An investigation by The New York Times and Al Jazeera found that millions of dollars-worth of weapons sent to Jordan intended for U.S.-backed Syrian groups were routinely stolen in a scheme by Jordanian operatives.  This investigation “highlights the messy, unplanned consequences of programs to arm and train rebels — the kind of program the C.I.A. and Pentagon have conducted for decades,” the Times wrote.

Jordanian officials told the news organizations that a group of Jordanian intelligence operatives siphoned off truckloads of weapons before delivering them to their intended destinations.  After complaints from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, several dozen Jordanian intelligence officers were reportedly arrested and fired from their posts but were able to keep pensions and money they made from the scheme.

The stolen weapons were sold to arms traffickers on the black market.  U.S. and Jordanian investigators do not know where most of the arms went, reviving fears that the deadly military-grade black market weapons could have ended up in the hands of criminal networks and extremist groups outside the country.  Some of the stolen arms include Kalashnikov assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

The operatives in the powerful Jordanian intelligence service, the General Intelligence Directorate, or GID. Intelligence operatives subsequently sold these arms on the black market, and used the money to buy expensive luxury items like SUVs and iPhones, according to Jordanian officials.

These weapons have been traced to at least one attack — a shooting at a police training facility in Jordan’s capital, Amman. The FBI is presently investigating an attack in November in which a Jordanian police captain killed two American contractors, two Jordanians and one South African. U.S. investigators traced the serial numbers of the weapons used in the attack to those provided by the CIA for Syrian rebels.

The training program for Syrian rebels, code named Timber Sycamore was approved by the Obama Administration in April 2013 with the goal of trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad.  The program is largely armed and funded by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.  It was launched in 2013 and relies heavily on Jordan forces to transport the weapons shipments.

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are the biggest contributors to Timber Sycamore. The Saudi regime provides weapons and large sums of money. The Times notes that “C.I.A. paramilitary operatives take the lead in training the rebels to use Kalashnikovs, mortars, antitank guided missiles and other weapons.”

In their present arrangement, the CIA and allied Arab intelligence agencies buy weapons in bulk primarily in Eastern Europe, especially the Balkans, and hand these over to Jordanian intelligence, which then transfers the arms to Syrian rebels.

 

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