11.2.07

IS IT WAR, OR IS IT CRIME? The latest generation of roadside bombs in Iraq appear to have Iranian provenance. Andy McCarthy at The Corner links to a New York Times report.
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.
Although smuggling is illegal, it is not equivalent to an act of war. For many years, the existence of Catholic parishes and Irish themed pubs in the United States that raised money for the Irish Republican Army was a sore point with the British government, but all understood that neither the Vatican nor the United States nor the Democratic Party was at war with the Crown.

Mr McCarthy later picks up a Fox News report in which U.S. officials are more specific that these weapons are not being paid for out of the poor box or assembled by freelancers playing the patriot game.

The centerpiece of the evidentiary display, however, was a gray metal pipe about 10 inches long and 6 inches in diameter, the exterior casing of what the military said was an EFP, the roadside bomb that shoots out fist-sized wads of nearly molten copper that can penetrate the armor on an Abrams tank.

The EFPs, as well as Iranian-made mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades, have been supplied to what the military officials termed "rogue elements" of the Mahdi Army militia of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He is a key backer of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The U.S. officials glossed over armaments having reached the other major Shiite militia organization, the Badr Brigade. It is the military wing of Iraq's most powerful Shiite political organization, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, whose leaders also have close ties to the U.S.

Many key government figures and members of the Shiite political establishment have deep ties to Iran, having spent decades there in exile during Saddam Hussein's rule. The Badr Brigade was formed and trained by Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

The U.S. officials said there was no evidence of Iranian made EFPs having fallen into the hands of Sunni insurgents who operate mainly in Anbar province in the west of Iraq, Baghdad and regions surrounding the capital.

"We know more than we can show," said one of the senior officials, when pressed for more evidence that the EFPs were made in Iran.

Ah, the joys of intelligence. Because of some overoptimistic estimates of Saddam Hussein's 2002 capabilities, the current war effort is hampered? Or are there operational plans in place, the details of which will be revealed later?

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