Group Claims Iran Has Agents in Iraq

The Associated Press
Friday, January 26, 2007; 11:00 PM

PARIS -- Iran has thousands of paid operatives working in neighboring Iraq, an Iranian opposition group based in France claimed Friday.

The National Council of Resistance's allegations could not be independently verified. A press officer at the Iranian Embassy in Paris, speaking on condition of anonymity because of embassy policy, called the claims "completely false" and said Tehran supports stability in the region.

The council is the political wing of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, deemed a terrorist organization by the United States.

Mohammad Mohaddessin, who heads the foreign affairs committee, alleged that thousands of Iraqis are working on Iran's behalf.

"The clerical regime, faced with intensifying domestic crisis and isolation inside Iran, views its only chance for survival in the establishment of a proxy regime in Iraq," Mohaddessin said at a news conference in Paris.

His opposition group released the names, alleged dates of recruitment by Iran and the supposed salaries of 31,690 Iraqis. It claimed that most were paid by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Qods Force _ a faction of the Iranian military that the U.S. military says bankrolls militants in Iraq and equips them with weapons.

It said that in Iraq, the alleged operatives were mostly affiliated with the Badr Brigade, the military wing of Iraq's most powerful Shiite political group, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

The claims came as President Bush authorized U.S. forces in Iraq to take whatever actions are needed to counter what Washington said were Iranian agents deemed a threat to American troops or the public.

The policy was in response to intelligence that Iran is supporting terrorists inside Iraq and providing bombs and other equipment to anti-U.S. insurgents.

Mohaddessin said the list was compiled in 2003 and 2004 by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and obtained by his group's "sources" within it, declining to elaborate. He alleged that most of those named were still working on Iran's behalf.

© 2007 The Associated Press