Inside the some 400,000 US military documents released by WikiLeaks on Friday, were stories of tense and deadly border incidents on the Iraqi-Iranian frontier, Hizbullah training Iraqi operatives, and unmanned US surveillance aircraft lost deep in Iranian territory.
One such document made available to The New York Times by WikiLeaks, was a military report describing a 2006 encounter between a joint American-Iraqi patrol on the Iranian border that ended with one Iranian soldier dead and a handful of Iraqi soldiers detained in Iran.
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Fire from the mountain
The US Army report said that the joint patrol was approached and subsequently surrounded by several Iranian military vehicles. When the Americans noticed additional Iranian troops tactically positioning themselves and encircling the patrol, they decided to leave.
As the American half of the patrol began to leave the area, the Iranian troops began firing upon them. When the US army unit saw an Iranian soldier with a rocket-propelled grenade pointed at them, they shot and killed him with a 50-caliber weapon. The cross-border exchange of fire continued for several minutes until the Americans were out of range.
The Iraqi unit involved, who had apparently dismounted their vehicles without their weapons, were captured by the Iranians and later released.
Hizbullah trained Iraqis in "precision military style kidnappings"
Another document released described Iraqi operatives being trained in conducting "precision military style kidnappings" by Hizbullah near Qum in Iran.
One operative, chosen because of his Hizbullah training, was alleged to
have meticulously planned an attack in which American troops would be
kidnapped inside a Baghdad tunnel. The attack was to have utilized
improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and small arms to disable the
American vehicles, reminiscent of Hizbullah tactics seen in Lebanon.
The attack never took place, but the operative was thought to be
responsible for the kidnapping of an Iraqi government minister in late
Also included in the huge cache of documents was a military report
describing intercepted weapons shipments from the Iranian Revolutionary
Guard. The report said that one seized shipment coming from the
Revolutionary Guards into Iraq contained high explosives, ammunition,
and surface-to-air missile heads.
Other stories included in the released documents described a suspected
Iranian-funded assassination program in Iraq, and unmanned surveillance
aircraft drifting into Iranian territory, some of which were never
Detained American hikers were on Iraqi side of the border
The three Americans detained by Iran in July 2009 for alleged illegal
entry were on the Iraqi side of the border at the time, according to a
US military report written on the day of their arrest, found among the
cache of WikiLeaks documents posted Friday.
"The leadership in Iran benefits as it focuses the Iranian population on
a perceived external threat rather than internal dissension," the
The document, a field report not meant as a definitive account or a
conclusive assessment, was reported first by The New York Times on its
website Friday. It was among nearly 400,000 secret US military documents
revealed by WikiLeaks.
The US military report described "a kidnapping of 3 Americans who were
being taken to the Iranian border. The Americans were hiking near the
Iranian border when taken." An update later in the day said an Iraqi
colonel reported that the three had been detained "for being too close
to the border."
The US State Department has repeatedly urged Iran to release the three —
Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, saying they did nothing
wrong. Iran claims they illegally crossed the border to spy. Shourd was
released in September after complaining of health problems; the two
others remain in prison in Iran.
Wikileaks on Saturday said that it will soon publish 15,000 more secret Afghan war documents.
WikiLeaks has said the 15,000 additional Afghan files were held back
because of their sensitive content. Kristinn Hrafnsson of WikiLeaks told
reporters Saturday in London that the documents had now been fully
vetted for release and will be published shortly.
He said the Iraq documents have been edited to conceal people's names
and "contain no information that could be harmful to individuals."