Middle East atemporal

Ianuarie 14, 2012

False Flag

Filed under: Uncategorized — mihaibeltechi @ 6:36 am

A series of CIA memos describes how Israeli Mossad agents posed as American spies to recruit members of the terrorist organization Jundallah to fight their covert war against Iran.

Buried deep in the archives of America’s intelligence services are a series of memos, written during the last years of President George W. Bush’s administration, that describe how Israeli Mossad officers recruited operatives belonging to the terrorist group Jundallah by passing themselves off as American agents. According to two U.S. intelligence officials, the Israelis, flush with American dollars and toting U.S. passports, posed as CIA officers in recruiting Jundallah operatives – what is commonly referred to as a „false flag” operation.

The memos, as described by the sources, one of whom has read them and another who is intimately familiar with the case, investigated and debunked reports from 2007 and 2008 accusing the CIA, at the direction of the White House, of covertly supporting Jundallah – a Pakistan-based Sunni extremist organization. Jundallah, according tothe U.S. government and published reports, is responsible for assassinating Iranian government officials and killing Iranian women and children.

But while the memos show that the United States had barred even the most incidental contact with Jundallah, according to both intelligence officers, the same was not true for Israel’s Mossad. The memos also detail CIA field reports saying that Israel’s recruiting activities occurred under the nose of U.S. intelligence officers, most notably in London, the capital of one of Israel’s ostensible allies, where Mossad officers posing as CIA operatives met with Jundallah officials.

The officials did not know whether the Israeli program to recruit and use Jundallah is ongoing. Nevertheless, they were stunned by the brazenness of the Mossad’s efforts.

„It’s amazing what the Israelis thought they could get away with,” the intelligence officer said. „Their recruitment activities were nearly in the open. They apparently didn’t give a damn what we thought.”

Interviews with six currently serving or recently retired intelligence officers over the last 18 months have helped to fill in the blanks of the Israeli false-flag operation. In addition to the two currently serving U.S. intelligence officers, the existence of the Israeli false-flag operation was confirmed to me by four retired intelligence officers who have served in the CIA or have monitored Israeli intelligence operations from senior positions inside the U.S. government.

The CIA and the White House were both asked for comment on this story. By the time this story went to press, they had not responded. The Israeli intelligence services – the Mossad – were also contacted, in writing and by telephone, but failed to respond. As a policy, Israel does not confirm or deny its involvement in intelligence operations.

There is no denying that there is a covert, bloody, and ongoing campaign aimed at stopping Iran’s nuclear program, though no evidence has emerged connecting recent acts of sabotage and killings inside Iran to Jundallah. Many reports have cited Israel as the architect of this covert campaign, which claimed its latest victim on Jan. 11 when a motorcyclist in Tehran slipped a magnetic explosive device under the car of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a young Iranian nuclear scientist. The explosion killed Roshan, making him the fourth scientist assassinated in the past two years. The United States adamantly denies it is behind these killings.

According to one retired CIA officer, information about the false-flag operation was reported up the U.S. intelligence chain of command. It reached CIA Director of Operations Stephen Kappes, his deputy Michael Sulick, and the head of the Counterintelligence Center. All three of these officials are now retired. The Counterintelligence Center, according to its website, is tasked with investigating „threats posed by foreign intelligence services.”

The report then made its way to the White House, according to the currently serving U.S. intelligence officer. The officer said that Bush „went absolutely ballistic” when briefed on its contents.

„The report sparked White House concerns that Israel’s program was putting Americans at risk,” the intelligence officer told me. „There’s no question that the U.S. has cooperated with Israel in intelligence-gathering operations against the Iranians, but this was different. No matter what anyone thinks, we’re not in the business of assassinating Iranian officials or killing Iranian civilians.”

Israel’s relationship with Jundallah continued to roil the Bush administration until the day it left office, this same intelligence officer noted. Israel’s activities jeopardized the administration’s fragile relationship with Pakistan, which was coming under intense pressure from Iran to crack down on Jundallah. It also undermined U.S. claims that it would never fight terror with terror, and invited attacks in kind on U.S. personnel.

„It’s easy to understand why Bush was so angry,” a former intelligence officer said. „After all, it’s hard to engage with a foreign government if they’re convinced you’re killing their people. Once you start doing that, they feel they can do the same.”

A senior administration official vowed to „take the gloves off” with Israel, according to a U.S. intelligence officer. But the United States did nothing – a result that the officer attributed to „political and bureaucratic inertia.”

„In the end,” the officer noted, „it was just easier to do nothing than to, you know, rock the boat.” Even so, at least for a short time, this same officer noted, the Mossad operation sparked a divisive debate among Bush’s national security team, pitting those who wondered „just whose side these guys [in Israel] are on” against those who argued that „the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

The debate over Jundallah was resolved only after Bush left office when, within his first weeks as president, Barack Obama drastically scaled back joint U.S.-Israel intelligence programs targeting Iran, according to multiple serving and retired officers.

The decision was controversial inside the CIA, where officials were forced to shut down „some key intelligence-gathering operations,” a recently retired CIA officer confirmed. This action was followed in November 2010 by the State Department’s addition of Jundallah to its list of foreign terrorist organizations – a decision that one former CIA officer called „an absolute no-brainer.”

Since Obama’s initial order, U.S. intelligence services have received clearance to cooperate with Israel on a number of classified intelligence-gathering operations focused on Iran’s nuclear program, according to a currently serving officer. These operations are highly technical in nature and do not involve covert actions targeting Iran’s infrastructure or political or military leadership.

„We don’t do bang and boom,” a recently retired intelligence officer said. „And we don’t do political assassinations.”

Israel regularly proposes conducting covert operations targeting Iranians, but is just as regularly shut down, according to retired and current intelligence officers. „They come into the room and spread out their plans, and we just shake our heads,” one highly placed intelligence source said, „and we say to them – ‘Don’t even go there. The answer is no.'”

Unlike the Mujahedin-e Khalq, the controversial exiled Iranian terrorist group that seeks the overthrow of the Tehran regime and is supported by former leading U.S. policymakers, Jundallah is relatively unknown – but just as violent. In May 2009, a Jundallah suicide bomber blew himself up inside a mosque in Zahedan, the capital of Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province bordering Pakistan, during a Shiite religious festival. The bombing killed 25 Iranians and wounded scores of others.

The attack enraged Tehran, which traced the perpetrators to a cell operating in Pakistan. The Iranian government notified the Pakistanis of the Jundallah threat and urged them to break up the movement’s bases along the Iranian-Pakistani border. The Pakistanis reacted sluggishly in the border areas, feeding Tehran’s suspicions that Jundallah was protected by Pakistan’s intelligence services.

The 2009 attack was just one in a long line of terrorist attacks attributed to the organization. In August 2007, Jundallah kidnapped 21 Iranian truck drivers. In December 2008, it captured and executed 16 Iranian border guards – the gruesome killings were filmed, in a stark echo of the decapitation of American businessman Nick Berg in Iraq at the hands of al Qaeda’s Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In July 2010, Jundallah conducted a twin suicide bombing in Zahedan outside a mosque, killing dozens of people, including members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The State Department aggressively denies that the U.S. government had or has any ties to Jundallah. „We have repeatedly stated, and reiterate again that the United States has not provided support to Jundallah,” a spokesman wrote in an email to the Wall Street Journal, following Jundallah’s designation as a terrorist organization. „The United States does not sponsor any form of terrorism. We will continue to work with the international community to curtail support for terrorist organizations and prevent violence against innocent civilians. We have also encouraged other governments to take comparable actions against Jundallah.”

A spate of stories in 2007 and 2008, including a report by ABC News and a New Yorker article, suggested that the United States was offering covert support to Jundallah. The issue has now returned to the spotlight with the string of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and has outraged serving and retired intelligence officers who fear that Israeli operations are endangering American lives.

„This certainly isn’t the first time this has happened, though it’s the worst case I’ve heard of,” former Centcom chief and retired Gen. Joe Hoar said of the Israeli operation upon being informed of it. „But while false-flag operations are hardly new, they’re extremely dangerous. You’re basically using your friendship with an ally for your own purposes. Israel is playing with fire. It gets us involved in their covert war, whether we want to be involved or not.”

The Israeli operation left a number of recently retired CIA officers sputtering in frustration. „It’s going to be pretty hard for the U.S. to distance itself from an Israeli attack on Iran with this kind of thing going on,” one of them told me.

Jundallah head Abdolmalek Rigi was captured by Iran in February 2010. Although initial reports claimed that he was captured by the Iranians after taking a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan, a retired intelligence officer with knowledge of the incident told me that Rigi was detained by Pakistani intelligence officers in Pakistan. The officer said that Rigi was turned over to the Iranians after the Pakistani government informed the United States that it planned to do so. The United States, this officer said, did not raise objections to the Pakistani decision.

Iran, meanwhile, has consistently claimed that Rigi was snatched from under the eyes of the CIA, which it alleges supported him. „It doesn’t matter,” the former intelligence officer said of Iran’s charges. „It doesn’t matter what they say. They know the truth.”

Rigi was interrogated, tried, and convicted by the Iranians and hanged on June 20, 2010. Prior to his execution, Rigi claimed in an interview with Iranian media – which has to be assumed was under duress – that he had doubts about U.S. sponsorship of Jundallah. He recounted an alleged meeting with „NATO officials” in Morocco in 2007 that raised his suspicions. „When we thought about it we came to the conclusion that they are either Americans acting under NATO cover or Israelis,” he said.

While many of the details of Israel’s involvement with Jundallah are now known, many others still remain a mystery – and are likely to remain so. The CIA memos of the incident have been „blue bordered,” meaning that they were circulated to senior levels of the broader U.S. intelligence community as well as senior State Department officials.

What has become crystal clear, however, is the level of anger among senior intelligence officials about Israel’s actions. „This was stupid and dangerous,” the intelligence official who first told me about the operation said. „Israel is supposed to be working with us, not against us. If they want to shed blood, it would help a lot if it was their blood and not ours. You know, they’re supposed to be a strategic asset. Well, guess what? There are a lot of people now, important people, who just don’t think that’s true.”



3 comentarii »

  1. “Israel, if you want to be welcome in America, don’t try to pull this kind of crap.”
    Foreign Policy journalist Mark Perry talks to +972 about his revelation of Mossad agents pretending to be CIA men while trying to recruit Iranian terrorists; explains why Israel and the U.S. are unlikely to fall out over the affair; and offers Israel a free tip.

    A “senior Israeli official” called your report “complete nonsense,” and claimed that “had it been true, Meir Dagan would not be able to set foot in Washington.” Haaretz writer Amir Oren also described you as a “declared supporter of the Arab cause.” Your response?
    I would not expect the Israeli government to confirm my report — it’s certainly not in their interest to do so. I would have been surprised if they had said “yes, this is absolutely true.” The story is as accurate as I could make it, and as well sourced as I could make it. It’s as true as the rising sun. Then too, people should realize that this is not the first false flag operation that Israel has conducted, as a published report by a colleague made clear in 2010.
    My understanding is that a journalist in Israel has supposed that I wrote and published the story because I am “a known supporter of the Arab cause.” That’s an insulting slur — and one that I would not make against reporters here in Washington who regularly report on Israel. I am a supporter of the American cause. And what exactly is the Arab “cause?” To be friends with the US? To build stable and democratic societies? To educate their children and be at peace with their neighbors. If that is the “cause” then yes, I am for it.
    Quite a few readers have questioned the coincidence of the story running just days after yet another assassination of an Iranian scientist. Is it a coincidence? How long have you been working on the story?
    I know there is a great deal of skepticism about the timing of the story. And I know too that people will simply not believe it is a coincidence. In fact, it is. I thought two weeks ago that, after eighteen months of work, the story was in jeopardy of being released by another publication. And in truth, I did not decide to actually publish the story until the Friday before its appearance. And even then, at the last minute, I put the story on hold — to give a number of contacts of mine a chance to weigh in, and to give the U.S. and Israeli governments a chance to respond officially — or off the record. And I made it clear to officials here that I was willing to withdraw the story if there was reason to doubt its accuracy for any reason, or if in their estimation, it would harm my country. I received no response. The story appeared yesterday because that is when I, and Foreign Policy, felt comfortable with every one of its details.
    The same Haaretz report speculated the revelation could endanger Israel-US ties in the same way the Pollard affair did, and that this is why the Mossad is as a policy opposed to “adventurous endangerment of its relationship to the American community.” Is this likely?
    I am an historian — that is really my first career. I have studied and written extensively about the politics of the American and British high command in World War Two (Partners In Command is my book on George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower). During that alliance, key senior officers of both the U.S. and Great Britain held high level conferences to determine military strategy. During those conferences there was shouting, deep disagreement — in one case, nearly a fistfight. Allies disagree. Why wouldn’t the same be true now, between Israel and the U.S? No alliance is perfect, no country walks in lock step with another, and it would be naive to suppose it. There are problems between the U.S. and Israel, but that isn’t new. Nor should believe that the strategic relationship and deep friendship we have with Israel will change. My sense is that, despite the problems, there is a commitment on the part of the administration to make certain that, as with all alliances, a common purpose outweighs all disagreements. Frankly, if the Pollard incident didn’t end the U.S.-Israel relationship, then this won’t. My personal view is, and my advice to Israel, is — if you want to be welcome in America, don’t try to pull this kind of crap.
    You say there is no evidence linking Jundallah to the assassination campaign. Is there any indication Israel is similarly using some other group, like the MEK? Was there any indication of what purpose the Jundallah recruits were used for?
    My article was focused on a single story — that Mossad officers attempted to recruit Jundallah operatives under the guise of the American intelligence services. I stayed strictly focused on that. I have no idea who is responsible for the murder of Iranian scientists, I have no idea whether, at present, Israel is using Jundallah or MEK operatives to conduct these operations. Iran has plenty of enemies, and it could be any number of organizations — or perhaps the killings are simply an internal matter. In one way, I suppose, I don’t care, so long as my country is not responsible. Because if we are, then we are a state sponsor of terrorism, and the “war on terrorism” is a lie. I don’t think it is. I think the U.S. government, my country, has lots of problems. But joining with terrorist groups is not one of them.


    Comentariu de Vivian — Ianuarie 15, 2012 @ 6:56 am | Răspunde

  2. Is America A Victim of Israeli Aggression And False Flag Terror, Or Is That Just Clever CIA Propaganda?
    In an interview on the Chris Matthews show on MSNBC, former CIA officer Robert Baer said that Israel is behind the string of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. The latest victim of this terror campaign was 32-year-old Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan.

    Baer said that Israel’s motive is to provoke Iran into a military response, which would force the United States of America to retaliate against Iran on the behalf of Israel. This narrative makes clear that America is the victim, not the fellow conspirator, of Israeli terrorism. But is this narrative true, or is this just a clever CIA psyop to make Israel take the blame for terrorist actions against Iran that were approved by the CIA and the White House in advance? The historical record and the facts show that the latter is the case.

    It is naive and anti-historical to believe that the U.S. intelligence community is kept out of the loop of Israel’s policy towards Iran. We cannot give the CIA the benefit of the doubt in the murder of an Iranian nuclear scientist. Simply put, the CIA has no credibility.

    Is the CIA capable of murdering Iranian scientists, or assisting in such an act? Yes. The CIA has a long track record of state-sponsored terrorism and political assassinations, including on American soil (JFK, 9/11, Oklahoma City Bombing).

    Making Israel take the heat for a policy of assassinations against Iranian nuclear scientists that enjoys the approval of Washington is a clever way of twisting reality. But it is not plausible. The CIA does not have clean hands, especially when it comes to Iran.

    As Richard Silverstein writes, „while the U.S. has denied participating in the sabotage campaign against Iran’s nuclear program, we know of it and approve it. We’ve compartmentalized our efforts so the U.S. puts the squeeze on economically and Israel does it militarily. But this is a coordinated program and we are willing participants in it. Whether or not we planted bombs in Teheran, we are accessories after the fact and share in the culpability for this egregious conduct.”

    Both the CIA and Mossad are guilty of state terrorism from New York City to Tehran. Iranian nuclear scientists and American citizens were murdered by the same monsters. That is the truth. And that should not be news to anyone.

    The American people, the Iranian people, and the Israeli people will ultimately pay the price for U.S.-Israeli state terrorism.

    Even if intelligent and wise people in the CIA want America to separate itself from Israel, they can’t do it because the crime of 9/11 irreversibly linked the U.S. empire aka the Great Satan with the Zionist serpent in Tel Aviv. Their political fate and strategic success in the Middle East is interlinked. To suggest otherwise ignores the facts.

    But that doesn’t mean that America and Israel have no choice but to continue down this destructive and criminal path. There is a better way to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the U.S.-Iranian conflict. But nothing will change for the better in the Middle East until there is regime change in Washington and Tel Aviv.

    Comentariu de Hasan — Ianuarie 15, 2012 @ 7:03 am | Răspunde

  3. The False Flag Story And Provocations
    by Jim Lobe

    By now, I’m sure most readers of this blog are informed about Mark Perry’s blockbuster story Friday on foreignpolilcy.com that describes how Israeli Mossad agents posed as U.S. spies to recruit and use members of the Jundallah group to carry out what the State Department and others have called a campaign of terror against Iran focused in particular on the largely Sunni province of Sistan va Balochistan. If you haven’t read it, you definitely should.

    This story naturally raises a host of questions, among them, why Jundallah was not put on the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list before November 20, 2010; how much control the Mossad has exercised over Jundallah and its operations; whether Mossad may be operating another “false-flag” operation with PJAK, the Iraqi Kurdistan-based Iranian branch of Turkey’s PKK. (PJAK was designated an FTO 15 days after Obama’s inauguration, reportedly as a gesture to both Ankara and Tehran, and, as Mark reminded me Friday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman reportedly recommended last summer that Israel begin providing assistance to the PKK in retaliation for Ankara’s decision to downgrade relations with Tel Aviv.) And hanging over all this is the big question of why, if Washington knew of Israel’s sponsorship of one or more FTOs, particularly one as bloody-minded as Jundallah, did it not do more to discourage that relationship? Deliberately averting one’s eyes to terrorist activity is, after all, a form of complicity, particularly if you know that this terrorist activity is being done in your name.

    Meanwhile, a remarkably and unusually candid discussion (for a mainstream medium) of Israel’s strategy of provocation took place yesterday with an interview by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews of former CIA officer Robert Baer and can be seen here. It runs about five minutes. Baer makes clear his view that these assassinations, about which I hope to write more later, have little to do with setting back Iran’s nuclear program in any meaningful way, but are rather designed to provoke an armed response that would increase the likelihood of a U.S. or U.S./Israeli attack.

    I think that these two forms of terrorism — support for Jundallah and possibly other terrorist groups, and the assassination of scientists associated with Iran’s nuclear program — share the same goal. (Killing a handful of scientists will not stop Iran’s nuclear program, and Jundallah is essentially a ragtag group with no hope of seriously destabilizing the regime.) The primary aim of these programs, therefore, appears to be provocation. And, so long as the U.S. is seen as supportive of or at least complicit with these efforts (as Israel clearly wishes the U.S. to be seen), hard-line forces in the Iranian regime will always have a leg up in internal discussions about whether Washington can be trusted in any negotiation. That’s why it seems to me that it’s incumbent on the Obama administration, if indeed it wishes to avoid war, to make as clear as it possibly can that it has absolutely nothing to do with these covert programs. In that respect, public denials, no matter how categorical, by Clinton, Panetta, and the White House to that effect are not nearly sufficient.

    In that connection, one wonders whether Obama addressed this issue in his conversation with Netanyahu on Thursday; that is, two days after the assassination in Tehran and on the eve of the publication of Perry’s article of which the White House and other agencies were no doubt aware because of the author’s last-minute efforts to get them to comment.

    The two leaders also discussed recent Iran-related developments, including the international community’s efforts to hold Iran accountable for its failures to meet its international obligations. The President reiterated his unshakable commitment to Israel’s security, and the President and the Prime Minister promised to stay in touch in the coming weeks on these and other issues of mutual concern.

    While it focuses on the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran, today’s piece in the Wall Street Journal is suggestive, particularly the last paragraph:

    Some American intelligence officials complain that Israel represents a blind spot in U.S. intelligence, which devotes little resources to Israel. Some officials have long argued that, given the potential for Israel to drag the U.S. into potentially explosive situations, the U.S. should devote more resources to divining Israel’s true intentions.


    Comentariu de Dya King — Ianuarie 15, 2012 @ 7:16 am | Răspunde

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