Intelligence Bulletin #3

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 7 months ago

The Intelligence Bulletin is an aggregation and commentary series, and this is the third entry in that series.

Intelligence Bulletin #3 covers the following subjects: [1] More forces deploy to Diyala province, [2] Disappearance of Jilal Sharafi yields intelligence bonanza, [3] More on international war against the CIA, [4] U.S. tracking whereabouts of al Sadr (and why his ‘strategic disappearance’ is necessary for the success of the security plan), [5] Balancing act by Saudi Arabia, [6] Martyrdom operations by Ansar al Sunna, and [7] Gates rolls back defense intelligence.

More Forces Deploy to Diyala Province

In The Surge and Coming Operations in Iraq we discussed the redeployment of insurgents from Baghdad to surrounding areas just prior to the implementation of the security plan, most particularly to the Diyala Province.  True to form, the insurgents are beginning to cause problems wherever they are, and more U.S. forces are being deployed to Diyala.

More than 700 U.S. troops rolled into Diyala on Tuesday in armored vehicles to help quell escalating violence in the Iraqi province that has become a haven for insurgents targeted by the Baghdad security crackdown.

The Army battalion was transferred from Taji to Baqubah, capital of the religiously mixed province that extends from Baghdad to the Iranian border, the military said. It joined about 3,500 U.S. troops already stationed there.

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, the U.S. commander for northern Iraq, had requested the reinforcements to confront a rise in sectarian and insurgent attacks in outlying regions since U.S. and Iraqi troops began a crackdown in Baghdad last month.

U.S. commanders believe insurgent fighters have moved into the province from Baghdad and Al Anbar, the western Iraqi province that is the center of the Sunni Arab insurgency.

“We see the Sunni insurgency trying to desperately gain control of Diyala, because it helps in their effort to control Baghdad and to prevent the government of Iraq from succeeding,” Mixon told Pentagon reporters via video link from Iraq last week.

U.S. officials did not specify how long the new battalion would be based in Diyala. But Mixon said he was “cautiously optimistic that in the next 30 to 60 days that we’re going to see some significant differences in the security situation in Diyala.”

Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said Monday that U.S. commanders had anticipated that the Baghdad crackdown could drive some insurgent and militia leaders into areas such as Diyala. He said troops would spread out into communities on Baghdad’s fringes, where insurgents are believed to be operating car-bomb factories (italics mine).

The talk of anticipating the influx of insurgents to Diyala seems forced.  If this had been properly anticipated as claimed, troops deployments should have been done to Diyala prior to implementation of the security plan.  Failure to do so doesn’t point to the need to avoid a heavy footprint in Iraq, since the tribal leaders in Diyala had requested that they be included within the security plan.  This appears to be a numbers problem.  Larger force size would have given U.S. command the ability to avoid the chase.

Disappearance of Jalal Sharafi Yields Intelligence Bonanza

The disappearance of Jalal Sharafi and five other Iranians has apparently yielded an intelligence bonanza for the U.S.

The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security has revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that it had no updates regarding its investigation into Jalal Sharafi’s disappearance early last month. Kidnapped in front of the Iranian state-owned Bank Melli in Baghdad, it is alleged that Sharafi was abducted by US-supported Iraqi Defense Ministry elements. Likewise, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the al Quds Brigade’s investigations have failed to yield any leads pertaining to their members who have disappeared in Iraq over the past few weeks.

According to statements made by an official from the Iranian armed forces, the possibility of the detention of eight members from the IRGC and five elements from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence by US forces was “likely?, as the concerned parties had no evidence of their escape …

Furthermore, the information supplied by the five Iranian officials detained in Irbil last month [US troops confiscated vast amounts of documents and computer data], considered highly classified information has facilitated and enabled US forces to arrest more figures from the IRGC and al Quds Brigade in Iraq.

In a humorous sidebar, it should be noted that Iran has demanded the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq due to the fact our presence is fueling the violence.  In related news, General Petraeus has come out strongly concerning the role of Iran and Syria in Iraq.

The top U.S. commander in Iraq said in an interview released Monday that it’s “indisputable” Iran is training and arming militants to fight against U.S.-led troops in Iraq.

Gen. David Petraeus also told ABC News that suicide bombers are streaming across Iraq’s border from Syria and making their way into the country’s volatile western Anbar province.

His comments follow a harsh exchange of words over the weekend between the U.S. and Iran at a conference in Baghdad on Iraq’s security.

More on International War Against the CIA

In Intelligence Bulletins #1 and #2 we covered the international war against the CIA, exemplified in the formal charges against CIA agents in Italy and Germany, and we noted that the U.S. has refused any discussion of extradition.  The Strategy Page gives us a little more detail concerning how this war is shaping up and who the players are.

A new trend has emerged. Germany is charging 13 CIA operatives in connection with the capture of one suspected terrorist. Italy has charged 26 with the capture of another suspected terrorist. Again, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in involved with these efforts.

In essence, the CCR is trying to protect terrorists from the United States military. For an example of who they are protecting, one of their clients, Mohammed al Khatani, is worth a closer look. Khatani is believed to have been slated to be the 20th hijacker on 9/11. Information he gave up provided leads that enabled the break-up of terrorist cells before they could carry out attacks.

Khatani’s interrogation diary was leaked to Time Magazine in 2005. The methods used during the detainee’s interrogations were portrayed as routine. They were not – the techniques had been authorized as part of a special protocol. Naturally, human rights groups have been complaining about this, and their concerns are amplified by sympathetic news reports. Having lost in the legislative arena, they now have turned to foreign courts.

And the foreign courts are all too happy to oblige (although with all due respect to the Strategy Page, the war against the CIA has more players than just CCR).

U.S. Tracking Whereabouts of al Sadr

General David Petraeus said that discussions are ongoing with Sadr’s organization, adding that “over time the Mahdi Army, as with all the militias, has to be disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated into society in some fashion.  The militia will not be allowed to join the Iraqi security forces as an organization.”  We would dryly observe that unless Moqtada al Sadr himself is out of the picture, this is probably not possible.  It must be remembered that Sadr is not merely the spiritual leader of a movement.  He essentially commands the largest voting bloc in the Iraqi parliament.

Further, if Sadr returns to Iraq, his arrest or disappearance might incite such a firestorm of problems that the Baghdad security plan is brought to a halt.  The Mahdi army doesn’t like even the presence of combat operation posts or bases in Sadr City.  Sadr will never be convicted in a court in Iraq, and a show trial that exhonerates him would be the worst of all possible outcomes.  The U.S. is tracking the whereabouts of Sadr.  Major General William Caldwell said that Sadr was still inside Iran as of 24 hours ago.  This seems like a confident report, and assuming its accuracy, it gives lattitude for the appropriate action to remove Sadr from the political and spiritual scene, thus enabling the security plan to succeed.  We highly commend the notion of a strategic disappearance of Sadr as one key to the overall success of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Balancing Act by Saudi Arabia

In Regional Wars in the Middle East we pointed out that Saudi Arabia has been equipping and training Sunni extremists in Iraq (as has Jordan).  But there is an interesting twist in the case.  Al Baghdadi claims that Saudi Arabia is trying to undermine the extremists in Iraq.

Saudi Arabia is involved in a conspiracy to undermine the project of the Islamic State of Iraq, the group’s leader has announced in online remarks, according to a report in Arabic on al-Jazeera Net.

In a recording of spoken remarks, published online, a voice attributed to the figure known as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the group’s leader, accuses the kingdom of attempting to break its link with its “popular base? in Iraq, by funding other armed groups to attack it, and involvement in a media campaign against it.

The recorded remarks continue on to claim responsibility for operations around Iraq, including the brazen raid on Badoush prison, near Mosul, last week which freed scores of prisoners.

And there is yet another twist given to us by the Strategy Page:

The war in Iraq has been very useful for Moslem nations trying to deal with Islamic radicals. Many of the most dangerous Islamic radicals have gone off to fight, and die, in Iraq. Those that come back home are far fewer than those who left, and easier to keep an eye on. Many are not transformed into “experienced terrorists” by their time in Iraq, but into disillusioned and shell shocked veterans of things they had not expected to encounter.

Most Islamic clerics have a hard time condemning the “martyrs” who “died for the faith.” But Islamic governments see an opportunity to overcome this, because in Iraq, the Islamic terrorists appear to have crossed the line. The numerous murders of Moslems, especially women and children (who are traditionally left alone when Moslems fight each other), has appalled most Moslems, and al Qaeda is way down in the popularity polls as a result. The Islamic radicals have openly condemned the new program to support moderate Islam, which indicates that this new policy may help. By declaring all “moderate Moslems” to be enemies, the Islamic radicals isolate themselves even more in the Islamic world.

The Saudi strategy seems to be to allow the radicals to cross the border into Iraq so that the U.S. can take care of the problem.  This has a beneficial side effect, in that a stronger Sunni population keeps the Shi’a in check, and thus prevents Iran from having complete control over Iraq as well as preventing the diminution of the Sunni presence in Iraq - or so the thinking goes.  After all, Iran is the biggest problem that Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt face.  After the removal of the Iraqi regime, the Middle East now lacks the strongman to hold Iran back.

But there is a huge difference between funding secular Sunnis, those who have been deposed from power and don’t like it, and religious lunatics like al Baghdadi.  The strengthening of the very enemies that could threaten the stability of the Saudi regime is risky and presents a bridge too far.  The goal is to assist those who would hold Iran in check, while also undercutting those who would be a risk not only to Iran, but the house of Saud as well.

Martyrdom Operations by Ansar al Sunna

The MEMRI blog has a description of recent martyrdom operations carried out in Mosul, and the description of the suicide bomber is important.

“Abu Al-Bara was the youngest son in his family. He told us that his mother loved him very much because he obeyed her and used to help her with the housework. A few days before he set out on the operation, his brothers the jihad fighters called his family in Syria, and he spoke with his mother and told her: ‘I bought a car and I am getting betrothed today. My brothers are with me and they are preparing to accompany me to the marriage ceremony.’ His mother replied, with tears in her voice: ‘Oh my son, do as you wish, and as Allah is my witness, I wish you and your brothers every success. Go on [your way], and may Allah bless you.’ Next, he spoke with his brothers and sisters and told them to obey Allah… and after finishing this call, he set out on the operation.”

Take note of where the suicide bomber calls home: Syria.

Gates Rolls Back Defense Intelligence

The National Journal has a must-read article on Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ plan to roll back defense intelligence.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is considering a plan to curtail the Pentagon’s clandestine spying activities, which were expanded by his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, after the 9/11 attacks. The undercover work allowed military personnel to collect intelligence about terrorists and to recruit spies in foreign countries independently of the CIA and without much congressional oversight.

Former military and intelligence officials, including those involved in an ongoing and largely informal debate about the military’s forays into espionage, said that Gates, a former CIA director, is likely to “roll back” several of Rumsfeld’s controversial initiatives. This could include changing the mission of the Pentagon’s Strategic Support Branch, an intelligence-gathering unit comprising Special Forces, military linguists, and interrogators that Rumsfeld set up to report directly to him. The unit’s teams work in many of the same countries where CIA case officers are trying to recruit spies, and the military and civilian sides have clashed as a result. CIA officers serving abroad have been roiled by what they see as the Pentagon’s encroachment on their dominance in the world of human intelligence-gathering.

A former senior intelligence official who knows Gates said that the secretary wants to “dismantle” many of the intelligence programs launched by Rumsfeld and his top lieutenants, Stephen Cambone, the former undersecretary for intelligence, and Douglas Feith, who was Rumsfeld’s policy chief. The former official added that the Defense Intelligence Agency, which has also expanded its human spying efforts, could be returned to a more analytical role.

Given the deplorable record of the CIA in HUMINT, Gates’ plan is completely inexplicable and perhaps headed for disaster.


You are currently reading "Intelligence Bulletin #3", entry #483 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Ansar al Sunna,Intelligence Bulletin,Iran,Iraq,Islamic Facism,Jihadists and was published March 15th, 2007 by Herschel Smith.

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