The English version of the Mainichi has outsourced its entire overseas coverage to AP. That's a shame, because the Japanese version carries this spectacular August 23 scoop on help from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to Iraqi militia, a US allegation the Iranian government has been strenuously denying. If the report can be verified, it would be an important step in setting the stage for US strikes into Iranian territory, something that has become increasingly likely as the Bush administration sees Iranian meddling as a serious obstacle to its war in Iraq.
Is something like this really going on? If I had to guess, I would say yes. As for the story itself though, I think that somebody has pulled a fast one on Mainichi. There's no reason for real Mahdi members to talk to the "Mainichi assistant in Baghdad" about Iranian involvement in their activities; in fact, they would be incredibly stupid to do so. So, I'll believe the report when I hear that the men who talked to the assistant as well as the assistant himself have been killed off. Swiftly. Gruesomely. Still, it's such a stunning story that I'm going off the reservation today and translating it here for your viewing pleasure:
Iraq: Shiite Militia Admit to Military Training in Iran
(Cairo, Muneo Takahashi)
By August 22, members of the Mahdi Army, a Islamic Shiite militia in Iraq, disclosed in an investigation by a Mainichi assistant in Baghdad that they had been receiving military training from the Revolutionary Guard in their neighbor country Iran. The US Forces in Iraq repeatedly criticized Iran for supporting Shiite militia, but Iran had denied it. The Iranian claim will be placed in serious doubt by the testimony from within the Mahdi Army.
The Mahdi Army is the militia organization of the anti-American militant "Sadrists". A Mahdi Army member (36) calling himself "Saad" in Sadr City in South Baghdad, the Mahdi Army's power base, testified that "the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is giving training in sniping and dealing with explosives" in underground shelters in Sadr City remaining from the Saddam Hussein days. He revealed that he has transported arms from Iran to Iraq multiple times since July 2004, and said, "I received military training from the Revolutionary Guard from January through March this year in Iran."
The leading member (36) in the Abu Karal (Caral?) district revealed that "[we] have destroyed four US military Humvees (Highly mobile multipurpose vehicles) in the past two weeks" in attacks that he had led. He revealed that they had modified powerfully destructive Iranian landmines and were using them as roadside bombs.
Another member also said that "[we] obtained Katushya rockets to target US military bases" and that "[he] had transported bonuses from Iran for his brothers (Mahdi Army members)."
According to "Saad", they are receiving these arms and funds through the Iranian external information agency called "Ittilat" in Farsi.
From the testimonies, the Iranian intent to bring disorder to the military forces in Iraq of the US, with which it is in conflict, by using the Mahdi Army can be discerned. It is likely that the arms that have been passed on to the Mahdi Army are also being used to attack the "Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council", fellow Shiite and rival to the Sadrists in the Iraqi south and elsewhere, and is resulting in amplifying disorder within Iraq.
Major General Lynch of the US forces in Iraq criticized Iran on the 19th, saying that "about fifty members of the Revolutionary Guard are training Shiite militia." Hosseini, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, denied the charge, saying, "it is absolutely groundless."
Mainichi Shinbun 2007.08.23 03:00 AM