Two agents of the Iranian regime’s Quds Force have been appointed to leading roles in the newly formed Iraqi government, prompting concerns that Tehran is attempting to clandestinely exert control on Iraqi policies from within the government, according to documents furnished by Iranian dissidents close to the ruling regime.
The newly appointed Iraqi ministers of communications and municipalities are both said to be active and paid members of Iran’s Quds Force, a paramilitary group implicated in terrorist activities throughout the region, according to information provided by the Ashraf Campaign (ASHCAM), which advocates for Iranian refugees.
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At least two other newly appointed Iraqi government ministers also have close ties to Iran and have been on the Quds Force payroll in the past, although it is unclear if they are still working for the group, according to ASHCAM, which was provided with detailed information about all four ministers, including their bank account numbers in Iran and their history with the Quds Force.
The revelation that active Iranian military agents are playing central roles in the new Iraqi government has fueled ongoing concerns that Iran is trying to boost its influence in Iraq as its fledgling government attempts to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).
ASHCAM felt it necessary to release the sensitive information to help preempt any attempts by the new Iraqi government to harm Iranian refugees and opposition members currently living in exile in Iraq’s Camp Ashraf, a refugee camp subject in the past to violent massacres.
"Given the regime’s cowardly predilection for acting against these refugees through its Iraqi proxy militias and agents of influence in Baghdad, we felt it appropriate to release this information at this time," Jacob Campbell, ASHCAM’s co-chairman, said in a statement.
"History has shown that Tehran’s most immediate objective in Iraq is to eliminate the Iranian refugee population, who are vocal opponents of the mullahs and represent a major obstacle to their total domination of Iraq," Campbell said.
Iraq’s new Minister of Communications, Kazem Hassan Rashed, is still an active Quds Force member, according to ASHCAM. He joined the Quds Force in 1992 and is believed to have ordered a deadly 1995 truck-bombing attack on a base housing Iranian opposition members, according to ASHCAM’s dossier on the four Quds Force members.
Rashed’s place in the government is particularly concerning to Iranian opposition advocates given his reported role in orchestrating the bombing, which killed five.
Iraq’s new Minister of Municipalities, Abdul Karim Younis, is said to be another active Quds Force member still on the Iranian regime’s payroll, according to the documents.
Younis, who like, Rashed, operates under several aliases, was born in Baghdad and joined the Quds Force in July 1986, according to ASHCAM. Younis has held the rank of second lieutenant in the force.
Included in the documents about Younis and Rashed are their Quds Force ID numbers, as well as their salary codes for payment to accounts at Iran’s Bank Sepah, which has been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for facilitating Iran’s rogue weapons programs.
At least two other Iraq ministers were found to have ties to the Iranian regime, according to ASHCAM.
Iraq’s new minister of human rights, Muhammad Mahdi al-Bayati, and the minister of youth and sports, Abdul Hussein Abtan, have both aided the Quds Force in the past, according to the documents.
Al-Bayati is said to have joined the force in 1987 and to have served in its Mustafa Brigade.
Abtan worked on logistical and various transportation issues when he joined the Quds Force in 1983, according to ASHCAM.
The presence of individuals with close ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) could pose problems for U.S. personnel tasked with working with the new Iraq government as it combats ISIL.
A State Department spokesman did not respond to a Washington Free Beacon request for comment on Iranian operatives that may be working in the Iraqi government.
Iran, like the United States, has already sent military assets and advisers into Iraq to help the government fight ISIL.
The United States claims that there has been no overlap between Iranian and U.S. personnel in the country and that neither nation is willing to coordinate with one another in the fight against ISIL.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei mocked the White House’s Iraq strategy on Monday and maintained that Iran has no desire to work with the United States against the common threat.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, on the other hand, expressed his ongoing desire to powwow with Iranian officials about ISIL, comments that the State Department immediately walked back.
Khamenei has claimed that Kerry "personally demanded" that Iran cooperate with the United States on ISIL.
Kerry appeared to lend credibility to Khamanei’s claim when his discussed a willingness to talk to Iran on Monday in Paris.
Iran’s current exclusion from international talks does not "mean that we are opposed to the idea of communicating to find out if they will come on board or under what circumstances or whether there is the possibility of a change," Kerry was quoted as saying.
"Having a channel of communication on one of the biggest issues in the world today is common sense," Kerry said.