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The Iran Connection

Dec 13, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 13 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES and THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Edelman, the cable goes on, “noted the military situation in Farah Province and asked Karzai whether there might be an Iranian hand behind recent Taliban attacks.” Furthermore, Edelman “recalled maps of the myriad smuggling routes from Iran into Afghanistan and reports of Taliban recruits training at sites in Iran, although there was no concrete evidence of direct Iranian involvement.”

By 2008, questions about the level of Iranian support for insurgents had been answered. CIA director Michael Hayden said such backing had been approved “at the highest levels” of the Iranian regime.

And it continues to this day.

Military press releases regularly note that coalition forces are targeting Taliban commanders with links to both Iran and al Qaeda. In one such press release from November 25, 2010, the coalition said it had launched a raid in Farah Province targeting a “Taliban leader” who is a “key foreign-fighter facilitator .   .   . after intelligence reports indicated his recent return to Afghanistan from Iran.” This Taliban commander “provides a conduit for foreign fighters from an array of terrorist networks, including al Qaeda, to enter the country and fight for the Taliban.” According to ISAF, he “acts on behalf of terrorist cells to move foreign fighters into Farah and Helmand via Iran.”

There are literally hundreds of similar examples. There is evidence of Iranian intelligence officers toting cash across the border, evidence of Iranian payments to insurgents who have killed American or Afghan soldiers, evidence of Iranian-made C4 explosives being put to use in suicide attacks. The first cache of leaked documents released by WikiLeaks showed that ISAF receives persistent reports of collusion between Iran, the Taliban, and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. What began years ago as carefully planned tactical support for insurgents has grown into widespread Iranian assistance. In Nimruz Province in October, U.S. and Afghan forces intercepted a shipment of 19 tons of explosives from Iran.

The same is true in Iraq. Another leaked cable, this one written by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in April 2009, outlines a strategy for countering the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’s influence in Iraq as America draws down her forces there. “Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) officers are active in Iraq, conducting traditional espionage and supporting violent extremists,” the cable reads. And while the United States has “succeeded in stopping some IRGC-QF activity through military operations and diplomatic engagement,” there remains work to be done. In particular, the cable says, the IRGC-QF is still smuggling “lethal” explosively formed projectiles into Iraq. A cable from December 24, 2008, discusses a letter to the president of Armenia, in which Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte conveys “our deep concerns about Armenia’s transfer of Arms to Iran which resulted in the death and injury of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.”

When the United States and its negotiating partners sit down with the Iranians this week, the talks will focus almost exclusively on Iran’s nuclear program. But the United States is concerned about the Iranian nuclear program not just because of nuclear weapons, but because of what the Iranian leadership plans to do with them.

Nearly a decade after the 9/11 attacks, not only do we have abundant evidence that Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror, supports al Qaeda. We also have evidence that Iran actively assists terrorists and insurgents targeting our soldiers and diplomats in two war zones. Why are our leaders so afraid to talk about it?

—Stephen F. Hayes & Thomas Joscelyn

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