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Posted at 3:17 PM ET, 08/12/2010

New intelligence on Iran antiaircraft missiles in Afghanistan

By Jeff Stein

An intelligence report recently delivered to the NDS, Afghanistan’s domestic intelligence agency, 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.

Although uncorroborated, the June 25 report from a human intelligence asset fits with information from other sources that the Taliban has obtained Iranian-made SA-7’s and other, older shoulder-fired missiles, including U.S.-made Stingers left over from the mujaheddin’s CIA-backed war against the Soviet Red Army.

But the rebels' use of the missiles has been hampered by a lack of batteries, multiple sources say, as well as fears of a rapid counterstrike by U.S. drones.

“The real issue" with SA-7s "is battery life,” said a retired former top U.S. military intelligence official in Afghanistan.

“There are three parts to the system: the shoulder grip/sighting mechanism, the rocket in tube and the battery. Batteries are the weak link.”

A former senior CIA operations officer echoed a similar theme, independently.

"They have a bunch of U.S. Stingers left over from the mujaheddin time. But the batteries are dead,” said the former officer, who is under contract to supply intelligence about al-Qaeda and the Taliban to the Pentagon. “The Iranians are trying to get or manufacture new batteries.”

“Iran has provided about three dozen new, Iranian-made, shoulder-fired AA rockets” to the Taliban, the former CIA officer added, “and they are in Helmand and Kandahar now, but being held in reserve for the ‘big battle’ that never seems to come.”

The onset of the Ramadan fast has postponed any coalition forces attack another month, he said.

The spy's June 25 report to Afghanistan’s NDS intelligence agency said, “Maolavi Mohibullah on 25 June 2010 returned from Iran via Kamdai to Garmeshk, carrying 15 fresh batteries for the Iranian made SAM-7s already in Taliban hands.”

Mohibullah was not identified, nor was the name of the agent who supplied the report, a copy of which was made available to SpyTalk by a Western intelligence source.

Any reports linking Iran to the Afghan conflict must be viewed with caution. A previous intelligence report, surfaced by WikiLeaks, describing a 2005 missile-buying mission to North Korea by rebel leader Gulbiddin Hekmatyar and a senior aide to Osama bin Laden, is now suspected of having been fabricated by elements in Washington or elsewhere who wanted to implicate Iran in the Afghan insurgency.

Nevertheless, maintained the former CIA officer, “During the anti-Soviet war, Iran was very open in supporting Shi’a mujaheddin units” in Afghanistan. “The current relations between Afghan Shi’a and Iran, especially those Shi’a in Kandahar, is a story waiting to be told. In short, it is an Iranian ‘fifth column’ representing Iranian interests. We all know about Pak meddling via the ISI, but Iranian meddling via the [Revolutionary Guard] is a story yet to be told.”

A CIA paramilitary operator who recently departed Afghanistan said he “would not discount" the report on the batteries.

But he added that Taliban commanders would be reluctant to deploy the missiles until it could be proven they could be used effectively -- and with impunity.

“If it does happen,” he said, “it will not be part of a protracted campaign but more of a ‘one off’ …”

“Once they turn on that system,” he added, “we are able to track it.”

And quickly.

“It depends on what asset is above -- satellites or drones,” he said, “but suffice to say, as we head into a certain area we have these assets on standby.”

“They also have to do the risk analysis on the system as well,” he continued. “We call it ‘fire and forget’ -- for them it’s ‘fire and watch out,’ as we smoke the ground they were standing on ….

“Additionally, we see [shoulder-fired missiles] as a tactical weapon, but for them it’s a strategic weapon requiring constant commo and people watching as they try to take down a helo or a fast-mover. Quite simply stated, we can ID the signature once they go ‘hot.’ I am not stating that you will not see them used. However it … does not play into the greater picture [of the Taliban’s guerrilla war strategy],” he said.

In addition, coalition aircraft also have effective anti-missile capabilities on board now, he added.

In July 2007 there were news reports of a U.S. C-130 transport plane evading a missile.

"The C-130 attacked in Nimroz was flying at 11,000 feet at the time of the attack, which is within the 1.5- to 3.4-mile range of a shoulder-launched missile system such as the SAM-7," said the London Telegraph.

U.S. military intelligence spent lavishly in 2002-2003 to buy up old Soviet-made missiles, which can be easily obtained in black-market arms bazaars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the retired MI official.

“The [truck-mounted] SA-3 was considered the holy grail,” he said.

Likewise, the CIA sought to buy back the Stingers it supplied to Islamic rebel forces in the 1980s. But it failed to get more than half of them, said the intelligence sources, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity so they could speak freely.

“We bought back about 150, leaving 150 unaccounted for,” said the former CIA operations officer. “By now, they would all be unserviceable because of the short battery life -- about one year. And because the battery is Stinger-unique, and no one else has Stingers, [there’s] no real source for new batteries other than US Army, which is not selling.”

By Jeff Stein  | August 12, 2010; 3:17 PM ET
Categories:  Intelligence, Military  
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"Although uncorroborated, the June 25 report from a human intelligence asset fits with information from other sources"

So, These lies tie in with lies we've previously told you, so they must be true.

The sooner this rag goes bust, the better.

Posted by: bilejones | August 12, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

"A previous intelligence report, surfaced by WikiLeaks, describing a 2005 missile-buying mission to North Korea by rebel leader Gulbiddin Hekmatyar and a senior aide to Osama bin Laden, is now suspected of having been fabricated by elements in Washington or elsewhere who wanted to implicate Iran in the Afghan insurgency."
Nope - It sounds weird but the link in the article supports the opposite - it was assets controlled by Iran or Pakistan that fabricated the story on N. Korea missle sales not Washington. Cheney might have manipulated intelligence and should serve hard time bad ticker & all for his war crimes; but not for this one.

Posted by: GarrisonLiberty | August 12, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

You find out alot by scrolling these days! What exactly is the surprise about the Islamic Republic of Iran helping the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan? Did you mean what you said about coalition forces standing pat during Ramadan? Which Coaltion? Ours. Bizarro world the sequel. Did we stop bombing Germany on Christian Holidays? Japan on the Emperor's Birthday? Let's call this immense and tragic waste a sad Viet Nam sequel and get the.... boys and girls out now!

Posted by: dave_sheehan641 | August 12, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Last I heard Iran and the Taliban weren't good friends... but in any case it is someone elses fault the CIA and our Congress and various odd millionairesses sold them stingers??? and if it were a pretext to attack Iran then I guess it would be equally true the Soviets should have attacked us...since they didn't who has the most restraint...or is the least foolhardy.

Posted by: Wildthing1 | August 12, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Didn't the USA provide missiles and other armaments to the Mujahedding during the illegal Russian invasion and occupation of Afghanistan? Didn't the USA think that this was the right thing to do? Obviously so, because the USA did it.

Now the Iranians are supplying the Mujaheddin with missiles and armaments during the illegal US invasion and occupation of their nation. Why do the Americans seem to think that this is wrong?

Is it because they are now the illegal invaders and are being picked off by those missiles and armaments? The Americans certainly didn't mind the Russians being killed by those weapons.

There's a very simple solution to stopping American deaths in Afghanistan - GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE - you are illegal invaders and occupiers and you are going to lose.

If the Americans don't get the picture, then they deserve to die.

Posted by: ziggyzap | August 12, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

what a bunch of lies! any idiot that can do math can wire a bunch of duracells from wallgreens toghether to fire those missles, hell i can prove it to you by starting your car the same way. you morons are wanting to start another war when we can beat the taliban after 9 years even though they have no airforce or navy. dont forget russia and china will be pissed, if morons like you and the idots in washington start WW3 i hope the first missles fall on your head.

Posted by: bandit1414 | August 12, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Two points:

When you--Jeff Stein--refer to SA-7s and "older should-fired missiles including the US Stinger..." it makes me question your credibility. The SA-7 IS the oldest Soviet shoulder-fired missile. There ISN'T anything older. The Stinger is considerably newer. The original US shoulder-fired missile was the Redeye. SA-7 and Redeye are first-generation while Stinger is a second-generation shoulder-fired SAM. (It's mods are third and fourth generation.)

Secondly, your "source" says that the SA-3 is the "holy grail" of shoulder-fired SAMs, whatever that means. But the SA-3 is not shoulder-fired. It's a truck-mounted system from the early 60's.

So, on this subject, I'm unimpressed by your "intelligence for thinking people."

Posted by: ccarrick64 | August 12, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

ccarrick64: Thank you for writing me. Indeed, I should have not used "older" in reference to the SA-7, and I have made the correction. Similarly, I should have made a clear distinction between shoulder-fired missiles and the SA-3's that U.S. agents were intent on buying up and capturing. That, too, has been fixed. Again, I appreciate your input.-js

Posted by: Jeff Stein | August 12, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Oooh - scary!

Guess what - there is abundant evidence of US-made weapons being used by Mexican drug cartels.

BAsed on that, we ought to have ask China to invade the US and bomb weddings and kill childred and pregnat women.

Seriously. Think harder before you trot out claptrap that attempts to justify the carnage spree that the US decided to unleash against its former satrap.



Posted by: GeoffreyTransom | August 12, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: clownsandliars1 | August 13, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse

During several trips to Afghanistan during the 1980s and 1990s, in evidence were numerous SA-7 SAM systems. I was advised that many of them were supplied to the Mujahideen by the U.S. from stockpiles expropriated from captured Arab stores duringn the Arab/Israeli Wars.
The Afghans would often complain that the Sa-7s would lock onto a heated boulder or patch of snow on the mountainside rather than the intended target, a Soviet aircraft.
There were British "Blowpipes" in use as well, but the Afghans complained that they were difficult to master due to a "joystick" acquisition system.
It has been alleged that Massoud, head of the Northern Alliance sold "Stingers" to the Soviets, Iran and North Korea through their respective embassies during this time.
SO, I would imagine that clones of the Stingers will one day be operational in Afghanistan if not already.

Posted by: afghanhist | August 13, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Pretty flimsy evidence here. You need to delve deeper with your analysis. The threat would be from the appearance of SA-16 type missiles, either of ex-Russian or Chinese copy origin. This is a capable family of missiles that would provide a real threat - not SA-7's. Fortunately there is no evidence that these have arrived in Afghanistan. Basic RPG's are causing more problems for aviators than anything else.

Posted by: NavalAviator1 | August 13, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

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