Quds it be?
Yes it Quds. The AP reports:
Iran's elite Quds force helped militants carry out a January attack in Karbala that killed five Americans, a U.S. general said Monday. U.S. military spokesman Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner also accused Tehran of using the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah as a "proxy" to arm Shiite militants in Iraq. ...
The liaison officer between the Quds and a Shi'ite militia was none other than Moqtada al-Sadr's former spokesman Qais al-Kazaal. It was al-Kazaali's group which carried out the attack, with the help of the Iranians Quds. It is an escalation? Why yes.
The claims were an escalation in U.S. accusations that Iran is fueling Iraq's violence, which Tehran has denied, and were the first time the U.S. military has said Hezbollah has a direct role.
Gen Bergner the Iranian proxies were trained in camps near Teheran of which the highest leadership in that country could not be unaware.
Bergner said Iraqi extremists were taken to Iran in groups of 20 to 60 for training in three camps "not too far from Tehran." When they returned to Iraq, they formed units called "special groups" to carry out attacks, bombings and kidnappings.
"Our intelligence reveals that the senior leadership in Iran is aware of this activity," he said. Asked if Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could be unaware of the activity, Bergner said, "That would be hard to imagine." ...
A total of 18 "higher-level operatives" from the Iranian-backed special groups have been arrested and three others killed since February, Bergner said.
Bill Roggio has more quotes from the briefing. One of the striking things is how small, sharp and stiletto-like the Iranian blade has been.
“These Special Groups are militia extremists, funded, trained and armed by external sources … specifically by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force operatives,” said Brig Gen Bergner. “In addition to training, the Qods force also supplies the Special Groups with weapons and funding of 750,000 to three million U.S. dollars a month. Without this support, these Special Groups would be hard pressed to conduct their operations in Iraq.”
Another notable characteristic of the Iranian effort is that it occurs in the context of the regional strategy. The Quds have used Hezbollah as a conduit and cadre for exporting their proxy warfare to Iraq, the Hezbollah being their Condor Legion to fight wars abroad.
Bill Roggio says that Coalition forces have killed at least 91 "secret cell" network members and captured 112 since April 27, 2007, which was not too long ago. Bergener may be releasing details of the intelligence take from the initial captures because operations have moved on from them. It is possible that the Coalition has a symmetric "region-wide" strategy to counter Iran and it is tempting to speculate what role events in Lebanon, Gaza and inside Iran play in this calculus. Recent news stories have suggested that al-Sadr's militias have come under increasing Coalition pressure and that may be related to campaign against Iranian proxy warfare.
In some sense the US is at war with Iran, but in a Cold-War mode, just as there were "over the fence" operations during the Vietnam War and other efforts the full story of which has probably not yet been told.