Home/Daniel Larison/Jundallah and Israel’s False Flag Operation in Iran

Jundallah and Israel’s False Flag Operation in Iran

Mark Perry reports a major story on Israel and the terrorist group Jundallah:

Buried deep in the archives of America’s intelligence services are a series of memos, written during the last years of President George W. Bush’s administration, that describe how Israeli Mossad officers recruited operatives belonging to the terrorist group Jundallah by passing themselves off as American agents. According to two U.S. intelligence officials, the Israelis, flush with American dollars and toting U.S. passports, posed as CIA officers in recruiting Jundallah operatives — what is commonly referred to as a “false flag” operation.

The memos, as described by the sources, one of whom has read them and another who is intimately familiar with the case, investigated and debunked reports from 2007 and 2008 accusing the CIA, at the direction of the White House, of covertly supporting Jundallah — a Pakistan-based Sunni extremist organization. Jundallah, according to the U.S. government and published reports, is responsible for assassinating Iranian government officials and killing Iranian women and children.

If true, this would seem to clear the U.S. of any involvement with a group that is undeniably a terrorist group (and one that the U.S. added to the FTO list in late 2010). I had assumed that the reports claiming U.S. support for Jundallah were true, since there was reportedly a Bush-era policy of indirectly supporting violent separatist groups inside Iran. In the case of Jundallah, the U.S. reportedly supported them by way of the ISI, but perhaps that was not the case after all.

Will Iran hawks maintain that the civilians blown up at the mosques in Chabahar and Zahedan were the “real terrorists”? Obviously, the use of such tactics is just as deplorable and abhorrent when they are used against Iranian civilians as they are when they are used against Israelis. The association of these attacks with the U.S. has put Americans in danger by creating the impression that the U.S. was responsible when it wasn’t.

Perry’s report continues:

The officials did not know whether the Israeli program to recruit and use Jundallah is ongoing. Nevertheless, they were stunned by the brazenness of the Mossad’s efforts.

“It’s amazing what the Israelis thought they could get away with,” the intelligence officer said. “Their recruitment activities were nearly in the open. They apparently didn’t give a damn what we thought.”

At the same time, it is remarkable that a U.S. client state’s operatives would do this while posing as U.S. officers without any apparent repercussions. The report says that Bush “went absolutely ballistic” when he learned of this, but there were apparently no immediate consequences:

A senior administration official vowed to “take the gloves off” with Israel, according to a U.S. intelligence officer. But the United States did nothing — a result that the officer attributed to “political and bureaucratic inertia.”

Nonetheless, Israel seems to have foolishly burned a lot of bridges with the false flag operation:

What has become crystal clear, however, is the level of anger among senior intelligence officials about Israel’s actions. “This was stupid and dangerous,” the intelligence official who first told me about the operation said. “Israel is supposed to be working with us, not against us. If they want to shed blood, it would help a lot if it was their blood and not ours [bold mine-DL]. You know, they’re supposed to be a strategic asset. Well, guess what? There are a lot of people now, important people, who just don’t think that’s true.”

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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