The Afghanistan war may get a whole lot dangerous for U.S. forces, if a report from Kabul’s internal intelligence agency is to be believed.
For years, older-model, shoulder-fired missiles have circulated among Afghanistan’s militant community. They’re the kind of weapons that have the ability to take down helicopters — a major problem for a counterinsurgency where helos are often the only way to travel. But those missiles have been of limited utility to the insurgents, because the batteries are mostly dead.
According to SpyTalk’s Jeff Stein, however, an Afghan domestic intelligence agency report “says that Iran has supplied fresh batteries for some three dozen shoulder-fired SA-7 missiles stockpiled by Taliban forces in Kandahar, in anticipation of a U.S. attack.”
U.S.-backed mujahideen famously used more advanced Stinger missiles against Soviet helicopters in the 1980s. America tried to buy back the weapons, but several hundred Stingers and other shoulder-fired missiles remained — presumably toothless, because of the battery lack.
Now, the issue of missile-armed militants is back. Last month, WikiLeaks released an internal U.S. military report describing a Taliban missile taking out an American Chinook helicopter. A military spokesman then, oddly, disputed the account. But in WikiLeaks’ trove of war logs are at least 11 references to insurgents with Chinese HN-5 surface-to-air missiles, and many more of SA-7s discovered in Taliban weapons caches.
There’s also a very open question these days about just how much Iran is backing Afghanistan’s militants, if at all. The American government insists that Tehran is now supporting the Taliban — despite decades-old enmity. (Remember, the Iranians tacitly supported the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and participated in the conference that installed Kabul’s current government.) Defense Secretary Bob Gates, for his part, has accused Iran of “playing a double game in Afghanistan, wanting a good relationship with the Afghan government and wanting to make our lives harder.” However, he added, “at this point the level of their effort, I think, is not a major problem for us… The level of their support for the Taliban, so far as best we can tell, has been pretty limited.”
A report by the Army’s Human Terrain System took a look an what the Iranians might be up to in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan province — and didn’t find much. “There is little evidence that suggests any other kind of substantial Iranian activity in Bamiyan today,” according to the military social scientists.
A recent State Department report on state-sponsored terrorism paints a different picture. “Since at least 2006, Iran has arranged arms shipments to select Taliban members, including small arms and associated ammunition, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107mm rockets, and plastic explosives,” the report notes. “Iran’s Qods Force provided training to the Taliban in Afghanistan on small unit tactics, small arms, explosives, and indirect fire weapons.”
There’s no mention of missiles, or batteries for those missiles, in the report. If the militants do have a fresh supply of batteries for the infrared-guided SA-7s, however, it doesn’t mean the Taliban can start popping off the weapons at will. The missiles — and those that shoot them — are easily tracked, once the missiles are launched. As a CIA paramilitary operator tells Stein: “We call it ‘fire and forget’ — for them it’s ‘fire and watch out,’ as we smoke the ground they were standing on.”
Read : http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/08/is-iran-supplying-the-taliban-with-missile-tech/#more-29391#ixzz0wYjb3Ow7
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