Armed attack Inside the Jordanian Department of Intelligence, baffles Jordanians
By Ali Younes
In an unprecedented violent attack inside Jordan’s most secretive and feared government security agency, The General Intelligence Directorate (GID), also known as the “Mukhabarat” in Arabic, an intelligence officer attacked and stabbed a high ranking senior officer during an alleged armed robbery attempt last week using a stun baton Taser and a knife. The attacker was identified in a statement by the victim’s tribe and reported by the London-based newspaper Al Rai al Youm as Mohamad Abdullah al Odwan. Odwan had allegedly entered the office of intelligence officer, Lt. Colonel Khaled Tawfiq al Utoom and demanded a hundred thousand dinar ( $ 150.000) from a safe the victim had in his office and supposedly contained millions more. Rai al Youm reported that Odwan stabbed and clubbed Utoom with his stun baton after the latter refused to hand over the money to him. Odwan then fled the building after taking large sums of money from the safe, but later was arrested and currently is under investigation.
A senior Jordanian intelligence officer, meanwhile, confirmed to the Arab Daily News on the phone from Amman that the attack took place inside the GID headquarters, but insisted that the way it was reported by the news media and on the social media networks as “exaggerated” and “inaccurate.”
The officer who was not authorized to speak to the media publically also said that the incident is “an internal matter of the department, and is still under investigation.” He added that the news media should not be reporting on this incident because “ it is an internal issue and that news media should focus, instead, on bigger subjects such as what’s happening in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. “ And this is why” he continued, “You see no Jordanian newspaper or website have reported on this story.”
True to that, all forms of Jordanian media observed complete and strict radio silence on this story.
The Jordanian intelligence department does not have an official spokesman or Public Affairs department.
The Arab Daily News could not confirm what section of the GID, Utoom is working in to warrant the presence large sums of cash at his office. Sources in Amman, however, told the Arab Daily News, that the large amount of money was “operational money” and that it was for the Jordan section within the department which indicates that Utoom is part of the Jordan section within the department. (see below).
This incident which is very rare to take place inside one of Jordan’s most secured and cohesive security organizations, kept Jordanians guessing on what really went there. Several Jordanian journalists told me that if it was not for the public statement of the victim’s tribe, the whole story would no go beyond the rumors stage.
The Jordanian Mukhabarat is a CIA-trained-and-equipped, intelligence service and is highly respected within the CIA and other intelligence circles in Washington. It has deep, historic and umbilical ties with the CIA and has proved invaluable to the American “War on terror”, and was able to thwart many terrorist plots against Jordan, the US and other allies. Former CIA intelligence officer who was stationed in Amman and worked closely with the Mukhabarat in the past have told me that the Jordanian Mukhabarat is the best in the Middle East “because they have their own spies everywhere in the region and because they have penetrated many of the targeted extremist groups.”
But the Mukhabrat is also accused of violating the Jordanian constitution and laws because of its use of violence, torture and abuse of detainees. Several formerly accused terrorists, Jihadists leaders, and political activists have told me that they were subjected to severe beatings, abuse and torture by high ranking officers during their interrogation and detention inside its headquarters.
It is also accused of obtaining confessions through threats and torture. The Mukhabarat have also illegally imprisoned Islamists and other political prisoners for many years without any legal charges and outside the Jordanian legal system.
Many Jordanian citizens also complained that the Mukhabarat undermines freedom of speech and civil liberties of the Jordanian citizens through rigging the parliamentary elections, restricting freedom of press and intervening in the judicial system.
Sources in Washington told the Arab Daily News that the CIA has recently been invloved in organizational restructuring of the Mukhabarat to make it much more bureaucratically efficient organization.
The Mukhabarat is staffed approximately with over 6000 intelligence officers who hold military ranks and other civilian employees. it is divided into six sections which in turn are divided into sub sections and desks.
The main sections are:
1: Jordan section which responsible for covering the Jordanian political, religious and social landscape.
2: Palestine section: This section is responsible for covering Palestinian affairs including Jordanians of Palestinian origins and clandestine operations.
3: External affairs section which deals with foreign espionage and foreign relations.
4: analytics section that has the responsibility of providing intelligence analysis and estimates to the King and other top leaders.
5: Counterterrorism section: This section deals with domestic terrorist threats, and coordinates with foreign agencies against international terrorist groups.
6: Operational Section: This section is involved in both covert and clandestine operations outside Jordan, it is modeled after the CIA’s Directorate of Operations (DO) and enjoys excellent relations and funding from the CIA.
Ali Younes is the Editor of the Arab Daily News. He can be reached at : aliyounes@theArabdailynews.com and on twitter @clearaliyounes
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