WASHINGTON, DC – Today House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton released the following statement regarding two news reports on Iranian activities related to Iraq and Al Qaeda:

“I strongly condemn anyone who produces, distributes, or uses improvised explosive devices or other deadly weapons against U.S. troops.  Suggestions of Iranian involvement in providing these weapons that kill or maim American troops are extremely serious and require careful Congressional scrutiny. We must do everything we can to ensure the safety of our forces serving in Iraq.

“Any attempt by Iran to arm militias in Iraq, whatever their ethnic or religious loyalties, would further destabilize the situation in Iraq, escalating the serious violence and making any political accommodation among sectarian groups more difficult.  Iran could instead play a much more productive role in Iraq by encouraging the political compromises necessary to achieve national reconciliation among the various ethnic and religious parties in Iraq.

“The reported capture and detention of hundreds of Al Qaeda operatives in Iran is also a significant development.  Al Qaeda is our major target in the war on terror. We must understand and undermine the complex networks they are using to try to attack American forces and interests.

“Today’s articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post demonstrate just how urgent it is that the United States adopts a strategy that extensively engages Iran on these and other issues, while making clear that any contributions to attacks on American forces is unacceptable.

“The House Armed Services Committee will continue to investigate the issues raised today and any actions by or policy changes involving the American military in dealing with Iran.  Briefings delivered to the committee to date have not made clear the specificity or extent of the information that intelligence agencies have gathered. 

“We will carefully review the material presented at the briefing I understand will be provided by the command of Multi-National Forces-Iraq in the near future. Congress will insist on looking at all of the evidence, as well as at what the administration has planned and what kinds of measures are required to address the situation.”

Skelton spoke in response to an article in the New York Times detailing U.S. intelligence indicating Iranian involvement in the production and distribution of a certain especially deadly form of improvised explosive device known as an “explosively formed penetrator” and in response to a Washington Post article which details the detention of several wanted Al Qaeda operatives by Iran.