Qods Force is training hit squads in Iran

Reza Shafa
Associated Press, on Friday published a report of "hit squads" being trained in four Iranian cities – quoting a US intelligence officer- by both the Qods Force and Lebanese Hezbollah. It is good news that the mullahs’ plans to export well trained terrorists — the US army called them "special group criminals" – to Iraq for carrying out a variety of terrorist operations are exposed.

"They are also learning how to use bombs packed with explosive penetrators that can rip through U.S. armored vehicles, along with other improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades, including the RPG-29 used by Lebanese Hezbollah and the Qods Force. They are also receiving training on assassination techniques, employing RPGs, small arms or explosives," the report added. 

In addition to invaluable information given in the AP’s report, in May the underground network of Iran’s main opposition, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK/PMOI) published a report, about an extensive, elaborate program to train large numbers of Iraqi terrorists in Iran.

Following are excerpts from the report:

The plan is led by the Qods Force, the elite terrorist wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC). IRGC Brigadier General Ahmad Forouzandeh, known by his nickname "Abu Shahab” in Iraq, is in charge of the training program. IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Shahlaei, a veteran Qods commander, supervises the recruitment of Iraqi militias.

To minimize the risk of exposure and logistical bottlenecks, the Qods Force scatters these would-be terrorists in several of its bases near the cities of Tehran, Karaj, Qom, and Isfahan. Qods bases in provinces close to the Iraqi border, such as Kermanshah, Ilam, Kurdistan, and Khuzestan, are also utilized.

These camps offer a full menu of courses, from urban guerrilla warfare and sniper targeting, to launching mortars and installing explosive packs. Let’s not leave out the instructions on how to fire shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles. The duration of each course is 20 days. Much of the training is done by veteran commanders of the Lebanese Hezbollah who, like their students, speak Arabic and are more than eager to share their experiences with the latest unconventional warfare tactics.

The Qods Force’s Imam Ali Base in Tehran is at the center of the ayatollahs’ terrorist training program. Tucked away in a quiet area of northern Tehran close to Saad-abad Palace, it used to accommodate would-be terrorists from more than a dozen countries. Run by IRGC commander Hossein Lotfi, Imam Ali Base is now dedicated entirely to the training of Iraqi militia. One of the base’s main commanders, IRGC Brigadier General Orouj, was previously a senior commander of the Qods Force in Lebanon.

The trainees at Imam Ali are usually divided into small groups of eight or so for the sake of secrecy. Each group has two trainers: an Iranian and a member of Hezbollah. In October 2006, several groups of Iraqi Shiite militants from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, SCIRI (currently known as the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council) and from Sadr City in Baghdad, were trained in this base.

The Hezbollah base in Varamin, south of Tehran, is another key destination for Iraqi students of terrorism. Before 2003, it was primarily used to train the Badr Corp — the military wing of SCIRI. With the outbreak of the Iraq war, the IRGC promptly dispatched the Badr Corp into Iraq, and the base was handed over to the Qods Force to handle the soon-expected Iraqi militias. The Hezbollah base is currently run by a veteran Qods Force commander named Haj Ayoub. Two of the non-Iranian trainers are Khalili and Vajih. On January 2, 2007, the training of a group of 50 Iraqi militants from Sadr City was completed at this base.

The AP report correctly points out that the entire operation is under the direction of Qods force commander Brig. Gen. Ghasem Soleimani, with the knowledge and approval of the mullahs’ supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. The elite Qods Force is a branch of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Reza Shafa is an expert on the Iranian regime’s Intelligence networks.