A joint investigation by the New York Times and Al Jazeera revealed a messy scheme of arms theft that Jordanian intelligence service (the General Intelligence Directorate, or GID) officers used to smuggle weapons provided by the US and Saudi Arabia for Syrian rebels trained on Jordanian soil.
The CIA reportedly conducted Syrian rebel training programs for decades. One, the less effective, was intended to train Syrian fighters to fight against Daesh. This program was shut down after it reportedly managed to train only a handful of fighters. The second one, though, trained fighters to fight against Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad. This one, reportedly, was way more effective.
Since 2013, both the United States and Saudi Arabia shipped weapons, which included assault rifles, RPGs and mortars, to Jordan, to arms the rebels. However, a group of Jordan intelligence officers siphoned truckloads of the weapons worth millions of dollars from the stocks, and they ended up on a black market, where criminal networks and rural Jordanian tribes, as well as foreign smugglers, provided a stable demand.
These weapons were used in a recent shooting when Anwar Abu Zaid, a Jordanian police captain, gunned down two American contractors. The FBI investigation into the shooting included weapon numbers tracking, which led to the revelation of the whole scheme.
The existence of the rebel training program is classified, as are all details about its budget. It is — or was, apparently — also a state secret in Jordan.
Representatives of the CIA and FBI declined to comment.
Mohammad H. al-Momani, Jordan's minister of state for media affairs, however, said allegations that Jordanian intelligence officers had been involved in any weapons thefts were "absolutely incorrect."
He said GID is "a world-class, reputable institution known for its professional conduct and high degree of cooperation among security agencies." It is unclear whether the current head of the GID had knowledge of the theft.
Notably, news of the weapons theft and eventual crackdown has reportedly been circulating inside Jordan's government for several months. Husam Abdallat, a senior aide to several past Jordanian prime ministers, said he had heard about the scheme from current Jordanian officials.
The theft scheme ended a couple of months ago, after the Americans and Saudis complained about the theft. Investigators at the GID arrested several dozen officers involved in the scheme, but they were ultimately released from detention and fired from the service, but were allowed to keep their pensions and money they gained from the scheme, according to Jordanian officials.
According to the New York Times/Al Jazeera report, Jordan provided grounds for US covert operations for decades, thanks to its key position in the Middle East, in exchange for massive monetary support provided to the Jordanian government since the second half of twentieth century.