Michael Ware


AAM: Did he stay or did he go?

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Length: 3:03

MILES O'BRIEN: Now let's go to Iraq. Fresh information surfacing overnight on the whereabouts of the anti-American agitator Muqtada al-Sadr. We're told the Shiite religion, political and military leader is now, in fact, in Iran. Now is he a primary conduit for Iranian meddling in Iraq? CNN's Michael Ware is in Baghdad and he has the latest for us.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Miles. What we have is a spokesman for the government of Iraq who also claims, like the White House and U.S. military intelligence, that Muqtada al-Sadr is, indeed, in Iran. However, it's just one more claim to add to the others. Until Muqtada himself pops his head up, we're really not going to know where he is.

The other thing is, the fact that he's gone to Iran, honestly, is no great surprise, Miles. The fellow's gone there many times before. He's got close links with the Iranians. This is not startling. The question is, why has he gone this time. That also remains unanswered, just like his whereabouts.

M. O'BRIEN: And I suppose a good question would be, why this time is the U.S. making such a big deal about the fact that he is in Iran?

WARE: That's the $64 million question. Is this just part of a smoke and mirrors game, trying to beat the drum? We don't know. Are they trying to make more of this visit to say that he has fled, you know, in fear for his life with the advent of an American-backed crackdown? I mean, honestly, that just doesn't stack up.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Let's shift gears here ever so slightly. The president yesterday talking about this Quds organization or group. These elite forces or commandos, if you will, of Iranians who, it is alleged by the administration, are inside Iraq and perhaps killing U.S. troops. Tell me what we know about Quds. And, more importantly, what is the chain of command? Who is their boss?

WARE: Okay, let's put it this way. Within the Iranian military, there's two parallel streams. The most potent, the best trained, the best equipped, the most serious is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Now, within that is a special forces unit, which is the Quds Force. They're extraterritorials.

Now by that what we mean is, these guys are experts at the dirty ghost war kind of game. They're very good at going to an area, recruiting militia groups, working with local factions, training them, arming them, indoctrinating them, advising them and sending them out into the field. We've seen them do it in the Sudan, in Kosovo, in Lebanon with Hezbollah, in Afghanistan with Ismael Khan, the warlord.

I mean these guys are like green berets on covert black operations. Who do they answer to? The very strict chain of command. Technically it's to the Revolutionary Guard Corps headquarters. In reality, according to U.S. intelligence and many others, to Khamenei's office himself.

M. O'BRIEN: Michael Ware in Baghdad, thank you.