Iran is using hit squads to silence their critics in Iraq, according to British security officials, after the mullahs were found to be meddling in Iraq’s new government, the National Council of Resistance of Iran reported on Saturday.
Officials report that Qassem Suleimani, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force, ordered the deployment of the hit squads in order to intimidate opponents of Iranian interference in Iraqi politics.
They were first deployed in May, following the Iraqi general election where Iran-backed candidates didn’t get enough votes and the mullahs’ efforts to exert control over the government failed.
Iran had backed both former Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki and Hadi al-Amiri, but their ties to Iran were seen as reasons not to vote for them.
The British security officials, who are providing the Iraqi armed forces with military support and training, explained that the Regime is targeting opponents from across Iraq’s political spectrum.
The most high-profile victim was Adel Shaker El-Tamimi, an ally of former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi, who was killed by the Quds force in September. But other victims include Shawki al-Haddad, a close ally of former Iran protégé Muqtada Al-Sadr, who was murdered in July after accusing Iran of election fraud, and Rady al-Tai, an advisor to Iraq's leading Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, who was the victim of a failed assassination attempt in August after calling for less Iranian influence in the new government.
One senior British security official said: "Iran is intensifying its campaign of intimidation against the Iraqi government by using assassination squads to silence critics of Tehran. This is a blatant attempt to thwart efforts by the new Iraqi government to end Iran's meddling in Iraq."
Iran has long been committed to increasing its control over other Shiite-majority countries in the region, as well as the Shiite populations of Sunni-majority countries, in order to build a Shiite crescent from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. The mullahs already claim significant control in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.
General Mark Carleton-Smith, the head of the Army, said that he believes that Iran’s “malign influence” is one of the major threats facing the world today.
Not only are they sending hit squads to Iraq, but the mullahs are also seeking to consolidate the military position Quds Force there. They are also using established militias such as Kataib Hizbollah to smuggle weapons into Iraq that will be used against Western targets.
In September, the militia reportedly launched two attacks against US targets - the US Embassy in Baghdad and the US consulate in Basra.