Camp Chapman attack and the Blame Game

The Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate, a rather mysterious intelligence organization, is becoming the subject of much talk post the Camp Chapman attack, occurring on December 30th, 2009.

People are shocked that the suicide bomber responsible for the attack came into the base without the routine security measures. The attacker, currently identified by the CIA and western sources as Humam al-Balawi (though Jordanians call for more investigation), is responsible for the death of eight, among them Sharif Ali bin Zeid, a GID official.

U.S. sources say that al-Balawi was a Jordanian “double agent”, initially an extremist Islamist sympathetic to al-Qaeda, but ‘turned’ into a GID “agent” and informant. Taliban-related sources call him a “triple agent”, who was ultimately motivated to serve Taliban/al-Qaeda.

As such, public opinion of the of the GID, or, “the Jordanians”, as they are referred to, is becoming more negative. Many with little background on the history of GID-CIA anti-terrorism cooperation would call for less trust by the CIA/Americans towards the GID/Jordanians.

UPI states, however, that Jordanian officials stress that al-Balawi was not a Jordanian agent, but instead a trusted informant. Supposedly, al-Balawi has had a history of reporting reliable data. As such, the GID vouched for his integrity (information wise).

Nevertheless, should the GID be embarrassed? Sure. They do hold part of the responsibility; they probably didn’t watch al-Balawi as closely as they should’ve.

However, saying the CIA should be more questioning of GID contributions would do more harm than good.

David Ignatius, Washington Post journalist and author of “Body of Lies”, clarifies that the CIA probably should have been more weary of its own protocols. CBS News states that – in many ways – it was the CIA’s own problem that it let down its guard.

So why do I say that questioning GID contributions to the global operations against worldwide terrorism is harmful? Well, because the GID has, in the past, proved to be an invaluable source. Jordanian intelligence was responsible for thwarting the millennium attack plots, warning the CIA about the 9/11 attacks, etc.

The GID also are acclaimed worldwide for their intelligence abilities. David Ignatius mentions a CIA offer who said “He set the standard for how we do it”, of Sa`ad Kheir, a former GID official. Also referenced by Ignatius is George Tenet, former CIA director, saying the GID was the most helpful intelligence service against al-Qaeda.

Some Jordanians or Arabs might be discomforted by what I say, because they might view my apparent approval of “GID-CIA cooperation” as a sign of blind pro-Westernism, or going against ‘Arabism’, our culture, or political causes. As such, I’ll make it clear that the reason I approve of such ‘cooperation’ is because – as far as I understand, currently – the nature of such cooperation revolves around fighting worldwide terrorism. We Jordanians fell victim of the November 9th attacks in 2005, orchestrated by al-Qaeda-Middle East and al-Zarqawi. So, we should especially understand that, when it comes to networks such as al-Qaeda or Taliban, or attack plots that can endanger the lives of civilians, we have a human responsibility to cooperate with whoever capable to combat it.