A provocative article in Foreign Policy magazine suggests that Israeli Mossad officers recruited members of the Pakistani terrorist organization Jundallah to aid in the covert operations against Iranian targets, including bombings in the Baluchistan region and potentially the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists. The Mossad officers, according to Mark Perry, posed as American intelligence agents during the recruitment, using US passports.
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 to the 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.”
According to the story, the Bush Administration found out about this and did nothing, but the Obama Administration scaled back US-Israel cooperation on intelligence targeting Iran.
“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.’”
If this exonerates the US, I’m hard-pressed to see it. “Shutting down” covert operations against Iran would mean actually shutting them down. Instead, nuclear scientists have been assassinated with a disturbing frequency in recent years, and Iran just captured a US drone surveillance plane. So I’m somewhat skeptical of drawing a full conclusion here. At the very least, this happened with the knowledge of US officials, and not much of an effort has been made to stop it.
But there’s no question that, if true, Israel deserves massive condemnation for engaging in terrorist operations with known terrorist groups, and for encouraging attacks on Americans by posing as US intelligence agents to shift the blame. The “special relationship” between the US and Israel involves the forced participation of every US politician publicly announcing undying support for Israel, while Israel spies on the US and steals the identity of US officials in its covert operations. This relationship is simply disproportionate.
And this has had real consequences. In a diplomatic note, Iran accused the CIA as being behind the most recent killing of a nuclear scientist. Meanwhile, the Pentagon sent a “surge” of troops and materiel over to the region as the tensions rise. Much of this stems from new sanctions on Iranian oil, with an attack on the financing. Iran lashed out today by saying that efforts from other OPEC nations to increase oil production to make up for the freezing out of Iranian product in the marketplace would be seen as an unfriendly act with “consequences” to come.
We’re seeing a significant rising in the possibilities for war, and the genus of much of the tension comes from spy games played by either Israel or a Western consortium, outside the boundaries of international law.