In the first incident of its kind since the fall of the former Iraqi regime, the Iraqi security arena has witnessed an unparalleled security development, as a number of armed terrorist groups attempted to rid themselves of their weapons by selling or smuggling them outside of Iraq. These weapons are no longer of value to terrorists, due to the growth of Iraqi forces and the intense raid and inspection operations executed by these forces throughout Iraq.
Al-Sabah, an Iraqi government newspaper, reported information from a security official in the Border Guard Command of the Fourth District, a subsidiary of the Ministry of the Interior’s forces. The report indicated that Iraqi security forces have thwarted the largest external weapons smuggling operation in history through Shatt Al-Arab in the city of Basra near the Iranian border.
The anonymous source stated that a patrol boat from the Coastal and Domestic Water Guard chased a large boat last Friday, April 17, 2009, following the receipt of information from intelligence agents. The intelligence indicated that the boat was being used to smuggle weapons outside of Iraq.
The source added that the security patrol, in cooperation with the Marine Authority in the area of Ras Al-Beesha, responded, forcing the boat to stop near the Iraqi river border in the Shatt Al-Arab, approximately 120 kilometers to the south of the city of Basra.
The source also noted that upon searching the boat, security forces found large quantities of various weapons, including heavy and light arms, as well as additional quantities of bulletproof vests.
In addition, the security forces confiscated the weapons and arrested the crew of the boat and other perpetrators in the operation. The source described the operation as unique in terms of the nature and destination of the smuggled materials.
The newspaper also reported on information from another officer in the Iraqi security forces. The source stated that the operation has many implications, including an increase in security inspection operations, especially following the execution of Operation Knights’ Assault to impose the law. These operations forced many armed groups to dispose of their weapons and to sell them for any price to organized mobs, which smuggle these weapons abroad.
The source explained that the mobs smuggling the weapons found what they were seeking, to make money and benefit from the sale of weapons for high prices in neighboring countries.
It is noteworthy that the Border Guard Command of the Fourth District, which thwarted the smuggling operation, has the responsibility of protecting the borders of the governorates of Maysan, Basra, and Dhi Qar. All of these governorates have cities near or on the Iranian borders.
The smuggling operation serves as an important and new indication of the disastrous state of terrorist groups, especially those supported by Iran in southern Iraq. The operation indicates that terrorists are attempting to save themselves from the legal and security pursuits that they face throughout the country.
The arrest operation also sheds light on previous warnings from the Iraqi government indicating that the danger of terrorist groups may spread to the neighboring countries that supported them. The incident demonstrates a need for neighboring countries to support the efforts of the Iraqi government and the Multi-National Force to provide security inside Iraq.