Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Of Serial Numbers and Vapor Trails

Terrorists have been captured in Iraq using sniper rifles that were originally manufactured in Austria. That isn't the juicy part.

The juicy part is that the weapon was part of a larger shipment of sniper rifles sent to Iran in an official shipment to the Iranian police for use by the National Iranian Police Association.
Austrian sniper rifles that were exported to Iran have been discovered in the hands of Iraqi terrorists, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

More than 100 of the .50 calibre weapons, capable of penetrating body armour, have been discovered by American troops during raids.

The guns were part of a shipment of 800 rifles that the Austrian company, Steyr-Mannlicher, exported legally to Iran last year.

The sale was condemned in Washington and London because officials were worried that the weapons would be used by insurgents against British and American troops.
Compare the serial numbers on the rifles with those provided by the company and you'll see where this is headed.

If the US has captured 100 of the 800 rifles, that means that 12% of the Austrian shipment ended up in the hands of insurgents/terrorists. That's not a misplacement of weapons or glitch, but a feature of the Iranian purchase.

Iran is providing terrorists with the weapons to kill Americans and Iraqis in Iraq. They're providing the means and methods to kill more efficiently. Still, there are skeptics out there who claim that the evidence doesn't point to Iranian involvment in Iraq, including General Peter Pace.
Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. forces hunting down militant networks that produced roadside bombs had arrested Iranians and that some of the material used in the devices were made in Iran.

“That does not translate that the Iranian government per se, for sure, is directly involved in doing this,” Pace told reporters in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. “What it does say is that things made in Iran are being used in Iraq to kill coalition soldiers.”

His remarks might raise questions on the credibility of the claims of high-level Iranian involvement, especially following the faulty U.S. intelligence that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
How exactly did those weapons get from Iranian hands into those of the insurgents. That's the $64,000 question.

How many more lives must be lost before the links between Iran and the insurgency and terrorist support network inside Iraq is established conclusively (to legal standards)? As Ed Morrissey notes, this is the smoking gun that should ordinarily lead to vapor trails over Tehran.

To clarify a point about my take on Gen. Pace's statements, there is an ongoing question over the extent of Iranian actions inside Iraq, but Iran is clearly doing something inside Iraq that is antithetical to US interests. Other reports of Pace's comments put a different spin:
General Pace said he could not, from his own knowledge, repeat the assertion that the elite Quds brigade of Iran’s Republican Guard force is providing bomb-making kits to Iraqi Shiite insurgents, VOA reported.

“We know that the explosively formed projectiles are manufactured in Iran. What I would not say is that the Iranian government, per se [specifically], knows about this,” he told VOA. “It is clear that Iranians are involved, and it’s clear that materials from Iran are involved, but I would not say by what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit,” he said.

General Pace made his comments during a visit to Australia.
He's not questioning the reports from the theater of operations - and can only comment based on his own knowledge. That shows he's giving deference to the soldiers on the ground in Iraq. He also recognizes that Iran is acting with malice inside Iraq, but the level of that participation is unclear.

Others taking note of the arms captured by US forces: Blue Crab Boulevard, Hot Air, Polimon, and Gateway Pundit.

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