AAM: "...this cannot happen without official sanction."
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MILES O'BRIEN: Another bloody day in Iraq today. Three bombs in a central Baghdad market, reports of at least 64 people killed. It comes the day after the Pentagon presented what it claims is evidence Iran is funneling weapons to Shiite fighters in Iraq. CNN's Michael Ware was at the briefing where the evidence was put on display.
Michael, first of all, let's talk about these weapons. There's a lot of jargon going around here. EFPs, explosively-formed penetrators. What exactly are they?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Okay, Miles, essentially that is the deadliest kind of roadside bomb that you have here in the war in Iraq. Essentially it's shaped like a large coffee tin and it's pointed at the road. The explosives are contained within. And when they detonate, they punch a piece of shaped metal that forms into a molten ball and punches through the heaviest American armor, devastating virtually everything that's inside the vehicle. That is an EFP.
Now the Americans say the components -- one of the components, the shaped plate, has to be machine tooled in Iran. It's not done here. And, indeed, they intercepted some shipments crossing the border, Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Well, how do they know it has to be machined in Iran? I mean is there something unique about the machining equipment in Iran?
WARE: Yes. Well, speaking to an explosives expert, he says that, yes, it requires such fine tooling that it's simply either not available here in Iraq or the facilities where it is are being monitored. Either way, they say that they can link it back.
Now bear in mind too, there's also a body of circumstantial evidence. The way this bomb was first identified, when it first appeared here in May 2004, was by and large through the Israeli Defense Force. The Israelis said, hang on, we've been encountering these against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. So it turns out this is technology that Iran's Revolutionary Guard has been developing and sharing with a number of its proxies.
M. O'BRIEN: To use a term that was used a few years ago, is this a slam dunk as far as evidence? In other words, what's sort of being said around the periphery of this discussion?
WARE: Well, when you peel away all the cloak and dagger, the arrests of senior Iranian officers, the debriefs, the interrogations, the documents and the identification cards and what we're being told is intercepted intelligence, what it amounts to is essentially things like this, Miles. These are mortar tailfins. Now we have collected these over some time and we first aired them last year. This is precisely the kind of thing or is actually the kind of thing that U.S. military intelligence displayed yesterday.
The date stamp shows it was only manufactured in 2006. It's of a particular caliber that the U.S. military says is a signature for Iran in this region, as is the make. The fact that this piece of assembly is one piece and not many parts put together, they say again is another signature that traces it back to Iran. So at the end of the day, this is the core evidence.
M. O'BRIEN: Michael Ware in Baghdad, thank you.
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MILES O'BRIEN: Imagine how terrifying it must be for Iraqis to simply shop for food. Yet another horrific market bombing in Baghdad today; more than 70 are dead. It comes the day after the Pentagon presented what it claims is evidence Iran is funneling weapons to Shiite fighters in Iraq. CNN's Michael Ware was at that briefing.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Yes. What we saw was the military bring out an American defense official, a defense intelligence analyst, and an explosives expert. And what we saw in this background briefing is America ratchet up the rhetoric against Iran.
WARE: In a war meant to confront al Qaeda, the American military says its troops are being killed by Iran. In a background briefing in Baghdad that could not be taped, by three official who cannot be named, the U.S. escalated its campaign of accusation against Tehran.
The U.S. officials laid out what they call a growing body of evidence that a largely covert Iranian special forces unit arms, trains and advises Shia insurgents attacking coalition soldiers. That unit is an element of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Its elite Quds Force, which U.S. officials claim, takes its orders directly from Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, himself.
Insisting the Quds Force is systematically funneling insurgents a range of arms, from mortars to sniper rifles, grenades to machine guns. The American officials highlighted one weapon in particular they blame the Quds Force for supplying. A roadside bomb pioneered by Lebanese Hezbollah, so powerful it punches through the heaviest American armor with ease. Called an explosively formed penetrator, or EFP; the officials say the device has killed at least 170 soldiers since it first emerged on the Iraqi battlefield in 2004.
But like much of the declassified information released during the briefing, it's a claim U.S. officials have made many times before, insisting one of the bomb's key components needs fine machine-tooling that can be traced back to Iran, as can markings on mortars and explosives found inside Iraq, which show they were manufactured by Tehran.
While admitting there is no smoking gun of Iranian complicity, a Defense Department intelligence analyst says this is a sophisticated Iranian campaign being fought through a host of surrogate groups, maximizing Iran's deniability.
WARE: And that intelligence analyst said deniability is the name of the game in this shadow proxy war. He said, "plausible deniability, the Iranians invented it," mirroring the tactics that the CIA used with the Afghan and Arab Mujahedin to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
M. O'BRIEN: Michael Ware in Baghdad, thank you.
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MILES O'BRIEN: Imagine how terrifying it must be for Iraqis simply to shop for their food. Yet another horrific market bombing in Baghdad today. At least 88 are dead. It comes the day after the Pentagon presented what it claims is evidence Iran is funneling weapons to Shiite fighters in Iraq.
CNN's Michael Ware was at that briefing.
Michael, first of all, let's talk about the evidence that was presented.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Essentially, Miles, the thrust of the evidence is that a U.S. defense official and an intelligence analyst outlined what they basically described as a very sophisticated program being executed by one of Iran's special forces units answering directly to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself, where they're funneling weapons, training, money, and support to Shia insurgent groups killing Americans.
And when you peel away all the cloak and dagger -- the arrest of covert agents, officers here in the country revealed, fake identification -- what it boils down to are things like these, Miles. These are mortar tailfins that have been used here in Baghdad.
Now, what's significant, according to American military intelligence, are the markings. Now, for example, we collected these last year and first aired them in November. The markings clearly show they were manufactured only last year.
Iraq is not making mortars. They had to come from somewhere.
American military intelligence also says this assembly is Iranian. That it's a signature of Iranian mortars that the tailfin is one piece, as is the caliber, 81mm, as is the geometry of this tailfin.
So what they're pointing to is what they're finding here in the country, and they're saying that this is part of a broader sophisticated campaign using the exact tactics the CIA used against the Soviets, manipulating Mujahadeen fighters in Afghanistan to attack their enemy. That's precisely what Iran is doing now, using Iraqi surrogates to attack America -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Well, Michael, you mentioned you found those pieces more than a year ago. What in this evidence is new? And I guess a part of that question would be, why is the U.S. coming forward at this moment?
WARE: Well, the evidence has been mounting for years. I mean, since the moment the U.S. invaded, Iran and its surrogates swept into the vacuum left by the fall of Saddam's regime. It wasn't long after that that we started to see emergence of death squads, reconnaissance units, all sorts of networks.
So the evidence has been out there from the beginning. I mean, you can collect these today. You could have collected them a year ago. What's changed is the American rhetoric.
Now, a year ago, when you would ask American intelligence about things such as these mortars, they would say, yes, we know they're coming across the border, but we can't pin it necessarily on the Iranian government. However, today they're saying, perhaps rightly, that in Iran you don't just take mortars, disappear with them, and cross a border unless the government knows. I mean, that's the situation in Iran. They're now saying that this cannot happen without official sanction -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Michael Ware in Baghdad.