Monday, January 4, 2010

Khost Suicide Bomber: Links Between CIA and Jordanian Intelligence Working in Afghanistan

MSNBC has a new story up on the Khost suicide bomber, who killed up to eight CIA officers or contractors last week. They identify him as a Jordanian-Al Qaeda double agent, “Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, 36, an al-Qaida sympathizer from the town of Zarqa, which is also the hometown of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant Islamist responsible for several devastating attacks in Iraq.”

Al Balawi was supposedly turned by the Jordanians, who have a small but important force in Afghanistan. Al Balawi was supposed to be a key figure in the hunt for Zawahiri, and apparently had come to the CIA base with “urgent” info on the #2 Al Qaeda leader, but came instead with a bomb around his chest. His Jordanian handler, Sharif Ali bin Zeid, said to be related to the Jordanian king, was also killed.

The Jordanians are reported to be quite in bed with U.S. intelligence. We knew that things like this were true from revelations about extraordinary rendition. What's new is the role these torturers are playing in U.S. operations outside their own countries:
Bin Zeid’s prominent role offers rare insight into the close partnership between American and Jordanian intelligence officials and how crucial their relationship has become to the overall counterterrorism strategy.

“We have a close partnership with the Jordanians on counterterrorism matters,” a U.S. official told The Washington Post. “Having suffered serious losses from terrorist attacks on their own soil, they are keenly aware of the significant threat posed by extremists.”
Well, well, well... so the U.S. likes to play with the torturers. We knew this from all the rendition business, but didn’t know they were sending advisers into U.S. operations. You’ll notice I call the Jordanian General Intelligence Department (GID), or Mukhabarat, torturers. There’s a lot of precedence for that, as NGOs have been making and documenting such charges for years. I also have first hand experience working with people who were tortured and even “turned” by the Jordanians. They love to do the latter, and this time, it blew up in their faces, literally.

Here’s the Christian Science Monitor on Jordan’s torture record recently:
Early in 2008, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published the results of interviews with more than a dozen former detainees who said they were tortured in GID custody. On Wednesday, the group issued a new report, alleging widespread torture in Jordan’s regular prisons – particularly among Islamists convicted of national security crimes.

The allegations are based on unsupervised interviews with 110 prisoners in seven prisons around the country in 2007 and 2008. More than half of those interviewed said they had experienced some form of torture or ill-treatment, and 30 showed physical evidence of abuse. There were accounts that 5 out of 7 prison directors were involved.

“To root out torture you need to be able to name and shame, and prosecute where appropriate, those people who perpetrate that crime,” says Christoph Wilcke, HRW’s researcher for Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
If anything, the U.S. alliances in Afghanistan will make the corrupt and questionable alliances forged in Iraq look like a Sunday school Quaker meeting by comparison. First it was mass murder killers like General Abdul Rashid Dostum, now it’s torturing Mideast intelligence agencies. Gee, aren’t we glad to have a smiling Nobel Peace Prize icon like Obama standing up to represent American ideals in Afghanistan?

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