Subscribe

BAGHDAD –— The U.S. military said Sunday it had captured the leader of an "assassination squad" who is also an arms dealer with connections to Iran.

The man, who was not identified by name, was allegedly also responsible for arranging the transport of militants back and forth from Iran for weapons and tactics training, officials said.

The U.S. military in Iraq has repeatedly blamed Iran for training and arming many of the Shiite militants in Baghdad and southern Iraq. The military has taken to calling these fighters —– largely members of Shiite militias who have defied cease-fires called for by leaders like Muqtada al-Sadr — "criminals" or members of "Special Groups."

Iranian government officials have denied any involvement in shipping weapons to Iraq or training militants. For its part, the Iranian regime last week accused the U.S. of trying to "turn the Iraqis into slaves" with a long-term security deal.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was in Tehran on Sunday to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Maliki’s third visit to Iran since taking office.

Few details were given about the arrest of the suspected militant in Baghdad, though military officials said he was arrested with a second man, described as his "associate."

Both men were based in Basra, and it is unclear why they were in Baghdad. Officials said "intelligence from captured "Special Groups" members" led forces to the two men, who were captured late Saturday night in the Rusafa district of Baghdad.

"Captured "Special Groups" members are providing intelligence that Iraqi security and coalition forces are using to defeat these criminals," said Army Capt. Charles Calio, a spokesman in Baghdad.

Earlier Saturday in Rusafa, an explosion –— reportedly a remote-detonated car bomb —– killed at least one person and injured some half-dozen others. The attack was one of several in Baghdad on Saturday.


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up