In March 2007 the U.S. military paraded yet another general-cum-spokesperson before the assembled media, where it was announced that the United States had captured Qais Khazali, the head of the mysteriously named “Khazali network,” together with one Ali Musa Daqduq, an alleged Lebanese Hizbollah mastermind who helped plan and facilitate the actions of the Khazali network, including, it seems, an attack on U.S. forces in Karbala in January 2007 which left five American soldiers dead. This attack, in which insurgents dressed in U.S. military uniforms, drove vehicles similar to those used by the U.S. military and sported U.S. identification documents and weapons, has been linked to Iran by many in the U.S., citing nothing more than the level of sophistication involved as proof.
The golden nugget in this story was Ali Musa Daqduq. According to the U.S. military, he was a 24-year member of the Lebanese Hizbollah Party possessing extensive contacts with the Iranian Quds Force. The U.S. military referred to Daqduq as a proxy or surrogate of the Quds Force in Iraq. An alleged “special forces commander” and bodyguard to none other than Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hizbollah in Lebanon, Daqduq was alleged to have been ordered to Iraq in 2005 for the purpose of coordinating training and operations on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard command. Daqduq supposedly helped the Iranians by training, together with the Quds Force and the Lebanese Hizbollah operatives, teams of 20 to 60 Iraqi insurgents at secret bases just outside Tehran.
With this plethora of specificity, however, comes only one item sourced directly from Ali Musa Daqduq himself—that the Iraqi insurgents responsible for the January attack on American forces in Karbala could not have conducted such a complex operation without the support and direction of the Iranian Quds Force. Daqduq wasn’t quoted as saying the Iranian Quds Force was in fact involved, but simply that, in his opinion, such an operation could not have been conducted without the knowledge of the Quds Force. This, of course, brings us back full circle to the immediate period after the attack in Karbala, when U.S. military sources speculated that such an attack had to have been planned by Iran given its complexity. Nothing else is directly attributed to Daqduq, leaving open the question of sourcing and authenticity of the information being cited by the U.S. military.
From speculation to speculation, the case against the Quds Force by the Bush administration continues to lack anything in the way of substance. And yet the mythological Daqduq has become a launching platform for even graver speculation, fed by the media themselves, that the highest levels of leadership in Iran were aware of the activities of Daqduq and the Quds Force, and are thus somehow complicit in the violence. Not one shred of evidence was produced to sustain such serious accusations, and yet national media outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post both ran stories repeating these accusations. Politicians are formulating policy based upon such baseless accusations, and the American public continues to be manipulated into a predisposition for war with Iran largely because of such speculation. No one seems to pay attention to the fact that the U.S. military itself has subsequently contradicted its own briefings, noting in July 2007 that no persons had been captured by the United States that can provide a direct link between insurgents in Iraq and Iran. Again, in August of 2007, the U.S. military stated that it had yet to catch anyone smuggling weapons into Iraq from Iran.
And what of Daqduq himself? It seems that his Iraqi sponsor, Qais Khazali, had fallen out of favor with Muqtada al-Sadr over the strategic direction being taken, and sometime in 2006 split away from Sadr’s Mehdi Army, taking some 3,000 fighters with him. In the lawless wild-West environment which dominates Iraq in the post-Saddam era, the formation of splinter militias of this sort is an everyday occurrence. Radical adventurers have historically been drawn to places of conflict, which would explain the presence of Daqduq. And it would not surprise me to find that Qais Khazali had secured funding from extremist elements inside Iran which operate outside the mandate of government, including some from within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard itself. But the notion of Iran and Hizbollah aligning themselves directly with a splinter element like the “Khazali network” is highly unlikely, to say the least.
But fiction often mirrors reality, and in the case of Iran’s Quds Force, the model drawn upon by the U.S. military seems to be none other than America’s own support of anti-Iranian forces, namely the Mujahedin el-Khalk (MEK) operating out of U.S.-controlled bases inside Iraq, and Jundallah, a Baluchi separatist group operating out of Pakistan that the CIA openly acknowledges supporting. Unlike the lack of evidence brought to bear by the U.S. to sustain its claims of Iranian involvement inside Iraq, the Iranian government has captured scores of MEK and Jundallah operatives, along with supporting documents, which substantiate that which the U.S. openly admits: The United States is waging a proxy war against Iran, inside Iran. This mirror imaging of its own terror campaign against Iran to manufacture the perception of a similar effort being waged by Iran inside Iraq against the U.S. has been very effective at negating any Iranian effort to draw attention to the escalation of war-like activities inside its borders. After all, who would believe the Iranians? They are only trying to divert attention away from their own actions inside Iraq, or so the story goes.
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