By David Mays
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 3, 2007 - Coalition forces are finding more evidence that Iran is directly supporting insurgents in Iraq, a U.S. military officer said today. "We know that they do have official involvement," Air Force Col. Donald Bacon explained during a conference call from Baghdad. "When you actually have captured Quds Force operatives and leaders in country and you know that they're involved in it, ... there is no doubt that there's official involvement."
Bacon is chief of strategy and plans for Multinational Force Iraq. He spoke with online journalists and "bloggers" shortly after the command announced the detention of Mahmud Farhadi, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force officer accused of providing weapons to Iraqi criminal elements.
"We would like to see Iran live up to their commitments that they have stated publicly ... to help seek a secure and stable Iraq," Bacon said. "When we find a Quds force operative that is instrumental to the shipment of these weapons and funding and training of these extremists, we have no choice but to fulfill our responsibilities."
Farhadi heads the so-called "Zafr Command," which trains and smuggles Iranian insurgents and weapons across the border into north-central Iraq, Bacon explained.
"The area they oversee here in Iraq is an area that we have found a lot of explosively formed penetrators. Those come from Iran," Bacon said. "We've also had a lot of indirect-fire attacks involving weapons that come from Iran, missiles, in particular, and 240 mm rockets."
Bacon also announced that a cache of 120 mm mortar rounds was discovered Sept. 30 in Baghdad.
"We know from our experts that they were of Iranian origin," Bacon said. "You wouldn't think so because it has English markings on there, but that's the way they market them. And you can actually look at the Iranian Web site and actually look at the weapons that they market on their Web site, and they have the same kind of markings."
These and other recently discovered stashed weapons belong to "rogue elements" associated with Shiia extremists, the colonel explained. "We're finding these things all the time," he said.
Bacon noted some success stories in deterring foreigners from assisting insurgents, including a particularly effective campaign involving a would-be Saudi suicide bomber who was badly burned in his unsuccessful attempt in Iraq.
"So he got captured. We gave him medical care," Bacon explained. "Over time he's been sent back to Saudi Arabia where he is now fairly visible on TV talking about: 'Hey, this is wrong. I made a mistake.'"