Daily Telegraph: At least nine British soldiers have been murdered in Iraq by terrorists working for the radical Islamic regime in neighbouring Iran, it was reported last night. Daily Telegraph
By Francis Harris in Washington
At least nine British soldiers have been murdered in Iraq by terrorists working for the radical Islamic regime in neighbouring Iran, it was reported last night.
US and British military intelligence officers told Time magazine that the three British troops killed in Amarah last month were among the victims of the undeclared war between Iran and the West.
“One suspects this would have to have a higher degree of approval [in Teheran”>,” a senior American officer told the weekly.
A British officer expressed astonishment at the reluctance to confront Iranian interference in Iraq.
“It’s as though we are sleepwalking,” he was quoted as saying.
The allegations will aggravate tension between the western allies and Iran still further. The two sides are already at loggerheads over Iran’s shadowy nuclear programme and fears that it is trying to develop atomic weapons.
The British dead in Amarah, 2nd Lieut Richard Shearer, 26, Pte Leon Spicer, 26, and Pte Phillip Hewett, 21, of 1st Bn, Staffordshire Regiment, were killed by a sophisticated roadside bomb.
According to a leaked military intelligence paper, the men were victims of a hitherto unknown Iranian-controlled terrorist group led by a man called Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani
He is described as the leader of a 270-man organisation established by Iran’s radical Revolutionary Guard to kill coalition troops in Iraq.
Soon after the Anglo-US invasion two years ago Teheran despatched up to 12,000 men organised under the banner of the Badr brigade into Iraq and arranged support for other armed groups, western intelligence believes.
One was allegedly a cell of the Mujahedin for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, linked to the Revolutionary Guard.
A British military intelligence paper seen by Time suggested that this group could have been behind the mob attack on a Royal Military Police post in Majarr al-Kabir in June 2003 in which six RMP soldiers were murdered.
Of most concern to coalition intelligence officers is the growing relationship between Teheran and the new Iraqi government of Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
The level of distrust was revealed in the statement of one western diplomat, who told the magazine: “We have to think that anything we tell or share with the Iraqi government ends up in Teheran.”