Jordan Officials Sold U.S. Supplied Weapons on Black Market
Jordanian intelligence operatives have been skimming weapons meant to combat Syria’s tyrannical President Bashar al-Assad to sell on the black market. A co-investigation by the New York Times and Al Jazeera this week uncovered that the weapons were initially funneled into the country as arms for C.I.A-trained Syrian rebel groups, and subsequently stolen from shipments of weapon caches. The weapons include: Kalashnikov assault rifles, mortars, and grenades.
Since 2013, the U.S. has been supplying a collection of Syrian groups that oppose Assad, the murderous tyrant whose government has killed thousands of its own citizens. The program, known as Timber Sycamore, was a cooperative effort between a number of actors including the C.I.A., a host of Arab Countries, and the Jordanian intelligence service G.I.D.
Initially, the C.I.A. armed and trained thousands of rebels, while a host of Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, helped fund the program. Jordan, a long and trusted ally of the U.S., then helped move the American-bought arms from Europe to training sites across the country.
The path of the stolen weapons is as follows: The U.S. supplied the weapons, many of which were bought in the Balkans, or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Jordanian intelligence officers then moved the weapons to training points throughout the country. Officials involved in the theft would route a chunk of the weapons to black markets, especially in Ma’an, Sahab, and the Jordan Valley. According to the report, officers involved in the weapons scheme have used the money to buy SUVs and iPhones.
In an ironic and sinister twist, U.S. officials believe the weapons used in a November shooting in Jordan’s capital of Amman that killed five people (including two Americans), can be traced to the U.S. arm shipments.
Several dozen Jordanian officers have been arrested for their involvement in the weapons coup, and there is suspicion that there was a cover-up involving the highest positions of the G.I.D.
While the revelations are surprising, and perhaps undermine the Obama administration’s rebel arming strategy, they will not damage the U.S.-Jordan partnership, which is as important as ever in a roiling region being torn apart by state-less terror.
“The United States deeply values the long history of cooperation and friendship with Jordan,” John Kirby, the State Department’s spokesman told the New York Times. “We are committed to the security of Jordan and to partnering closely with Jordan to meet common security challenges.”