Friday, February 16, 2007

Karbala provincial headquarters raid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Karbala provincial headquarters raid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The raid of the Karbala provincial headquarters was an infiltration attack carried out on 20 January 2007 by insurgent commandos, with possible Iranian involvement, on a meeting of U.S. and Iraqi officials at the governor's compound in Karbala to discuss security for the Shia ceremony of Ashoura. The assault, which left five American soldiers dead and three wounded, has been called the "boldest and most sophisticated attack in four years of warfare"[2] and is furthermore notable for being one of the few instances when Iraqi militants have managed to capture U.S. soldiers.

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The raid

The attack was perpetrated by "nine to 12 militants posing as an American security team ... [who] traveled in black GMC Suburban vehicles — the type used by U.S. government convoys — had American weapons, wore new U.S. military combat fatigues, and spoke English."[4] According to one Iraqi official, the militant team was led by a blond. The attack occurred as the U.S. military convened a meeting to discuss security for Ashura. About a dozen U.S. troops were inside the compound at the time.[1]

After being waved through the last of three checkpoints manned by Iraqi securtiy forces at around 17:45, the militants parked their (at least) five SUVs[5] near the city's Provisional Joint Coordination Center (PJCC) main building.[1] The attackers' convoy divided upon arrival, with some vehicles parking at the back of the main building where the meeting was taking place and others parking in front. The commandos first used flash grenades to confuse the Americans. They then stormed into a room where Americans and Iraqis were making the security plans, capturing two U.S. soldiers.[6] They pulled two more soldiers out of an armored Humvee at the entrance. One soldier died and three were wounded when a grenade thrown by insurgents exploded in the local police chief's office on an upper floor of the building. Three U.S. Humvees were damaged by separate explosions in the raid.[5] No Iraqi police or soldiers were injured in the raid, as the insurgents specifically targeted the American soldiers in the compound.[6]

At approximately 18:00, the insurgents broke off the attack and left the compound with their prisoners, heading east toward neighbouring Babil province. Shortly after crossing the Euphrates River, the militants, who were then being followed by Iraqi police, shot their four captives and abandoned five vehicles along with uniforms, equipment, and a rifle.[5] The four soldiers were found later by Iraqi police with gunshot wounds to their heads near Bu-Alwan, a village close to Mahawil. Three were already dead (two handcuffed together in the back of one of the SUVs and the other on the ground) and the fourth died while being evacuated to a nearby hospital.[4]

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Suspected Iranian involvement

According to two unnamed U.S. officials, the Pentagon is examining the possibility that the raid was supported or conducted by Iranians. In a speech on 31 January 2007, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stated that Iran was supporting attacks against Coalition forces in Iraq[8] and some Iraqis suspect that the raid may have been perpetrated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps's Qods Force in retaliation for the detention of 5 Iranian officials by U.S. forces in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil on 11 January.[9][10]

In response to such speculations, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, "ridiculed evidence the US military claimed to have proving Iranian involvement in planning attacks on US and Iraqi forces."[11]

Journalist Bill Roggio has suggested that the attackers may have intended to transfer the captured Americans over the border to Iran.[12]
“ This raid required specific intelligence, in depth training for the agents to pass as American troops, resources to provide for weapons, vehicles, uniforms, identification, radios and other items needed to successfully carry out the mission. Hezbollah’s Imad Mugniyah executed a similar attack against Israeli forces on the Lebanese border, which initiated the Hezbollah-Israeli war during the summer of 2006…

Mahawil (where abandoned vehicles & the victim’s bodies were found) is in Babil province, about 27 miles directly west of Karbala. While it is impossible to prove, the attackers may have been making a bee-line towards the Iranian border.

The Karbala raid makes sense in light of the U.S. raids on the Iranian diplomatic missions in Baghdad and Irbil, where Iranian Qods Force agents were captured, along with documentation that divulged Iran’s involvement with and support of Shia death squads, the Sunni insurgent, and al-Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunnah. Five Iranians from the Irbil raid are still in U.S. custody, and captured U.S. soldiers would provide for excellent bargaining chips.

IF it is confirmed that Iran’s Qods Force was responsible, the news that the United States has authorized the death or captured of Iranian agents inside Iraq, as well as in Afghanistan and Lebanon makes all the more sense.

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