Under a False Flag

Will Israel succeed in dragging us into war with Iran?

If not, it won’t be for lack of trying. Their influential lobby in the US has been agitating for a US strike since the last year of the Bush presidency, when they almost succeeded in pulling it off: fortunately for us, Bush demurred, perhaps because he didn’t want his legacy to be two unwinnable and disastrous wars instead of just one.

Israel was to be the spearhead, with the US providing back up support, as the Guardian reported at the time:

“Israel gave serious thought this spring to launching a military strike on Iran’s nuclear sites but was told by President George W Bush that he would not support it and did not expect to revise that view for the rest of his presidency, senior European diplomatic sources have told the Guardian.”

Deterred from firing the first shots of World War III, the Israelis didn’t give up. Instead, they turned to other less direct means to achieve their goal. As Mark Perry reports on foreignpolicy.com:

“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.”

You bet those memos are buried deep – lest Americans discover that their faithful “allies” are trying to implicate them in war crimes.

Jundallah is a terrorist organization, Sunni-oriented and linked to al-Qaeda, that has murdered Iranian civilians in bombings and other attacks within Iran: their ostensible goal is to “liberate” Iranian (and Pakistani) Baluchistan. According to the memos, the Israelis recruited these terrorists right out in the open in London, where Mossad operatives – posing as CIA officers – met with Jundallah officials. “It’s amazing what the Israelis thought they could get away with,” Perry quotes one intelligence officer as saying. “They apparently didn’t give a damn what we thought.”

Of course not – and why should they? After all, we’ve given them a pass every time: when Jonathan Pollard stole what US officials described as the intelligence community’s “crown jewels” and passed them off to the Russians; when they stole our trade and military secrets and passed them off to China: when they were tracking the 9/11 conspirators and didn’t tell us what Mohammed Atta and his crew were up to. They took our “foreign aid” with one hand, and stabbed us in the back with the other.

What did we do about it, and what were the consequences for the Israelis?

The answer is: nothing, and none: nor has the story changed much this time around. Perry reports:

“A senior administration official vowed to ‘take the gloves off’ with Israel… but the United States did nothing – a result that the officer attributed to ‘political and bureaucratic inertia.’”

“’In the end,’ the officer noted, ‘it was just easier to do nothing than to, you know, rock the boat.’ Even so, at least for a short time, this same officer noted, the Mossad operation sparked a divisive debate among Bush’s national security team, pitting those who wondered ‘just whose side these guys [in Israel] are on’ against those who argued that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’”

Oh well, I suppose you could call the cancellation of those planned joint US-Israeli military exercises more than nothing. Although Washington is claiming the cancellation is due to a desire to dial down tensions in the region, that didn’t stop them from ordering their warships to the Persian Gulf. In any case, the cancellation of “Austere Challenge 12” will hardly stop the Israelis from pursuing their plan to provoke the Iranians into attacking US facilities and/or personnel in the region. After all, since there are never any significant consequences attendant on their bad behavior, what have they got to lose?

The Americans don’t dare come out in public and take Tel Aviv to task: the powerful Israel lobby would have the President’s scalp, and Congress – aptly characterized as “Israeli-occupied territory” by the politically incorrect Pat Buchanan – would probably pass a resolution condemning their own President if Obama dared step out of line. And then there is all that campaign money the Democrats hope to scarf up this worrisome election season: taking the Israelis out to the wood shed would enrage the big money-bags who make unconditional support for Israel the price of their support.

Why should the Israelis care that their actions put US personnel in jeopardy, inviting attacks in kind from Tehran? Iranian attacks on US military personnel stationed in Iraq could easily inflict thousands of casualties, and this is especially true now that the US footprint is considerably reduced – but that would be the Americans’ problem. The Israelis, for their part, had the perfect “false flag” operation going: neither the Iranians nor top Jundallah cadre knew where the support was really coming from.

Jundallah’s leader, Abdolmalek Rigi,was captured by the Iranians and executed in the summer of 2010: before he was offed, however, he did an interview with Iranian media in the course of which he recalled a 2007 meeting in Morocco with a group of individuals who were supposed to be “NATO officials: “When we thought about it,” said Rigi, “we came to the conclusion that they are either Americans acting under NATO cover or Israelis.”

Rigi was just another pawn in the game as far as Israelis are concerned: they aren’t too particular about the types of unwitting allies they recruit. Rigi personally murdered his brother-in-law for disobeying orders, cutting his head off while Dan Rather’s cameras rolled. Kidnappings are a Jundallah favorite, along with videotaped decapitations. The Israelis have a whole collection of such charming types: they are arming and training the separatists of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), who conduct terrorist attacks on civilian targets in Turkey, and are doing the same for the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), a weird Marxist cult formerly succored by Saddam Hussein, which has carried out terrorist attacks in Iran.

These are the allies and proxies of “the only democracy in the Middle East”!

The tactical objective behind Israeli support for Jundallah is simple: magnifying tensions between the US and Iran takes us farther down the road to war. When Rigi was captured and “confessed” on Iranian television, he averred that he was a tool of the CIA and claimed he had recently been on a US military base in Afghanistan: no doubt the Israelis were well pleased with their “student.” He had learned his lessons well.

Israeli sponsorship of Jundallah, the PKK, and MEK all point to Tel Aviv’s underlying strategic perspective, and that is a policy of sowing chaos whenever and wherever possible. If the idea is to atomize Israel’s neighbors, and reduce them to a condition of internal chaos, then this is surely the best way to go about it: by sponsoring every separatist and violently crazed sect that will take their cash.

“Flush with American dollars and toting U.S. passports,” as Perry put it, the Israelis arrived in London on the lookout for recruits. We know where those American dollars came from – straight out of the pockets of American taxpayers, who are forced to shell out over $3 billion every year in “foreign aid” to Israel. But what about those American passports? Maybe they came from the same place these passports originated. In the brouhaha over the Mossad’s theft of passports in New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, France, and elsewhere, no mention was ever made of any “cloned” American passports – but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

The Israelis cannot take out Iran all on their own: they need the US to deliver the death blow and execute a program of “regime change” on the ground. Then and only then will their goal of regional hegemony be realized. That’s why they’ve mobilized all their resources, including their numerous and vocal political allies in the United States, to pull out all the stops and provoke a shooting war between the US and Iran. That such an event would lead to an economic downturn that would make the present one seem relatively prosperous is irrelevant, from the narrow perspective of a rabid Israeli nationalist. And that is precisely who is making policy in Israel today: the most extreme right-wing ultra-nationalist government since the founding of the Jewish state.

To these extremists, the Americans are an obstacle rather than a valued ally. And they have increasing power in Israel, in the government and in society at large. Fundamentalists are pushing the separation of the sexes, and the powerful religious parties are campaigning for expanded “settlements,” i.e. more provocations aimed at the downtrodden Palestinians.

Isn’t it time we gave our “special relationship” with Israel a second look? As Israeli agents covertly seek to incite the peoples of the Middle East – including the Iranians – against us, one has to wonder, like those intelligence analysts cited above: just whose side are these guys on, anyway?

The answer is: they’re on their own side. The question Perry’s scoop ought to raise in the mind of every American is: when are we going to start being on our own side?

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of Antiwar.com, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].