Iraqis receive training in Iran

Iraqis receive training in IranBy Sharon Behn
January 9, 2006

Shi’ite clerics are recruiting young Iraqis to go to neighboring Iran for political indoctrination and militia training, said the uncle of one young man who recently returned from a one-month session.

Upon the return of the young man — whose name has been withheld from this article to protect his family — he was recruited into the armed wing of the pro-Iranian Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) political party, the uncle said.

The claim is consistent with remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, who has repeatedly warned about Iranian meddling in Iraq’s affairs.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) — an exiled opposition group — also charges that Tehran has been training Iraqi and other nationals in intelligence gathering and terrorist operations at garrisons across Iran.

The uncle, who agreed to be identified only as Muhammad, said the young man and a number of others were recruited from Husseiniya mosque, a large Shi’ite mosque in Baghdad. The young man told his father he was going to visit a religious site in Iran. 

But, Muhammad said, "They took them to a camp and gave them a briefing on what is happening in Iraq, and what Iran is trying to do: Support the Shi’ites and help them retain power. …

"They trained them for militia purposes — to go out on patrol, to get people out of their houses, execute them and leave them on the street," he said, adding that his nephew had boasted about his training to the family when he returned in early December.

"He was brainwashed; he was very proud when he was talking to us. He told us all the details in order to try and make us afraid. He had an AK-47. He didn’t say who arranged his passport, but he is getting his orders from one of the imams in the Badr office," Muhammad said.

The Badr Brigade is a major Shi’ite militia affiliated with SCIRI.

Karim al-Musawi, SCIRI’s spokesman in Washington, dismissed the claims as "propaganda."

Iraq’s eastern border with Iran "is guarded by the Iraqi military and coalition troops, so I don’t think it is easy for those young people to go there and come back. This is part of the propaganda against the United Iraqi Alliance, not just SCIRI," said Mr. al-Musawi.

According to preliminary results, the United Iraqi Alliance — which includes SCIRI — won a plurality in the Dec. 15 elections and will control the largest bloc of seats in the new national assembly.