December 14, 2005

Persian Slipups

Hatched by Dafydd

Couple this story --

Police Seize Forged Ballots Headed to Iraq From Iran
by Dexter Filkins
New York Times
December 14th, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 13 - Less than two days before nationwide elections, the Iraqi border police seized a tanker on Tuesday that had just crossed from Iran filled with thousands of forged ballots, an official at the Interior Ministry said.

The tanker was seized in the evening by agents with the American-trained border protection force at the Iraqi town of Badra, after crossing at Munthirya on the Iraqi border, the official said. According to the Iraqi official, the border police found several thousand partly completed ballots inside.

-- with this one (courtesy John at Power Line, who takes the opposite position from what I argue below):

Ex-general says Iranian led torture of detainees
by Paul Martin and Maria Cedrell
The Washington Times
December 13, 2005

BAGHDAD -- An Iraqi general formerly in charge of special Interior Ministry forces said yesterday that a senior Iranian intelligence officer was in charge of a network of detention centers where suspected insurgents were routinely tortured and sometimes killed.

Gen. Muntazar Jasim al-Samarrai spoke to The Washington Times just as Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said he had widened an urgent investigation into complaints of abuse and torture in the country's detention facilities.

...and I say that if they're both true, it all adds up to good news, not bad, for Iraq and the future of the Middle East.

What? How can I say that?

Elementary, my dear Whalid: because we already knew that the Iranians were a bunch of evil theocrats plotting to seize control of the Moslem ummah... whereas, had it turned out that the Iraqi Shia were running those torture centers, or that they had engaged in a massive ballot-stuffing operation, we would have a true political crisis on our hands; because it is precisely the Iraqi Shia who will end up the most powerful block of the four largest that will survive this vote.

The fact that the worst betrayals of freedom are being committed, not by Iraqis betraying their fellow nationals and all the words of democracy and freedom, but rather by the Iranian mullahs who are already Number One on the list of people we want to kill someday soon, is actually a wonderful relief. It's like the episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show where Rob Petrie discovers that his expensive, new watch was stolen, not by one of his close friends, but instead by a professional burglar who had broken into the house. What a relief!

Iranian infiltration and interference is expected and can be dealt with -- not just by us, but by patriotic Iraqis, including Shia. It may be hard; the Iranians may even win some rounds (two other trucks full of ballots are said to have made it past the border guards). But in the end, we're looking for foreign infiltrators, perhaps with some Iraqi traitors supplying the local connection. We're not facing a bona-fide insurgency (which we have not seen to date) that wants to break away from the nation of Iraq and form part of Greater Iran.

On the secret prison-camp story, the Washington Times continues:

Gen. al-Samarrai said the Iranian intelligence officer, Tahseer Nasr Lawandi, works directly under the Kurdish deputy minister, Gen. Hussein Kamel, and is known throughout the ministry as "The Engineer."

"The Engineer was behind the torturing and killing in the ministry and was also in charge of Jadriya prison," said Gen. al-Samarrai, who left the ministry after a dispute with superiors and is now living in Jordan....

Mr. Lawandi, who had been a colonel in the Iranian Mukhabarat intelligence service, was granted Iraqi citizenship May 12, 2004, and awarded the rank of general, Gen. al-Samarrai said by telephone from Amman, Jordan, where he moved his family after two attempts on his life....

The general said Mr. Lawandi had worked with the minister and deputy minister to form a special security service to run the detention and interrogation operation and a separate group called the Wolf Brigade to capture suspects and bring them to the secret locations -- usually under cover of darkness....

Gen. al-Samarrai, a 46-year-old career officer, was ousted from the Interior Ministry in a purge of about 600 staff in July. Many were replaced by hard-line loyalists to new Interior Minister Bayan Jabr Solagh and his allies in the Badr Brigade, a militia affiliated with Iraq's largest Shi'ite religious party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

The general said the minister had brought 17,000 Badr organization fighters into the ranks of Interior Ministry forces after Iraq's militias were officially disarmed. Most had received military training in Iran and were infiltrated into Iraq soon after the defeat of dictator Saddam Hussein.

If this story is both true and accurate, it would appear that Interior Minister Solagh would be one of those "Iraqi traitors" I mentioned above; but we don't yet know how much of this is correct, so tread cautiously: there certainly is a great temptation to put all the onus on the foreign jihadis and none on the locals who aid them or even simply turn a blind eye.

It's still a dangerous, deadly situation; but it's aways better to face off against foreigners trying to grab power than a significant portion of one's own population turning traitor. Let's hope the Iraqis and our own forces crack down hard on Iran (and also upon the Iraqis who accept such "allies"), not only by stopping future adventurism but also by punishing Iran for these two schemes. Something permanent, embarassing, and debilitating, perhaps involving Hezbollah, the enforcement arm of the mad mullahs of Iran.

Let them eat sand. But make sure the Iraqis know their real enemies are across their borders -- not across the parliamentary aisle.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 14, 2005, at the time of 7:08 AM

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The following hissed in response by: BigLeeH

Of course the truckfull of forged ballots story in the NY Times was immediately refuted by a Reuters story saying that the Times' single unnamed source made it all up. This means, as usual, that we are all able to believe anything we want about it.

The above hissed in response by: BigLeeH [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 14, 2005 2:12 PM

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