Paper: Bush authorized troops to kill Iranian operatives in Iraq

Ron Brynaert
Published: Friday January 26, 2007
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Counterterrorism officials reveal to the Washington Post an "aggressive new strategy" authorized by President Bush which allows US troops to capture or, if necessary, kill any Iranian agents encountered in Iraq. However, in another story in Friday's edition of the Post, an adviser to Iraq's prime minister dismisses US concerns about any Iranian "dark involvement" in the insurgency as paranoiac.

"For more than a year, U.S. forces in Iraq have secretly detained dozens of suspected Iranian agents, holding them for three to four days at a time," Dafna Linzer writes for the Post. "Last summer, however, senior administration officials decided that a more confrontational approach was necessary, as Iran's regional influence grew and U.S. efforts to isolate Tehran appeared to be failing."

Although officials tell the paper "that about 150 Iranian intelligence officers, plus members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Command, are believed to be active inside Iraq at any given time," there isn't any "evidence the Iranians have directly attacked U.S. troops in Iraq."

The article continues, "The new 'kill or capture' program was authorized by President Bush in a meeting of his most senior advisers last fall, along with other measures meant to curtail Iranian influence from Kabul to Beirut and, ultimately, to shake Iran's commitment to its nuclear efforts. Tehran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful, but the United States and other nations say it is aimed at developing weapons."

"The administration's plans contain five 'theaters of interest,' as one senior official put it, with military, intelligence, political and diplomatic strategies designed to target Iranian interests across the Middle East," Linzer writes.

Another story in Friday's Post deals with the extensive "personal and business relationships" between the two Persian Gulf countries that have helped "driven a wedge between Iraq and the United States."

"The increasingly common arrangement for sick or wounded Iraqis to receive treatment in Iran is just one strand in a burgeoning relationship between these two Persian Gulf countries," Joshua Partlow writes for the Post. "Thousands of Iranian pilgrims visit the Shiite holy cities in southern Iraq each year."

Partlow continues, "Iran exports electricity and refined oil products to Iraq, and Iraqi vendors sell Iranian-made cars, air coolers, plastics and the black flags, decorated with colorful script, that Shiites are flying this week to celebrate the religious holiday of Ashura. But when President Bush and top U.S. officials speak of Iran's role in Iraq, their focus is more limited. U.S. officials accuse Iranian security forces, particularly the al-Quds Brigade of the Revolutionary Guards, of funneling sophisticated explosives to Iraqi guerrillas."

A foreign affairs adviser to Iraq's prime minister dismisses talk of Iran's "dark involvement" as nothing but paranoia, according to the Post.

On Thursday, Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane summarized the six-year push by the Bush Administration to escalate military planning against Iran, in the first article in a series of weekly investigative reports by RAW STORY.

"While the Iraq war was publicly founded upon questionable sources, much of the buildup to Iran has been entirely covert, using non-government assets and foreign instruments of influence to conduct disinformation campaigns, plant intelligence and commit acts of violence via proxy groups," Alexandrovna and Kane wrote.

(Click here to read the full timeline of the decades-long buildup to Iran)

Excerpts from Dafna Linzer's article:

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The White House has authorized a widening of what is known inside the intelligence community as the "Blue Game Matrix" -- a list of approved operations that can be carried out against the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon. And U.S. officials are preparing international sanctions against Tehran for holding several dozen al-Qaeda fighters who fled across the Afghan border in late 2001. They plan more aggressive moves to disrupt Tehran's funding of the radical Palestinian group Hamas and to undermine Iranian interests among Shiites in western Afghanistan.

In Iraq, U.S. troops now have the authority to target any member of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, as well as officers of its intelligence services believed to be working with Iraqi militias. The policy does not extend to Iranian civilians or diplomats. Though U.S. forces are not known to have used lethal force against any Iranian to date, Bush administration officials have been urging top military commanders to exercise the authority.

The wide-ranging plan has several influential skeptics in the intelligence community, at the State Department and at the Defense Department who said that they worry it could push the growing conflict between Tehran and Washington into the center of a chaotic Iraq war.

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FULL POST ARTICLE CAN BE READ AT THIS LINK

Excerpts from Joshua Partlow's article:

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Iraqi officials are sharply divided in their perceptions of Iran's intentions in Iraq. Hussein al-Falluji, a Sunni member of parliament, said Iranian influence exceeds that of the United States, but it is "hidden, and is heading toward targeting vital joints of the Iraqi state."

Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser, said, "Iran is networking aggressively inside Iraq in every aspect of life, including the security aspect."

Mariam Rayis, a foreign affairs adviser to Maliki, dismissed as paranoia U.S. assertions about Iran's "dark involvement" in Iraq. "These neighbors can help us for a while until we can have new construction here," she said. "We have noticed that there is moral support from Iran."

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FULL POST ARTICLE CAN BE READ AT THIS LINK