The small US special operations team which stormed the farm at al Sukkariya near Abu Kemal in eastern Syrian Sunday, Oct, 26, apparently killed eight people, one of them its main quarry, say DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence and military sources.
They were after Abu Ghadiyah, a Syrian who managed a network funneling fighters, weapons and money into Iraq for the past three years. He was therefore a high-value target for US counter-terror agencies.
US intelligence had been tipped he would be spending some hours at the farm.
The US operation was a success even through Abu Ghadiyah’s Syrian bosses got wind of it in time to rush the East Syrian command near the Iraqi border on the alert 10-15 minutes before the helicopters dropped the US commandos at al Sukkariya.
It was then, at 03:56 hours – minutes before the helicopters landed – that Syrian radar scanning eastern Mediterranean and Lebanese, Iraqi and Israeli skies must have picked up a US spy plane heading east from the Mediterranean in the direction of Iraq via Syria. Later, Syrian intelligence deduced that the US raid had been directed from this flying command center.
The heads-up to the Syrian officers missed the wanted man, although he was a key cog in the military-intelligence structure supporting Damascus’ terrorist activities in Lebanon and Iraq.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources report another discovery from the episode.
Al Qaeda’s cohorts were not the US hunter-team’s objective but the Syrian terror masters working hand in glove with Iraqi Sunni Muslim insurgents.
Recreating a bloodbath in Baghdad
Abu Ghadiyah, a Syrian, had been in US intelligence sights from late July. He was discovered to be working closely with another Syrian of high interest to American counter-terror agencies, General Jama’a Jama’a, commander of the eastern sector of the Syrian-Iraqi border.
The pair had been cooking up an intrigue with Iraqi Sunni insurgent groups, including the Islamic Army and the Mujaheddin Army, which had been established by Saddam Hussein’s Baathists and were still bent on fighting the American army. According to our exclusive sources, Abu Ghadiyah recruited fighters in Syria and Lebanon for the two Iraqi groups and smuggled them into Iraq armed to the teeth with weapons, cash, roadside bombs and explosives.
The Syrian general oversaw every transfer.
This disclosure put a different complexion on the US raid, other than the suggestion by unidentified American officials that its object was a Syrian collaborator with Iraqi al Qaeda. While targeting Abu Ghadiyah, the Americans were in fact also warning Damascus off its latest scheme which is to rekindle the Sunni insurgents’ terrorist campaign in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq. This would plunge the Iraqi capital into a new bloodbath and undo much of the good work achieved by the military surge ordered by President George W. Bush last year.
The message the US raiders relayed from Washington to Damascus was this:
We know what you are up to and have put the prime movers of your scheme on our screens. This time, we are hitting only one of them, but if you continue to dabble in Iraqi terror and insurgency, more of your top people will go.
Gen. Jama’a Jama’a – a checkered biography
The kingpin of Assad’s Iraq venture is also known as Jami Jami, Jamea Kamil, Jamea or Jam’I Jam’I to American intelligence and counter-terror agencies, which list his address as: POB: Jablah, Zama, Syria.
From 2002, Jama’a was the right hand of Rustum Ghazali, commander of Syrian Military Intelligence headquarters in Beirut until Syria’s withdrawal in 2005.
In 2006, the US Department of the Treasury named Jama’a and Maj. Gen. Hisham Ikhtiyar as “Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs), under Executive Order 13338, which aims at financially isolating individuals and entities that directly or significantly contribute to Syria’s support for designated terrorist groups or its military or security presence in Lebanon, or who act for or on behalf of other Syrian SDNs.”
Ikhtiyar was designated for significantly contributing to the Syrian government’s support for designated terrorist organizations including Hizballah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
In his announcement of Aug 15, 2006, Pat O’Brien, the US Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing said: “For decades, Syria has promoted instability and violence in the Middle East. Even after its withdrawal form Lebanon last year, Syria continues to choose destabilization and support for violence over peace in the region. Until Syria takes concrete steps to become a responsible member of the international community, the United States will make known rogue actors supporting the country’s destabilizing agenda.”
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources report that these sanctions were prompted by evidence that Jama’a, while serving at the SMI’s Beirut headquarters, was involved in the planning, organization and execution of the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in Beirut in February, 2005. In those days, Syrian Military Intelligence called the shots in the Lebanese capital.
Syrian involvement in the crime is under UN investigation.
A Syrian foothold in Baghdad
Then, three months ago, our sources report, Jama’a, tagged as “a rogue actor” and SDN, was promoted to the command of Syria’s eastern sector with the rank of full general. US intelligence circles sat up, especially when they saw the decree had been signed by president Assad in person. They began to ask questions. For instance, why was an officer blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist destabilizer, and a known authority on Lebanon with no experience of the eastern sector, suddenly raised to a command which brings him into regular contact with US officers on the Iraqi side of the border?
Close surveillance of Jama’a’s movements, conversations and communications in his new assignment brought to light his covert mission: orchestrating an intelligence penetration of Iraq and seeking out Sunni insurgent groups willing to engage in terrorist operations against US forces in Iraq on orders from Damascus.
This terror revival project was programmed to culminate in the creation of a Syrian foothold in Baghdad to be operational before the US army’s departure.
It was tailored for Jama’a’s special expertise: the organization and manipulation of terrorist groups for furthering Syria’s political goals.