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CIA Ramps Up Role in Iraq

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  • March 11, 2013, 10:30 p.m. ET

CIA Ramps Up Role in Iraq As al Qaeda Fighters Cross Over From Syria, Agency Fills Void Left by U.S. Military

 

 

By ADAM ENTOUS, JULIAN E. BARNES and SIOBHAN GORMAN

 

WO-AM967_IRAQCI_G_20130311162149.jpg

Associated Press

 

Iraqi forces detain alleged members of al Qaeda in Iraq last year. The CIA is working with some Iraqi units to fight the al Qaeda group.

WASHINGTON—The Central Intelligence Agency is ramping up support to elite Iraqi antiterrorism units to better fight al Qaeda affiliates, amid alarm in Washington about spillover from the civil war in neighboring Syria, according to U.S. officials.

The stepped-up mission expands a covert U.S. presence on the edges of the two-year-old Syrian conflict, at a time of American concerns about the growing power of extremists in the Syrian rebellion.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist network's affiliate in the country, has close ties to Syria-based Jabhat al Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, an opposition militant group that has attacked government installations and controls territory in northern Syria. The State Department placed al Nusra on its list of foreign terror organizations in December, calling the group an alias for al Qaeda in Iraq.

In a series of secret decisions from 2011 to late 2012, the White House directed the CIA to provide support to Iraq's Counterterrorism Service, or CTS, a force that reports directly to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, officials said.

The CIA has since ramped up its work with the CTS—taking control of a mission long run by the U.S. military, according to administration and defense officials. For years, U.S. special-operations forces worked with CTS against al Qaeda in Iraq. But the military's role has dwindled since U.S. troops pulled out of the country at the end of 2011.

The switch to CIA authority will complement other U.S. efforts to counter al Nusra, a former U.S. official said. In Turkey, the CIA has officers working with select rebel groups, U.S. officials said. In Jordan, U.S. special-operations troops are training Jordanian forces in how to deal with Syria's chemical weapons should Damascus lose control of them or use them.

This shift to the CIA in Iraq also is in line with the Obama administration's goal of limiting the U.S. role in the Syrian conflict. The administration is providing nonlethal assistance to the opposition, but refuses to send weapons, in part to avoid aiding extremist elements among rebel forces.

Syrian violence increasingly is spilling into Iraq. Last week, about 50 Syrian soldiers who had sought safety in Iraq from rebel fighters were killed in an ambush on Iraqi territory. Iraqi officials said the attack bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda in Iraq.

U.S. officials saw the attack as an ominous sign of growing collaboration by militants on both sides of the Syria-Iraqi border.

"Right there along the border, they have a potential for a spillover of violence. What we just saw happen there is a reminder it is real. It is not just an imagined threat," a senior defense official said.

U.S. intelligence agencies believe al Qaeda in Iraq has provided a steady stream of fighters to work with al Nusra.

Al Nusra's fighters in recent months took control of a government base and an airfield in northern Syria, among other attacks. The group is seen as the most powerful force in rebel-controlled areas of Syria along the Turkish and Iraqi borders.

During a visit to Washington this month, Faleh al-Fayyad, Iraq's national security adviser, said about 300 Islamist fighters enter Syria each month to fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Some of those fighters are veterans of al Qaeda in Iraq, he said. "The experience that was gained by al Qaeda in Iraq has now started to be deployed in Syria," he said on March 4, referring to fighters, arms and tactics.

But the fighting in Syria also represents a long-term threat to Iraq, U.S. officials say. Some officials say al Nusra will eventually focus its attention on destabilizing the Iraqi government.

"There is certainly the potential, once Assad falls, for al Nusra Front to orient strongly against Iraq," the senior defense official said.

Syria has been a source of contention between the U.S. and Iraqi governments. The Obama administration has called on Mr. Assad to step aside, whereas Iraq has taken a neutral stance. But officials say Washington and Baghdad see eye to eye on the threat posed by al Nusra and al Qaeda in Iraq.

Iraq's Counterterrorism Service is made up of elite units that used to be part of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Iraqi Ministry of Interior. They include SWAT-like units and U.S.-trained Iraqi special forces.

However, Iraq's ability to use intelligence to quickly build effective operations against militants has deteriorated since the U.S. pulled its forces from Iraq at the end of 2011, the senior U.S. defense official said.

Shifting the relationship from the military to CIA will allow the U.S. to covertly help Iraq build up the effectiveness of its counterterrorism operations, the official said.

"This relationship is focused on supporting the Iraqis to deal with terrorist threats within their borders, and not about ramping up unilateral operations" by the U.S. military or CIA, a senior Obama administration official said of the U.S. move to heighten the CIA's involvement.

The shift to a CIA-lead in Iraq has been gradual, in part because some in the military were reluctant to halt the work, according to current and former officials.

Top policy makers at the White House first sought to shift responsibility for the Counterterrorism Service from the Pentagon to the CIA in a decision in November 2011.

U.S. military officials in Iraq continued to do some limited work with CTS units and had sought authority from Congress allowing military personnel and contractors to train and advise the CTS, according to congressional officials.

Concerned the Pentagon was creeping into areas that were off-limits following the U.S. troop withdrawal, the White House in November 2012 issued another order reinforcing the CIA's role, the senior administration official said.

Senior defense officials, disputing that characterization, said the military always worked within guidance set by the White House and collaborated with the CIA in Iraq.

Defense officials accepted the switch, adding it could be reversed in the future if Iraqis decide they want a larger U.S. military presence. "If this is how Iraqis are comfortable with it, if this is the way our side thinks it can be done best, then frankly the ownership is less important than the reality of helping them fighting the enemy," the senior defense official said.

About 220 U.S. military personnel in Iraq now work for the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq, which coordinates military sales and provides some training. Once additional military sites are closed down, the number of U.S. military personnel in Iraq will drop to around 130, defense officials said.

The CIA also has been working to downsize in Iraq, and began preparing last year for a reduction to 40% of wartime levels, when Baghdad was the CIA's largest station in the world, officials said, with more than 700 agency personnel.

 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324735304578354561954501502.html

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***///

 

CIA, some snipers, a coupla squads of soldiers-of-fortune,

 

The A-Team, The Mod Squad, those 2 guys from C.H.I.P.S.,

 

Foxy Brown, James Bond, The Hulk, Mothra, TeenagedMutantNinjaTurtles,

 

who-ever and what-ever.....

 

Just clean it up over there, folks.... and quick.

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***///

 

CIA, some snipers, a coupla squads of soldiers-of-fortune,

 

The A-Team, The Mod Squad, those 2 guys from C.H.I.P.S.,

 

Foxy Brown, James Bond, The Hulk, Mothra, TeenagedMutantNinjaTurtles,

 

who-ever and what-ever.....

 

Just clean it up over there, folks.... and quick.

 

Don't forget Rocket. J. Squirrel! and Bullwinkle!

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when you think of cia  and covert operations  i see drones

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***///

Yuh... that's the ticket...!  Those Canadian Crusaders for Justice, too....!  :twothumbs: 

What Canadian Crusaders? Rocky and Bullwinklle hale from Frostbite Falls, MN.

 

Only Canadian superheroes I can recall are Wolverine, Captian Canuck and Alpha Flight....

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***///

When we were in Grand Forks, NoDak,

a Canadian guy from Winnepeg told us they were originally from Canada..... :confused2:  :lol:  :wave:  :lmao:

And having never seen a moose in Grand Forks, we believed him!

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That is some funnt sh#t sarg.made my day.thanks

***///

 

CIA, some snipers, a coupla squads of soldiers-of-fortune,

 

The A-Team, The Mod Squad, those 2 guys from C.H.I.P.S.,

 

Foxy Brown, James Bond, The Hulk, Mothra, TeenagedMutantNinjaTurtles,

 

who-ever and what-ever.....

 

Just clean it up over there, folks.... and quick.

Share this post


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***///

 

CIA, some snipers, a coupla squads of soldiers-of-fortune,

 

The A-Team, The Mod Squad, those 2 guys from C.H.I.P.S.,

 

Foxy Brown, James Bond, The Hulk, Mothra, TeenagedMutantNinjaTurtles,

 

who-ever and what-ever.....

 

Just clean it up over there, folks.... and quick.

 

 

 

 

SGT.-----YOU FORGOTT THE AVENGERS

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****////

 

Charles Bronson..hell yuh!  :cigar:  The Avengers - oh, how civilised! O.K...... :tiphat:

 

 

Chuck Norris...?  Naw, he's busy punching kittens over at Ted Nugents place..... :lol:

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when you think of cia  and covert operations  i see drones

When I think of CIA I think here we go again FUBAR

 

No Surrender No Retreat and No Compromise

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