U.S. officers working under the NATO command in Afghanistan have said that deadly EFP explosive devices have been found in Afghanistan, but that there is no evidence that the Iranian leadership is involved, contradicting recent claims by Bush administration officials.
Thomas Kelly, a US colonel under NATO command, said forces had found several of the so-called "explosively-formed projectiles" that were more sophisticated than the crudely-made bombs usually used by Afghan insurgents.Notice first of all that their information that these EFP's are only manufactured in Iran is an older version of the U.S. military and Bush administration narrative about EFP's in Iraq. In Iraq, however, they've now admitted that Iraqis can make EFP's in very basic manufacturies but claim that Iraqi-made ones aren't as dangerous as Iranian ones (although how they tell them apart is also problemmatic).
But the senior spokeswoman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), US Lieutenant Colonel Claudia Foss, stressed that the alliance had no evidence that the Iranian government was involved in the supply.
Kelly said four of the devices, which are also being used by Iraqi insurgents and Lebanon's Hezbollah, were found in Herat near the Iranian border and in Kabul, where a fifth device had harmlessly exploded early this year.
The colonel told a Kabul media briefing that the bombs were "something called explosively-formed projectiles (EFPs)... They're designed to penetrate armoured vehicles.
"These are very sophisticated IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and they're really not manufactured in any other places other than, our knowledge is, Iran," he said, adding that the explosives were factory-made.
Taliban insurgents commonly attack US-led, NATO and Afghan targets with roadside bombs and other explosives made from old ammunition such as mortars and rockets left over from the war-torn country's decades of conflicts.
"The insurgents may have access to this device but may not yet know how to use them or know if they're effective or not," Kelly said.
Foss, however, told the same briefing that ISAF's commander had previously said "that we have no evidence of any formal supply of weapons from Iran."
"For decades this country has been under attack and we find weapons all the time but, as far as any formal supply, there's been no evidence."
While todays statement contradicts Bush officials like Gates and Burns, but agrees with the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan McNeill, who told reporters last month that he had no hard evidence that Iran's government had a policy of shipping arms to the Taliban as well as with independent experts who say these arms shipments are part of normal black-market entrepreneurship in a region with plentiful small arms bazaars and historically porous borders.
The biggest problem I have with the Bush administration's tale of EFP's from Iran is that the tale keeps changing every time it is challenged by outside experts. Here, for instance, the Afghan tale is an older version of the tale being told in Iraq. Meanwhile, the Occam's Razor version - that Iran didn't invent these things, that the techniques for making them have been spread far and wide through terror groups as different as Columbia's FARC, Spain's ETA and the UK's IRA as well as a whole slew of Islamic terror outfits, that they can be made easily and effectively with a minumim amount of manufacturing base, that dispersal of the knowledge needed is sufficient to explain their occurence without claiming origin from any one nation - continues to fit all the available evidence, unaltered.
I cynic would say the Bush administration are trying to set the stage to blame their favorite scapegoat - Iran - for their failure to keep their eye on the Afghani ball. A British bi-partisan government report says today that Afghanistan is in danger of failing as the taliban gain in strength again.