CENTCOM: allegations of falsified intelligence and weapons to al-Qaeda

CENTCOM: allegations of falsified intelligence and weapons to al-Qaeda
2 min read
29 September, 2015
US Central Command has conceded that American-trained rebels handed weapons to al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, amid claims that officials pressured intelligence analysts to alter assessments of IS threat.
Centcom commandar, Gen. Lloyd Austin II has come under attack for his department's blunders [Getty]

America's war against the Islamic State group (IS) came against intense scrutiny this month after revelations that top officials at the US military's Central Command (Centcom) were pressuring intelligence analyst to inappropriately alter intelligence reports, followed by reports that US trained Syrian rebels had handed American weapons to al-Nusra Front, the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda.

Earlier this month, the American news website The Daily Beast reported that 50 intelligence analyst working at Centcom submitted a formal complaint accusing their bosses of altering their reports on IS and al-Nusra Front to paint the picture that the war against IS was making progress.

The complaint directed to the Defence Department's inspector general in July claims that intelligence reports were altered to portray IS and al-Nusra as weaker than analysts believed them to be, which has led to an official investigation by the inspector general.

According to reports, intelligence analyst described a climate in which they could not give their candid assessment of the war, where they were forced to self-sensor and where reports that were too critical would not be shared up the chain of command.

Among the topics that were seen as sensitive by Centcom top brass and in need of positive spin were reports on the impact of US airstrikes against IS facilities, and whether targeting key IS commanders would lead to the collapse of the group.

The claims in the complaint echo previous allegations about top intelligence officials cooking intelligence dossiers about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and connections to al-Qaeda in the build up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

In response to the allegations, Defence Secretary Ash Carter reminded top intelligence officials that he expected them to provide "unvarnished, transparent intelligence," according to Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook.

US trained Syrian defectors

Centcom's problems did not end there, as media reports last week claimed that a commander in the US trained Syrian rebel unit, Division 30, had defected to al-Nusra Front with a number of vehicles and arms supplied by the US.

Anas Ibrahim Obaid, also known as Abu Zayd, a commander in the US trained Division 30 disappeared shortly after 70 Division 30 fighters entered Syria from Turkey early last week, and a short time later al-Nusra announced that he had joined its ranks.

Centcom admitted that Obaid had given al-Nusra 25 percent of Division 30's US supplied equipment, but denied that he had been trained by the US, however questions remain about how Obaid came to head a US trained rebel unit.