US arms sent for Syrian rebels used to kill Americans
Weapons thought to be in hands of Isil after truckloads diverted by Jordanian officers
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.