Releasing the Irbil 5, who Iran claimed were diplomats and we were certain were not, was problematic. Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal reports that it was not just these "diplomats" who were cut loose, but a known Qods Force commander, and that he was slipped into this exchange to mask the fact that he was deeply involved with planning and execution of attacks on US troops.
A senior Qods Force officer who led one of the three commands in Iraq assigned to attack US and Iraqi forces was one of five Iranians released by the US military on July 9.
Mahmud Farhadi, the leader of the Zafr Command, one of three units subordinate to the Qods Force's Ramazan Corps, was among five Iranians turned over to the Iraqi government and then subsequently turned over to the Iranians.
A spokesman from the Iranian foreign ministry identified Farhadi as one of the five men released on July 9, according to a report on Iranian state-run television.
Reports initially indicated that five Iranians who were captured by the US in Irbil in northern Iraq in January 2007 were released from custody. But US military intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that Farhadi was disguised as one of the Irbil Five to soften the blow of the release.
The US had previously released two members of the Irbil Five in November 2007, according to The Associated Press, but the report received little attention. This "left room for Farhadi to be pawned off as one of the Irbil Five and snuck out the back door," one official told The Long War Journal.
Make sure to read the entire piece as it contains the usual deep background on the extent of Iranian actions in Iraq and the fact that they were directly responsible for the deaths of far too many US servicemembers and Iraqi civilians. Iranian actions such as these exposes their operatives to detention as terrorists. The fact that we are now releasing them is shocking and needs to be discussed far more vigorously. Some of this is driven by our security agreements with Iraq, but it seems likely that some is to push negotiations with Iran on multiple issues. They have been complaining that we hold and must release their operatives and it seems we are putting the desire for talks with Iran above the safety of our troops and Iraqi civilians.