This hasn’t yet been reported in the US media, but Patrick Cockburn reports in the British newspaper the Independent that the 15 British sailors who are being held by the Iranian military were kidnapped on March 23 because of a “failed American attempt to abduct two senior Iranian security officers in a surprise raid during an official visit to northern Iraq.” UPDATE: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced today that he will free the British sailors.

On January 11, US forces launched a surprise helicopter attack on an Iranian embassy in Kurdistan (which is part of Iraq). We captured 5 junior Iranian officers, which we claim are intelligence agents. These officers are still being held by the US, probably in Guantanamo.

But capturing these 5 junior officers wasn’t the intent of the raid?the real aim was to captured two senior military officers, which we failed to do. We did not alert the Kurds about this raid ahead of time. The Independent says that the seizing by Iran of the 15 British sailors was done in retaliation for that bungled attempt. According to Cockburn, “The two senior Iranian officers the US sought to capture were Mohammed Jafari, the powerful deputy head of the Iranian National Security Council, and General Minojahar Frouzanda, the chief of intelligence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”

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