The men to whom the United States is most beholden for the elimination of al Qaeda’s Iraq chief Abu Musab al Zarqawi are General Mohammed Dahabi, director of Jordan’s General Intelligence Department, and Col. Ali Burjaq, his counterterrorism chief.
They are in charge of the kingdom’s war on al Qaeda, but also responsible for the hundreds of Jordanian agents operating not only in the Iraq border region, but also anonymously alongside US forces fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources disclose that Jordan ranks today as the most vital US military intelligence subcontractor since the American-Soviet Cold War, when Israeli intelligence spearheaded the US penetration of Russia and its East European satellites. On the opposite side, Jordan’s role may be likened to that of the East German HVA secret service, which successfully penetrated western intelligence on behalf of Moscow for many years.
The Americans are funneling many tens of millions of dollars to Amman to feed Gen. Dahabi’s campaign to recruit thousands of young Jordanians for training in guerrilla warfare and, after being scrupulously screened, sent on to Jordanian academies specializing in fighting al Qaeda and other radical Muslim groups. Only a few dozen get this far and are streamed into courses training them to operate in three alternative arenas: Iraq, Afghanistan and General, a field that includes the Muslim countries of the Far East and Central Asia. Some graduates have been posted undercover to Chechnya.
These Jordanian operatives fill essential gaps for US intelligence, especially the CIA. They serve in places where it is necessary to deploy Muslims who fit naturally into prayer meetings in mosques, whose mother tongue is Arabic and whose habits and behavior are those of born Muslims.
After training, they are planted inside the tribes and clans used as transit points for al Qaeda fighters, weapons and intelligence information.
Jordan’s King Abdullah and his intelligence and military chiefs are motivated less by the financial assistance rendered by the United States and more by the awareness that the expanded al Qaeda role in the war in neighboring Iraq places the terrorist threat on their doorstep. Jordan’s border cannot be properly protected from inside the realm. It needs an external buffer. Since 2004, therefore, Jordanian special troops and agents have been deployed under cover in western Iraq. They have penetrated as far as Falluja and Ramadi, north and west of Baghdad, and points as far east as Baquba.
Zarqawi was cornered partly as a result of a Jordanian intelligence sting operation against the head of Zarqawi’s highway robber gang which preys on supply convoys plying the Jordan-Baghdad route, but also through agents planted inside the Jordan-based clan of Zarqawi’s Palestinian wife, the daughter of the Palestinian-Jordanian sheikh, Yasin Jarad.
The al Qaeda chief was wont to correspond with his wife through couriers who brought her replies back to him.
To close the noose around Zarqawi, Jordanian intelligence performed the computerized integration of tracking systems, on line in real time, a method picked up from Israeli intelligence.