- The Washington Times - Monday, December 12, 2011

A former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the FBI says played a role in a 1996 terrorist attack that killed 19 U.S. servicemen, accompanied Iraq’s prime minister to the White House on Monday, attending an event at which President Obama trumpeted the end of the Iraq War.

Hadi Farhan al-Amiri, transportation minister in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, was part of the delegation that visited the White House to discuss Iraq’s future and Iran’s influence there, among other topics.

At a joint White House news conference with Mr. al-Maliki, Mr. Obama proclaimed that the U.S. is committed to being a major player in the region and that Iraq’s neighbors should take heed. He did not mention Iran by name.

Critics have accused Mr. al-Maliki, a Shiite, of acting at the behest of the Shiite government in Iran. But Mr. Obama told reporters that he believes the Iraqi prime minister when he says that “his interest is maintaining Iraqi sovereignty and preventing meddling by anybody inside of Iraq.”

“And he has shown himself to be willing to make very tough decisions in the interests of Iraqi nationalism, even if they cause problems with his neighbor,” the president said in a thinly veiled reference to Iran.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to confirm whether Mr. al-Amiri was part of the Iraqi delegation. He referred questions to the Iraqi government.

Mr. al-Maliki’s office listed Mr. al-Amiri as a member of the delegation. A spokesman for the Iraqi Embassy was unavailable to elaborate on Mr. al-Amiri’s role in the White House visit.

Louis J. Freeh, who served as FBI director in the Clinton administration and the early months of the George W. Bush administration, said it was shocking that Mr. al-Maliki would include Mr. al-Amiri in his visit to Washington.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has been involved in “countless acts of terrorism, which are acts of war against the United States,” Mr. Freeh said in an interview.

Mr. al-Amiri served as a commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s Badr Corps, a battalion that was tasked with operations in Iraq. He remained active in the Badr Corps during the late 1980s and 1990s, when he was working on resistance efforts against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.

The FBI linked the Revolutionary Guard to the attack on the Khobar Towers in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, on June 25, 1996. Nineteen U.S. servicemen were killed by a bomb blast at the towers, which were housing American military personnel.

“As a senior leader, [Mr. al-Amiri] would have to have known about Khobar, and he would know Gen. [Ahmad] Sherifi, who was the IRGC general that conducted the operation,” Mr. Freeh said.

He added that the “FBI would love to sit down and talk to him, show him photographs and ask him questions” about the fugitives named in the Khobar Towers indictment.

The Revolutionary Guard has been linked to several acts of terrorism, including an attack on the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires in 1994, in which 85 people were killed and hundreds wounded.

The Revolutionary Guard supported Iraqi Shiite deserters and refugees, organized them into the Badr Corps and used them against Saddam’s regime in Iraq.

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