[FoRK] Punk'd!

Owen Byrne owen at permafrost.net
Sat May 22 07:53:48 PDT 2004

It seems a reasonable conclusion that the entire Iraq war could be 
described as "effectively an Iranian intelligence operation"

  Agency: Chalabi group was front for Iran





May 21, 2004, 7:29 PM EDT

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that a 
U.S.-funded arm of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress has been used 
for years by Iranian intelligence to pass disinformation to the United 
States and to collect highly sensitive American secrets, according to 
intelligence sources.

"Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through 
Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Program 
information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam 
Hussein," said an intelligence source Friday who was briefed on the 
Defense Intelligence Agency's conclusions, which were based on a review 
of thousands of internal documents.

The Information Collection Program also "kept the Iranians informed 
about what we were doing" by passing classified U.S. documents and other 
sensitive information, he said. The program has received millions of 
dollars from the U.S. government over several years.

An administration official confirmed that "highly classified information 
had been provided [to the Iranians] through that channel."

The Defense Department this week halted payment of $340,000 a month to 
Chalabi's program. Chalabi had long been the favorite of the Pentagon's 
civilian leadership. Intelligence sources say Chalabi himself has passed 
on sensitive U.S. intelligence to the Iranians.

Patrick Lang, former director of the intelligence agency's Middle East 
branch, said he had been told by colleagues in the intelligence 
community that Chalabi's U.S.-funded program to provide information 
about weapons of mass destruction and insurgents was effectively an 
Iranian intelligence operation. "They [the Iranians] knew exactly what 
we were up to," he said.

He described it as "one of the most sophisticated and successful 
intelligence operations in history."

"I'm a spook. I appreciate good work. This was good work," he said.

An intelligence agency spokesman would not discuss questions about his 
agency's internal conclusions about the alleged Iranian operation. But 
he said some of its information had been helpful to the U.S. "Some of 
the information was great, especially as it pertained to arresting high 
value targets and on force protection issues," he said. "And some of the 
information wasn't so great."

At the center of the alleged Iranian intelligence operation, according 
to administration officials and intelligence sources, is Aras Karim 
Habib, a 47-year-old Shia Kurd who was named in an arrest warrant issued 
during a raid on Chalabi's home and offices in Baghdad Thursday. He 
eluded arrest.

Karim, who sometimes goes by the last name of Habib, is in charge of the 
information collection program.

The intelligence source briefed on the Defense Intelligence Agency's 
conclusions said that Karim's "fingerprints are all over it."

"There was an ongoing intelligence relationship between Karim and the 
Iranian Intelligence Ministry, all funded by the U.S. government, 
inadvertently," he said.

The Iraqi National Congress has received about $40 million in U.S. funds 
over the past four years, including $33 million from the State 
Department and $6 million from the Defense Intelligence Agency.

In Baghdad after the war, Karim's operation was run out of the fourth 
floor of a secure intelligence headquarters building, while the 
intelligence agency was on the floor above, according to an Iraqi source 
who knows Karim well.

The links between the INC and U.S. intelligence go back to at least 
1992, when Karim was picked by Chalabi to run his security and military 

Indications that Iran, which fought a bloody war against Iraq during the 
1980s, was trying to lure the U.S. into action against Saddam Hussein 
appeared many years before the Bush administration decided in 2001 that 
ousting Hussein was a national priority.

In 1995, for instance, Khidhir Hamza, who had once worked in Iraq's 
nuclear program and whose claims that Iraq had continued a massive bomb 
program in the 1990s are now largely discredited, gave UN nuclear 
inspectors what appeared to be explosive documents about Iraq's program. 
Hamza, who fled Iraq in 1994, teamed up with Chalabi after his escape.

The documents, which referred to results of experiments on enriched 
uranium in the bomb's core, were almost flawless, according to Andrew 
Cockburn's recent account of the event in the political newsletter 

But the inspectors were troubled by one minor matter: Some of the 
techinical descriptions used terms that would only be used by an 
Iranian. They determined that the original copy had been written in 
Farsi by an Iranian scientist and then translated into Arabic.

And the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded the documents were 

Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc. <http://www.newsday.com>

More information about the FoRK mailing list