John on March 26, 2007 at 2:41 pm
Signs of a new attitude in Tehran. From the AP story:
Iran said Monday it was questioning 15 British sailors and marines to determine if their alleged entry into Iranian waters was “intentional or unintentional” before deciding what to do with them — the first sign it could be seeking a way out of the standoff.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mehzi Mostafavi took a softer line Monday while saying that the 14 men and one woman were still being interrogated.
“It should become clear whether their entry was intentional or unintentional. After that is clarified, the necessary decision will be made,” Mostafavi said.
The London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat reported that the decision to detain the British sailors was taken on by the regime’s Higher Defense Council in light of reports that the detention of the five officers as well as the disappearance of three other senior Iranian officers could seriously compromise ongoing operations of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard-Quds Force.
The Quds Force is the arm of the Revolutionary Guard responsible for conducting operations outside of Iran, including the training of militias in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.
In a January 29, 2007 article titled “Cheaper and Easier than Chinese Goods” in the Iranian weekly Sobh-e Sadeq, the mouthpiece of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei circulated among the Revolutionary Guards, elements in the Revolutionary Guards threatened to abduct U.S. soldiers around the world: “Top American officials must understand that because they deploy their troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Caucasus, Pakistan, India, the African continent, Latin America, and even in Europe, capturing them and transferring them to any destination is easier than preparing a container of cheap Chinese goods [for shipment].”
And — going back to an earlier story from ABC’s The Blotter — perhaps they did try to abduct US soldiers prior to the current crisis:
U.S. forces have arrested the two leaders of the network believed responsible for the brazen raid in Karbala by terrorists disguised as Americans, in which five U.S. soldiers were kidnapped and later killed in January, U.S. military officials said today.
Senior U.S. military sources tell ABC News that hard evidence linking the Khazalis to the Karbala raid, including the ID cards of several of the dead American soldiers, was recovered at the scene.
The coalition also found evidence linking the men to Iran and to an arms smuggling operation that included the high impact Explosively Formed Projectiles, or EFPs, according to U.S. officials.
The network’s connection to Iran raises the question of whether the Karbala raid was designed to exchange the captive American soldiers for the Iranian officers arrested by U.S. forces in Irbil in December — a plan that obviously went awry when the getaway vehicles were chased by Iraqi security, and the Americans were shot.
The Karbala raid took place on Jan 20th. As early as Jan 31, when this ABC story was written, there was speculation that Iran had planned the raid and that it was in response to the capture of 5 Iranians in Irbil, Iraq.
More to come, I’m sure.
Category: Islamic Jihad |