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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Doing the same thing and expecting a different result

Abu Mazen has reason to smile.

During the heyday of the 'Oslo accords,' CIA director George Tenet provided weapons and training to the 'Palestinian police.'
The fact that the CIA trained a man such as Jihad Jaara is hardly surprising. For almost ten years, the American government has been engaged in a series of hopelessly misguided endeavors designed to train and fund the Palestinian security services, an initiative which can be deemed, politely, as a dismal failure.

Tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars have simply disappeared into the covert bank accounts of corrupt Palestinian officials, while CIA-trainers recklessly lent their considerable combat expertise to fanatics such as Jaara.

The misguided attempt began in 1996, when the CIA led an effort - engineered by then deputy director George Tenet - to train the Palestinian authorities in anti-terror tactics.

The initiative was secretly authorized by President Clinton, who later signed a Presidential order sanctioning the expansion of the program to include chaperoned tours of the CIA and FBI headquarters buildings for Palestinian security chiefs. The covert training and funding operation continued over the next two years, existing wholly outside of the public's view.

In 1998, President Clinton - anxious to cement his legacy as Middle East peacemaker - pushed for an expanded and formalized security assistance effort which would be included as a provision in the Wye River agreement.

While the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was initially reluctant to accept such an idea, Clinton managed to browbeat the Israeli delegation into compliance, an acquiescence which ensured the continuation and growth of the formerly covert training program.

In doing so, the President ignored the warnings of several veteran Israeli counter-terrorist officials, who repeatedly warned their American counterparts that several high-ranking Palestinian terrorists such as Al-Aqsa Brigades leader Nasser Awis were simultaneously serving as senior security officials in the Palestinian Authority, with responsibility for conducting counter-terrorist operations.

Within months of the Wye agreement, the first Palestinian trainees arrived aboard U.S. government aircraft. Their training regimen was rigorous, far superior to the domestic 'boot camps' offered by the Palestinian government or terrorist groups.

The Palestinian units were ferried to various military installations, where they were given advanced small-arms training on firing ranges normally used by the U.S. Army and special forces units. Additionally, the recruits were taught how to effectively protect high-value targets and 'motorcade operations,' skills that could easily be transferred into protecting terrorist leaders from Israeli capture.

Many of the former CIA trainees turned terrorists have since praised the CIA course, including Jaara, who made a point to extol the CIA's 'shooting' course.

Perhaps most disturbingly, however, was that the Palestinian officers were given 'interrogation' training, which, in the hands of those who work in the espionage services of groups such as Fatah, could prove extremely valuable.

American officials reasoned that - emboldened by their new training - Palestinian authorities would immediately and aggressively crack down on terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who were consistently breaking ceasefire agreements during the late 1990s.

To the U.S. government's dismay, many of the Palestinian security officers quickly joined or began aiding the very terrorist groups which they had been trained to combat.

Security personnel were also observed transferring arms and their American training to militia groups such as the Tanzim, which was led by convicted terrorist Marwan Barghuti.

Indicative of the Clinton administration's staggering ignorance over this issue was a class of 18 Palestinians brought to a top-secret location near CIA headquarters in 1998 for a course in 'anti-terrorist techniques'.

American officials failed to realize, however, that most of the men hailed from cities where militant infiltration of the police forces was acute, such as Nablus.

Not surprisingly, as detailed in the San Francisco Chronicle, several of the students went on to become some of the most dangerous terrorists in the Palestinian territories, including the infamous Khaled Abu Nijmeh, who used his CIA training to supervise multiple suicide bombings in 2001 and 2002 in Bethlehem.

More than half of the original class of 18 went on to become fighters in the Al-Aqsa brigades.

Beginning in 1999, Israeli government officials began suggesting that the American training effort be scaled back, in order to better judge its overall effectiveness. In addition, Prime Minister Ehud Barak complained to the White House that Yasser Arafat was using his seemingly close relations with the CIA to bolster his negotiating position, which had become increasingly aggressive.

Tel Aviv's requests fell on deaf ears in Washington, which stubbornly clung to the pipe dream that Arafat's police forces would - given enough American aid and training - eventually confront the various militant organizations.

This expectation was abruptly dashed during the intifada of 2000, in which large numbers of Palestinian police joined militant groups in fighting the Israeli Defense Force.

The sight of Palestinian police stripping off their uniforms and engaging in raging street battles with Israeli forces became commonplace. At the same time, the Palestinian authorities failed miserably to curtain the actions of terrorist organizations, who operated with total impunity inside the territories.
Sounds like a smashing success doesn't it? Read the whole thing.

Guess what? US Lieutenant General Keith Dayton and Ehud K. Olmert want to try it again.
Israel is considering authorizing the transfer of millions of bullets and thousands of Kalashnikov rifles from Egypt to forces in the Gaza Strip loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Officials said that while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's scheduled meeting with Abbas in Jericho on Thursday was canceled, Israel was still considering allowing the transfer of the weaponry to Abbas's Force 17 "Presidential Guard," as part of efforts to strengthen Fatah in face of the growing Hamas threat in Gaza.

High-ranking defense officials told the Post Wednesday that security chiefs in Abbas's office passed on a "weapons shopping list" to Gen. Keith Dayton, the US security coordinator to Israel and the Gaza Strip, in the middle of May, asking for millions of bullets and thousands of rifle magazines, hand grenades and Kalashnikov automatic rifles.

The officials said Dayton then passed the list on to the Egyptians, who would need to provide the arms and ammunition, as well as to Israel's Defense Ministry, which would need to authorize the transfer.

The defense officials said that Dayton personally recommended that Israel permit the weapons supply. Two weeks ago, in testimony before the House Subcommittee on the Middle East in Washington, Dayton stressed the importance of American efforts to bolster forces loyal to Fatah and said further help was necessary.

"We are entering a rough patch," Dayton said in reference to the recent escalation in factional fighting in Gaza, "but all is not lost and our regional partners share that sentiment. However, it is critical that those who support the legitimate authority and forces represented by President Abbas receive the critical assistance they need."
Albert Einstein is known to have quipped that insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Both the Israeli and American governments are truly insane.

For those who have forgotten him, here is a little bit about Jihad Jaara:
Jaara lived a double life as an officer in the Palestinian Preventative Security Force and an al-Aqsa operative. While serving as a Palestinian security officer, he masterminded countless violent actions against both Israelis and Americans, including the January 2002 murder of Avi Boaz (a seventy-two year old American citizen in Bethlehem) and a suicide bombing that killed eleven in that same year. In March 2002, Jaara was among those taking refuge in the Church of Nativity, one of Christianity's holiest sites, during the forty day siege there following the Israeli reoccupation of the West Bank. This terrorist action spawned international attention. Jaara was permitted to leave Bethlehem and resettle in Ireland under the condition that he assure Irish authorities in charge of monitoring him that have would have no further involvement in terrorist activities.

Irish intelligence officials, who denied NBC's requests for an interview, affirm they have intensified surveillance on Jaara after he left the country under a fake passport in 2003 for a meeting in Spain with other suspected militants. Spanish authorities detained Jaara and shipped him back to Ireland only after he "rang the leader of (Spanish) security and told him, 'I am Jihad and I am now in Spain.'" This is not the first time Jaara has taunted the authorities. He previously has not only bragged to Newsweek about his role in the murder of Boaz, he has also allowed BBC camera crews to follow and film him as he fired into an unsuspecting Jewish neighborhood.

According to Jaara, he acquired much of his operational expertise -- "especially for shooting" -- in CIA counterterrorism training courses he took as a Palestinian security officer.
More on Jaara and the Church of the Nativity seizure here.

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