The U.S. State Department announced Thursday it was offering $15 million for information related to an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Commander who planned one of the most sophisticated attacks against coalition troops in Iraq, killing five soldiers in 2007.
Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative on Iran , told reporters Thursday during a press briefing that the $15 million reward was for information on financial activities, networks and associates of Yemen-based IRGC-Qods Force commander Abdul Reza Shahlai.
The bounty is not for Shalai’s death or capture.
Iran’s Qods force conducts irregular war and intelligence collection activities and is tasked with exporting the 1979 revolution. The group has wreaked havoc in conflicts across the Middle East from Yemen to Syria, training proxy forces and carrying out attacks on Western and U.S. interests in the region.
Shahlai has a “long history of attacks against Americans and our allies globally,” Hook said. “He planned multiple assassinations of coalition forces in Iraq.”
The tit-for-tat militarization between Iran and the U.S. is pushing the two combative foes closer to the brink of war highlighting a potential failure of the Trump administration’s stick approach to deterring Tehran’s malign behavior in the region.
Shahlai also “provided weapons and explosives to violent Shia extremist groups," and funded an direct a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir, Hook explained.
The Qods Force commander plotted follow-on attacks in the US that could have killed nearly 200 Americans, Hook said.
The Jan 20 2007, attack on the Karbala provincial headquarters has been described as one of the most sophisticated attacks carried out against coalition forces in Iraq. Iran was believed to be behind the attack.
McClatchy reported that the attackers rolled up to the compound driving Suburbans and black Chevy Tahoes with distinct IED jammers operated by coalition forces and carried proper vehicle placards known to be on U.S. coalition vehicles in Iraq.
The attackers brandished American uniforms, weapons, spoke some English and knew everything about the compound and how it would be defended, according to the McClatchy story.
Five American soldiers were killed and three others wounded during the attack.
Shahlai is also suspected of being behind some of the sophisticated weaponry flowing to the Houthi rebels from Iran.
The U.S. is “gravely concerned by his presence in Yemen," Hook said.
At the tail end of November, the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard interdicted a boat in Arabian Sea and seized a cache carrying sophisticated anti-tank missiles, and parts for land attack and anti-ship missiles , Hook told reporters Thursday.
Hook said the seizure of the missile parts bound for Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Syria was the most sophisticated seizure of advanced weapon systems headed for Yemen since the conflict erupted in 2015.
Hook said the $15 million dollar reward was for information leading to the disruption of IRGC operations.
The U.S. Treasury sanction Shahlai in 2011 for his role in the attempted assassination of the Saudi ambassador to the U.S.