The Pentagon says an Iranian operative captured in Iraq on Thursday and accused of helping Iraqi insurgents was acting under orders from the elite Quds Force. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.
The U.S. military command in Iraq says the man was arrested in Sulimaniyah Province in the northeast along the Iranian border. The command says the unidentified man is an officer of the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps. It says he was involved in transporting special, high-technology roadside bombs that have the power to pierce the armor of U.S. military vehicles. A U.S. military statement says there are indications from intelligence agencies that the man was also involved in training foreign fighters and smuggling them into Iraq.
About six other alleged Quds force members have been detained in Iraq on similar charges, but U.S. officials have said they are not sure whether the men are operating under orders from the highest levels of the Iranian government.
Still, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Thursday it appears this latest detainee was not operating on his own.
"The Quds Force is a tightly controlled paramilitary force for the government of Iran," he said. "So I think it seems to us as though, indeed, he's not operating as a Lone Ranger in Iraq, but he has been presumably ordered to be there."
Morrell says this arrest is further evidence that Iran is not heeding U.S. warnings to stop helping Iraqi insurgents.
"It's another example of how Iran is not at all playing a helpful role in the stabilization and the prosperity of Iraq," he said. "Iran remains a dangerous, meddling influence in Iraq."
The Pentagon press secretary says Iran is illegally providing increasingly sophisticated weapons to Iraqi insurgents, including rockets, one of which recently hit a U.S. base.