The violence in Iraq is seeping across the border into Jordan. Deep concern about this was voiced by King Abdullah during his conversations in the White House this week with President George W. Bush and top administration officials, including secretary of state-designate Condoleezza Rice.
The monarch showed his hosts intelligence reports of two suicide bombings along the Iraq-Jordan frontier on Friday, December 3. In the first blast, an explosives-laden car blew up near the Iraqi Trebil border crossing killing two American soldiers at a US army facility. A second bomb vehicle driven by two Iraqis was discovered in time at the Karameh crossing just before it was due to explode alongside a fuel tanker convoy about to leave Jordan and enter Iraq.
The two Iraqis were detained. They revealed under interrogation that Iraqi and Syrian guerrillas had especially trained a large suicide contingent for attacks on US and Jordanian military and strategic targets.
What worried King Abdullah and the Bush government most was the discovery in the Iraqi Sunni towns of Fallujah and Baqouba of unmarked, primed-to-explode charges containing global positioning signal receivers. It was the first time a GPS receiver has been found in the course of the global war against terror. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military experts estimate that the devices had not been in Iraq for long, no more than a few weeks.
The GPS receiver’s great advantage for a terrorist is that it can be planted anywhere on earth and detonated from any distance by a satellite phone signal. Satellite phones are a dime a dozen among guerrilla fighters in Baghdad, Fallujah and Baqouba. Dialing-an-explosion will save an insurgent from having to wait in ambush for the right moment to set off a blast – sometimes for days on end. With GPS, he can use his cell phone to send a signal to the bomb’s built-in receiver from a lone lookout – with no risk of discovery.
Suicide attackers could be made redundant because Al Qaeda operatives no longer need to be present to detonate a bomb. They can plant explosive devices charged with GPS receivers in crowded railway stations, markets or office buildings – and cross the nearest border out of harm’s way before sending the detonation signal. Small, local intelligence cells and lookout men can do the work of large logistical networks.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly reports that, according to documents found in Fallujah, information from captured guerrillas and inspections of satellite and cell phones seized in the city, an unknown number of GPS-primed bombs were smuggled from Syria – probably by Baath exiles directing hostilities in Iraq from outside – to rebel forces, who were given telephone numbers to call in and around Damascus.
But US intelligence specialists who examined the devices do not believe they were assembled in Syria. “The work is highly professional and the bombs and receivers must have been put together by a fully-equipped national military industry or a high-tech laboratory outfitted for the use of a national intelligence service,” one specialist said. “We don’t know how they came to be in Syria.”
Baathist and Syrian agents overrunning region
King Abdullah additionally voiced deep concern on another matter: Iraqi Baathist-Syrian agents are overrunning Iraq and Jordan and fanning out across the Middle East, he charged.
He was astonished to find in the talks he and his intelligence chiefs held with Sunni leaders in Iraq and in exile that few US secrets of the most sensitive nature were unknown to Baath officials in Iraq or the Saddam loyalists waging the guerrilla war against the Americans.
The king stated definitely that US and Iraqi military structures in Iraq were compromised from top to bottom, penetrated by an army of Iraqi double agents working not only for the Baathists but also for al Qaeda’s Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi as well as Syrian and Iranian intelligence.
He warned that legions are swarming through Baghdad’s Green zone, the heavily fortified seat of US military headquarters, the American embassy and the interim Iraqi interim government, as well as the CIA station in Baghdad.
This station is the biggest CIA residency in the Middle East and is staffed by some 1,000 agents.
Therefore, however successful large-scale US campaigns are in the rebel hotbeds of Najef, Sadr City and Fallujah, a strategic victory in Iraq continues to be elusive. As their bases are destroyed, the insurgents escape extinction by burrowing deeper underground to continue their fight against US forces. In more than a year of combating terrorists, the US military has successfully eradicated only one group — Moqtada Sadr‘s radical Shiite Mehdi Army militia. But even that victory was facilitated by the intervention of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Iraq’s Sunni Muslims are short of a leader able to convert a US military success into a strategic victory.
In his meetings with US congressmen, King Abdullah focused on what he perceived as the danger of Iranian intervention in Iraq’s January 30 Iraqi election. He alleged that Tehran had smuggled one million Iranians under cover into Iraq, disguised either with phony Iraqi identity cards or by blending in with Iraqi Shiite relatives. Their function was to constitute a decisive voting bloc to swing the general election around in Tehran’s favor.
This charge did not go down very well with the American lawmakers. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources in Washington report that to Capitol Hill, Abdullah’s figures appeared inflated. Their verdict was that even if Iran has been able to pour this many agents of voting age into Iraq, they could scarcely establish a pro-Iranian party able to contest Sistani’s bloc.