LONDON (IPS/GIN)–The U.S. army in Iraq is enlisting Israeli experts to train its forces on assassinating resistance leaders, a move which a former U.S. intelligence official warned would further entrench the perception of America as another “Sharon” in Iraq, a British daily recently disclosed.
Citing military and intelligence sources, The Guardian said U.S. forces are now being trained by Israeli warfare specialists in the North Carolina-based Fort Bragg, home to U.S. special forces.
It maintained that “U.S. special forces teams are already behind the lines inside Syria” to kill would-be resistance fighters before they cross the border.
The mass-circulation British daily also asserted that a group focused on the “neutralization” of Iraqi resistance leaders was being set up in Iraq.
It further underlined that Israeli military “consultants” have visited the oil-rich occupied Arab country.
“Some Israelis went to Iraq as well, not to do training, but for providing consultations,” it quoted a well-informed intelligence source in Washington as saying, noting the visit was confirmed by another U.S. source in contact with American officials in Iraq.
U.S. Brigadier General Michael Vane admitted, in a letter to Army magazine in July, that U.S. forces had visited Israel to make the best of the Israeli expertise in this respect, it said.
“We recently traveled to Israel to glean lessons learned from their ‘counter-terrorist’ operations in urban areas,” wrote General Vane, deputy chief of staff at the army’s training and doctrine command.
American occupation forces have already begun to use Israeli-styled tactics in Iraq, such as sealing off entire Iraqi villages with razor wire.
The New Yorker magazine further revealed that the new U.S. assassination squad in Iraq is made up of elite troops and called “Task Force 121.”
It said that one of the planners behind the offensive is Lieutenant General William Boykin, whose anti-Islam remarks had inflamed Muslims worldwide.
Dressed in his military uniform, Gen. Boykin told an evangelical Oregon group that Muslims worship “an idol.”
A former senior U.S. intelligence officer hit out at the growing U.S.-Israeli cooperation, voicing concern that America is seen as another “Sharon” in the eyes of the Arab world, in reference to hawkish Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon.
“This is basically an assassination program. That is what is being conceptualized here. This is a hunter-killer team,” he told The Guardian.
The ex-intelligence official feared that the tactics used by the U.S. occupation forces in Iraq were a mirror image of those used by the Israeli occupation troops in the occupied Palestinian territories, which would add more fuel to the deteriorating situation in the Middle East.
“It is bonkers, insane. Here we are–we’re already being compared to Sharon in the Arab world, and we’ve just confirmed it by bringing in the Israelis and setting up assassination teams,” he added.
The report is the latest in a series that revealed an increasingly growing Israeli involvement in U.S.-occupied Iraq.
An Israeli center closely linked to the Mossad was opened last August in Baghdad, in a provocative move seen by Iraqi academics as the beginning of an Israeli scheme to infiltrate the Iraqi society.
Reports further said that Israeli companies and intelligence elements were being housed in the landmark Baghdad Hotel rented by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).