July 2nd, 2007 09:20 EST
MNF-I spokesman details secret cell involvement in Iraq
BAGHDAD " U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner, spokesman for Multi-National Force-Iraq, held a press conference Monday at the Combined Press Information Center.
During the press conference Bergner detailed the involvement of certain secret cells or Special Groups " in Iraq that have been operating against the people of Iraq and Coalition forces.
These Special Groups are militia extremists, funded, trained and armed by external sources "specifically by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force operatives, " said Bergner.
The special groups have evolved over the past three years into what are largely rogue elements that use a cellular structure to operate independently. Their cellular structure and interactions create a complex web of relationships, which have increasingly been fueled by external influences, said Bergner.
Many of the terrorists that belong to these groups have played key roles in the planning and execution of bombings, kidnappings, extortion, sectarian murders, illegal arms trafficking and other attacks against Iraqi citizens, police, army and Coalition forces, said Bergner.
Since February of this year, 21 members of the Special Groups leadership have been captured or killed. One in particular, Azhar Dulaymi, a Special Groups commander, led the attack on the Provincial Joint Coordination Center Jan. 20 in Karbala that killed five U.S. Soldiers. Dulaymi was killed May 19 during Coalition force operations.
The goal of the Quds Force is to develop the Iraqi Special Groups into a network similar to the Lebanese Hezbollah, said Bergner.
In addition to training, the Quds 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, " Bergner said.
Coalition forces continue working closely with Iraqi Security Forces to target these Special Groups and stop the flow of weapons, money and training, Bergner said.
As the surge of forces has become a surge in operations we are increasing the pressure on extremists, " said Bergner.
(U.S. Army story by Sgt. Sky M. Laron, Combined Press Information Center)