Thursday, August 09, 2007

Iran arming Taliban in Afghanistan

Deep-cover intel agents find evidence of smuggling
Publishing Date:
09.08.07 14:06
By Gordon Thomas
LONDON - Deep-cover British intelligence officers in Afghanistan have established that Iran has been arming the Taliban with state-of-the-art weapons and high-grade explosives.
Originally manufactured in Russia and China, the armaments are smuggled into Afghanistan through the dusty frontier town of Islam Qala, near Heart, according to agents with Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6. The weapons include armor-piercing roadside bombs and rocket launchers capable of stopping a tank. Afghanistan's Col. Rahmatulla Safi, head of the border police in the area, said: "We do not have the men or resources to stop the smuggling from Iran."
The weapons initially arrive by air at a huge arsenal north of Tehran. From there, they are unloaded from their Russian/Chinese-marked crates and driven to the Iranian border to be smuggled into Afghanistan. Col. Thomas Kelly, an American commander working with NATO forces in the area, said: "The Iranian supplied weapons are a major threat to our forces. They are very sophisticated and are clearly factory-made."
The MI6 agents also have confirmed Iran's Quds force, an elite regiment of the Revolutionary Guards, is also training the Taliban inside Afghanistan.
The Iranian troops also have brought with them heat-seeking missiles capable of downing helicopters and aircraft used to transport troops around the war-torn country as the roads are too dangerous to navigate. It was the introduction of U.S.-supplied Stinger missiles which brought the Soviet army to its knees during its ill-fated 10-year campaign in Afghanistan - and led to the emergence of Osama bin Laden as a major threat.
In an attempt to stop the arms traffic, NATO bases are being reinforced along Afghanistan's western border with Iran. The soldiers are constantly involved in deadly skirmishes with the Taliban. In a report to London, the MI6 officers working out of the British base, Camp Bastion, in Herat province, said Iran "is offering the Taliban weapons free. But the Taliban are reluctant to accept them as gifts because they fear Iran will try and take over the country eventually when they drive out the West."
The Iranian ambassador to Kabul, Mohammed Reza Bahrame, last week denied accusations that his country is supplying arms to the Taliban.
"All we do is give medical aid to the country," he said in a telephone interview.
Gordon Thomas is the author of "Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad," published in a new edition in January. He specializes in international intelligence matters.

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