BAGHDAD, Iraq - US military officials on Sunday accused the highest levels of
the Iranian leadership of arming Shiite militants in Iraq with sophisticated
armor-piercing roadside bombs that have killed more than 170 American forces.
This image provided by the US military on Sunday, Feb. 11,
2007 shows what officials call 'explosively formed penetrators,'or EFPs.
US military officials on Sunday accused the highest levels of the Iranian
leadership of arming Shiite militants in Iraq with the sophisticated
armor-piercing roadside bombs that have killed more than 170 American
The military command in
Baghdad denied, however, that any newly smuggled Iranian weapons were behind the
five US military helicopter crashes since Jan. 20 - four that were shot out of
the sky by insurgent gunfire.
A fifth crash has tentatively been blamed on mechanical failure. In the same
period, two private security company helicopters also have crashed but the cause
The deadly and highly sophisticated weapons the US military said it traced to
Iran are known as "explosively formed penetrators," or EFPs.
The presentation was the result of weeks of preparation and revisions as US
officials put together a package of material to support the Bush
administration's claims of Iranian intercession on behalf of militant Iraqis
fighting American forces.
Senior US military officials in Baghdad said the display was prompted by the
military's concern for "force protection," which, they said, was guaranteed
under the United Nations resolution that authorizes American soldiers to be in
Three senior military officials who explained the display said the "machining
process" used in the construction of the deadly bombs had been traced to Iran.
The experts, who spoke to a large gathering of reporters on condition that
they not be further identified, said the supply trail began with Iran's
Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, which also is accused of arming the Hezbollah
guerrilla army in Lebanon. The officials said the EFP weapon was first tested
The officials said the Revolutionary Guard and its Quds force report directly
to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The briefing on Iran was revised heavily after officials decided it was not
ready for release as planned last month.
Senior US officials in Washington - cautious after the drubbing the
administration took for the faulty intelligence leading to the 2003 Iraq
invasion - had held back because they were unhappy with the original
The display appeared to be part of the White House drive that has empowered
US forces in Iraq to use all means to curb Iranian influence in the country,
including killing Iranian agents.
It included a power-point slide program and a handful of mortar shells and
rocket-propelled grenades which the military officials said were made in Iran.
The centerpiece of the display, however, was a gray metal pipe about 10
inches long and 6 inches in diameter, the exterior casing of what the military
said was an EFP, the roadside bomb that shoots out fist-sized wads of nearly
molten copper that can penetrate the armor on an Abrams tank.
"A normal roadside bomb is like a shortgun blast. But these are like a rifle.
They're focused and they're aimed. ... It's going to take anything out in its
way, go in one side and out the other," said 1st Lt. Zane Galvach, 25, of
Dayton, Ohio, a soldier with the Army's 2nd Division, based in Baghdad.
Skeptical congressional Democrats said the Bush administration should move
cautiously before accusing Iran of fomenting a campaign of violence against US
troops in Iraq.
Senate Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden,
D-Ore., said "the administration is engaged in a drumbeat with Iran that is much
like the drumbeat that they did with Iraq. We're going to insist on
On the Republican side, Sen. Trent Lott of
Mississippi said he did not think the United States was trying to make a case
for attacking Iran. Lott said the US should try to stop the flow of munitions
through Iran to Iraq but that "you do that by interdiction ... you don't do it
The EFPs, as well as Iranian-made mortar shells and rocket-propelled
grenades, have been supplied to what the military officials termed "rogue
elements" of the Mahdi Army militia of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada
al-Sadr. He is a key backer of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The US officials glossed over armaments having reached the other major Shiite
militia organization, the Badr Brigade. It is the military wing of Iraq's most
powerful Shiite political organization, the Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq, whose leaders also have close ties to the US
Many key government figures and members of the Shiite
political establishment have deep ties to Iran, having spent decades there in
exile during Saddam Hussein's rule. The Badr Brigade was formed and trained by
Iran's Revolutionary Guard.