Sun 31 Aug 2008 01:20
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Coalition special operations teams captured three Hezbollah Brigades operatives during raids inside Baghdad. The captures are the latest in an effort to dismantle the Iranian-backed terror group in Baghdad.
The Hezbollah Brigades operatives were captured in New Baghdad after Coalition forces received "sensitive intelligence" from other members of the group currently in custody. The information identified the location of a cell leader who "conspires with several known Khata’ib Hezbollah criminals" and was behind the deadly June 4 improvised rocket-assisted mortar, or IRAM, attack in the Sha’ab neighborhood in the Baghdad district of Adhamiyah. The attack, which was thought to be directed at a US forward operating base, killed 18 Iraqis and wounded 29 after the rockets detonated prematurely and fell short. The cell leader was among those captured.
Twenty Hezbollah Brigades operatives have been captured in Baghdad over the past two months. On Aug. 26, Coalition forces captured two operatives in Baghdad, including a propaganda facilitator who was "involved editing and posting of attack videos against Coalition and Iraqi forces."
Coalition forces captured two Hezbollah Brigades operatives in New Baghdad on Aug. 22. One of the men was a propaganda expert who was "believed to have uploaded more than 30 attack videos to the criminal ring’s now-defunct web site." One such website, www.alasaeb.com, was deactivated by the Hezbollah Brigades after the group realized the site administrator was captured, a public affairs officer from Multinational Forces Iraq told The Long War Journal.
Other Hezbollah Brigades websites are active, Multinational Forces Iraq told The Long War Journal. "As more of these propaganda experts are captured, we learn of more web sites," the public affairs officer stated. "[Hezbollah Brigades] criminals have also been known to use video sharing web sites already in existence."
The Long War Journal has traced two Hezbollah Brigades videos that have been uploaded on Live Leak, a web-based video sharing site. The group has posted the July 8 IRAM attack on Joint Security Station Ur in northeastern Baghdad on Live Leak. One US soldier and one interpreter were wounded after eight of these makeshift "flying IEDs" detonated near the outpost. Shia terror groups have launched a handful of IRAM attacks on US and Iraqi outposts in Baghdad. Hezbollah Brigades also posted video of an attack on a US patrolwith an Iranian-supplied, armor-piercing, explosively formed projectile, or EFP, on Live Leak.
In the largest series of raid, Coalition forces captured nine Hezbollah Brigades operatives in Baghdad on Aug. 12. Among those captured were a commander in Basrah, an IRAM specialist, and several propaganda cell members. On July 31, Coalition forces detained a cell member who was responsible for videotaping attacks on US and Iraqi forces in Baghdad. On July 21, Coalition forces captured a member of a Hezbollah Brigades propaganda cell who was responsible for uploading attack videos to the Internet in New Baghdad.
Background on the Hezbollah Brigades
The US military says Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah have helped establish, fund, train, and arm and have provided operational support for various Shia terror groups such as the Hezbollah Brigades and the Army of the Righteous. These groups train in camps inside Iran and, prior to operations against the Mahdi Army and the Shia terror groups during the spring and summer of this year, in camps in southern Iraq.
In these camps, the Hezbollah Brigades and the Special Groups receive training on a variety of small arms and explosives. "The training includes how to conduct reconnaissance to pinpoint targets, small arms and weapons training, small unit tactics and terrorist cell operations and communications," The Associated Press reportedearlier this month. Training on the use of EFPs, armor-piercing RPG-29s, and various explosives and assassination techniques is also given.
Not mentioned in the AP article is that the Qods Force and Hezbollah are also providing training on the building and use of IRAMs.
The Hezbollah Brigades receives support from Iran and is an “offshoot of Iranian-trained Special Groups," Sergeant Susan James, a Public Affairs NCO for Multinational Forces Iraq told The Long War Journal in July, when the group first emerged on the Iraqi scene. The US military has referred to the Iranian-backed elements of the Mahdi Army as the Special Groups. The Hezbollah Brigades is described as "a separate and independent organization from Special Groups,” said James.
“We believe that Hezbollah Brigades does receive support from Iran,” James said. “That support likely includes funding, training, logistics, and material.” Iran’s Qods Force funds, trains, arms, and supports Mahdi Army operatives to facilitate attacks on Coalition and Iraqi forces. "They are also believed to receive guidance or direction from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force," Multinational Forces Iraq stated in the latest press release on the capture of nine Hezbollah Brigades operatives in Baghdad.
The logo used by the Hezbollah Brigades is nearly an exact match of the one used by Lebanese Hezbollah, which is directly supported by Iran. The logo shows an arm extended vertically, with the fist grasping an AK-47 assault rifle.
US forces captured Ali Mussa Daqduq inside Iraq in early 2007. Daqduq is a senior Hezbollah commander who was tasked with setting up the Mahdi Army Special Groups along the same lines as the Lebanese terror group.
Other senior Qods Force operatives have been captured inside Iraq, including one of the Qods Force’s regional commanders inside Iraq.
Earlier this week, US forces captured an operative who was described as being "part of the most senior social and operational circles of Special Groups." The raid occurred at Baghdad International Airport as the operative got off a plane from Lebanon.
"The man has been known to travel in and out of Iraq to neighboring nations including Iran and Lebanon, where it is believed he meets and helps run the Iranian-backed Special Groups in Iraq," Multinational Forces-Iraq reported in a press release.
The Iraqi and US media later reported that Ali al Lami, the head of Iraq’s de-Baathification committee, was the Special Groups leader detained at the airport. Al Lami is a member of the Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi’s political party. Chalabi, the former oil minister and deputy prime minister during the interim government, has been accused of providing intelligence to Iran after he fell out of favor with the US and his party failed to win a seat in parliament.