By RICHARD PYLE
The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 21, 2007; 12:01 AM
NEW YORK -- Iraqi insurgents, guerrilla fighters and death squads are being trained in secret camps in Iran with the blessing of top Tehran leaders and at least three senior Iraqi political figures, an Iranian opposition figure said Tuesday.
Would-be Iraqi fighters are smuggled into Iran, schooled in everything from sniper techniques to explosive devices and sent back to Iraq to wage war on U.S.-led coalition forces, Alireza Jafarzadeh said at a news conference.
"The Iranian regime is secretly engaged in the organization and training of large Iraqi terrorist networks in Iran to heighten insecurity and instability and force the coalition forces to leave Iraq, which would in turn pave the way for establishment of an Islamic republic in Iraq," Jafarzadeh said.
He has worked for the political wing of the Mujahedin Khalq, an Iranian opposition group that Washington and the European Union list as a terrorist organization.
Jafarzadeh, who heads the Washington-based Strategic Policy Consulting think tank, is credited with having aired Iranian military secrets in the past. The group claims to obtain its information from a network of resistance informants inside the country. But U.S. officials considered some of Jafarzadeh's past assertions inaccurate.
There was no independent confirmation of the latest information. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations had no immediate comment.
"His statement today is a public announcement that this group has been the source of allegations which U.S. officials are making about Iranian intervention in Iraq," said Mohammad Mir Ali Mohammadi, a spokesman for Iran's U.N. Mission.
Jafarzadeh said Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are closely connected to the training. He said Abu Ahmad Al-Ramisi, governor of southern Iraq's Al-Muthanna province, and two members of Iraq's National Assembly are also involved.
He identified one as Hadi Al-Ameri, who he said is chairman of the legislature's security committee and head of the Badr Corps, the Iran-based military wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The other is an assembly member known in Iraq as Abu Mehdi Mohandas, he said.
Jafarzadeh displayed maps and satellite photos showing some of the purported camps' locations, including two near the former shah's palace in Tehran, one south of that city in Jalil Abad and another at the Bahonar base in Karaj.
Other camps, he said, are in Qom, in Isfahan and in Iraq-Iran border areas near Kermanshah, Kurdistan, Ilam and Khuzestan.
The camps are run by several top commanders of the Qods Force, the most highly trained branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, with some Hezbollah members from Lebanon also taking part, he said.