Thursday, March 18, 2010
Nima Elbagir - Channel 4 News
Channel 4 News can reveal the Taliban insurgency against British and American forces is being supported by Iranian weapons smuggled over the border including mines, mortars and plastic explosives.
The exclusive images and documents show, for the first time, the full extent of Iranian support for the Taliban in the shape of tonnes of weapons of the type being used against UK troops in Helmand province.
Despite the millions of dollars being spent by the international community to ensure cross-border security between Iran and Afghanistan, Channel 4 News has been shown vast hauls of weaponry which Afghan security services have told us are just a fraction of hardware intercepted from Iran on their way to the Taliban.
They claim it shows the true extent of direct support from the Iranian government for the insurgency.
The Afghan border with Iran is almost 1000km long and is incredibly difficult to police. The border town of Eslam Ghalah, in the Western Afghanistan province of Herat, is a key checkpoint for goods and human traffic entering and leaving Afghanistan.
Yet less than 10km from this border town is one of the country's most notorious smuggling routes. And Channel 4 News has learnt that it is also a major pipeline for Iranian support to the Taliban.
The range of weaponry shown to Channel 4 News includes mortars, plastic explosive, hand grenades, phone cards and Taliban propaganda booklets. There are also rows upon rows of mines - each with a Persian serial number. Proof, say the Afghan authorities, that they came from Iran's state run weapons factories.
The Afghan authorities seem to be finding it harder and harder to keep a lid on their increasing frustration. Rahmutallah Safi, the head of Border Police for Herat, invited local journalists to view their most recent haul.
"In this place you can see, we have discovered five mines," he said. "All the international monitors have seen it. You yourselves can check to see which country has made it. You can see the [Persian] marks on the weapons and the type and show it to the world."
Click here for the full report on Channel 4