Military sets 9 Iranians free from custody in Iraq
The U.S. military released nine Iranian prisoners in Iraq, including two men arrested in northern Iraq and accused of being part of an elite force supplying and training Shiite militants.
The men were released from U.S. military prisons on Friday and handed over to the Iraqi government, which in turn delivered them to the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad, officials said.
“The release followed a careful review of individual records to determine if they posed a security threat to Iraq, and if their detention was of continued intelligence value,” the military said in a news release. “Based on this review, all nine individuals were determined to no longer pose a security risk and to be of no continued intelligence value.”
According to military officials, 11 other Iranians are being held in Iraq. American military and political leaders have repeatedly accused Iran of meddling in Iraq — providing weapons, training and funding for militant groups. On a broader level, American officials are also warning Iran to stop pursuing nuclear weapons.
After the prisoner release on Friday, Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari urged another meeting of Iraqi, Iranian and American officials. The Americans and Iraqis have met at least twice in recent months.
“We have been saying that there should be a new round of talks between the three countries on the issues involving Iraq,” Zebari was quoted as saying to the Agence France-Presse news agency. “These talks should happen this month.”
For the first time Friday, the military released the names of the Iranian prisoners.
Adil Wusayn Shamarad Muhammad and Azzam Hasan Karam Abd were arrested Feb. 20, 2006, “during a raid to disrupt al-Qaeda operations in Iraq,” the statement read.
Brujerd Chegini and Hamid Reza Asgari Shukuh were arrested Jan. 11 in Irbil “based on an intelligence-driven raid,” the military said.
Habib Muhammad Ghuribani Kurdi was captured Aug. 1 “during an intelligence-driven raid aimed at capturing a senior insurgent.”
A man identified by the military as Ibrahim Mahmud Ahmed/al-Kubady al-Ubaydi was captured April 8, 2005, during a raid in Ramadi, officials said.
Jafan Allah reportedly turned himself in to a border checkpoint on July 26.
Mohammad Ali Abbas al-Buzuda was arrested by Iraqi police for allegedly entering Iraq illegally from Iran.
The man held the longest, Raed Abdurehman Hussain al-Kobadi, was arrested Nov. 20, 2004, “while attempting to flee the scene of a mortar attack,” the military said.