Published June 9, 2006
Zarqawi Killing Directly Linked to Iranian-Provided Intelligence, Raising Significant Questions
Analysis. By Jason Fuchs, GIS UN Correspondent. While Washington and Baghdad claimed a joint triumph in Iraq with the June 8, 2006, killing of al-Qaida in Iraqxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s leader Abu Mussab Al-Zarqawi, GIS sources revealed details of the events leading to Zarqawixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s discovery and killing that could affect not only Iraq, but the entire region. GIS sources have confirmed that the intelligence which led to the exact targeting of Zarqawi xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9d commander of the al-Qaida Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9d had been provided to Coalition Forces by one of the jihadist commanderxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s chief sponsors: Iran.
GIS sources added that the information provided by Tehran had not been given to the Coalition directly. Instead, the critical intelligence was filtered through Palestinian intermediaries (specifically HAMAS) and from them passed on to the highest levels of the Jordanian Government. Amman then forwarded this intelligence to Washington and, GIS sources noted, then played a xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93hands-on rxc3x83xc2xb4lexc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d in the military operation itself with strong indications that Jordanian Special Forces had been present on the ground for the attack itself, although it remained unclear in precisely what capacity.
A Jordanian Government official later on June 8, 2006, confirmed that Jordan had played a rxc3x83xc2xb4le in the operation.
What GIS sources could not determine based on hard intelligence xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9d and what remained most critical to the regional equation xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9d was what had triggered Zarqawixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s fatal split with Tehran. Whatever the cause, it had already been clear by late May 2006 that something had fundamentally changed in Zarqawixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s relationship with Iran. The most public result of the dispute had been the release of an audiotape by the Jordanian militant on June 2, 2006, in which Zarqawi lambasted the Iranian Pres. Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad for xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93screaming and calling for wiping Israel from the mapxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d while doing nothing material to realize those aims. Of the Iranian-sponsored HizbAllah, with whom Zarqawi also had a long-standing operational relationship, Zarqawi charged that the militant group acted as a xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93shield protecting the Zionist enemy against the strikes of the mujahedin in Lebanon xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6 HizbAllah is an independent state inside Lebanon. It puts forth lying slogans about Palestinian liberation when in fact it serves as a security wall [for Israel] and prevents Sunnis from crossing its borders.xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d
The tape had been released with a disclaimer that it had been recorded two months before its early June 2006 release, but had had its release delayed because of xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93circumstancesxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d which were not described.
Iranian sponsorship of the Iraqi intifada remained a key component of Tehranxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s national security policy regardless of Tehranxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s involvement in Zarqawixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s removal from the scene. Doubtless, Tehran would quietly seek to portray its xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93helpxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d in resolving the Zarqawi matter as a part of a newly-oriented, more cooperative policy vis-xc3x83 -vis Washington in the xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93war on terrorxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d, but it appeared certain that the Iranian decision to remove Zarqawi had been first and foremost about securing Iranian strategic priorities. Most significant of these priorities was the removal of the threat of US military attack against Iranian nuclear and command and control facilities.
The fact that Washington would interpret such a move as a reciprocal gesture to the most recent package of incentives offered by the US and EU would be a welcome additional benefit, most especially if it bought the Iranian Government further time to pursue its indigenous nuclear weapons program.
HAMAS, for its part, appeared to have leapt at the opportunity to soothe recent tensions with the Jordanian Government. April and May 2006 had seen a series of arrests in the Kingdom of HAMAS operatives captured with weapons and explosives which were alleged to have been used against Jordanian Government targets throughout the country. According to the Jordanian Government, the HAMAS weapons caches included automatic weapons, submachineguns, ammunition, hand-grenades, mines, different types of explosives, GRAD missiles, LAW anti-tank missiles, and Katyusha rockets (some of which were reportedly Iranian made).
Jordanian TV aired footage on May 11, 2006, of captured HAMAS operatives who confessed that their orders had come from the HAMAS high command in Damascus. One operative, Ayman Naji Saleh Hamdallah Daraghmeh, 34, from Al-Hashimiya in Abu Musab al-Zarqawixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s hometown of al-Zarqaa, detailed:
I got involved with HAMAS through a friend of mine, Tawfiq Al-xc3xa2xe2x82xacxcbx9cAbushi. He told me he worked for HAMAS and xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6 told me I had to go to Syria. I went with him to Syria and we stayed at a hotel. In Syria, we met a HAMAS official called Abu Al-xc3xa2xe2x82xacxcbx9cAbd xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2xa6 I began a course in security, which included interrogation, not breaking down under interrogation, safety in communication and in travel, personal security and many such things. I also underwent a military course. Then I went back to Jordan.1
Such provocative operations into Jordan from HAMAS bases in Syria would not have occurred without approval from Damascus. Equally, Damascus would not have undertaken such levels of attempted strikes xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9d the second of their kind attempted and foiled in the Kingdom in as many years from Syrian bases xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9d without serious consultation with their most important strategic partner, Tehran.
Certainly, HAMASxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s rxc3x83xc2xb4le in the killing of Zarqawi xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9d and by extension the rxc3x83xc2xb4les of Iran and Syria xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9d would be received in Amman as a goodwill gesture on behalf of the Damascus-based HAMAS leadership, the Syrian Government itself, and the Iranian leadership. HAMAS, in particular, as it fought for international legitimacy and aid, had to hope that this affair would soften the Westxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s stance on its nascent Palestinian Authority Government.
Tehranxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s ability to xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93reach out and touchxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d as elusive a figure as Zarqawi at the whim of strategic necessity spoke to the depth of Iranian involvement in Iraq and its centrality to the global jihadist movement in general.
The Iranian Government deliberately selling out one of its former assets xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9d even though Zarqawi was nominally an al-Qaida leader xc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x80x9d has direct parallels to the deliberate selling out of the al-Qaida leader in Saudi Arabia, Saleh al-Oufi, in August 2005. When Saleh al-Oufi disobeyed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and persisted with attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure instead of supporting the major effort of the time, to escalate the Iraq conflict, the bin Laden leadership leaked al-Oufixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s whereabouts to the Saudi security forces. Saleh al-Oufi and several of his colleagues were killed in firefights with Saudi security forces on August 18, 2005. The direct parallels between the al-Oufi and Zarqawi incidents raise the question once again of the depth of Osama bin Ladenxc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s links with Iran, and whether bin Laden himself is still in Iran and coordinating his actions with those of Iran.
As well, the impact must be assessed of Zarqawixc3xa2xe2x82xacxe2x84xa2s death on the two other major al-Qaida sectors he had come to dominate: xc3xa2xe2x82xacxc5x93The al-Qaida Organization in the Land of the Berbersxc3xa2xe2x82xacxc2x9d (North Africa), and the operations in Europe, centered around Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Serbian province of Kosovo. Moreover, there is little question but that Tehran (and for that matter, the Osama bin Laden movement) would not have betrayed Zarqawi unless it had alternative plans for the leadership and operations of their terrorist and militant networks in Iraq, North Africa, and Europe.