The British daily, the Guardian, reported on Tuesday that US intelligence and military had confirmed that the Israeli army had sent warfare specialists to Fort Braggs in North Carolina where US special forces are based.
The newspaper report also said that US special forces units were inside Syria, preventing alleged resistance fighters trying to make their way into Iraq.
“This is basically an assassination programme. That is what is being conceptualised here. This is a hunter-killer team,” a former senior US intelligence official told the newspaper, adding that he feared the new tactics and enhanced cooperation with Israel would only inflame a volatile situation in the Middle East.
“It is bonkers, insane. Here we are – we’re already being compared to Sharon in the Arab world, and we’ve just confirmed it by bringing in the Israelis and setting up assassination teams.”
The move, according to an Egyptian military analyst, will only enflame tensions in the region.
Israeli army advisers are passing on their expertise in occupying an Arab country, helping the US-led forces carry out actions similar to the Israeli army in Palestine, said the retired former Brigadier-General who asked not be named.
“It (US policy) is a failure because they cannot conquer all of Iraq…They (Iraqis) are a fighting people and very good warriors,” said the former Brigadier-General, who asked not to be identified.
“You can see that the way the American troops behave towards the Iraqis is similar to what the Israelis do in Palestine,” he said.
Israeli army advisers to pass over
These are not the first reports of Israeli assistance to US military planners within Iraq.
US Brigadier General Michael Vane, a military planner, wrote in a July issue of an army magazine that Israel was cooperating with Washington for plans countering Iraqi resistance.
“We recently travelled to Israel to glean lessons learned from their counter-terrorist operations in urban areas,” he wrote, referring to Israel’s military actions and blockades carried out against Palestinian resistance fighters.
Israeli special forces are known to be active in various arenas of conflict, involving restive Muslim populations including Kashmir, where they train Indian counter-insurgency forces.
New Task Force
The Israeli advice may help train troops engaged in the search for Saddam Hussein.
US General John Abizaid, commander of the US Central Command, has disbanded Task Force 20, one of Washington’s elite military units which has been working in Iraq to track down the ousted president.
“I knew that my God was a real God and (the Muslim God) was an idol”
TF 20, whose existence and mission was classified, had also carried out missions such as capturing Palestinian leader Muhammad Abbas, in Baghdad in mid-April. He was said to be responsible for hijacking an Italian cruise ship in 1985.
Instead, Abizaid, who commands all American troops from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, has created Task Force 121. Military officers have been quoted as saying that it will focus intelligence and the elite Special Operations might within one force.
One of the planners behind the force is Lieutenant General William Boykin who drew the ire of the Muslim world in October when he said:
“I knew that my God was a real God and (the Muslim God) was an idol,” and that Islamists allegedly hated the United States because “we’re a Christian nation”.