Now, more than 80 pages of newly declassified intelligence documents for the first time describe in detail an elaborate network used by Iraqis to gain entry into Iran and train under Iranian supervision. They offer the most comprehensive account to date to support American claims about Iranian efforts to build a proxy force in Iraq.
The prisoners’ accounts cannot be independently verified. Yet the detainees gave strikingly similar details about training compounds in Iran, a clandestine network of safe houses in Iran and Iraq they used to reach the camps and intra-Shiite tensions at the camps between the Arab Iraqis and their Persian Iranian trainers…
…The Iraqis complained that their Iranian trainers did not show them the proper respect and that they made disparaging remarks about Moktada al-Sadr, the Iraqi Shiite cleric who has led an anti-American resistance movement in Iraq.
By contrast, the Iraqis said they tended to forge closer bonds to the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, Arabs who share a common language with the Iraqis.
Other prisoners shared this dim view of the training, telling American interrogators that a separate training course run by Hezbollah operatives in Lebanon was far superior to the training in Iran.
To get to the training course in Lebanon, the detainees report, the Iraqis were taken by bus to an airport in Iran, where they then flew to Damascus, Syria, and were picked up and driven to the Lebanese border. Once in Lebanon, they said, they participated in several more weeks of training, led by Hezbollah operatives, in “weapons inventory control,” “project planning” and communications.