It has undeniably been the talk of the town here in Amman, to say nothing of the local virtual spheres; an interesting contrast to the local mainstream media that has remained relatively hush-hush about the death of Sharif Ali bin Zaid. Initial reports suggested that eight people had died in a suicide attack, which was deemed the worst attack on US intelligence in over 25 years (or since Hizballah attacked the Beirut’s US embassy in ’83) ; but that number suddenly became seven. It seemed to take little time before a Jordanian connection was made, and reports surfaced that Captain Ali bin Zaid – a distant member of the royal family given his designation of “sharif” – had been the eight victim of the attack. Buried in Jordan on January 2nd, in a funeral attended by HM King Abdullah and HM Queen Rania, the story seemed to go bust locally, with his mission being deemed a “humanitarian” one by the press and then put to rest quite literally. End of story.
It took less than 48 hours later for more information to emerge that the suicide bomber was Jordanian. In Amman, everyone seemed to have seen this piece of information scrawl across the screen of an Al Jazeera news ticker. Al Jazeera’s information was coming from a Taliban spokesperson, and this news was, naturally, quickly denied by the Jordanian government, which, naturally, spoke too soon.
The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA operatives in Afghanistan last week was a Jordanian informant who lured intelligence officers into a trap by promising new information about al-Qaeda’s top leadership, former U.S. government officials said Monday. The attacker, a physician-turned-mole, had been recruited to infiltrate al-Qaeda’s senior circles and had gained the trust of his CIA and Jordanian handlers with a stream of useful intelligence leads, according to two former senior officials briefed on the agency’s internal investigation. His track record as an informant apparently allowed him to enter a key CIA post without a thorough search, the sources said.
The bomber, identified as Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, was standing just outside an agency building on the base Wednesday when he exploded a bomb hidden under his clothes, killing the seven Americans along with a Jordanian officer who had been assigned to work with him. Six CIA operatives were wounded. [source]
Apparently, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, was a 36-year old doctor from Zarqa. Of course it didn’t take long for the international media to remember that Zarqa was the hometown of Musab Zarqawi. Remember him?
Interestingly enough, Balawi was “turned” after being arrested in 2007 for his activities on an extremist website that was being monitored by authorities. Balawi became an administrator of the site where he operated under the screen name of Abu Dujana al-Khorasani. Moreover, he was also a Jordanian blogger who according to sources, had a Maktoob-hosted blog that seems to still be accessible but seems to have had its archives flushed.
According to sources, Balawi was a trusted informant despite his extremist tendencies, which were probably the same tendencies the CIA and Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID) were using to their advantage when they used him as an informant with Al Queda’s circles. It is however astonishing that both the CIA and GID, despite the notoriety of both intelligence entities in their field, were duped by this one man they had working for them, who turns out was a triple agent. It is very likely that Jordan will be given its share of the blame for its responsibility in arresting, turning and bringing Balawi to the attention of the CIA in the first place. But, even more embarrassing for Jordan is it’s CIA connection, which while relatively well-known before, has now been put out in the public sphere for all to see – especially the Arab street. The Jordanian government will likely go on as if nothing ever happened, believing that Jordanians have no access to information, but being that we live in the information age where practically every Jordanian household has Al Jazeera and a million other channels, this is one piece of information that isn’t going to be kept quiet.
This is, of course, a subject that the state considers to be the very definition of a “red line”. I assume most journalists will be avoiding the issue like the plague, lest they be charged with the notoriously overused “attempting to harm the state’s relations” charge. However, the problem with such a charge, at least this time around, is that it seems the GID has done a pretty good job of doing the “harming” all by itself. It is the very definition of shooting oneself in the foot.
The repercussions are akin to opening Pandora’s Box. Jordan has lost tremendous face and what little political capital it had in a region where pretty much every country has a CIA connection they keep quite. Moreover, they have given both Al Queda as well as Jordanians with extremist tendencies, a hero – a martyr to admire. Before the 2005 bombings in Amman, Jordanians were somewhat split on their views of Zarqawi – who was seen by some as a man fighting Americans invading Arab lands, and by others as a man killing innocent people and instigating sectarian strife in Iraq. After the bombings, the perceptions seemed to shift more so towards the latter, although not completely. Yes, even after the bombings in Amman, many did conclude that Jordan gets what it pays for, i.e. by being perceived as a close ally of the US, it is deemed a supporter of its policies and thus a legitimate target by extremist forces. This perceptions has continued to exist to this day.
However, Balawi’s story will only serve to solidify that perception further, taking it to unprecedented heights, where he will undoubtedly be perceived by the Jordanian public as a man who managed to deal an enormous blow to one of the most despised entities in the world, the CIA (from a Jordanian perspective) – to say nothing of Jordanian intelligence (who do not enjoy much love either) who were caught red handed working with the CIA. Not only will Balawi serve as the ultimate poster boy for extremist factions within Jordanian society and beyond it, but he will have empowered groups that look to the Jordanian state as a legitimate target. And as seen on November 9th, 2005, it is innocent citizens who tend to pay the highest price.
With all this in mind, with this mess that the GID has helped create, a mess that has damaged our country’s reputation locally, regionally and globally – is it even conceivable that any Jordanian would be held accountable for talking about this issue out loud? For debating it? For questioning it?
Unfortunately, the answer that question is a resounding ‘yes’.
Nevertheless, if one is to take anything away from this story as it continues to unfold, it is the fact that Jordan must not only be forthright with its citizens – now more than ever – but that it is also perhaps time to re-examine the costs and benefits of any relationship the state has with the CIA. Naturally, there are elements to such stories we, the greater public, are not privy to, but that is the very point here: being kept in the dark. While national security is a delicate subject, the public has the right to know what is being done in the name of their security and well-being. They have the right to know the cost it comes with. They have a right to question it. Especially with the knowledge that there is much more at stake than mere security when it comes to the GID’s CIA connection. Massive US-driven economic aid to Jordan is just one of the many things that come with a hefty price tag.
The Jordanian public should be made aware of the cost.
And for that matter, so should the Jordanian state.
The former does not require revealing massive state secrets but rather providing necessary information to the public. While the latter is a self-examination I doubt the state is even capable of at this point.
Finally! The black Iris ( Tarawneh) decided to discuss politics in Jordan ! congratulations . I was wondering when you will write about a (HOT) subject not a (SAFE) subject i.e crimes of honor . Your blog is popular and can create a nice debate so please keep up the good work . Maybe you should try writing in Arabic it will do the debate much good.
About time u guys wrtie about this stuff instead of fluffy articles i could care less about! havent come to ur website in a long time until Ali Abunimeh posted ur link! excellent
The handling of the issue by the authorities is a bigger failure than the security failure on the part of the CIA,well, no thats a bit extreme, bit IMHO someone up there should be held accountable for such PR mess.
Fighting alqaeda and islamic extremism is a legitimate cause being undermined by the secrecy and the bad handling of the issue by the authorities. It is as if someone is intentionally underminig the regime’s image-locally-by hiding and lying about readilly available iformation. Or maybe the majority are sympathizers and apologists to the terrorists and their extreme ideology? if so then our problem is much deeper than a PR or sting opertation failure. Other options include but aren’t limited to: some people are utterly incompetent and/or plain stupid; the regime doesn’t care about PR because the P in the PR are imbeciles; we have institutional-level problems where the “state” interests are in contrast with the real state interests.
On a side note, do the authorities ever consider the “unintended” consequences of their actions? The fact that-god forbid- there will be a retaliation on the jordanian soil? The fact that using extremist “informants” and enabling them whether locally or abroad may allow them to intentionally and unintentionally radicalize more members of the society?
mohanned thats exactly what I just told my friend! took thw words outta my mouth..Does the govt know what they are gettin themselves into? are they not afraid this will create hositility towards jordan by the people inside and utside of jordan????
I don’t know if I should speak on behalf of Jordanians or just myself here, but I gotta say I am NOT stupid. Please do not insult my intelligence as a citizen.
It would save face to have the government speak openly about this. No more harm can be done. Al Jazeera and New York Times coverage are very biased/ one-sided and it angers me.
Citizen journalism has proved yet again to be stronger and more reliable than mainstream. The world is advancing, let’s advance with it.
@zeid @sarah: uh, thank you?
@mohanned: this is a question i’ve often grappled with, and i’m sure its crossed most jordanian minds at one point or another. we can conclude one of three things: either the state does not care, the state is not aware, or the state feels it can control the situation. to clarify, by the state here i mean the mukhabarat (GID) and/or greater security establishment.
the most reasonable conclusion of the three, based on precedence, is that it is the latter: they feel they can control it. what this generally means is, like many things in the national security world, they take a risk, however bold it may be, and hope for a positive outcome. being the mukhabarat – an entity that even by its worst enemies is classified as being one of the best intelligence agencies in the world – i assume their ability and skill when it comes to controlling things is spectacular, and we can also safely assume that Jordan is a country that receives an endless amount of threats that the mukhabarat is able to successfully obliterate. in other words, like all security agencies, its successes are typically private and its failures are typically public. in this case, they were tragically public in an unprecedented way. and given the growing complexities of global terrorism to say nothing of the expanding information age, such PR messes are destined to happen in the future (unless a re-examination of state policies occurs).
whatever the case may be, at the end of the day, the people remain the pawns in this chess game, which while generally safeguarded by higher orders, tend to end up being sacrifices.
Jordan since its founding was like this and always will be…Hitler f’d the Jews and gave birth to Israel..Israel f’d the Palestinians and gave birth to Jordan…US f’d Iraq and strengthened Jordan…Israel f’d Lebanon and strengthened Jordan…western ammanis in control… trying too hard to be cool drinking at starbucks..the saga continues…
I must be obtuse, because I don’t even get why there has been shock and drama (well, aside from the obvious fact that people got killed, I guess). Everyone everywhere works with the CIA. Maybe I’m just jaded, or whatever, but this whole connection doesn’t strike me as news-worthy.
Anyway, one of these days, China will rule the world, and then everyone will be like, “come back, America, all is forgiven.” Or so a wise man I know says. 😉
Having said that, excellent blog post, Nas. It’s good to have you back.
but I dont want the consequences of their failures to blow up in our faces! All this combined with the economic downturn, the high unemplyment rate of the shabab, the ever so increasing living expenses will be a disaster waiting to happen… they need to rethink their actions, I dont want the people of jordan to pay the price for actions that the citizens will not be proud of.. I lived in jordan for 5 years and find it one of the safest countries to live in and raise my child in, but if shit like this keeps popping up I will rethink my living arranegements as well….with the situation in Gaza, iraq and afghanistan ; Jordan has to lay low because whether they like it or not the Jordanians are sympathetic to the people of those countries, radicalists will take advantage of this sympathy and who knows what can happen…
There is never, EVER a discussion about these things where the West Ammanis are not brought up, haha.
I miss the Starbucks in Abdoun, actually. It had excellent internet. Say what you want about the coffee, which isn’t great, and way over-priced…
Ya lateef. @@
Nassim, Many thanks for this article and I agree with Zeid that you need to start writing more about Politics, we are in the Middle East after all, we have politics for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between.
@AMAR – I would love to hear more from you about Al Jazeera and New York Times coverage which you described as ‘very biased/ one-sided’.
@BARRY – Great contribution!!!! i just want to ask you something, are you living in Jordan or have you ever lived in Jordan? Your comments indicates that you are from another planet, maybe PANDORA
The fact that you and many others ,including me, still can’t grasp what “the state” means is another indication that there is something foundationally wrong with innerworkings of “the state”. Are we a police state in the literal meaning? Maybe not, but psychologically I can safely say that we do create that police state in our minds and live it, thus enabling the powers that be and “the state” to control our lives,simply because we fear the “unkown” be it prosecution or whatever. This state of numbness has to end.
Rana sabagh wrote an excellent piece a while ago about the need of a strategic planning entity that has the ability to redefine “the red lines” so that such redlines are in line with the longevity of JORDAN the country. Strategic planning and the policies that are put to implement such strategies should put the interests of the PEOPLE first.
Nassim, many thanks for the analysis and commentary and I agree with Zeid that you need to write more about political issues, this is the Middle East After all and we have politics for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in between snacks…
@AMAR – I would love to hear more about how ‘Al Jazeera and New York Times coverage is very biased/ one-sided’.
@BARRY – Great commentary by the way ..!!! I am just wondering, did you ever visit Jordan or lived in Jordan, because you sound like someone from another planet, Maybe PANDORA?!
It’s a shame that you would desecrate the memory of a Jordanian solider and write a “seemingly objective and deep article, when the truth is you’re barking up the wrong tree.. Remember the attacks of 11/9?
Also, did you really, truly, believe that the Jordanian GID was not cooperating with the CIA? It’s generally regarded as one of the better trained and more effective intelligence units, and our country wouldn’t exist without the political acumen of our leaders.
And finally, you claim to not fall prey to the populist media and yet you seem to believe that this is a war against islam. When, in jordan, where moslims taught to hate anyone else? It’s a religion of peace, equality and tolerance that was robbed by some self-serving “jihdaists” who prey on ignorant, uneducated idiots with a promise a better “after-life”, no evidence of anything provided beyond their interpretation of the religion they abuse.
So, for the sake of the dead, have some respect. it’s a time for the country to come together in the face of an enemy that has attacked us, we didn’t attack them…
I think the underlying problem is -accountability-, without a real legislative branch in the state there can never be accountability. The State (be it the monarchy, the government, or the mokhabarat) does not care what individuals like you and me think, because we have no power and no clout.
In a real democracy, this issue would be discussed in the National Security Committee in the parliament, where heads of involved agencies and ministries would be brought in for questioning and testimony. That of course would require a -real- parliament, with representatives chosen based on merit and political leanings rather than we all know what.
The sad reality is this won’t happen unless The State decides to give us, the people, these rights, and I just don’t see that happening any time soon. Don’t count on the people asking for these rights, or working towards achieving them. Look at all the online Jordanian news sites; thousands of comments on this story to offer condolences for the departed, and not a single word about mokhabarat-CIA connection.
I’m not optimistic at all.
there was a great article in al-akhbar newspaper about this today …
im glad u wrote this nas about nas cuz honestly when i saw the story today morning i was like i wonder if hes gona write about that .. lol im serious .. so im glad that u did ..
my take on this is that the arab (i say arab and not jordanian cuz lets be honest everyones doin their part) .. that the arab-cia connection is not some revelation .. i think most ppl have known about it for a long time … to me the biggest thing about this story is that up till now it was like alqaeda is inflitrated and its getting weak and whatever .. and now they come up with this huge blow that shows u know they got some game too .. this is a major blow to the cia and gid two institutions which are u know considered two of the best at what they do … so theyve pissed off the monster big time and it will be interesting to see what the reaction will be … to me thats the significance of the story … but talkin about like what we’re in bed with the cia GASP .. come on .. you really didnt know?
btw barry’s comment was hilarious 😀
As an American and a very long time resident of Jordan (almost 35 years!), my question is: why wasnt the guy searched (and everyone else) when they entered this base?
Falling empire, falling fast….
Thanks for broaching the topic. It’s all over the press here in Washington, and as soon as I got to my office, I checked Alghad and Ammon News to see what they have to say about it… Naive of me to think that these “independent” news sources would even come near the “red line” you mentioned, but the story was nowhere to be found. Apparently, Ammon thinks the story about the PM asking gov agencies to add the official photo of the 15-yr old crown prince in their offices is more important. And Alghad is reporting on the very important issue of the Royal Court thanking the public for offering condolences on the death of bin Zeid. What a shame…
Oh wait, looks like Ammon decided to join the rest of the international media and cover the story… but to stay on the safe side, they are mainly quoting a Jordanian official who is defending the use of al-Balawi as an informant and STILL denying that he was the suicide bomber!
@Natalia: what you say is probably true. however, the point of this news was not so much the fact that we were all surprised to learn that the GID works with the CIA. as i pointed out in the post, this is assumed by the public in any case. but, it is obviously not a relationship the jordanian state is crazy about announcing to the world, specifically this region, specifically to the arab street, and even more specifically to the jordanian street. it is a relationship they have gone to great lengths to keep hidden. to a large extent, i think people were ok with this relationship as long as it didn’t come back to bite us in the rear, or what we like to call, the fdee7a, public humiliation.
@sara: i agree that a re-examination is necessary and i believe that starts with a public dialog.
@mohanned; i agree with you, as well as rana sabbagh’s recommendation. (i remember reading that piece)
i don’t see how i, or anyone else who has posted thus far, has desecrated the memory of this or any jordanian soldier. we are attempting to ask honest questions in order to find honest solutions, the heart of which I believe begins with public dialog.
i never said i believed that, in fact, if anything, i said the exact opposite when i defined that connection in the context of this evolving story:
“But, even more embarrassing for Jordan is itâ€™s CIA connection, which while relatively well-known before, has now been put out in the public sphere for all to see – especially the Arab street. “
i never said that, nor do i believe it to be true, nor did i mention islam in my entire post.
I agree. However, there are extremist factions within Jordanian society. This is an undeniable fact and anyone who claims otherwise is either a liar or a fool – probably both.
i have not shown any signs of disrespect, but you are entitled to your opinion.
@mu7ammad: while i agree with your recommendations i’m not entirely convinced that such systems have ever helped solve these kind of problems related to security. the US and the UK are great examples of that. security issues are often held above and beyond the democratic system of governance, as a special and delicate entity that no one can touch. senators and congressmen can drag 4 star generals to public hearings aired on cspan, but to what extent are those generals held responsible and to what extent does that ever change public policy?
@mo: i agree with you, as i mentioned earlier, that this connection nor any connection the CIA has with fellow arab states is a revelation of any significant size. all of this is assumed by the public anyway. regarding alqueda’s strength, i dont think any intelligence organization or army of any size is capable of defeating an organization driven by ideological beliefs. especially if such an organization has the general support of the people who do not dare to combat it. as the past decade of alqueda chasing has proven, the US and its allied forces are now where near destroying alqueda. if anything, the organization has unfortunately grown in size and strength.
@abu laith: according to the various news reports who source CIA officials – he wasn’t search due to having gained the trust of the CIA. to a large extent, jordan may play a role here since the GID did evidently vouch for the guy, and the GID is an incredibly credible intelligence organization on the regional and global stage.
@moi84: im not sure someone can defend the use of a person (thus acknowledging his existence and role) but still maintain deniability. once again, this is the information age:
I’ve been following your blog for quite a while now, and I just wanted first to say, Good Job for all the excellent blog posts, although I can’t seem to share a previous interpretation of any posts as ‘fluffy’.
I read an article about this a couple of days ago with another friend of mine. He was from another Arab country and seemed to think it ridiculous that the article was basically about the King attending the funeral, I myself found the press coverage very dismal, bare and uninformative. Thanks for letting us know the meat of the story.
The exercise of freedom of speech is the one thing which I wish dearly for our country above all else. It will free us from useless drivel and allow us to flourish in the important issues. At least, this is my overly-idealised vision.
The CIA connection may be costly, but I do believe that all intelligence agencies worldwide should have a connection and a workable communication link. Otherwise I would predict that the alternative will be somewhat hurtful to another country’s autonomy (Imagine the CIA working completely independently within Jordanian territory, which will likely happen/ has happened before). The situation in Afghanistan is a messy one at best, however I would never idealise the man who blew himself up or tell stories about his avengeful spirit or his blow back to the CIA. He has not done anything but cause personal pain to certain people. Those american agents are replaceable, their efforts will continue. May the dead all rest in Peace, it’s a shame that they were lost.
Thanks for writing on this.
@R: thanks for sharing your thoughts. i do believe that all intelligence agencies should work together if they face common security threats. the discussion however that needs to be had is at what cost does this relationship come with, who is paying the price, and, just as importantly, to what extent does the relationship extend beyond the underlying purpose and mandate of Jordanian security forces; which is keeping Jordanians safe? these are the questions the public deserves to debate and grapple with i believe.
Hassan seems to be a poor misguided soul..wake up hassan and seriously rethink the side you are on, its clear as daylight he wasnt a soldier he decided to be a traitor 9and ask any politically educated middle easterner, jordanian or not, to the Middle east to work with the CIA who has done nothing but wreak havoc in every country it touches whether it be South America or the Middle east…..
Hassan seems to be a poor misguided soul..wake up hassan and seriously rethink the side you are on, its clear as daylight he wasnt a soldier he decided to be a traitor to the Middle east to work with the CIA who has done nothing but wreak havoc in every country it touches whether it be South America or the Middle eastâ€¦..ask any politcailly educated middle easterner, jordanian or not
Ah yes. Saving face is always important.
i think Jordan Times should shut down as a publication, zero credibility, “huminatarian mission” lol
Nas thx for being the first jordanian blog to bring out the real story I read in US media days ago, i think if ur blog was in arabic it would have been shut down a long long time ago…and thank god arabs have aljazeera otherwise they would have been fed jordan times-style bulls*** for the rest of their lives…
It is amazing how the government keeps taking people for idiots, every body sees everything, and 3enak 3enak, they say nothing happened.
I read a huge article written by AFP, where they explained the whole story with much more details, they said that they asked Nabil Sharif about this issue and that it must be very embarrassing for Jordan that they recruited Albalawi and he turned out to be a double agent, and he simply responded that Jordan doesnâ€™t have any relationship with this and the GID have absolutely no relationship with this double agent, and he denied everything. Yalla 3ad
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I really find it fascinating how this piece of information was handled in the news especially how the funeral was placed on the front page of newspapers with people not realizing what the story was all about and raising the question of “what’s up??” in their minds.
Besides thats point the whole thing was a non surprise to most i would imagine. Putting the argument of fadee7a aside, valid as it may be, the thing is that jordan has been and probably will remain a target since most jihadist don’t exactly operate on empirical evidence and prefer the real of hocus pocus and conspiracy theories.
The thing that remains is that regardless of the risk and the security screw ups that happened here, the interesting part for me is that now the name of jordan as both an ally and a generator of “qualified terrorists” has been pretty established and this is the first case of an online jihadi activist turn into an actual flesh and blood activist.
Will this mean there will be more scrutiny to what is being said online? will we see more people taking up this “trend”? exactly how prevalent and effective has online jihadism become in the arab region? previously it was the arena of the south east asians as far as i was concerned (and i might be mistaken). till now very few dare to open the topic on where people should stand on this topic since its always viewed as something that affects the “other”, do we really need to wait until its otherwise to ask ourselves if this form of resistance justified?
But i guess the best comment about the whole thing came from mab3oos “Jordanian Afghanistan suicide bomber’s name literally spells trouble (Balawi=trouble)”
guys im pretty sure his last name is pronounced bluwi … kind of like saying louie but with a b at the beginning .. its a known family from northern saudi arabia and even this article confirms that his origins come from a bedouin clan in tabuk .. so im pretty sure its bluwi not balawi ..
oops forgot to put the link for the article
Al-Balawi came from a nomadic Bedouin clan from Tabuk, in western Saudi Arabia, which has branches in Jordan and the West Bank.
Maybe a little devil’s advocate take, but Jordan isn’t exactly a regional powerhouse, so maybe the connection helps more than hurts. If I’m not mistaken, all policies have a catch-22. A big void would most definitely be left, and somethings going to fill it. An I can at least tell you this, your country is not going to be the one to choose who or what fills it. I agree that the status quo is probably unhealthy for us both, guess it’s time to pick the red or blue pill.
all i can say is the age of keeping jordanian citizens quiet and in the dark is pretty much over. has the govt heard of something called the internet? and block some sites as they may, has anyone told them jordanians travel? have friends and family abroad? nothing can be kept a secret anymore and in a society that feeds on gossip and scandals, news like this spreads faster than wildfire.
two final thoughts: 1. is our country safe now? won’t our interest be attacked due to growing resentment by militants who may see jordan’s involvement as an act of traitors? and 2. my heart breaks for the family of the jordanian who died. not only was he killed in such a heinous way but we all can’t seem to stop talking and speculating about the entire incident.
I am at work now, will read it pproperly tonight and make a better comment.
It is funny how we like to blow things out of proportion and make a big fuzz out of it. Yes, GID has been cooperating with the CIA! What’s the big deal? We always knew it? no? This has been what Jordan’s strategy for a long time, and it proved to be for the best interest for Jordan and for Jordanians. In a region where troubles is everywhere, Jordan has been wisely going through different events to ensure a decent life for its citizens. Mistakes happen.. no big deal.. there should be no talk about public humiliation (we like that don’t we?) and there is not need to be surprised about the cooperation with the CIA. Let us get it out and blank, we needed this cooperation for the security of Jordan… deal with it!
@Londoner: thanks for the comment. however, rami in sweden also covered the topic around the same time: http://ramiswall.blogspot.com/2010/01/jordanian-al-qaeda-double-agent-behind.html
@bambam: the questions you bring up are very valid and i personally never looked it from that angle, so thanks for posing them. i guess, like most things, only time will tell.
@chris: im not sure i see how this news will “help” jordan either locally, regionally or globally. perhaps you can elaborate?
@ARabObserver: again, as i mentioned several times before, i dont think anyone is “surprised” by the relationship. none of this intended dialog is about that.
ok, i’m not indifferent to the situation, but that there is pretty much an assumption. one can no more prove that the mukhabarat’s relationship with the CIA is NOT needed for the security of Jordan than one can prove that it IS. you simply saying that “we need it” does none of us any good.
in the end, we, the public, are always in the dark and told not to ask questions. it is in the asking that allows us to determine whether “we need” something to keep us safe. or at the very least, have a discussion about it.
otherwise we’re just making assumptions and that’s never healthy.
“While national security is a delicate subject, the public has the right to know what is being done in the name of their security and well-being. They have the right to know the cost it comes with. They have a right to question it. Especially with the knowledge that there is much more at stake than mere security when it comes to the GIDâ€™s CIA connection”
You have to be an idiot to not know that the GID and the CIA work together,should the media discuss that openly? Nope cause the “fdee7a” style journalism we have is not capable of dealing with any national topic of substance. when you have citizens who are not for the best interest of their country and would buy into any twisted ideology or conspiracy theory they don’t have the right to know such details, most of the Jordanian population shouldn’t have the right to vote!!
“Yee sho 3aib” we were caught sleeping with the enemy is the tone you and others are using with this issue…fdee7a!! It’s a known fact we work with Americans and all other intelligence agencies.Yes we benefit from it, and yes it comes with a cost, in this case it cost the life of a nobleman who deserves to be honored for serving his country. Do you think that people who participated in 3aza al zarqawi have a freakin right to know? Or should have a say in national security matters??
The general public has no respect for the policemen who are working day and night, for the garbage-men who pick up their trash and for the people giving their lives for the country, so it doesn’t have the right to know or to speak!
When people stop believing in BS ideologies like the great arab unity and brotherhood in islam and start believing in the best interest of their country and future ..then they will deserve the right to know.
@nas, “we need it” is based on the assessment of the government which I assume know better. It is totally another matter if you trust/don’t trust the judgement of the officials in this particular situation but then again, and especially when it comes to security and safety issues, it is understandable that some matters are better kept hidden. Now, I do understand the public cry demanding more transparency from the government but I don’t like the ‘fdee7a’ and public humiliation notion of it.
the impotent state of jordanian media and journalism is born, controlled and sustained by the state’s measures. for the state, or anyone else, to expect anything less from jordanian journalism is simply folly.
all societies are made up of pluralities, where different viewpoints exist, even at extreme opposites of each other. jordan is no different. and surely their right to vote and have a say in their country’s affairs should not be stripped away for that reason alone.
the tone i am taking is not about the “fdee7a”, which is a word i used in response to a comment above. as i’ve said about a million times over, the relationship was fairly well known or at least assumed by most jordanians and most arabs and anyone else with half a brain who lives on the planet earth. the tone i am taking here – my concern here – is not about the “humiliation” or “embarrassment” suffered, which is only one consequence (and yes, as far as intelligence agencies goes, this was a biggie), but rather of the larger ramifications.
those larger ramifications will have adverse affect on us as citizens, and that alone gives us the right to know. i am not saying people necessarily have to have a say in every security matter…i’m saying they have a right to know. they have a right not to be lied to. they have a right not to be treated as idiots, which, i would argue, is the tone you’ve taken when referring to “the general public”.
not only is this a disastrous assumption, it’s also a fallacy.
every citizen has the right to be informed, regardless of what they believe or your personal opinion about what they believe. i am neither a believer of the muslim brotherhood nor of the greater arab unity, but i would never strip away rights from any group belonging to this country just because i don’t agree with them.
phrases like “don’t deserve the right” or “shouldn’t have a say” or “shouldn’t have the right” are, to me, deadlier and more extremist than anything the aforementioned groups have ever said.
I disagree with your closing that the government owes the people an explanation on issues of security. No government in the world does that, and we should not expect the Jordanian government to do so either. While it might be a public embarrassment that the ties with the CIA are made so public now, we have always known for that to be the case. It’s just been put out in front of us now. We should also not undermine the reasons for these ties. Jordan has a long history of surviving based on its close ties with international allies, and this has been the very base of its existence from day one. It is futile to start questioning that now. Moreover, we should be cautious about undermining the work of the Moukhabart, as we all know they’ve done a great job securing the country for all these years. However, no system is perfect, and catastrophes will unfortunately happen. Today, we need to honor the soul of Ali Bin Zaid, and respect the fact that he died doing his job, serving his country and working for its greater safety. Terrorism is not an American or Western problem, itâ€™s an issue that affects us all. God bless his soul.
Can we ask the info mintier to resign for deceiving the Jordanians?
we lost 5 officers few weeks ago in Hayeti, another one killed in Africa, we should evaluate our participation in the UN and peace keeping forces, no need to mention that our participation in Afghanistan is outside the UN umbrella.
Jordanians should know why their sons are being killed in places where the Jordan security is not threatened.
@T: you seem to have misunderstood or misread by closing. again, i am not talking about revealing state secrets (as that does more good to the enemy than it does to the citizen) but i am talking about this status quo of keeping a tight lid on the entire security apparatus of the country as if it operated like a shadow government. if the mukhabarat is indeed a public institution than it deserves to be treated as such, as do the citizens.
and i disagree about your reference to other governments in the world. in democracies , the people, vis a vis the media, are able to have access to a wide array of security-related issues. as i mentioned in an earlier note, even generals are often seen to be brought in by elected representatives to testify in publicly-aired hearings. while i might question the extent to which such channels can offer a sense of accountability, i cannot deny their ability to raise pertinent questions with pertinent answers, i.e. their ability to inform the public.
in jordan, to utter the very word, “mukhabarat”, is nearly a sin.
lastly, with reference to ali bin zaid. while i respect his contribution and even the fact that he died doing his duty, i, along with everyone else, have no idea what that duty entailed. what did he die for? yes, terrorism is a global issue, but can we not question the extent of our relationship with foreign intelligence bodies and what that relationship entails? is it based on mutual benefit? is it based on economic derivatives?
for instance, if jordan is indeed involved in the CIA’s rendition program, where “terrorism suspects” are flown in to jordan for “extensive interrogation” on foreign soil – if indeed this is true, putting aside the ethical dilemmas for a moment, do this program serve jordanian security interests?
in this specific case, all we know of ali bin zaid’s work is what the state tells us, i.e. he was there for “humanitarian efforts”, versus what CIA sources have confirmed to be a high level meeting with their operatives and balawi. there is an obvious void of information that needs to be filled by our own government, otherwise, this contradiction of accounts will continue to stand.
@shaheen: you pose a valid point. however, i (personally) do see the difference between jordan’s participation as part of the UN peacekeeping force, which is a multinational effort that is part of our being a member of a global community – as opposed to “secretly” aiding the US in its war in afghanistan and/or iraq for that matter.
we screwed up on both ends of the spectrum… the GID were the ones who brought Humam to the Americans, and they blew it.. at the same time, the GID and the regime shattered its already torn image in the face of its nation.. was it worth it?
we are still an extremely poor nation with half ass public services, it seems to me when need to go into isolation ala 1930’s America before we could help others.. sure sure, our GID is top notch but we wont need them in the first place if we dont upset the islamists to begin with…
[edited by blog administrator]
Good points you raise, Naseem..
Impressive that you found the guy’s blog. What do you think of the governmental denial of the whole charade? (just when top level security meetings were held with Egypt and Saudi Arabia)
The Jordanian government always found it troublesome when the time came to supply the Jordanian citizenry with sensitive information. This situation is understandable on one hand when there are rational and far-sighted people who are able to digest the raw news. On the other, the mass majority is emotional and reactionary hence the need to filter whatever is being fed to the public. Any Jordanian with some elements of strategic thinking and realist thought will comprehend the need to defend our national security and interests in whatever means that fall in the Jordanian National Security Strategy. What unveiled in Afghanistan is part of the sensitive and highly dangerous task of our security apparatus to defend the Jordanian citizen back home. I donâ€™t expect everyone to have the same position but the more we as Jordanians in the various sectors of the state learn about the state functions the more stable we are in the face of turmoil.
Naseem’s reply is good enough so I won’t add to it. Plus, please stop the litmus test talk as if you or the regime hold the ultimate truth.
Now leaving the ethical and legal issues aside do you think that we as a country are getting our fair payback for the role we are playing in defending not only our citizens but the west and the region? Do the 500 mil we get from uncle sam cover the risks that our regime takes on our behalf undemocratically? Or is that payment designed to only maintain the regime and the status quo? 10 years of bending over and we are still worse off than we were before so I think it is safe to say that major strategy reform is needed.
The cost-benifits analysis is needed, and it needs to be debated publicly. Representatives of the people who reach office based on fair and just elections need to be aware of such policices, they must be involved in protecting jordan the Country.
You say, “if jordan is indeed involved in the CIAâ€™s rendition program, where â€œterrorism suspectsâ€ are flown in to Jordan for â€œextensive interrogationâ€ on foreign soil – if indeed this is true, putting aside the ethical dilemmas for a moment, do this program serve jordanian security interests?”. The answer is yes, Jordan is involved in CIA’s rendition program. Maher Arrar, the Canadian citizen of Syrian origin was renditioned from the US to Syria through Jordan because Syria refused to receive him directly from the US.
All Arab countries deal with the CIA, even countries like Syria, which are supposedly anti-american. However, I would say Jordan was the Arab country that got the most benefit from this relationship. For example, Egypt, another close collaborator with America, receives substantial aid from the US, but this hardly registers on the livelihoods of ordinary Egyptians. More important, you can argue that Egypt doesn’t even need the aid, given the natural and human resources it enjoys. Jordan on the other hand, a resource-poor country, has used its relationship with America relatively wisely. The fact that many Arabs from neighboring countries come to Jordan for education and medical treatment is a partial testament to this.
Nevertheless, I totally agree with you about the need to have greater openness from the government about this relationship and its implications.
You say: â€œThe general public has no respect for the policemen who are working day and night, for the garbage-men who pick up their trash and for the people giving their lives for the country, so it doesnâ€™t have the right to know or to speak!â€
Let me guess. You are not one of the general public, right? You are one of the exempt few who do deserve to know because you are better than everyone else and more loyal than everyone else and more civilized than everyone else. You’re one of those “Sha3bak Mutakhallef” people. I know you well. The likes of you are more dangerous, more repugnant and more extreme than the “extremists” you despise.
Get off your high horse and come down to size. I would start at extra small if I were you, until which time you start to grow up, stop looking down on others, and start to see that you are just as much a part of the problem as the people you so casually belittle.
You may choose to live in ignorance – clearly it’s a place where you feel very comfortable- but leave it to us, the general public, of which we are glad you are not a part, to demand our right to transparency, truth and respect for our rights and intelligence.
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@rami: government denials are to be expected, especially in matters related to the intelligence arena. i’d expect nothing less.
@Taj: i generally agree. the problem is that we seem to work in absolutes where there’s a belief that people either can’t handle the truth or don’t deserve to know and so the outcome is to say nothing and deny everything – and that’s increasingly difficult to sustain in the information age.
“It is however astonishing that both the CIA and GID, despite the notoriety of both intelligence entities in their field, were duped by this one man they had working for them, who turns out was a triple agent.”
I don’t know anything about the GID, but as an American who has read a bit about the CIA’s history I can say that they have been duped plenty of times. During the run-up to the Iraq War, they were duped by several people regarding WMDs. Also, there was a story in the U.S. news media circulating about how the CIA was duped by a con man who told them he could predict terrorist attacks by analyzing “secret codes” in Al Jazeera broadcasts.
It’s interesting to read the new policy literature that has come out after the incident where the U.S. intelligence community has been very self-critical about its lack of knowledge of local societies and languages in Afghanistan and the Middle East as a whole and how this needs to change.
Sam’s comment is a copy and paste from comments on Al Jazeera – think it is a troll.
I think the royals, politicians, main stream media, entertainers, are all a bunch of shapeshifting djinn (reptilians, annunaki, skinwalkers, chautali, etc., etc) who love power, sex, human sacrifice, money, and to constantly deceive people, and who do not respect humans nor worship God.
OK, got that off my chest. Here’s a bit about Al-jazeera I caught some years ago and saved. I bet a lot of people write to them unaware of what the organization is made of and say things they wouldn’t if they knew it. Just thought I’d share (so you’d know it too).
Al-Jazeera Begins to Drop Its Mask
Well, Iâ€™ve been following this issue since the very first news about the bombing emerged. I remember the BBC publishing a â€œBreaking Newsâ€ article about 7 CIA operatives who died in a bombing.
For 3 days now Iâ€™ve been reading the CNN, Fox, BBC and many other news agencies that had published at least 3 articles concerning this incident. I was of course, like all of you, surprised that Jordan has had many operations apparently with the CIA( even thought everyone has heard of many) , and now itâ€™s confirmed.
What has surprised me even more , is our RETARDED JORDANIAN MEDIA!!! Yes! You read that right..
Those clueless uneducated retarded ignorant journalists have published NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING about this thing. I was expecting every front-page of every Jordanian newspaper to write about it.
1. We have VERY LITTLE Democracy and even LESS freedom of speech here in Jordan.
2. Our beloved GID controls every thing in here that the media doesnâ€™t dare to publish anything!
3.Even â€œSarayaâ€ apparently is controlled by the GID! It published nothing about this thing during the first 3-4 days after the news came.
4. The only place I could go to when I want a Jordanianâ€™s perspective about anything is Humeidâ€™s blog and the black-iris . At least we know the GID doesnâ€™t CONTROL THEM!! We also know the readers who come here are very educated liberal Jordanians who make less than 0.01% of the countryâ€™s population and they know much more than just â€œAllah yonsor sayyednaâ€!
5. This is caused by the royals unfortunately. They donâ€™t want us to be butting in anything and that saddens me actually. NO DEMOCRACY.
6. Make sure that my IP address is well hidden :)).
[edited by blog administrator]
lool @yanal! well put..please hide my IP address as well I dont wanna end up where the sun dont shine lol 😉
@Taj: So people are too stupid to digest information and that is why the information ministry feeds the people bulls**t? You only see this level of condescension when those within a corrupt system are doing all they can to prevent it (i.e. the corrupt system) from coming crashing down on top of them. Treat your citizens like people rather than sheep and you may well be surprised with the outcome.
@Nas: You agree? I am so bitterly disappointed.
Sara, actually the sun shines there 🙂 . “You just won’t be able to see it” 😀 –> Quote taken from the Egyptian guy (7ares) in our building after he was taken blindfolded to GID headquarters for interrogation (supposedly on suspicion of involvement in the Amman hotel bombings). Of course, he had no clue about what was happening! Oh well lets just stop the story here…. lol
I am a Christian Jordanian, let me add “pure Jordanian” which is not the same as holding a Jordanian passport. Identify the enemy? Please do so? Is it someone who is against the Jordanian Government but takes it out on innocent civilians during a wedding ceremony. Our “friend” is identified as enemy. My enemy is someone who would threatens the well being of a whole county of multi races and nationalities and religions just to serve his own personal beliefs. That’s what I call a SH.. Load of Cr… I am not trying to be cool, I am trying to protect my home, is it home to you too? I do not think so. CIA helped catch that punk al zarqawee, whom from Zarqa, we see the hint, we get it. I proud of the Jordanian Intelligence , its one of the best, and we know for a fact that you and other do not like that fact. Just get over it.
Special responses, to the guy who said al jazeera was biased, are they biased in sports too? haikal comments on his majesty the late King Hussein, God rest his soul; you consider them true right? Biased!!! Such a word.
To the guy who wrote this article, freedom of speech is a bitch. Lets think further of the theme of your article, I want you to notice the political spot light in Lebanon. They have so much accomplished and have 10,000 sob who have something to say to the media. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt. If you want to be a â€œwatch dogâ€ journalist, learn from the Chicago Tribune for example. Other than that, I would recommend that you stick to what you know best and discuss Britney spears come back or Angelina Julie lips.
Barry, I am from a town called Fuhies, I want you to go there and find the mental health hospital. Go there and tell them that I sent you and you are need help ASAP. It would be free I promise.
To the rest with exclusions since certain individuals here should not get any attention since they starve it. â€œThe message is that there are known “knowns” There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t knowâ€. Donald Rumsfeld.