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CIA activities in Iraq

An allegedly Central Intelligence Agency-supported coup in 1963 ousted the Qasim government, which was believed to be leaning toward communism. There are U.S. court records indicating the CIA militarily and monetarily assisted Iraq during the Iran–Iraq War.[1] The CIA was also involved in the failed 1996 coup against Saddam Hussein.[2]

Intelligence played an important and generally effective role in the 1990–1991 Gulf War, but was much more controversial with respect to justifying and planning the 2003 invasion of Iraq. See the appropriate chronological entries below.


  • Iraq 1960 1
  • Iraq 1963 2
  • Iraq 1973-75 3
  • Iraq 1980 4
  • Iraq 1991 5
  • Iraq 1992 6
  • Iraq 1993 7
  • Iraq 1994 8
  • Iraq 1996 9
  • Iraq 2002 10
  • Iraq 2003 11
    • Capture of Saddam Hussein 11.1
  • Iraq 2004 12
    • New Iraqi intelligence forms 12.1
    • Abu Ghraib 12.2
  • Iraq 2006 13
  • Iraq 2007 14
    • Iraq 2007 investigations 14.1
    • "The Surge" 14.2
  • See also 15
  • References 16

Iraq 1960

According to the Church Committee report, the CIA plotted to assassinate Iraqi prime minister Abd al-Karim Qasim with a poisoned handkerchief.[3] The report included, "In February 1960, the Near East Division [of the Directorate of Plans (i.e., Clandestine Service)] sought the endorsement of what the Division Chief called the "Health Alteration Committee" for its proposal for a "special operation: to 'incapacitate' an Iraqi Colonel believed to be 'promoting Soviet bloc political interests in Iraq'." The Division sought the Committee's advice on a technique, "which while not likely to result in total disablement would be certain to prevent the target from pursuing his usual activities for a minimum of three months," adding: "We do not consciously seek subject's permanent removal from the scene; we also do not object should this complication develop."[4]

"In April, the [Health Alteration] Committee unanimously recommended to the DDP (Deputy Director for Plans, Richard Bissell) that a "disabling operation" be undertaken, noting that the Chief of Operations advised that it would be "highly desirable". Bissell's deputy, Tracy Barnes, approved the action on behalf of Bissell.[5]

"The approved operation was to mail a monogrammed handkerchief containing an incapacitating agent to the colonel from an Asian country [i.e., country not yet named]. [James] Scheider [Science Advisor to Bissell] testified that, while he did not now recall the name of the recipient, he did remember mailing from the Asian country. during the period in question, a handkerchief "treated with some kind of material for the purpose of harassing that person who received it."[6]

During the course of this Committee's investigation, the CIA stated that the handkerchief was "in fact never received (if, indeed, sent)." It added that the colonel: "Suffered a terminal illness before a firing squad in Baghdad (an event we had nothing to do with) after our handkerchief proposal was considered."[7]

Iraq 1963

In 1963, the United States backed the Ramadan Revolution against the government of Iraq headed by Qasim, who five years earlier had deposed the Western-allied Iraqi monarchy in what was known as the "July Revolution." The plot was carried out by a coalition of Nasserists, Iraqi nationalists, Ba'athists, members of the Arab Socialist Union, and anti-Communist members of the Iraqi armed services. Of the 16 members of Qasim's cabinet, 12 of them were Ba'ath Party members; however, the party turned against Qasim due to his refusal to join Gamel Abdel Nasser's United Arab Republic. A CIA document dated 8 February 1963 describes the CIA's knowledge of the coup as it progressed: "An announcement over Baghdad radio, controlled by the revolutionaries, stated that Qasim is dead. Unless the Qasim regime is somehow successful in promptly crushing the revolt, it is likely that the bulk of the army will support the coup. Qasim's prestige among the military has deteriorated steadily for the past several years and Baghdad radio is claiming receipt of messages of support from a number of military comrades [8]

Writing in his memoirs of the 1963 coup, long time [9]

Qasim was aware of U.S. complicity in the plot and continually denounced the U.S. in public. The Department of State was worried that Qasim would harass American diplomats in Iraq because of this.[10]

The best direct evidence that the U.S. was complicit is the memo from NSC staff member Bob Komer to President John F. Kennedy on the night of the coup, February 8, 1963. The last paragraph reads:

"We will make informal friendly noises as soon as we can find out whom to talk with, and ought to recognize as soon as we’re sure these guys are firmly in the saddle. CIA had excellent reports on the plotting, but I doubt either they or UK should claim much credit for it.[11]

Documents show that the CIA was well aware of many plots within Iraq throughout 1962, not just the Ba'athist one.

The new government used lists, allegedly provided by the CIA, to systematically murder unknown numbers of suspected communists.[12][13]

According to former CIA Near East Division Chief James Chritchfield, the CIA took interest in the Ba'ath Party around 1961-2, and "was better informed on the 1963 coup in Baghdad than on any other major event or change of government that took place in the whole region in those years;" however, it did not "actively support" the coup. "Several months later," the Ba'ath "staged a kind of counter-coup," which led Arif to purge the party in the November 1963 Iraqi coup d'état. The CIA "did not identify a radical movement within the Ba'ath," and was "surprised" by the power struggles that followed the Ramadan Revolution. After al-Bakr and Vice President Saddam Hussein seized power in 1968, "America slowly developed, not a hostility, but enormous reservations about the ability of the Ba'ath to constructively bring Iraq along." [14]

Iraq 1973-75

Two men signing an agreement, with other men standing behind them
Alexei Kosygin (left) and Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr signing the Iraqi–Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Co-Operation in 1972

According to historian Charles R. H. Tripp, the Ba'athist coup of 1968 upset "the US-sponsored security system established as part of the Cold War in the Middle East. It appeared that any enemy of the Baghdad regime was a potential ally of the United States."[15] After Hussein's 1972 trip to Moscow, the CIA colluded with the Shah of Iran to finance and arm Kurdish rebels in the Second Kurdish-Iraqi War. When Iran and Iraq signed the Algiers Agreement in 1975, the support ceased. The Shah denied the Kurds refuge in Iran, even as many were slaughtered. The U.S. decided not to press the issue with the Shah.[16] "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work", declared Sec. of State Henry Kissinger.[17] Subsequently, al-Bakr attempted in 1979 to demote the Vice-President, Saddam Hussein, to a position of relative obscurity. Hussein responded with a counter-coup, forcing al-Bakr to resign, conducting a ruthless purge of hundreds of Ba'athists and naming himself President.

The American betrayal of the Kurds was investigated by the Pike Committee, which described it as cynical and self-serving.[16] It has been argued that it tarnished America's image with one of the most pro-Western groups in the Middle East.[16]

Iraq 1980

The CIA militarily and monetarily assisted Iraq during the Charlie Wilson's War, writes:

There was little the Agency could do directly against Khomeini. But indirectly it was doing tremendous damage by providing covert assistance to Saddam Hussein and the Iraqis for their bloody war with Iran. As explained by Ed Juchniewicz – Avrakotos's patron and the number two man in the Operations Division at that time – they were just leveling the playing field: "We didn't want either side to have the advantage. We just wanted them to kick the shit out of each other".[18]

Iraq 1991

The CIA provided intelligence support to the U.S. military in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.[19]

  1. ^ Statement by former NSC official Howard Teicher to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida. Plain text version
  2. ^ Galbraith, Peter W. (August 31, 2006). "The true Iraq appeasers". The Boston Globe. 
  3. ^ Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (20 November 1975), "C. Institutionalizing Assassination: the "Executive Action" capability", Alleged Assassination Plots involving Foreign Leaders, p. 181 
  4. ^ Memo, Acting Chief N.E. Division to DC/CI [organization code is unclear; CI is the usual abbreviation for counter-intelligence].
  5. ^ Memo. Deputy Chief CI to DDP. 4/l/62.
  6. ^ Scheider Affidavit. 10/20/75. pp. 52–56.
  7. ^ Memo from Chief of Operations, Near East Division to Assistant to the SA/DDO 10/26/75.
  8. ^ "Central Intelligence Bulletin". Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  9. ^ Harry Rositzke, The CIA’s Secret Operations: Espionage, Counterespionage, and Covert Action (Boulder, CO: 1977), 109–110.
  10. ^ Kennedy Library, "Telegram from Department of State to Embassy Baghdad of February 5, 1963," National Security Files, Countries, Box 117, Iraq 1/63-2/63.
  11. ^ JFK Library, Memorandum for The President from Robert W. Komer, February 8, 1963 (JFK, NSF, Countries, Iraq, Box 117, "Iraq 1/63-2/63", document 18), p. 1.
  12. ^ Batatu, Hanna. "CIA Lists Provide Basis for Iraqi Bloodbath". Global Policy Forum.  Excerpt from The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978).
  13. ^ Peter and Marion Sluglett, Iraq Since 1958 London, I.B. Taurus, 1990, pg86. "Although individual leftists had been murdered intermittently over the previous years, the scale on which the killings and arrests took place in the spring and summer of 1963 indicates a closely coordinated campaign, and it is almost certain that those who carried out the raid on suspects' homes were working from lists supplied to them. Precisely how these lists had been compiled is a matter of conjecture, but it is certain that some of the Ba'athist leaders were in touch with American intelligence networks, and it is also undeniable that a variety of different groups in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East had a strong vested interest in breaking what was probably the strongest and most popular Communist Party in the region."
  14. ^ Frontline. "James Chritchfield Interview." 1995. PBS.
  15. ^  
  16. ^ a b c Hitchens, Christopher, "The Ugly Truth About Gerald Ford", Slate
  17. ^ Safire, William (2003-03-03). "The Kurdish Ghost". The New York Times. 
  18. ^ George Crile, "Charlie Wilson's War", 2003, Grove Press, p. 275
  19. ^ a b CIA Support to the US Military During the Persian Gulf War, 16 June 1997 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g Ignatius, David (June 14, 2007), "A Sectarian Spy Duel In Baghdad", The Washington Post 
  21. ^ a b Brinkley, Joel (2004-06-09). "Ex-C.I.A. Aides Say Iraq Leader Helped Agency in 90's Attacks".  
  22. ^ Wurmser, David (1997-11-12). "Iraq Needs a Revolution".  
  23. ^ Taylor, Scott (June 14), "A detour with Kurdish secret police", Halifax Herald 
  24. ^ Miller, Judith (January 3, 1993), "Iraq Accused: A Case of Genocide", The New York Times 
  25. ^ a b Association of Former Intelligence Officers (19 May 2003), US Coup Plotting in Iraq, Weekly Intelligence Notes 19-03 
  26. ^ Ignatius, David (May 16, 2003), "The CIA And the Coup That Wasn't", Washington Post 
  27. ^ a b c d Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward, Simon and Schuster, 2004.
  28. ^ a b Tucker, Mike; Charles Faddis (2008), Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War inside Iraq, The Lyons Press,  
  29. ^ An interview on public radio with the author. None. Retrieved on 2012-03-22.
  30. ^ "Behind lines, an unseen war", Faye Bowers, Christian Science Monitor, April 2003.
  31. ^ Richard Kerr, Thomas Wolfe, Rebecca Donegan, and Aris Pappas. "Issues for the US Intelligence Community: Collection and Analysis on Iraq". Central Intelligence Agency Center for the Study of Intelligence. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  32. ^ Dreyfuss, Robert (2006-05-08). "The Yes Man". The American Prospect. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  33. ^ "PBS:FRONTLINE The Dark Side". Public Broadcasting System. 2006-01-25. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  34. ^ Pollack, Kenneth (2002), The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, Random House,  
  35. ^  
  36. ^ "The Record on CURVEBALL: Declassified Documents and Key Participants Show the Importance of Phony Intelligence in the Origins of the Iraq War".  
  37. ^ Drogin, Bob (Spring 2008). "Determining the Reliability of a Key CIA Source". Nieman Foundation for Journalism at  
  38. ^ a b 'Black ops' shine in Iraq War, VFW Magazine, Feb, 2004, Tim Dyhouse.
  39. ^ "Saddam 'caught like a rat' in a hole". CNN. December 15, 2003.
  40. ^ Jehl, Douglas (July 9, 2004), "Report Says Key Assertions Leading to War Were Wrong", The New York Times, retrieved 2007-04-15 
  41. ^ Taguba, Antonio (May 2004), Article 15-6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade (also called the Taguba report) 
  42. ^ "Reports detail Abu Ghraib prison death; was it torture?". Associated Press. February 17, 2005. 
  43. ^ "A Spy Speaks Out – Former Top CIA Official On "Faulty" Intelligence Claims", CBS News "60 Minutes", 2006-04-23, retrieved 2007-10-06 
  44. ^ Janet Maslin (2007-10-22), Her Identity Revealed, Her Story Expurgated, The New York Times 
  45. ^ a b Woodward, Bob. (2008) The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006–2008. Simon and Schuster
  46. ^ "Secret killing program is key in Iraq, Woodward says". CNN. September 9, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2010. 
  47. ^ "Bob Woodward "60 Minutes" Highlights‏". YouTube. September 7, 2008. Retrieved May 19, 2011. 
  48. ^ "New U.S. Commander In Afghanistan To Be Tested". NPR. Retrieved May 19, 2011. 
  49. ^ "US choppers attack Syrian village near Iraq border". International Herald Tribune. October 26, 2008. Retrieved October 26, 2008. 
  50. ^ "Syria: U.S. Attack Kills 8 In Border Area: Helicopters Raid Farm In Syrian Village; Al Qaeda Officer Was Target Of Rare Cross-Border attack". CBS News. October 26, 2008. Retrieved October 26, 2008. 
  51. ^ "U.S. Official: Syrian Strike Killed Al Qaeda Target". Fox News. October 27, 2008.,2933,444199,00.html
  52. ^ Schmitt, Eric; Shanker, Thom (October 27, 2008). "U.S. Officials Confirm Commando Raid on Syria". The New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-10-27.


See also

On October 26, 2008, SAD/SOG and JSOC conducted an operation in Syria targeting the "foreign fighter logistics network" bringing al-Qaeda operatives into Iraq (See 2008 Abu Kamal raid).[49] A U.S. source told CBS News that "the leader of the foreign fighters, an al-Qaeda officer, was the target of Sunday's cross-border raid." He said the attack was successful, but did not say whether or not the al-Qaeda officer was killed.[50] Fox News later reported that Abu Ghadiya, "al-Qa'ida's senior coordinator operating in Syria", was killed in the attack.[51] The New York Times reported that during the raid U.S. forces killed several armed males who "posed a threat".[52]

CIA paramilitary units continued to team up with the JSOC in Iraq and in 2007 the combination created a lethal force many credit with having a major impact in the success of "the Surge". They did this by killing or capturing many of the key al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq.[45][46] In a CBS 60 Minutes interview, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward described a new special operations capability that allowed for this success. This capability was developed by the joint teams of CIA and JSOC.[47] Several senior U.S. officials stated that the "joint efforts of JSOC and CIA paramilitary units was the most significant contributor to the defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq".[45][48]

"The Surge"

The disclosure of Mrs. Wilson's then-still-classified covert CIA identity as "Valerie Plame" led to a grand jury investigation and the subsequent indictment and conviction of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis Libby, on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to federal investigators.[44]

Iraq 2007 investigations

As of June 2007, "Shahwani is now in the United States. Unless he receives assurances of support from Maliki's government, he is likely to resign, which would plunge the INIS into turmoil and could bring about its collapse.[20]

Iraq 2007

Tyler Drumheller, a 26-year CIA veteran and former head of covert operations in Europe, told CBS News 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley in an April 23, 2006 interview that there was widespread disbelief within the agency about the Bush administration's public claims regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. According to Drumheller, the CIA had penetrated Saddam Hussein's inner circle in the fall of 2002, and this high-level source told CIA "they had no active weapons of mass destruction program." Asked by Bradley about the apparent contradiction with Bush administration statements regarding Iraqi WMDs at that time, Drumheller said, "The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming. And they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy."[43]

Iraq 2006

At the Abu Ghraib prison, while CIA interrogator Mark Swanner was supervising a prisoner named Manadel al-Jamadi, the prisoner died.[42] Apparently, al-Jamadi was suspended from his wrists until he choked to death. Swanner was not charged with any crime.

Also in 2004, reports of Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse surfaced. In the subsequent investigation by MG Antonio Taguba, he stated "I find that contrary to the provision of AR 190-8, and the findings found in MG Ryder's Report, Military Intelligence (MI) interrogators and Other US Government Agency's (OGA) interrogators actively requested that MP guards set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses." OGA is a common euphemism for the CIA. Further, "The various detention facilities operated by the 800th MP Brigade have routinely held persons brought to them by Other Government Agencies (OGAs) without accounting for them, knowing their identities, or even the reason for their detention. The Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JIDC) at Abu Ghraib called these detainees "ghost detainees." On at least one occasion, the 320th MP Battalion at Abu Ghraib held a handful of "ghost detainees" (6–8) for OGAs that they moved around within the facility to hide them from a visiting International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) survey team. This maneuver was deceptive, contrary to Army Doctrine, and in violation of international law."[41]

Abu Ghraib

"Instead of the one good intelligence service it needs, Iraq today has two—one pro-Iranian, the other anti-Iranian. That's a measure of where the country is: caught between feuding sects and feuding neighbors, with a superpower ally that can't seem to help its friends or stop its enemies.[20]

"The Pentagon was wary of the Iraqi uprising plan, so it was shelved, but Shahwani encouraged his network in the Iraqi military not to fight—in the expectation that the soldiers would be well treated after the American victory. Then came the disastrous decision in May 2003 by L. Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority to disband the Iraqi military and cut off its pay. The rest, as they say, is history.

"Shahwani's coup plans suffered a setback in June 1996, when the Mukhabarat killed 85 of his operatives, including three of his sons. But he continued plotting over the next seven years, and on the eve of the American invasion in March 2003, Shahwani and his CIA supporters were still hoping to organize an uprising among the Iraqi military. Shahwani's secret Iraqi network was known as "77 Alpha," and later as "the Scorpions."

Though many in Maliki's government regard Shahwani with suspicion, his supporters say he has tried to remain independent of the sectarian battles in Iraq. He has provided intelligence that has led to the capture of several senior al-Qaeda operatives, according to U.S. sources, as well as regular intelligence about the Sunni insurgency. Several months ago, Shahwani informed Maliki of an assassination plot by a bodyguard who secretly worked for Shiite militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr. Shahwani's service uncovered a similar plot to assassinate Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Salih, a Kurd.

Shahwani's operatives discovered in 2004 that the Iranians had a hit list, drawn from an old Defense Ministry payroll document that identified the names and home addresses of senior officers who served under the former regime. Shahwani himself was among those targeted for assassination by the Iranians. To date, about 140 officers in the INIS have been killed.[20]

The CIA had hoped that Shahwani's INIS could be an effective national force and a deterrent to Iranian meddling. To mount effective operations against the Iranians, Shahwani recruited the chief of the Iran branch of the Saddam Hussein-era Mukhabarat. That made the Iranians and their Shiite allies nervous.

There is a competing intelligence service "called the Ministry of Security, was created last year under the direction of Sheerwan al-Waeli. He is a former colonel in the Iraqi army who served in Nasiriyah under the old regime. He is said to have received training in Iran and to be maintaining regular liaison with Iranian and Syrian intelligence officers in Baghdad. His service, like Shahwani's organization, has about 5,000 officers."

In February 2004,[20] the new Iraqi National Intelligence Service, or INIS, was established in February 2004 "as a nonsectarian force that would recruit its officers and agents from all of Iraq's religious communities. Its chief, Gen. Mohammed Shahwani, is a Sunni from Mosul. He is married to a Shiite and his deputy is a Kurd. Shahwani, a commander of Iraqi special forces during the Iran–Iraq War, has worked closely with the CIA for more than a decade – first in trying to topple Saddam Hussein, then in trying to build an effective intelligence organization."

New Iraqi intelligence forms

On July 9, 2004, the Senate Report of Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq of the Senate Intelligence Committee reported that the CIA exaggerated the danger presented by weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, largely unsupported by the available intelligence.[40]

In 2004, the lack of finding WMD, the continuing armed resistance against the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, and the widely perceived need for a systematic review of the respective roles of the CIA, the FBI, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Iraq 2004

The mission that captured Saddam Hussein was called "Operation Red Dawn". It was planned and carried out by the JSOC's Delta Force and SAD/SOG teams (together called Task Force 121). The operation eventually included around 600 soldiers from the 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division.[38][39] Special operations troops probably numbered around 40. Much of the publicity and credit for the capture went to the 4th Infantry Division soldiers, but CIA and JSOC were the driving force. "Task Force 121 were actually the ones who pulled Saddam out of the hole" said Robert Andrews, former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict. "They can't be denied a role anymore."[38]

Capture of Saddam Hussein

Some of the information used to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq came from a discredited informant codenamed "Curveball" by CIA, who falsely claimed that he had worked as a chemical engineer at a plant that manufactured mobile biological weapon laboratories as part of an Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program. Despite warnings to CIA from the German Federal Intelligence Service regarding the authenticity of his claims, they were incorporated into President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address and Colin Powell's subsequent presentation to the UN Security Council.[36][37]

"... dismantle the existing filtering process that for fifty years had been preventing the policymakers from getting bad information. They created stovepipes to get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership.... They always had information to back up their public claims, but it was often very bad information," Pollack said.[35]
that what the Bush administration did was Seymour Hersh told [34], a former National Security Council expert on Iraq, who generally supported the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein,Kenneth Pollack

Evidence against Iraq having a WMD program included information from CIA officer 2003 State of the Union address to support waging a preventive war against Iraq. See Iraq 2007 investigations for the aftermath of this claims and disclosures about them.

Richard Kerr, a 32-year CIA veteran who served three years as deputy director for intelligence, was commissioned to lead a review of agency analysis of Iraqi WMD claims, and produced a series of reports, one of which is unclassified.[31] Kerr told journalist Robert Dreyfuss that CIA analysts felt intimidated by the Bush administration, saying, "A lot of analysts believed that they were being pressured to come to certain conclusions … . I talked to a lot of people who said, 'There was a lot of repetitive questioning. We were being asked to justify what we were saying again and again.' There were certainly people who felt they were being pushed beyond the evidence they had."[32] In a January 26, 2006 interview, Kerr acknowledged this had resulted in open antagonism between some in the CIA and the Bush White House, saying, "There have been more leaks and discussions outside what I would consider to be the appropriate level than I've ever seen before. And I think that lack of discipline is a real problem. I don't think an intelligence organization can kind of take up arms against politics, or a policy-maker. I think that will not work, and it won't stand."[33]

U.S. intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction(WMD) had been the focus of intense scrutiny in the U.S. See CIA activities in the Near East, North Africa, South and Southwest Asia#Iraq 2004 for after-the-fact analysis of this threat. Successive chronological entries deal with the resistance in Iraq.

Iraq 2003

NATO member Turkey refused to allow its territory to be used by the US Army's 4th Infantry Division for the invasion. As a result, the SAD, US Army Special Forces joint teams and the Kurdish Peshmerga were the entire northern force against Saddam's Army during the invasion. Their efforts kept the 1st and 5th Corps of the Iraqi Army in place to defend against the Kurds rather than their moving to contest the coalition force coming from the south. This combined US Special Operations and Kurdish force soundly defeated Saddam's Army, a major military success, similar to the victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan.[27] Four members of the SAD/SOG team received the CIA's rare Intelligence Star for their "heroic actions".[28]

SAD teams also conducted high risk special reconnaissance missions behind Iraqi lines to identify senior leadership targets. These missions led to the initial strikes against Saddam Hussein and his key generals. Although the initial strike against Hussein was unsuccessful in killing the dictator, it was successful in effectively ending his ability to command and control his forces. Other strikes against key generals were successful and significantly degraded the command's ability to react to and maneuver against the US-led invasion force.[27][30]

CIA Kurdish Peshmerga for the subsequent US-led invasion. They combined to defeat Ansar al-Islam, an ally of Al-Qaeda. If this battle had not been as successful as it was, there would have been a considerable hostile force behind the US/Kurdish force in the subsequent assault on Saddam's Army. The US side was carried out by Paramilitary Operations Officers from SAD/SOG and the Army's 10th Special Forces Group.[27][28][29]

Iraq 2002

As a follow-on to the coup plotting, in the run-up to, and during the invasion, both Alawi and Shawani played important roles in the US/UK effort to encourage Iraqi officers to surrender or defect. It did not quite work out that way. The Iraqi military did not defect or surrender, they just went home.[25]

But the coup planning went ahead. DBACHILLES succeeded in reaching a number of senior Iraqi military officers, but was compromised and collapsed in June 1996. The Iraqis began arresting the coup plotters on June 26. At least 200 officers were seized and more than 80 were executed, including Shawani's sons. Top CIA officials reportedly blamed Chalabi for exposing the plot, and the recrimination has persisted ever since.

Chalabi was convinced that the military-coup plan had been compromised and traveled to Washington in March 1996 to see the new CIA director, Inmarsat satellite phone to Shawani's sons in Baghdad. When the CIA officials seemed unconvinced, Chalabi then went to his friend Richard Perle. Perle is said to have called Tenet and urged that an outside committee review the Iraq situation.

The CIA was involved in the failed 1996 coup against Saddam Hussein.

Iraq 1996

According to the Washington Post,[26] the CIA appointed a new head of its Near East Division, Stephen Richter, who assumed that large parts of the Iraqi army might support a coup. A team met with Gen. Mohammed Abdullah Shawani,[20] a former commander of Iraqi Special Forces, and a Turkmen from Mosul. As the CIA was drafting its plans, the British encouraged the agency to contact an experienced Iraqi exile named Ayad Alawi, who headed a network of current and former Iraqi military officers and Ba'ath Party operatives known as wifaq, the Arabic word for "trust."

U.S. and Iraqi sources provided an account of the unsuccessful strategy of deposing Saddam by a coup d'état during the 1990s, an effort reportedly known within CIA by the cryptonym "DBACHILLES" . The failed coup efforts carry some important lessons. They show that Iraqi intelligence penetrated the Iraqi exile-based operations. And they illustrate the damage caused by a long-running feud between Iraqi exile groups and their patrons in Washington.[25]

Iraq 1994

Funding Kurdish organizations,[23] the CIA worked to create a new Kurdish-led intelligence agency in Iraq called Asayesh (Kurdish for "security").[24]

Iraq 1993

According to former CIA officer Robert Baer, various rebel groups were attempting to oust Hussein at the time. No public records of the CIA campaign are known to exist, and former U.S. officials said their recollections were in many cases sketchy, and in some cases contradictory. "But whether the bombings actually killed any civilians could not be confirmed because, as a former CIA official said, the United States had no significant intelligence sources in Iraq then." In 1996, Amneh al-Khadami, who described himself as the chief bomb maker for the Iraqi National Accord, recorded a videotape in which he talked of the bombing campaign and complained that he was being shortchanged money and supplies. Two former intelligence officers confirmed the existence of the videotape. Mr. Khadami said that "we blew up a car, and we were supposed to get $2,000" but got only $1,000, as reported in 1997 by the British newspaper The Independent, which had obtained a copy of the videotape.[21] The campaign was directed by CIA asset Dr. Iyad Allawi,[22] later installed as interim prime minister by the U.S.-led coalition that invaded Iraq in 2003.

According to former U.S. intelligence officials interviewed by The New York Times, the CIA indirectly supported a bomb and sabotage campaign between 1992 and 1995 in Iraq conducted by the Iraqi National Accord insurgents, led by Iyad Allawi. The campaign had no apparent effect in toppling Saddam Hussein's rule.[21]

After the Gulf War, CIA took steps to correct the shortcomings identified during the Gulf War and improve its support to the US military, beginning improved communications with major US military commands. In 1992, CIA created the Office of Military Affairs (OMA) to enhance cooperation and increase information flow between the CIA and the military. OMA is subordinate to the Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Military Support and is jointly staffed by CIA officers from all directorates and military personnel from all the services.[19]

A 1992 CIA map of southeastern Iraq with oilfields, airfields, and other strategic locations identified.

Iraq 1992


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