Rob: Welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show WMJC 1360AM, out of Washington Township reaching Metro Philly and South Jersey sponsored by Opednews.com. My guest for this part of the show is Mark Perry. He's an author, historian and intelligence analyst living in Arlington, Virginia. His book, Talking To Terrorists published by Basic Books in 2010. His Twitter account is @markperrydc. Welcome to the show Mark.
Mark: It's good to be here Rob.
Rob: I got in touch with you because you have a new article that came out a week or two ago called False Flag . The description is a series of CIA memos describes how Israeli Mossad agents use American spies to recruit members of the Jundallah terrorist organizations to fight their covert war against Iran. It blew my mind when I heard that. It's not surprising I guess but that the Mossads would actually pretend to be Americans?
Mark: Well it shocked me too, oddly how these things happen if you're a reporter this was an aside in a cup of coffee with a person I barely knew about 18 months ago and we went on with the discussion and I said to the person, "Can we go back about 10 minutes, what is this Israel and Jundallah" and this is a very senior intelligence analyst and they went back through the story and it took me 18 months to really develop it and confirm it and the day it appeared which was on the Friday before Martin Luther King day I finally was able to be comfortable enough with it to publish it. It is shocking, but it's very clear that Israeli intelligence agencies, posing as CIA officers, attempted to recruit for their own purposes in Iran, an organization that's on the foreign terrorist organization list.
Rob: And that's Jundallah?
Mark: Jundallah. There's not much known about it among the general public but it's a notorious terrorist group in Balochistan which is in Southeastern Iran, the separatist group and it's very violent, very reminiscent of what Al-Qaeda does, decapitation, suicide bombings, targeting the innocent civilians in Iran and it's a group the United States really doesn't want to have anything to do with despite the fact that it's working against Iran, which as we all know is working to gain some nuclear weapons or at least that's the thinking.
Rob: Now your article reports that the Israeli's connected with them in London, so this is stuff going on all over the world.
Mark: Yes, that's right. London is fairly notorious for this. As we know the British Empire a hundred years ago, had a lot of contacts obviously, in their colonial empire in the Arab world and Iran and Pakistan. So a lot of these groups have offices in London, work out of London, the British intelligence agency eyes them and watches them very closely. The Israeli's recruited them-- attempted the recruitment in London and my information is also in Casablanca, Morocco, and in two cities in Pakistan.
Rob: Wow. So your article reports that Bush went ballistic when he found out about this. This happened under Bush's watch initially.
Mark: Yes, this happened in, my information was in late 2007. This was reported from the London station and my guess is probably from the London CIA and my guess is probably from other places around the world and it's reported up the intelligence the CIA chain of command to the head of directorate of operation and then put in a report to the White House. When Bush heard about it he was very angry and I think it's easy to see why. If you have a foreign intelligence agency, especiallyone that's recruiting terrorists, it puts Americans at danger and it was Bush's calculation to my information that this would put Americans in danger in Pakistan where Jundallah operates along the border with Iran and possibly in Iran itself. So it is a very dangerous operation and frankly it's not the first time this has happened. Israel has conducted other false flag operations disguised as Americans and I think that's really why Bush was angry is that Israel had been warned not to do this stuff and had continued to do it.
Rob: I don't think you wrote in your article about Israel engaging in other false flag operations, operating as Americans, did you?
Mark: No I didn't. In my original draft I had talked about CIA officers information speculating on other operations and two or three others that they were able to confirm but it didn't' seem to fit. But this was really the most notorious and a colleague of mine here in Washington just died who was an intelligence reporter and a very fine one talked about Mossad officers here in the United recruiting Arab Americans. This has happened, the article appeared back in 2010 and I found it by way of doing my own research on Jundallah. So it is, I guess I wouldn't characterize this as a common practice but it's certainly not unheard of.
Rob: So do you know anything more about the other false flag operations?
Mark: Well a little bit and these are antidotal of one apparently occurred in the Sudan many years ago where a CIA officer was able to hustle out some Mossad officers posing as CIA officers who are being tracked by Sudanese intelligence and were in danger. Of course the operation here in the United States to recruit in the Arab community, those two seem to be the most prominent. Strangely enough, I didn't get information, perhaps it's not strange, but I didn't get information on American false flag operations or whether we conduct them. But the Israeli's seem to be known for this kind of thing. It's very strangely, I was talking to Senior military officials about this, General Johor, former Commander of CENTCOM shrugged his solders and waved and said, "Ah, I've heard this stuff a dozen times," I was very surprised by that, perhaps I'm naive but I don't think so. But this is really the first substantive one I've come across in 30 years.
Rob: So is it reasonable to assume that not just going falsified operations as CIA and US but also other nations operations as well?
Mark: I think it's reasonable to assume that but I don't have evidence of it. I know that in the CIA one of the training mechanisms they use to discover false flag operations, one thing they tell their field officers is that when you come across somebody claiming to be Canadian intelligence you know it's a false flag operation because Canadian intelligence is not that deeply rooted, does not have that broad a reach. When you come across someone saying that they work for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or they're an intelligence officer for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization you can assume that's a false flag operation because the North Atlantic Treaty Organization doesn't have an intelligence unit. And I note in my article, in one instance, in Casablanca, the Mossad officers posed as intelligence officers for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The operatives from Jundallah thought this was very suspicious so they assumed they were being recruited by the Americans or the Israeli's and they were being recruited by the Israeli's.
Rob: Is there any information about what they were being recruited to do for the Israeli's?
Mark: It's not clear but I think it's pretty obvious. Two days before my article appeared, an Iranian scientist was assassinated in Tehran-- a person apparently on a motorcycle, or two people, put a magnetic explosive device under his car while passing it and blew him up. I think if you're Israel and you're worried about an existential threat, a very real threat to your existence or one you feel is very real, you'll do anything to stop it. And it seems clear to me that it's quite probable that Israel is behind some of these assassinations of scientists in Iran. So I think we can make a putative case that Israel was recruited Jundallah for these kinds of violence operations against the Iranians and it seems to be quite likely that Jundallah would sit and listen very closely to these proposals.
Rob: Okay. There's another organization that you mentioned briefly in your article, the MEK. Any information about any connection with Israel with them or how do they tie into this story, if at all?
Mark: Well the Mujahadeen-el-Khalq, the MEK is an Iranian revolutionary and terrorist organization based both in Iran and in Iraq, violently opposed to the Iranian requiem, but also viewed here among intelligence professionals as kind of a cult, very dedicated, extremely violent and they have been reported to have been recruited by Israel. I am starting to doubt that, not sure it's true and the evidence on it, it seems to be pretty substantive. But if you look at it closely it's very anecdotal and it's hard to prove. This is true about the MEK, very prominent American officials retired American policymakers have appeared as speakers at some MEK forums, very disturbing since they are foreign terrorist organizations and Americans are barred from any show of support for them.
But the MEK is an organization much better known than Jundallah that conducts these kinds of very violent campaigns, is considered a terrorist organization and now, by my colleagues here in Washington and reporters, are being looked at very closely as perhaps an organization being used by intelligence agencies to undermine the Iranian requiem. I don't have evidence that Israel or the United States is using the MEK, I would almost say with certainty that the United States would not have anything to do with them.
Rob: I know the is a reason they are connecting with these retired political leaders like Howard Dean and Ed Rendell, for example on the Democratic side, but they also are looking at the Republicans. Have they been lobbying to be taken off the terrorist list.
Mark: Well that's absolutely right and it's quite a campaign, it's a very well funded campaign, it's not clear where the money is coming from and you're right, Ed Randel and former Governor Dean have had very close contacts with them and have spoken at their conferences. But they are not alone in this. General James Jones, who is the former National Security Advisor in the Obama Administration has spoken. Patrick Kennedy, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, has been very prominent. When I talk to my reporter friends in town, everyone of us scratches our head over this, why would any political figure be associated with such a violent organization. Well I guess the obvious answer is you get pretty good speaking fees by speaking at their conferences and there have been long articles on who really supports them and their very murky past and their very murky funding. But it is very disturbing. I mean just think of it, if I were to appear at a conference of Islamic resistance movement Hamas, it would seem to be I would be under immediate investigation by the United State Government. And yet, these ex government officials seem to get a pass when it comes to talking at MEK conferences and it's become a little bit of a controversy here in Washington and across the nation.
Rob: It's very interesting, I agree. I've read the reports that they get paid $25,000 to do these things.
Mark: Yeah, it's an appreciable amount of money. I've also been reading recently, over the last 48 hours, reports that some of the people who appear don't really know the full extent and depths of the violence of this group and are just taking the money. It's too bad, I think that if you're a prominent public official you ought to know what you're supporting and how controversial it is and what kind of a trick bag it puts you in.
Rob: Yes. Well let's get back to this story that you wrote. You reported in the article that you had attempted to contact the CIA and the White House and Mossad and Israel. Did you ever get any responses before or after the article came out?
Mark: No, no. It's a matter of courteousy for a jouralist to do this, but I also wanted to probe the possibility, I was waiting for the agency to say, "Listen Mark, you're just dead wrong on this, this is ludicrous." And if that had happened I would have really rethought, gone back, checked with my sources, who are very well placed. I would have thought twice about publishing the article. Instead I was met with absolute silence from the White House-- a "no comment" from the CIA and of course I wasn't surprised. I didn't hear anything from the Mossad, but I thought it was kind of a courteousy to do it. There are two things that bother me as a reporter, I don't want to print an article that's wrong and I don't want to do anything that would harm my country, not necessarily in that order. My priority is I wouldn't want to harm my country. And instead I got a "no comment." Certainly no official in Washington since the article has been printed called me and said you're just dead wrong. In fact, quite to the contrary, I haven't received any calls at all No one has really come out and said this is wrong. And the reason no one has come out and said it is because it's not wrong.
Rob: Okay. So let's move on. Now, you report in your article that basically, even though Bush got really upset, they didn't do anything. You said that it was easier to just "to do nothing than to rock the boat."
Mark: Yes, well, anyone familiar with Washington I don't think would be too surprised. On the surface this sounds very conspiratorial, that they decided not to confront Israel, they didn't want to have a break with Israel, they didn't want to offend Israel. And that stands to reason. But in the case of this false flag operation, while it sparked an argument inside the National Security Council of the White House, people who are familiar with the way Washington works know that it doesn't really work that well. And after 3 or 4 days of argument, things tend to calm down, people say well let it go, and it was attributed to me by a former CIA officer that bureaucratic inertia was probably the reason why this wasn't followed up on. There wasn't any real conspiracy to keep it quiet or to not confront Israel. It was just one of those things, the moment passed. It seemed easier to do something than to do something. The discussion had suffocated, as happens in Washington, discussions suffocate, real policy moves, and that's what happened, it was just let go.
The question of Jundallah was raised again when the Obama Administration took office and it was decided early on in the Obama Administration that they would go on, that the organization would be put on the foreign terrorist organization list, and as I say in my article, an intelligence officer told me that was a real no brainer, that Jundallah belongs on the foreign terrorist organization list, belonged on it long before Obama put it there.
Rob: Would that lead to strong Israel supporters to accuse Obama of making trouble for Israel?
Mark: Well I kind of waited for people to say that, but again, that's been met with silence. Some of the very large pro-Israel organizations here in Washington D.C. have remained absolutely silent on the issue of whether this would cause problems for Israel. I think there's a growing division inside the pro-Israel community here in the United States between those who think we ought to allow Israel to do whatever they want and those who think that there are some things that Israel has done that are going to be construed as being not in our interest, not in America's interest. And this agreement has opened up almost very publically. I think on this issue the reason that the article is met with silence by the pro-Israel community is because this is really an embarrassment for Israel and it's not in the interest of the United States. And people are calculating very carefully-- Israel's ability it seems almost recently to be able to hurt itself here in the United States-- it's really from my own perspective and looking at this, it's really difficult to defend this action.
I understand that Israel feels itself under a threat, but still it seems to be that there are red lines here and Israel has crossed one.
Rob: Well I wrote a piece yesterday about FLAME, a propaganda organization for Israel, are you familiar with them?
Mark: I've heard of them, yes.
Rob: They put out a piece yesterday advocating and supporting the use of murder of physicists in Iran, that this was something that Israel had to do. To me, that was so far beyond anything that could be considered appropriate my any legitimate nation. It was amazing that they actually took that position.
Mark: I agree. I am astonished actually at some of the things that people say about Iran, as if, people say well we ought to attack Iran as if there is no price to pay for this, as if it's automatic that we would succeed or Israel would succeed, that the world would not be plunged into a long term mutual war. I'm with you on this, I think some of these things, some of these statements strike me as very irresponsible, very inflammatory, very dangerous, people should take counsel of their fears in this case. A war in the Middle East with Iran is just not a good idea; it would be astonishingly bad for our economy, which is already on the ropes. I hear these statements from time to time like the one you pointed out and I'm puzzled at how, at why people think these are good things to say. They're very, very inflammatory.
Rob: You have some pretty strong opinions about Israel. In an interview that you did with Scott Horton, you talked about the characterization or the use is the word of "the Jews" by people who oppose Israel and conflating Jews and Israeli's and also on the other side, the distinction between the other side which was..
Mark: It seems to me..
Rob: Can you talk about that?
Mark: Yea, it seems to me that we have to be careful of the use of language, having been a reporter for 30 years I suppose that it's natural to assume that I'm very sensitive about the use of language. But in the use of Israel, I'm particularly sensitive. It's common here in the United States to talk about Jewish settlements on the West Bank. They're not Jewish settlements, they're Israeli settlements, this has nothing to do with Judaism and everything to do with Israel. And even with Palestine's they say well the Jews this, the Jews that. I go, listen you're not talking about my fellow citizens in the Untied States who happen to be Jewish, you're talking about Israelis, yes. And they say well yeah. I say well don't say the Jews this and the Jews that, say the Israeli's.
Rob: It kind of reminds me of the Frank Luntz, the language expert for the Republican party. He creates languaging-- words like "the death tax," and he actually gets his opponents to use that language which the use of that language helps the other side.
Mark: Well this is exactly right and we have to be careful of this, of "Palestinians are killing the Jews." No, they're at war with Israel, not the Jews. And so I reject the use of language, I attempt to correct it every time at every moment that I can, I don't think we should conflate Judaism for what's happening in Israel. Certainly there are a large number of American Jews here in the United States who are very critical of Israel and they find this kind of language very disturbing.
Rob: Absolutely. I'm affiliated with a synagogue; I say 98% of the people support treating Palestinians much differently than they are. I just want to conclude, from what I'm hearing from you, when people who support the Palestinians and oppose the way Israel acts, talk about Jewish settlements where the Jewish state, they are really helping Israel and that messaging.
Mark: They are and it's uncomfortable for the rest of us that are not Jewish to be seen as condemning Jews. Frankly, I'm not condemning Jews, I've been a defender of Israel, Israel has the right to exists, they are a strong strategic ally of ours, I don't have any problem with that. My problem is when Israel crosses the line and endangers Americans. My loyalty is to the United States of America and it's principals and I find it extremely uncomfortable to be accused by Israeli's of being anti-Jewish when I'm anti some Israel policies. Making those distinctions is sometimes difficult to do but I think Americans have to make those distinctions and not get caught up in language that seems to blame, that is basically anti-Semitic, that blames Jews for the problems in the Middle East, that's just not the case. We need to be adults about this, Israel is another country and it has a foreign policy and sometimes it diverges from ours and we should expect that and still be able to maintain our friendship with the state of Israel.
Rob: Now we don't have that much time left so I want to just get to your book. Your book Talking To Terrorists -- what's that about? Tell us a little bit about the book and what you bring to the table that we can learn from you about.
Mark: Well I spent 2005 and 2006 talking to Hamas, the leaders of the Islamic Resistance movement and Hezbollah, the party of Goan and I suppose talking to them is the wrong thing to say, listening to them and trying to understand their point of view. Now these aren't ballet school attendees These are hard-nosed political operators, but I found their point of view fascinating and I thought Americans ought to be informed of it.
In saying that, the first part of the book is really about what happened in Anbar Province in Iraq that led to the awakening in Iraq and that turned our war in Iraq around. It's straight reporting and it's people who we used to call terrorists one day and the next day we called them insurgents because we were able to turn them against Al-Kaida so this is the general tenor of the book. I think that Irwin would find it interesting, it was a great enjoyment to write and I hope it's educational.
Rob: It got me thinking, this idea of terrorists that we're okay with, that is it possible that there are terrorists like the ones that Israel are working with in Jundallah that are "okay" terrorists because they oppose what one nation opposes. So, now your book is specifically about talking with Hamas and Hezbollah and that's going on, there are nations like Iran looks at Humas and I don't know much about it really but I know Iran funds them. So they would not be considered terrorists to Iran, that's really a major issue. A terrorist is only a terrorist if they're not your freedom fighter.
Mark: Yes, yes, we have to remember Nelson Mandela was condemned in this country for 25 years for being a terrorist and there really wasn't any question for many Americans that he was. We now view him as a hero. I think it's possible for organizations, movements and political currents to change. If people adopt Democracy, if they give up violence as a means to political ends, if they're willing to cooperate on the international stage, if they provide services to their constituents, none of which Al Qaeda, by the way does or Jundallah or the MEK, but if organizations are willing to do this in the mainstream then I think that we ought to talk to them. But we also have to make it clear and I believe that my country has been very consistent on this. We will not support a group that targets civilians for political purposes and I think that maintaining that principal is important.
Rob: Like Mossad?
Mark: Yeah, I think that Mossad's attempt to recruit Jundallah was a mistake and is recruiting a foreign terrorist for political purposes and it is subverts the principals that the United States stands for. of principal that [inaudible]
Rob: I wish we had more time, I know you've got to go to talk to the Pentagon.
Mark: I do.
Rob: It's been great information, this is the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, I've been talking to Mark Perry, author and historian, intelligence analyst, author of Talking To Terrorists. The show is sponsored by Opednews.com. Thank you Mark. It's really been a great interview; we've got to have you back.
Mark: Thanks Rob anytime, you know that. I appreciate it. It was a great interview.
Rob: Thank you. Bye bye.