[R-G] Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says
critical.montages at gmail.com
Sat Feb 10 09:09:56 MST 2007
I woke up this morning and found this -- "Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is
Made by Iran, U.S. Says" -- on the front page of the New York Times.
The New York Times must have a gentlemen's agreement with the White
House: the White House can plant a story on its front page at a
crucial time like this -- Tehran is said to be planning to make a
"major announcement" about its nuclear program on 11 February, Iran's
Revolution Day commemorating the fall of the Shah's regime (the Shah
fled Iran on 16 January 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran and
arrived in Tehran on 1 February, and the Supreme Military Council
declared neutrality on 11 February) -- and in exchange the New York
Times gets to exercise its "freedom of press" for the rest of time.
It is ironic that the editorial in the same issue criticizes that
"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's do-it-yourself intelligence
office cooked up a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda to help justify an
unjustifiable war" ("The Build-a-War Workshop,"
<http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/10/opinion/10sat1.html>). If the
ruling class were really alarmed by the White House's adventurism and
determined to put a stop to it, the New York Times would not be
helping the White House make a case for a war on Iran, by implying
that the White House's accusation against Iran, unlike what it said
about the Ba'athist government of Iraq before 2003, reflects "broad
agreement among American intelligence agencies" and therefore must be
true. -- Yoshie
February 10, 2007
Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says
By MICHAEL R. GORDON
WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 — The most lethal weapon directed against American
troops in Iraq is an explosive-packed cylinder that United States
intelligence asserts is being supplied by Iran.
The assertion of an Iranian role in supplying the device to Shiite
militias reflects broad agreement among American intelligence
agencies, although officials acknowledge that the picture is not
In interviews, civilian and military officials from a broad range of
government agencies provided specific details to support what until
now has been a more generally worded claim, in a new National
Intelligence Estimate, that Iran is providing "lethal support" to
Shiite militants in Iraq.
The focus of American concern is known as an "explosively formed
penetrator," a particularly deadly type of roadside bomb being used by
Shiite groups in attacks on American troops in Iraq. Attacks using the
device have doubled in the past year, and have prompted increasing
concern among military officers. In the last three months of 2006,
attacks using the weapons accounted for a significant portion of
Americans killed and wounded in Iraq, though less than a quarter of
the total, military officials say.
Because the weapon can be fired from roadsides and is favored by
Shiite militias, it has become a serious threat in Baghdad. Only a
small fraction of the roadside bombs used in Iraq are explosively
formed penetrators. But the device produces more casualties per attack
than other types of roadside bombs.
Any assertion of an Iranian contribution to attacks on Americans in
Iraq is both politically and diplomatically volatile. The officials
said they were willing to discuss the issue to respond to what they
described as an increasingly worrisome threat to American forces in
Iraq, and were not trying to lay the basis for an American attack on
The assessment was described in interviews over the past several weeks
with American officials, including some whose agencies have previously
been skeptical about the significance of Iran's role in Iraq.
Administration officials said they recognized that intelligence
failures related to prewar American claims about Iraq's weapons
arsenal could make critics skeptical about the American claims.
The link that American intelligence has drawn to Iran is based on a
number of factors, including an analysis of captured devices,
examination of debris after attacks, and intelligence on training of
Shiite militants in Iran and in Iraq by the Iranian Revolutionary
Guard and by Hezbollah militants believed to be working at the behest
The Bush administration is expected to make public this weekend some
of what intelligence agencies regard as an increasing body of evidence
pointing to an Iranian link, including information gleaned from
Iranians and Iraqis captured in recent American raids on an Iranian
office in Erbil and another site in Baghdad.
The information includes interrogation reports from the raids
indicating that money and weapons components are being brought into
Iraq from across the Iranian border in vehicles that travel at night.
One of the detainees has identified an Iranian operative as having
supplied two of the bombs. The border crossing at Mehran is identified
as a major crossing point for the smuggling of money and weapons for
Shiite militants, according to the intelligence.
According to American intelligence, Iran has excelled in developing
this type of bomb, and has provided similar technology to Hezbollah
militants in southern Lebanon. The manufacture of the key metal
components required sophisticated machinery, raw material and
expertise that American intelligence agencies do not believe can be
found in Iraq. In addition, some components of the bombs have been
found with Iranian factory markings from 2006.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates appeared to allude to this
intelligence on Friday when he told reporters in Seville, Spain, that
serial numbers and other markings on weapon fragments found in Iraq
point to Iran as a source.
Some American intelligence experts believe that Hezbollah has provided
some of the logistical support and training to Shiite militias in
Iraq, but they assert that such steps would not be taken without
"All source reporting since 2004 indicates that Iran's Islamic
Revolutionary Corps-Quds Force is providing professionally-built EFPs
and components to Iraqi Shia militants," notes a still-classified
American intelligence report that was prepared in 2006.
"Based on forensic analysis of materials recovered in Iraq," the
report continues, "Iran is assessed as the producer of these items."
The United States, using the Swiss Embassy in Tehran as an
intermediary, has privately warned the Iranian government to stop
providing the military technology to Iraqi militants, a senior
administration official said. The British government has issued
similar warnings to Iran, according to Western officials. Officials
said that the Iranians had not responded.
An American intelligence assessment described to The New York Times
said that "as part of its strategy in Iraq, Iran is implementing a
deliberate, calibrated policy — approved by Supreme Leader Khamenei
and carried out by the Quds Force — to provide explosives support and
training to select Iraqi Shia militant groups to conduct attacks
against coalition targets." The reference was to Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, the Iranian leader, and to an elite branch of Iran's Islamic
Revolutionary Guards Command that is assigned the task of carrying out
paramilitary operations abroad.
"The likely aim is to make a military presence in Iraq more costly for
the U.S.," the assessment said.
Other officials believe Iran is using the attacks to send a warning to
the United States that it can inflict casualties on American troops if
the United States takes a more forceful posture toward it.
Iran has publicly denied the allegations that it is providing military
support to Shiite militants in Iraq. Javad Zarif, Iran's ambassador to
the United Nations, wrote in an Op-Ed article published on Thursday in
The Times that the Bush administration was "trying to make Iran its
scapegoat and fabricating evidence of Iranian activities in Iraq."
The explosively formed penetrator, detonated on the roadside as
American vehicles pass by, is capable of blasting a metal projectile
through the side of an armored Humvee with devastating consequences.
American military officers say that attacks using the weapon reached a
high point in December, when it accounted for a significant portion of
Americans killed and wounded in Iraq. For reasons that remain unclear,
attacks using the device declined substantially in January, but the
weapons remain one of the principal threats to American troops in and
around Baghdad, where five additional brigades of American combat
troops are to be deployed under the Bush administration's new plan.
"It is the most effective I.E.D out there," said Lt. Col. James Danna,
who led the Second Battalion, Sixth Infantry Regiment in Baghdad last
year, referring to improvised explosive devices, as the roadside bombs
are known by the American military. "To me it is a political weapon.
There are not a lot of them out there, but every time we crack down on
the Shia militias that weapon comes out. They want to keep us on our
bases, keep us out of their neighborhoods and prevent us from doing
our main mission, which is protecting vulnerable portions of the
Adm. William Fallon, President Bush's choice to head the Central
Command, alluded to the weapon's ability to punch through the side of
armored Humvees in his testimony to Congress last month.
"Equipment that was, we thought, pretty effective in protecting our
troops just a matter of months ago is now being challenged by some of
the techniques and devices over there," Admiral Fallon said. "So I'm
learning as we go in that this is a fast-moving ballgame."
Mr. Gates told reporters last week that he had heard there had been
cases in which the weapon "can take out an Abrams tank."
The increasing use of the weapon is the latest twist in a lethal game
of measure and countermeasure that has been carried out throughout the
nearly four-year-old Iraq war. Using munitions from Iraq's vast and
poorly guarded arsenal, insurgents developed an array of bombs to
strike the more heavily armed and technologically superior American
In response, the United States military deployed armored Humvees,
which in turn spawned the development of even more potent roadside
bombs. American officials say that the first suspected use of the
penetrator occurred in late 2003 and that attacks have risen steadily
To make the weapon, a metal cylinder is filled with powerful
explosives. A metal concave disk manufactured on a special press is
fixed to the firing end.
Several of the cylinders are often grouped together in an array. The
weapon is generally triggered when American vehicles drive by an
infrared sensor, which operates on the same principle as a garage door
opener. The sensor is impervious to the electronic jamming the
American military uses to try to block other remote-control attacks.
When an American vehicle crosses the beam, the explosives in the
cylinders are detonated, hurling their metal lids at targets at a
tremendous speed. The metal changes shape in flight, forming into a
slug that penetrate many types of armor.
In planning their attacks, Shiite militias have taken advantage of the
tactics employed by American forces in Baghdad. To reduce the threat
from suicide car bombs and minimize the risk of inadvertently killing
Iraqi civilians, American patrols and convoys have been instructed to
keep their distance from civilian traffic. But that has made it easier
for the Shiite militias to attack American vehicles. When they see
American vehicles approaching, they activate the infrared sensors.
According to American intelligence agencies, the Iranians are also
believed to have provided Shiite militants with rocket-propelled
grenades, shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, mortars,
122-millimeter rockets and TNT.
Among the intelligence that the United States is expected to make
public this weekend is information indicating that some of these
weapons said to have been made in Iran were carried into Iraq in
recent years. Examples include a shoulder-fired antiaircraft missile
that was fired at a plane flying near the Baghdad airport in 2004 but
which failed to launch properly; an Iranian rocket-propelled grenade
made in 2006; and an Iranian 81-millimeter mortar made in 2006.
Assessments by American intelligence agencies say there is no
indication that there is any kind of black-market trade in the
Iranian-linked roadside bombs, and that shipments of the components
are being directed to Shiite militants who have close links to Iran.
The American military has developed classified techniques to try to
counter the sophisticated weapon.
Marine officials say that weapons have not been found in the
Sunni-dominated Anbar Province, adding to the view that the device is
an Iranian-supplied and Shiite-employed weapon.
To try to cut off the supply, the American military has sought to
focus on the cells of Iranian Revolutionary Guard operatives it
asserts are in Iraq. American intelligence agencies are concerned that
the Iranians may respond by increasing the supply of the weapons.
"We are working day and night to disassemble these networks that do
everything from bring the explosives to the point of construction, to
how they're put together, to who delivers them, to the mechanisms that
are used to have them go off," Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week. "It is instructive that at
least twice in the last month, that in going after the networks, we
have picked up Iranians."
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