The buddy-buddy relationship between American and Israel could falter as it is revealed that Mossad intelligence officers posed as CIA agents in order to recruit and train Iranian terrorists, all unbeknown to US authorities.
American intelligence officials have come clean with details surrounding Israel’s attempt to infiltrate the network of the Iranian terrorist group Jundallah. According to internal memos just released, Washington was initially unaware that agents working for Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, were recruiting Iranian terrorists under the guise that they would be hired and trained by the CIA.
The memos that reveal the CIA’s then discovery of the program come from the last year of the George W Bush administration, and it is unsure if such campaigns still exist overseas today. What is known, however, is that Mossad — who is largely funded by the CIA and typically works hand-in-hand with their American counterpart — did not approach American officials for authorization in fronting as US agents in their attempt to infiltrate Jundallah.
“It’s amazing what the Israelis thought they could get away with,” an intelligence officer speaking on condition of anonymity tells Foreign Policy’s Mark Perry. “Their recruitment activities were nearly in the open. They apparently didn’t give a damn what we thought.”
The account has been confirmed to Foreign Policy by four retired intelligence officers who have either worked with the CIA or in conjunction with Mossad.
The attempt to enter the ranks of Jundallah is arguably warranted for the Israelis, but doing so by training terrorists under the supposed name of America — and then sending them off to kill in the name of America — could largely worsen what relationship, if any, exists between Tehran and Washington. Since its inception in 2003, the Jundallah army has been linked to the massacre of at least 150 Iranians and injuring many more. While American officials have distanced themselves to a degree from hostilities in Iran, specifically shrugging off any allegations that the US has ties to the recent assassination of an Iranian scientist, the reality of this discovery is that Mossad might very well be training Iranian terrorists and then sending them back out into the world with the impression that they are new CIA recruits. If captured during a botched intelligence mission for Mossad, those phony CIA agents could be forced into revealing their “true” identity — with only Israel really aware of the operation.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta denied claims that America was linked to the execution of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, the 32-year-old nuclear scientist, saying, “We have some ideas as to who might be involved…. but I can tell you one thing: The United States was not involved in that kind of effort. That’s not what the United States does.” Speaking for the Israeli Army, Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai wrote on Facebook, “I have no idea who targeted the Iranian scientist but I certainly don’t shed a tear.”
Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has pinned the blame on both Israel and America, however, and told the state’s IRNA news agency, “We will continue our path with strong will … and certainly we will not neglect punishing those responsible for this act.”