US arms sent for Syr­ian rebels used to kill Amer­i­cans

Weapons thought to be in hands of Isil af­ter truck­loads di­verted by Jor­da­nian of­fi­cers

The Daily Telegraph - - World News - By Josie En­sor in Beirut

WEAPONS worth mil­lions of dol­lars sent by the CIA to Jor­dan and in­tended for Syr­ian rebels fight­ing Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad’s forces were stolen by the country’s in­tel­li­gence chiefs and sold on the black mar­ket, it has emerged.

Thou­sands of Kalash­nikov as­sault ri­fles, mor­tars and rocket-pro­pelled grenades have ended up in the hands of crim­i­nals.

Some of the arms were used in the shoot­ing of two Amer­i­can con­trac­tors by a Jor­da­nian of­fi­cer last Novem­ber at a po­lice train­ing base in the cap­i­tal Amman, ac­cord­ing to a joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion by The New York Times and al-Jazeera.

The theft was re­port­edly car­ried out by of­fi­cers with direct ac­cess to cargo, who “reg­u­larly si­phoned truck­loads” of the arms, which the US be­gan de­liv­er­ing in 2013.

Jor­da­nian of­fi­cers “reaped a wind­fall” from the sales, us­ing the money to buy iPhones, SUVs and other ex­pen­sive goods, The New York Times said.

The scheme was only stopped a few months ago when the US heard re­ports of arms deal­ers brag­ging that they had large stocks of CIA weapons.

Af­ter Amer­ica com­plained, Jor­da­nian in­ves­ti­ga­tors ar­rested sev­eral dozen “low-level” of­fi­cers, but later re­leased them. Most of the stolen weapons could not be ac­counted for, but ex­perts spec­u­late they could be in the pos­ses­sion of crim­i­nal net­works or Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant sym­pa­this­ers.

Isil has be­come in­creas­ingly ac­tive in the Hashemite king­dom in re­cent months. It claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity yes­ter­day for a sui­cide at­tack on a Jor­da­nian army post on the Syr­ian border.

Husam Ab­dal­lat, a se­nior aide to sev­eral for­mer prime min­is­ters of Jor­dan, said he had heard about the crim­i­nal scheme from cur­rent Jor­da­nian offi- cials. How­ever, state of­fi­cials de­nied all the al­le­ga­tions.

The US State Depart­ment did not ad­dress the claims di­rectly, but a spokesman said Amer­ica’s re­la­tion­ship with Jor­dan re­mained solid.

Jor­dan is one of the US and Bri­tain’s most re­li­able al­lies in the Mid­dle East. Wash­ing­ton and Lon­don use Jor­dan, which neigh­bours Syria, as a base to arm and train rebels in the fight against both Isil and the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment.

With the US so de­pen­dent on Amman, the rev­e­la­tion is un­likely to cause se­ri­ous dam­age. Both the CIA and Pen­tagon pro­grammes in Syria have been plagued by prob­lems since their launch in 2013.

The CIA pro­gramme trained sev­eral thou­sand sol­diers and en­joyed some suc­cess against As­sad’s gov­ern­ment un­til Rus­sian jets joined his sup­port and forced them to re­treat.

The Pen­tagon project, which was aimed at com­bat­ing Isil, was shut down af­ter it failed to train enough fight­ers. Many of those they had man­aged to send out were cap­tured or killed.

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