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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

From Chalabi to Iranian agents, Sismi's war in Iraq. In Rome the strategic summit with the Pentagon

This time I am just going to translate the latest article by D'Avanzo and Bonini in
Today's la Repubblica.

ndr means nota da Robert

"Da Chalabi agli agenti iraniani
la guerra del Sismi in Iraq
A Roma il summit strategico con il Pentagono

Rome He is a high official of the political military intelligence. he is a SISMI man (ndr SISMI is roughly the Italian CIA but it is quite a bit less reputable)
He slowly crosses the narrow width of the bar of the Hotel Eden on via Ludovisi.
He seems relaxed. He pauses to look through the wide windows at the sky and the nice skyline of Rome in the April sun (it is the 22 of April 2003). he is elegant in the grisaglia (uniform ???) of a "functionary of the prime ministers office". He chooses a table at the center of the terrace. The helpful waiter arrives.
The man orders orange juice and a double coffee. The Anglo American intervention in Iraq began the night between the 19th and the 20th of March, 33 days earlier.

(ndr Jeeeesus this is how Italian journalists begin articles when they actually have something to say. Now don't wonder why I don't keep up with La Repubblica).

Today as Silvio Berlusconi reveals that he never supported the military intervention in Iraq, It is useful to describe how our country, in contrast to the claims of the Prime Minister, was involved on the field in war operations.

One must say with which agreements; explain what were the plans of action, planned by whom and with whom. "For us Italians, the high ranking Sismi officer tells La Repubblica, the war in Iraq began before Christmas 2002...". he smiles. He is happy and there is a light of excitement in his eyes and it seems that just this once, he doesn't want to hide that personal satisfaction behind a frozen mask. This is unusual. I have never seen that man satisfied. He is always aware that "one can do more and better."

To steady to brag about his successes. too stubborn to be discouraged by his defeats. He says "It was a new event. It was a revolution for our intelligence agency [ndr the English word intelligence refers only to spying. I have read a pun based on the similarity of intelligence and intelligenza] Never, in its history has SISMI been had such an important role in a war campaign. The government ? Certainly it was authorised by the government. It goes without saying. It was war not an exercize ... the twenty or so men we sent to Iraq risked their skins ...".

He falls silent. The coffee arrives. He drinks it slowly half closing his eyes with pleasure. The man continues "around twenty men from three derectorates of SISMI were employed -- Military Intelligence, Operations and Antiterrorism. They were divided into smaller units in the areas around Kirkuk, Bagdad and Basra. They had very imaginitive covers. Each unit was unaware of the identity and the assignments of the other units. Each was assigned to move in a small area and work with a certain number of "sources" who were already identified and "prepared." There were two principal objectives -- to map the Iraqi defences and to evaluate the will to fight of the top officers of the Iraqi armed forces. If the war fought down there isn't so bloody, that is due to this work which, naturally, we didn't do alone. If we won before the first shot was fired, this is due to the success of the infiltration and of that which we obtained from it.


The history of the Italian military intervention in Iraq begins when the resident scholar of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Michael Ledeen, sponsored by the minister of defence Antoni Marino, arrives at Rome with men from the Pentagon to meet a small group of "Iranian exiles." The meeting was organised by SISMI. In a SISMI safe apartment near Piazza di Spagna (according to other sources, in a private meeting room at the hotel Parco dei Principi).

Around a big table, covered with maps of Iraq, Iran and Siria there are, more or less, 25 men. The ones who really matter are Lawrence Franklin and Harold Rhode of the Office of Special Plans of the Pentagon, Michael Ledeen, the head of a SISMI center with his assistent ("a bent man between 46 and 48 years old and a younger man, about 38, with braces') and mysterious Iranians.

Pollari (ndr head of SISMI) confirms to La Repubblica that the meeting occured. "When the minister asked for me to set up that meeting I became curious. After all, it is my area of expertise and I wasn't born yesterday. It's true there were also my men at the meeting. I wanted to know what was cooking in the pot. ... It's true there were maps of Iraq and Iran on the table and those Iranians couldn't have been very much in exile. The came and went from Teheran with their own passports and never had any trouble even though what they were doing must have been clear to the Pasdaran..."

Therefore, the Iranians were not exiles. They were not opponents of the regime of the Ayatollahs. They were men of the regime, sent by Teheran. If one asks in Washington what the hell the Iranians were doing in Rome right next to Pentagon officials just before the war began, one can obtain some good information. To follow one thread in the tangle, one has to listen to a source in US intelligence who requests anonymity.

He says "In Italy you have always underestimated the effort to intoxicate by Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC). You have the tendency to omit this chapter of your history, because you think that Ahmed only dealt with us. This is not true. He also dealt with you, more than you have known or imagined until now.

[ndr I am having trouble translating "affare nostro" literally "our business", in context it is clear that the anonymous American is saying that Chalabi snowed Italians too]

One must say who Ahmen Chalabi is. Well loved by the Neo cons, Chalabi was assigned by the "hawks" in the Pentagon to send to European intelligence agencies news about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction obtained from alleged scientists who deserted the regime. Aras Habib Karim, the director of intelligence for Chalabi was assigned to collect news and to construct "legends." Aras is a key figure. He coordinated the "Intelligence Collection Program." he managed and packaged the "production" of dissidents.

He is a Shi'ite Kurd, slightly under 50, very sly and unscrupulous, a genious of double crosses and forgeries. He has one outstanding feature, the CIA has always considered him an Iranian agent [ndr always "da sempre" is of course not meant literally here]. The second key person is an American, Francis Brooke. The Italian fake dossier on Nigerien Unranium also ended up in his hands, one doesn't know why. Brooke maintains contact with Condoleezza Rice and with Paul Wolfowitz and between the Pentagon and the INC. Teheran pays even more attention to him than to Chalabi.

The US intelligence officer continues "Ahmed Chalabi and his most able men -- Karim and Brooke -- work as a team with envoys of the Pentagon and of the AEI. This example is illustrative. The three men who, in 2004, take turns in Bagdad as liason officers between the Pentagon and Chalabi are Michael Rubin president of the AEI, Harold Rhode, assistant at Doug Feith's Office of Special Plans and [the] advisor "for Islamic matters" of Paul Wolfowitz
[ndr the [the] is added since otherwise there would only be two men not three].

I went that way also in Italy just before the war. The meetings in Rome bring together representatives of the whole team -- Michael Ledeen of the AEI, Larry Franklin and Harold Rhode of the Office of Special Plans, the colonels of the INC, Shi'ite Iraqis from the supreme council for Islamic revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and, naturally, the "guardians of the revolution" [Pasdaran]. This is the group in Rome. Interesting no ?" Interesting.


We discover that Iran's winning card in the conflict being planned after the attack on the towers the 11th of September is Shi'ite. Teheran desides to work "for a reasonable protection of Iranian strategic interests in the area." The pragmatic Americans have to consider the Iranian influence on the Shi'ite community (65% of Iraqis).

[ndr 65% of Iraqis are Shi'ite Arabs. As Bonini and D'Avanzo note above there are also Shi'ite Kurds in Iraq. They are not much influenced by Iran]

The Ayatollahs have a "national interest" in regime change in Bagdad. An Iraq liberated from teh power of the Sunnis might give Teheran more influence and a possiblity to obtain power for the Shi'ites of SCIRI lead by Ayatollah Mohammad Bakr Al Hakim and supported, hosted and protected in Iran along with its military wing the Sadr Brigades (from 7 to 15 thousand men)

[ndr IIRC they are the Badr Brigades not at all to be confused with Sadr as in Moqtada al Sadr, his late father the grand Ayatollah, Sadr city or Sadrists
note that google gives 40,600 hits for "badr brigades" some of which note that this is the name of the military wing of SCIRI. Of course this could be a single letter typo like Iraq for Iran in Susan Schmidt's notorious article]

Don't be surprised that Chalabi's team (whether his colonels are or aren't Iranian agents) was welcomed in Teheran with teh dignity and attention which one reserves for diplomatic delegations. This is the political context which makes it possible for SCIRI to collaborate with the Bush administration in the fabrication of pretexts for the war.

Aras Habib Karim, organises, with the Intelligence Collection Program, the revelations of Iraqi defectors. SCIRI offers the Pentagon apparently independent confirmation which is in fact worked out with Chalabi's group under the supervision of Teherans Secret Services. If a defector, "worked up" in London by the INC, declares taht Saddam Hussein "is trying to develope a new type of chemical weapon," the military chief of the [sic] Sadr brigades Abdul Aziz al-Hakim gives American officials "a document of Iranian intelligence that demonstrates taht the dictator has authorised regional commanders to use biological and chemical weapons against any Shi'ite resistence in the case of an American attack".

[ndr the sourcing of this article has completely vanished. In particular the claim that the Bush administration received intelligence from Iran is unsupported by any evidence]

We have learned to recognise the standard procedure of the dissinformation.
[ndr modulo is litterally a form as in a form which one fills in. Word for word translation makes the sentence in English vaguer than the Italian]. However, actors appear who we didn't know trod on the Italian stage just before the war. We see them one nect to the other now. They participated in the reunione in Rome. Planning by Michael A. Ledeen for teh office of Special Plans of the Pentagon. Political sponsorship (according to Pollari) of the defence minister Antinio Martino. Technical organisation by SISMI.


So many lies have been told about this meeting. It served, it has been said in these years, "to save human lives in Afghanistan." The "to plan with Iranian exiles assistencce to the Iranian masses" from which one hinted at a risorgimento (uprising) able to overthrow the regime of the Ayatollahs. It was said that it was useful to "identify Iranian interests in Afghanistan." Finally, as one notes in a SISMI "memo", to "obtain information about alleged links with al Qaeda and the role played by some middle Eastern states with relation to international terrorism."

In each of these interchangeable paintings, the leading role is played by a guy named Manucher Ghorbanifar. Iranian by birth, resident, as far as is known, in Paris and Geneva, Ghorbanifar does not have a good reputation. Some claim he is an arms trafficker. Others claim he is a forger. The civil branch of our intelligence community claims he is an Iranian agent. A US intelligence agency claims he is a MOSSAD agent [ndr wtf ?!?]. Others say he is a very sly fraudster. Finally some claim he is all of these things. In fact, it appears that the Iranian is a minor figure. He is the rabbit that the organisers of the meeting toss at the feet of nosy people to lead them far from the scene of the crime, and, above all, far from the motives.

The US source tells La Repubblica "Manucher Ghorbanifar offers only a source in London who appeared able to indicate where in Bagdad the enriched Uranium stockpiled by Saddam before the war was hidden. Ledeen then embroidered the story claming that Ghorbanifar's "contact" also knew that Iran was attempting to buy this Uranium and that radiation from the stored radioactive material contaminated some Iraqi technicians whose identity he knows. After a debate between the CIA and the Pentagon, Ghorbanifar's London based source was taken, at agency expence, to Bagdad to help find the place where the Uranium was hidden. The man, after taking the men from Langley walking around for a couple of days, asked for $ 50,000 to refresh the memory of people in Bagdad who can help him in the search. Obviously this buffoon was sent away with a kick in the ass..."

So forget about Manucher Ghorbanifar. The reunione in Rome at the Parco dei Principi or in the apartment at Piazza di Spagna -- but probably at one of those places -- must connect three intelligence organisations -- SISMI directed by Nicolo' Pollarim, the INC of Chalabi and SCIRIC and the Sadr brigades [sic] of Mohammad and Abdul Aziz al Hakim.

The integration of the work and the "product: of the three "networks" can offer information essential to the planning of the Anglo American intervention and, above all, a concrete evaluation of the strength of the Saddamite defences, of his general's will to fight and of Saddam's arsenal of weapons (setting aside influence operations). Each of the three organizations can put an ace on the table which will win a trick for the Pentagon.

SISMI has good contacts with officers who were trained in Italy in the 80s and who have become sources. The INC depends on defectors. SCIRI constantly monitors the territory, because, as Mohammad Bakr Al Hakim explained to La Repubblica on March 18 2003, before he was killed, "the Sadr brigades [sic] with independent militias are in Baddad, in Iraqi Kurdistan and in Southern Iraq."

Above all in this area, from Kerbala and Najaf to Basra and the Faw peninsola, on the border with Kuwait, no move is hidden from the invisible Shi'ite information network spread over the no fly zone south of the 33rd parallel, the key region for any invasion by land.

The operational plans of the Pentagon forecast that military operations on teh ground be "oriented" by information which the intelligence organisations are able to steal in Iraq beyond the front. The information will be collected by the unified Anglo American command in real time, cross checked and processed and then transformed into instructions to the combat units.

The idea is in its way elementary. to "Illumninate" from inside the country, the objectives, the enemies systems of defence and counterattack of an enemy about which one doesn't know the exact placement of military forces and of militiamen camoflaged by the civilian populatoin. There was also a second assignment, even more important than the first. Beyond the lines the "infiltrators" should prepare the ground for a "sectret agreement (safqa in Arabic) for "the surrender of the country".

The agreement "provides for a package of safe passes for the commanders of the
Republican Guard, the Ba'ath party militia and the Fedayeen of the President" Later the Americans will "offer generous compensation, the US residence for them and tehir families and, above all, the opportunity to play an important role along with some factions of the Iraqi opposition and in particular with the INC).

Along with SCIRI and Chalabi's men, Italy can play its part in this market of regimes in Bagdad and Basra whcih are not at all unfamiliar to our military counter intelligence. The intervention in Mesopotamia, in its first stage (up until the "mission accomplished" of Bush) wasn't anything but "simple corrupsion of a rotting system of officals who all sold out to the CIA". The SISMI agents went to work. Now is the time to return to the terrace of the Eden and listen to the SISMI official

To be continued.

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