollah is the best in the business, and it enhances their position with Iran, Syria and Iraq,” said Judith Kipper, of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Mahdi Army and other militia fighters traveled to Lebanon in groups of 15 and 20 and some were present during the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel this summer, though there was no indication they had taken part in the fighting, the American intelligence official said.

Asked what the militia members had learned, the official replied:

“Weapons, bomb-making, intelligence, assassinations, the gambit of skill sets.”

There is intelligence that indicates that Iran shipped machine tools to Lebanon that could be used to make “shaped charges,” sophisticated explosive devices designed to penetrate armor, American officials have said. But it is not known how the equipment was in fact used.

The officials said that because the Iraqi militia members went through Syrian territory, at least some Syrian officials were complicit. There are also reports of meetings between Imad Mugniyah, a senior Hezbollah member; Ghassem Soleimani of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards; and Syrian representatives to discuss ways of stepping up the pressure on the United States in Iraq.

The mid-level Mahdi commander interviewed this summer said the group sent to Lebanon was called the Ali al-Hadi Brigade, named for one of two imams buried at the Askariya Mosque in Samarra. The bombing of that shrine in February unleashed the fury of Shiite militias and accelerated sectarian violence.

According to the Mahdi commander, the brigade was organized and dispatched by a senior Mahdi officer known as Abu Mujtaba. It went by bus to Syria in July, and was then led across the border into Lebanon, he said. He said the fighters were from Diwaniya and Basra, as well as from the Shiite neighborhoods of Shoala and Sadr City in Baghdad.

“They travel as normal people from Iraq to Syria,” one of the militiamen said. “Once they get to Syria, fighters in Syria take them in.”

Among American officials, concern over the purported Iranian, Syrian or Hezbollah role grew recently when an advanced antitank weapon, an RPG-29, was used against an American M-1 tank in Iraq.

“The first time we saw it was not in Iraq,” Gen. John P. Abizaid, the head of the United States Central Command, told reporters in September. “We saw it in Lebanon. So to me, No. 1, it indicates an Iranian connection.”

American intelligence officials said the source of the weapon was still unclear.

General Abizaid also said it was hard to pin down some details of relationships between armed factions in the Middle East, adding:

“There are clearly links between Hezbollah training people in Iran to operate in Lebanon and also training people in Iran that are Shia splinter groups that could operate against us in Iraq These linkages exist, but it is very, very hard to pin down with precision.”

Wild Thing's comment.......

I really DIDN"T need another reason to whack Sadr, but maybe the US government does.

Our leaders have either not read Carl von Clausewitz or they have forgotten what he wrote in his treatise ON WAR.

Book 1

3. Utmost use of force.

Now, philanthropists may easily imagine there is a skillful method of disarming and overcoming an enemy without causing great bloodshed, and that this is the proper tendency of the art of War. However plausible this may appear, still it is an error which must be extirpated; for in such dangerous things as war, the errors which proceed from a spirit of benevolence are just the worst. As the use of physical power to the utmost extent by no means excludes the co-operation of the intelligence, it follows that he who uses force unsparingly, without reference to the quantity of bloodshed, must obtain a superiority if his adversary does not act likewise. By such means the former dictates the law to the latter, and both proceed to extremities, to which the only limitations are those imposed by the amount of counteracting force on each side.
This is the way in which the matter must be viewed; and it is to no purpose, and even acting against one's own interest, to turn away from the consideration of the real nature of the affair, because the coarseness of its elements excites repugnance.

We can't afford to blink...neither in the Middle East or in North Korea. If nuclear weapons are unacceptable in Iran and NK and our government makes a statement to that effect then I expect our elected officials to be on the same page as we the people regarding the term "unacceptable". I am not convinced that is the fact.

The short version?

We need to cut to the chase. No don't go in and kill the bad guys and leave.

Exterminate every last damned one of them and leave a blackened poisoned landscape then tell the rest of those flea bitten camel jocks that if you so much as Whimper something in protest, we'll do precisely the same thing to you. I'm just fed up seeing us trying to fight against these people with one hand tied behind our backs because our "Leaders" (and I use that term loosely), are too freakin worried about offending the sensibilities of those maggots in the world who want to kill us.

No Nation will survive that does not deal with it's enemies quickly and decisively.

I have never been in the military, so my comments on this are just from a girl that comes from a heavy military background, that loves America and respects our military.

Posted by Wild Thing at November 30, 2006 12:55 AM


Moqtada al-Sadr is a terrorist. Not only is he a terrorist but he is a terrorist leader.


The end

Posted by: Charlie H. at November 30, 2006 07:27 AM

Well Chrissie Girl. You make more sense than the millions of words spoken by our aimless leaders and dozens of think tanks. Muslims are the enemy! Islam is our mortal enemy. Trying to fine tune alliances with people who dislike and disrespect us is an exercise in futility.

I think we should work to keep them concentrated on killing each other, as Reagan did during the Iran/Iraq war in the 80's. And, support Isreal 100%. We just blew an excellent opportunity to cripple Hizballah in Lebanon.

I have given up my belief in this war and President Bush, as we have definitely entered another "won't win" war and as long as he allows muslims to enter America in increased immigration numbers.

Posted by: TomR at November 30, 2006 11:59 AM

Charlie H......that sure works for what I want, yep. Thanks


Posted by: Wild Thing at November 30, 2006 01:39 PM

Tom, it is so important what we do right now, I mean it has been all along, but right now is so intense, more then ever it seems.Because of how our leaders have given in so much and shouldn't have. grrrrr

Huge sigh from me of what on earth is going to happen.

Posted by: Wild Thing at November 30, 2006 01:42 PM

We can't win in this nation until we take charge of the internal security and sedition issues. I'd like to see heads literally roll at CNN and the New York Times.

As long as strategic plans are leaked to the enemy they'll be at our throats, as long as we'll tolerate the un-American left we'll have sedition.

I'm all for a simultaneous strike on Sadr City and Tehran and I'm not thinking of conventional weapons either.

Include ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, NPR, the Times, the UN, the NLG, the ACLU and the CCR headquarters in that strike, they are the enemy.

Posted by: Jack at November 30, 2006 02:04 PM

Why are these Generals wasting their time testafying before the Stupid Armed Services committee.

I have known for two years about Iran and Syria giving aid to the enemy as has everyone here has known the same thing. But the dems must be led by the nose and told in person by the Generals this is so ?

We also know, i.e., we the people, that the mysterious WMD is in Syria, that was formerly in Iraq.

The Baker-Lipshitz-Hamilton commission, another waste of taxpayer money, is going to tell us we need to talk to Iran and Syria. Like trying to negotiate with Charlie Manson, about the same level of competance as Ahmaweeniejob.

We should be talking to Israel and planning how to take out Irans nuclear facilties, rather than trying to cozy up the terrorists.

What don't these nitwits in Washington understand, someone willing to blow themselves up for the sake of their cause, is not into being made nice to, or talking to, to what they consider, 'the Infidels'.

Have we lost our collective minds ?

Posted by: Mark at November 30, 2006 02:15 PM

Jack, very true.....I hope this can change but it doesn't seem that it will.

"As long as strategic plans are leaked to the enemy they'll be at our throats, as long as we'll tolerate the un-American left we'll have sedition."

Posted by: Wild Thing at November 30, 2006 06:31 PM

Mark, well said.
"Have we lost our collective minds ?"...... a very scary I think so.

Posted by: Wild Thing at November 30, 2006 06:32 PM