In Occupied Iraq
By Jon Elmer
08 July, 2004
The New Standard
evidence of the presence of Israeli operatives in Iraq arose this weekend
when the general formerly in charge of the US-run Iraqi prison system,
herself considered partly responsible for torture at Abu Ghraib and
other prisons under her command, told the BBC that she met an Israeli
interrogator working in a US-run "intelligence center" in
Baghdad. Brigadier General Janet Karpinski told BBC Radio in an interview
on Saturday that she met with a man who claimed to be Israeli and that
he "did some of the interrogation" at the facility.
Karpinski is the
highest-ranking official to confirm an Israeli presence in Iraq. As
the head of the 800th Military Police Brigade, Karpinski was responsible
for all of Iraqs 17 US-run prison facilities. She was suspended
in May for her role in the systemic torture carried out by personnel
under her command in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq.
Israeli involvement in the ongoing occupation of Iraq are damaging to
the USs already meagre credibility in the Middle East. Anger toward
Israels occupation of Palestinian lands, which the US has backed
since 1967, as well as its own human rights abuses and reputation for
torturing Arab prisoners, render suspicion of Israeli involvement in
Iraq an explosive issue throughout much of the Arab and Muslim worlds.
the manager of al-Aswar furniture shop in Baghdad gave a predictable
reaction to the Jerusalem Post. "The Americans and the Israelis
are one," he said. "They are the same enemy. Israel is just
the baby of the US with the same policies."
In an interview
last week with The Signal, a newspaper in Santa Clarita, California,
Karpinski said she was "shocked" by the Israeli interrogators
presence, and that the development struck her as "unusual."
But a mounting body
of evidence indicates that the presence of Israeli operatives working
in Iraq is not at all unusual.
New Yorker journalist
Seymour Hersh told the BBC that his sources -- which include high ranking
Lebanese and Turkish officials -- confirm the presence of Israeli agents
in Iraq. Hersh said it is his understanding that one of the Israeli
aims was to gain access to detained members of the secret Iraqi intelligence
unit who specialized in Israeli affairs, the BBC reports on its website.
In an article last
month, Hersh quoted a senior CIA official and Israeli intelligence officer
describing how agents of Israelis Mossad intelligence service
were active in Iraq, while Israeli commandos were training militants
in the Kurdish areas of Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq. Hersh found this
information to be "widely known" in the US intelligence community.
A top US military
official quoted in the Washington Post on Sunday denied claims of Israeli
presence in Iraq, calling the story an "urban legend."
Minister Silvan Shalom similarly dismissed Gen. Karpinski's claims as
"completely baseless," telling Israels Army Radio: "We
are not involved in any way in Iraq. We are not involved in training
or in interrogations, or in anything else. The whole claim is preposterous."
The Foreign Ministers
assertion is contradicted by significant documentation of Israeli-American
"strategic cooperation" with regard to intelligence sharing
and training in Iraq.
A December article
in the Guardian described how Israeli advisers are involved in training
US special operations troops in counter-insurgency tactics to be used
in Iraq. The operations being trained are said to include the use of
assassination against resistance leaders. Quoting US intelligence and
military sources, Guardian writer Julian Borger reported that the Israel
Defence Forces (IDF) sent urban warfare specialists to Fort Bragg in
North Carolina, the home of US Army Special Forces.
On that same day,
the Associated Press ran a story under the headline "US employs
Israeli tactics in Iraq," in which American and Israeli officials
publicly noted "high-level meetings" and "strategic cooperation"
between the two countries on the subject of operations in Iraq.
In a July letter
in Army Magazine, Brigadier General Michael Vaneter, the deputy chief
of staff at the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, acknowledged that
he had "recently travelled to Israel to glean lessons learned from
their counter-terrorist operations in urban areas."
In relation to the
presence of Israeli interrogators and contractors working within US
prisons in Iraq, the torture report by General Antonio Taguba refers
to "third country nationals" involved in the mistreatment
of prisoners in Iraq. A company at the center of the scandal, CACI International,
which has extensive links to the IDF and Israeli military intelligence.
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