Tehran Strong-arms Jordan for New Arms Smuggling Route to Gaza
Iranian Al Qods Brigades commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani is using the Iraqi agents he has planted in Jordanian sleeper cells to coerce the Hashemite Kingdom into becoming the new hub for the smuggling of arms and rockets into the West Bank and thence to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
This episode offers a cautionary glimpse into the bewildering maze of intersecting routes laid down by al Qods and Iranian Intelligence for smuggling war materiel and subversives over to their extremist allies and surrogates to keep them well-supplied and ticking over.
After the Egyptian and Israeli armies tightened their ground and naval blockades of Gaza to stop supplies reaching Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Jordan came under consideration as a new route.
But now, Soleimeni sprang into action to obey a fresh edict laid down by his master. All Iranian agents were directed to act expeditiously when Tehran found itself in near-total disconnect from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza at an inopportune moment.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini, in a speech delivered Wednesday July 23, said the "Palestinian resistance" movements in the West Bank must be armed to support their compatriots in Gaza and for opening a second front against Israel.
Khamenei stressed the importance of getting shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles to Hamas and Jihad Islami in Gaza as quickly as possible for the next round of violence against Israel.
Jordan under constant Iranian harassment
Tehran’s determination to be involved in the next stage of the Gaza contest has entailed dragging Jordan in as the replacement link to its radical Palestinian allies.
DEBKA Weekly's intelligence and counterterrorism sources say that for some time, Tehran has been stirring up dissent in Jordan to weaken the Hashemite regime and derail its ties with Israel and the US, also using agents to incite radicals to attack the Israeli embassy in Amman.
Iranian handlers have also been using Amman for rendezvous with their clandestine agents in the Palestinian Authority, usually recruited from among the ringleaders of terror operations in the West Bank.
Despite the efforts of Jordanian security bodies, Jordan has served dozens of Palestinians as their secret pathway from the West Bank to Tehran for military training facilities and courses in covert operations run by the Iranian ministry of intelligence – MOIS. The graduates return home and train more such groups.
At some point, the Israeli Shin Bet picked up their trail and arrested some these clandestine travelers.
This didn't stop Gen. Soleimani. He diverted funding and armament operations for his West Bank plants through Hizballah in Lebanon.
Soleimani jumps into bed with Al Qaeda when it suits them both
Tehran mostly operates in Jordan at present through sleeper cells, generally Iraqi Shiites posing as war refugees to infiltrate the kingdom and obtain residential permits.
Jordan’s intelligence services tries to keep track of them and deports the ones they run to earth.
In the past two years, Amman expelled three Iranian diplomats – one publicly, the other two on the quiet.
They were found to be Al Qods Brigades agents operating under diplomatic cover as cultural and economic attachés.
Despite the profound hostility between Shiites and Sunnis, Soleimani is not averse to hooking up with Sunni al Qaeda in places where it suits both their books. This happened twice in Iraq: in 2004-2007 Tehran secretly joined forces with Abu Musa al Zarqawi, the self-styled Al Qaeda commander in Iraq, who was killed by US forces.
Now, the Al Qods chief is making common cause with Abu Bakr al-Baghadi, chief of the Islamic State.
(See the item about IS preparations to invade Saudi Arabia.)
Iran strives to overcome its disconnect from Palestinian extremists
In Jordan, Tehran is scouting about for the same kind of partnership with influential radical Sunni groups in Amman to assist in the transfer of Iranian arms to the West Bank.
Our military sources also report that Al Qods Brigades officers were detected last week on the east bank of the Jordan River, opposite the West Bank, seeking out weak points in the Israeli electronic border fence running down the Israeli-Jordanian border.
Iranian agents have also been mingling with Bedouin tribal chieftains in southern Jordan with tribal and family kin in southern Israel and the Sinai Peninsula, with a view to hitchhiking on their traditional smuggling cross-border networks.
These networks have been relentlessly impaired on the orders of the new Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi to systematically demolish the Sinai tunnels running Iranian supplies to the Gaza Strip and crack down on the Al Qaeda and Salafi Bedouin running them.
Iranian agents posted in Gaza have found it increasingly difficult to slip in and out of Hamas-land. Also contributing to Tehran’s disconnect is the loss of Hizballah as a major link between Tehran and Palestinian terrorist organizations due it its deep military involvement in Syria in the past year. This difficulty was compounded by the Islamic State’s invasion of Lebanon from Syria in the past week.
Using threats to force Jordan to play ball
Mohsan Razai, Secretary of the powerful Expediency Council, who is also an ex-commander of the Revolutionary Guards, said frankly this week that it is up to Iran to supply Hamas with advanced technology for making rockets "with greater accuracy and longer range."
Ali Larijani, Majlis Speaker, admitted last week that Iran was the purveyor of arms manufacturing technology for Hamas. While bragging bout Iran's importance for the Palestinian war on Israel, he aimed to obscure its role as illicit arms supplier to Gaza, which Tehran vehemently denied after two of its arms ships were intercepted by Israel on their way to Gaza.
As a sign of Tehran’s impatience, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of the Basij militia, turned to threats Tuesday August 5: He said, "If the Jordanian government refuses to cooperate in the transfer of weapons to the West Bank, the reign of King Abdullah II will be in peril."
To make sure the threat registered and Jordan started playing ball, the Jordanian embassy in Tehran was beset Monday by rowdy demonstrators.