By every measure, last week was a horrendous week for the clerical regime in Tehran. Through a series of encounters and reports, the regime’s outlaw conduct at home, in Iraq and in the Persian Gulf, came under the intense international light again.
President Bush, condemning Tehran rulers of imposing repression and economic hardship at home and seeking “to intimidate its neighbors with ballistic missiles and bellicose rhetoric,” called on the Persian Gulf states to stand against Tehran “before it is too late,” during his visit of the United Arab Emirates.
Gen. David Petraeus told reporters on January 12 that attacks against American forces in Iraq using Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP) supplied by Tehran had risen “by a factor of two or three” in January.
The most severe blow against the ayatollahs, however, came in the middle of the week on Wednesday when the U.S. Department of Treasury targeted the Qods Force, the heart of Tehran’s terrorism in Iraq and the region, with more sanctions. Qods Force is one of five forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC).
The Treasury, describing the Qods Force as “the regime's primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists and Islamic militants,” under Executive Order 13438, slapped sanctions on its top commander, Brigadier General Ahmed Foruzandeh and two Qods Force top-notch Iraqi surrogates for “threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and the Government of Iraq.”
Coming on the heel of the last October designation of the entire Qods Force as supporter of terrorism and blacklisting of the IRGC as well as the Ministry of Defense and several state-run banks for proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the January 9 designation dealt another major blow to Tehran’s terror machine.
Brig. Gen. Foruzandeh is the deputy Commander of the Qods Force’s Ramezan Garrison in western Iran which is tasked with Iraqi affairs. As a veteran member of the IRGC, Foruzandeh is well versed in domestic suppression as well as masterminding terrorism beyond Iran borders particularly in Iraq.
Before 2003, for many years he commanded Fajr Garrison in the southwestern city of Ahwaz, which is subordinate to the Ramezan Garrison. Foruzandeh, known as "Abu Shahab” in Iraq, had the Badr Brigade, Sarollah Movement and Seyed ol-Shohada Movement under his command.
Applauded for planning and directing a series of terrorist operations carried out by the Badr Brigade against Iran's main opposition, the People's Mojahedin of Iran (MEK) in Iraq in 1990s, he was promoted to the Deputy Commander of Ramezan Garrison. Foruzandeh's deputies are Brig. Gen. Obeidavi, Brig. Gen. Balalek, and Col. Heidar Saki.
In a news briefing in March of 2007 in New York, I revealed the central role Foruzandeh has played in the training of Iraqi extremist militias in Iran: “Foruzandeh, known as "Abu Shahab” in Iraq, has supervised terrorist operations against the Coalition Forces and the Iraqi personalities and is based in the main building of the Qods Force in Tehran (the former American Embassy).”
Based on the information obtained from my sources inside the Iranian regime associated with Iran's main opposition, the MEK, I detailed the process by which the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), currently known as Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), was in direct contact with Foruzandeh to coordinate the dispatching of Iraqis selected for training in Iran under the guise of pilgrims.
Since 2003, with the exposure of Tehran’s sinister meddling in Iraq, many independent Iraqi political figures have been the target Foruzandeh’s hit squads. The Treasury in his report on Foruzandeh states that “In addition to providing financial and material support for attacks against Coalition Forces, Foruzandeh supplied a certain Shia militia group with a target for execution. On July 25, 2005, Foruzandeh held a meeting with representatives of Iraqi Hizballah and other Shia militia groups, calling upon them to continue liquidating all enemies of the Islamic revolution, including security and intelligence personnel, tribal chiefs, and religious clerics.”
Another vile individual blacklisted last week is Abu Mustafa Al-Sheibani whose “Iran-sponsored network was created to affect the Iraqi political process in Iran's favor,” according to the Treasury Department. In a news briefing in January 2007 in Washington, DC, I exposed his network: “Abu-Mustafa Sheibani’s network — consists of approximately 300 special force personnel with the primary task of attacking US forces in Iraq by using IEDs or sharp-shooters.”
Abu-Mustafa Sheibani is a senior member of the Qods Force and is considered a Brigadier-General graduated from IRGC’s Imam Hossein University. Sheibani has family ties with Ali Yunesi (Iran’s former Intelligence Minister), IRGC Brigadier-General Ghassem Soleimani (Commander of Qods Force) and IRGC commander Reza Saifollahi.
The Treasury report has an equally damning description of Al-Shaybani’s network. It says that “As of March 2007, Al-Sheibani, known to transport Katyusha rockets to be used for attacks against Coalition Forces, launched rockets against Americans and made videos of the attacks to get money from Iran.” The report adds that “In an effort to cause instability in Iraq, Al-Sheibani and his network targeted Iraqi government officials. Al-Sheibani conducted attacks against the Iraqi Police Chief of Najaf, Iraq, and the Iraqi Deputy Governor in Najaf, Iraq.”
Early last week, with five speed boats of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp provocatively charging at three ships of the US Navy dropping sea mine look alike to bait the American forces, the whole world particularly the Persian Gulf states witnessed Tehran’s appetite for confrontation and belligerence.
Meanwhile inside Iran, “Spate of Executions and Amputations” did not deter residents of Qaemshahr in the Caspian Sea province of Mazandaran who last week rioted to protest fuel shortages and set fire to government offices. Iran, sitting on the world's second largest gas reserves, is going through an unprecedented cold winter and a large portion of the country has been blanketed with snow in recent days. Some rioters ridiculed ayatollahs’ president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying "instead of fighting the whole world you should resolve our basic requirements."
Describing the clerical regime as “the world's leading state sponsor of terror," President Bush made the observation that Tehran “sends hundreds of millions of dollars to extremists around the world, while its own people face repression and economic hardship at home.” To the Iranian people he said, “The day will come when the people of Iran have a government that embraces liberty and justice, and Iran joins the community of free nations.”
That day will come a lot sooner if Tehran’s capacity for suppression at home and terrorism abroad is stifled through punitive economic, political, and diplomatic measures by the international community. It also requires the United States, Members of Congress argue, to empower Iran’s democracy movement by removing unwarranted restrictions against Iran's main opposition.
Alireza Jafarzadeh is a FOX News Channel Foreign Affairs Analyst and the author of "The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
Jafarzadeh has revealed Iran's terrorist network in Iraq and its terror training camps since 2003. He first disclosed the existence of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility and the Arak heavy water facility in August 2002.
Prior to becoming a contributor for FOX, and until August 2003, Jafarzadeh acted for a dozen years as the chief congressional liaison and media spokesman for the U.S. representative office of Iran's parliament in exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
Alireza Jafarzadeh, the deputy director of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is credited with exposing Iranian nuclear sites in Natanz and Arak in 2002, triggering International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. He is the author of "The Iran Threat" (Palgrave MacMillan: 2008). His email is Jafarzadeh@ncrius.org, and is on twitter @A_Jafarzadeh.