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Iran organised the kidnapping in Iraq of British hostage Peter Moore, who has been freed after two-and-a-half years in captivity, it has been claimed.
The Guardian newspaper says Mr Moore and his four bodyguards were taken to a camp inside Iran within a day.
Three of the bodyguards were killed; the fourth is also thought to be dead.
There are suggestions that Mr Moore was seized because his IT work was designed to show aid flowing into Iraq was being diverted to groups supported by Iran
One of the kidnappers has told this paper that three of the Britons – Jason Creswell, Jason Swindlehurst and Alec Maclachlan – were subsequently killed after the British government refused to take ransom demands seriously.
• Moore was targeted because he was installing a system that would show how a vast amount of international aid was diverted to Iran's militia groups in Iraq.
• The bodyguards' bodies were eventually traded for the release of Iraqi prisoners.
• They had probably been dead for at least 18 months before three of their bodies were handed over earlier this year.
Moore, 37, a computer expert from Lincoln, and the four security guards were taken on 29 May 2007 from the Iraqi ministry of finance's technology centre in Baghdad. He had been a contractor working to install sophisticated software in the ministry to track down billions of dollars in international aid and oil revenues.
And the Iranian regime's motives for the abduction can be confirmed: retaliation for the arrest of key Iranians in Iraq by the United States; anger at the direct threats against Iran by President George W Bush and the desire to prevent Moore, the computer expert among the five kidnap victims, from installing a sophisticated tracking system that would show how billions of pounds in international aid money from Iraqi institutions was diverted to Iran's militia groups in Iraq.
Unknown to the kidnappers, they were followed by undercover agents working for Iraq's intelligence service who, by chance, had been outside the Ministry of Finance when the men were taken.
A former senior Iraqi intelligence commander has told the Guardian that the agents, who worked for him directly, followed the convoy of cars into Sadr City.
It is here in the dusty, airless suburb of east Baghdad that the men spent their first night in captivity, in the al-Zahra mosque. That night British intelligence and the employers of the bodyguards, GardaWorld, searched Sadr City looking for them, desperately trying to confirm reports that they were hidden in a disused petrol station. GardaWorld admits to allowing the kidnap and ransom insurance of the four security guards to lapse due to a "clerical error" before the abductions.
The intelligence officers passed the news that the men were inside the mosque up the command chain at the Iraqi Ministry of Defence. It was still early in the afternoon, but it was to no avail as no action was taken. The next day – nearly 24 hours after the kidnapping – the prisoners were on the move again.
The Guardian has also obtained documents released by the US military under the Freedom of Information act.
The documents reveal how the al-Quds operatives' English was so perfect that the Iraqi guards at the checkpoints "were convinced the attackers were American".
When the attackers entered the compound they shot dead Private Millican. Four other US soldiers were kidnapped and spirited away in US-style vehicles. They were tracked down by US helicopters but before evading capture they shot dead their handcuffed captives.
"The kidnapping at the Ministry of Finance was done was led by the Republican Guard al-Quds force," he said. "They work in cells: every cell is made up of five men. The head of each cell is Iranian, a member of the al-Quds force, and the four others are Iraqis. They prepare for every operation in the most minute of detail in Iran … they study tiny, minuscule things. They specialise in creating perfect disguises for their men who take part in operations like this."
OH DEAR - Is this the excuse needed to justify an attack?
Does this mean that Iran has executed British civilians?????
Britain played down a report on Thursday that Iran masterminded the kidnapping in Iraq of a British man held hostage for more than 2-1/2 years, saying there was no firm evidence of direct Iranian involvement.
The British foreign ministry told Reuters there was nothing to substantiate the newspaper's report that Iran had orchestrated the operation, and played down the report that the hostages had been taken to Iran immediately after being seized.
The US military has freed Qais Qazali, the leader of the Asaib al Haq, or League of the Righteous, as well as his brother Laith, several Qods Force officers, and more than 100 members of the terror group, in exchange for Moore.
Qais Qazli wasn't just some run of the mill Shia thug; his group is backed by Iran. Qazali's men were trained by Iranian Qods Force to infiltrate and assault the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala in January 2007. Five US soldiers were killed during the kidnapping attempt. The US soldiers were executed after US and Iraqi security forces closed in on the assault team.
The attack on the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center was a complex, sophisticated operation. The assault team, led by tactical commander Azhar al Dulaimi (who was later killed by the US military), was trained in a mock-up of the center that was built in Iran.
US General David Petraeus - the US's top military commander in the region - told the BBC earlier this month, that he thought "it was 90% certain" the Britons had been held in Iran.
The kidnappers were understood to belong to an obscure militia known as the Islamic Shia Resistance, which demanded the release of up to nine of their associates held in US military custody since early 2007.
Several had already been handed to the Iraqi government and some had since been freed under the reconciliation process.
Frank Gardner said a senior Whitehall official had confirmed Qais Al-Khazaali - the leader of the kidnap group - was released "very recently" by the US to the Iraqi authorities.
Mr Khazaali had been suspected of involvement in the kidnapping and eventual killing of five US soldiers, he added.
Iran has threatened retaliation against Britain and America after claiming their intelligence services masterminded an attack on its Revolutionary Guard leadership.
In an escalation of tensions, the head of the Revolutionary Guard, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said his security officials had documents linking Britain and America to Jundullah, the militant group which claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing on Sunday.
Seven senior Guard officers were among at least 42 officials, bystanders and tribal leaders to have been killed.
"Behind this scene are the American and British intelligence apparatus, and there will have to be retaliatory measures to punish them,"