New declassified documents have revealed the role of Iran in helping Iraqi militias attack American forces during the US invasion of the country.
The interrogation of Qais Al Khazali, the leading figure of a major Shiite militia who recently won political power in Iraq, shows how Iran provided weapons and training to Shiite militias for them to launch attacks on American troops and remove them from the country.
Details of his interrogation were uncovered after the Wall Street Journal reviewed the documents declassified by the US Central Command that included the report of his questioning.
The US coalition in Iraq had accused Mr Khazali of planning a 2007 attack on US troops that killed five soldiers. That attack was a planned kidnapping of US soldiers in the Iraqi city of Karbala.
The military subsequently captured him and questioned him, when it appears he bared all about Tehran’s meddling in the country against US forces.
“There are Iranians and Lebanese Hezbollah conducting the training at these bases,” the report was quoted as saying, citing Mr Khazali’s comments in the interrogation.
It continued: “Detainee said that anyone can receive EFP training and Iran does not care who gets it. This is because of the availability and low cost of EFPs.”
The acronym EFP, or explosively formed penetrator, refers to deadly roadside bombs that the US accused Iran of building and smuggling into Iraq. Iraqi militiamen were then trained on how to employ those devices to kill Western military personnel.
Those devices are estimated to have killed and injured hundreds of US and coalition soldiers.
The militia chief admitted that some of his men were trained by Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He even travelled to Iran to obtain funding for his group and met with Iran’s shadowy spy chief, IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani.
“The Iranians are experts in full scale warfare while the Lebanese are experts in urban or guerrilla warfare,” the report said.
After his role with that Iraqi militia and his release from US detention in 2009, Mr Al Khazali has moved into the political fray in Iraq. He now leads the Asaib Ahl Al Haq militia that secured 15 parliamentary seats in the May elections. The US is mulling recognising his militia as a terrorist organisation.
The revelations comes as tensions between Iran and the US have peaked over the landmark nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers in 2015. US President Donald Trump removed Washington from the pact in May and has reimposed damaging sanctions on the Iranian economy.
That very deal had lifting sanctions on Iran in return for holding back its nuclear programme. Mr Trump says it was a bad deal as it returned billions of dollars into Iranian hands that it could use for the funding of terrorism across the Middle East, particularly in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.