The failure of intelligence in Saudi Arabia in the bombing at Khobar Towers in Dhahran in June 1996 and the earlier bombing in at the National Guard Training Center in Riyadh in November 1995, forebodes additional intelligence failures. This is particularly true for all intelligence operations aimed at radical Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in the Middle East and around the globe. Many of radicals were activated by the CIA’s own operation in Afghanistan during the 1980s that brought fundamentalists from around the Middle East and trained, armed and energized their terrorism.
There is an irony in all of this — the CIA creates the threat that is now the primary reason for its existence. Yet another irony is that the Agency seems totally incapable of controlling or penetrating the Frankenstein of its own creation. A number of investigations of the Khobar Tower’s bombing blames the lack of adequate intelligence for that disaster. However, an investigation by Senator Specter’s Senate Intelligence Committee concluded there was adequate intelligence but a failure to by the commanders to act on that information.
Significantly Senator Specter credits State and Defense Department intelligence but ignores the CIA’s (lack of) contribution. A Defense Department investigation led by General Downing of the Khobar Towers bombing states there were numerous indicators but no specific intelligence that allowed for counter action. In his report, General Downing lists various defense intelligence publications for the indicators intelligence but does mention the CIA. His report also lists a number of corrective actions specifically an increase in the number of analysts to collate and understand the information gathered locally and around the world.
This to me is where the CIA should have been at the forefront but is where its bureaucratic, tradition-based and secrecy-locked operations and intelligence have not, and cannot perform. I repeat two arguments from other postings — one the CIA in the middle of the Vietnam War with literally tens-of-thousands of assets could not penetrate the all-pervasive Communist structures. Now we are asked to believe that it can penetrate widely scattered, often non-connected, small, secretive terrorist groups. But the CIA uses essentially the same structures and procedures that have repeatedly failed in much more promising and less challenging milieus.
The list of its intelligence failures is massive. Some might argue but that was Vietnam and this is now. We need look only to the views of the current Director of the CIA, John Deutch, to see the fallacy in that reasoning. In 1995, Deutch said he was shocked by the (DO) Director of Operations’s “inability to formulate solutions. ” The DO did not have the desire or ability to reinvent itself. “Compared to uniformed officers they certainly are not as competent or as understanding of what their relative role is and what their responsibilities are.
The deep rot of the DO in Guatemala is a core sample of the deep rot of the overall Directorate. The curse of old boys is the patrimony of an elite secret society that degenerated into an elitist bureaucracy, an inbred tribal culture. Rules and laws are not for them. The curse of old boys has so damaged the morale and reputation of the CIA that it is hard to find good people. “The CIA has been imprisoned by its own lies. ” Below is information from CIABASE files re the various investigations of the failures of intelligence in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia, 96 A home-grown Islamic underground has emerged in Saudi Arabia with a violent fringe sworn to attack its American protectors. many Saudis and Americans predict continued bursts of violence. most were among the estimated 15,000 Saudis who fought in Afghanistan, where some had received CIA-organized military training and forged links with radical leaders from a number of countries who since have helped organize terrorist attacks against the west. The bombing at the National Guard Training Center on 11/13/95 was (probably) the work of Saudi’s own Islamic extremists.
Many in the radical underground are veterans of the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. A small circle of ultra-radicals, from among the thousands of fundamentalists who embrace audeh’s criticisms decided to take action. A group, the Movement for Islamic Change, issued warnings in April and June 95 calling on U. S. forces to leave Saudi Arabia by 6/28/95, or become legitimate targets. They claimed to have carried out the November bombing in Riyadh and the June bombing in Dhahran. Of the four who confessed to November bombing, three were veterans of the Afghan conflict.
Saudi Arabia, The Pentagon’s report on 6/25 truck bombing in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, cited a long list of bureaucratic and intel failings in U. S. counter terrorism program. Retired General Wayne A Downing, who led the investigation emphasized the intelligence community’s inability to penetrate terrorist groups. The report said “we still have enormous difficulty in gaining firsthand, inside knowledge of terrorist plans and activities. ” To some the main threat comes from a murky net of home-grown, privately-financed and largely independent groups a kind of international terrorists internet.
Net is extremely difficult for U. S. Intel agencies to locate and penetrate. Washington Post 10/17/96 a25 Saudi Arabia, 95-96 There was no intelligence from any source which warned specifically of the nature, timing, and magnitude of the 6/25/96 attack on Khobar Towers. However, a considerable body of info, including a series of ten suspicious incidents in the proceeding 90 days, was available that indicated terrorists had both capability and intention to target U. S. interests in Saudi Arabia, and that Khobar Towers was a potential target.
Command was not well served by an ad hoc intel structure. Command did not have a dedicated, organic, and focused intel analytic capability re intention to target U. S. advisers in Saudi Arabia and that Khobar Towers was a potential target. secretary of defense, report to the president, 9/16/96, force protection: global interests, global responsibilities. General Downing’s report re the bombing of Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia, 45 Saudi Arabia, 96 Intel failures left the military in Khobar (Dhahran) unaware of the magnitude of the threat. Per the chairman of the house national security committee.
Available intel was virtually devoid of specific knowledge of terrorist and dissident activity in Saudi Arabia. ” Washington Post 8/15/96 a33-4 Saudi Arabia, 96 Secretary of Defense, report to the President, 9/16/96, force protection: global interests, global responsibilities. (General Downing’s report re the bombing of Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia). there were intel indications, while they lacked specificity, they did warn that new attacks were being planned and caused the U. S. to take further steps to protect the forces. DOD does not know the perpetrators. port recommends tailor anti-terrorism training for deployed personnel; provide more focused anti-terrorism intel to field units; improve interchange with host nations on intel and security.
U. S. intel community was providing 24-hour coverage of terrorist and terrorist-related activity. all available intel widely distributed in theater. Intel support was very good is some areas, sufficient in others, and lacking in at least one key area – that of providing tactical warning of impending attack. U. S. forces acted on General threat Intel, but forces lacked specificity that would have made the crucial difference. at was missing was the hard tactical warning of impending attack – info needed to thwart the op before it reached fruition. need improved analysis in Washington at the counter terrorist center. to improve Intel forces to augment the southern watch fusion cell with counter-terrorism analysts. a fusion cell combines on a timely basis, national strategic Intel, gathered around the world, with local or tactical Intel. DOD elements had the authority, but were not exploiting all potential sources of info.
The U. S. Intel community must have the requisite authorities and invest more time, people and funds into developing humint sources. kes this a general recommendation. field units had limited access due [highly classified] Intel. report re Intel organization classified. secretary of defense, report to the president, 9/16/96, force protection: global interests, global responsibilities. General Downing’s report re the bombing of Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, 95-96 Ability of theater and national Intel community to conduct in-depth, long term analysis of trends, intentions, and capabilities of terrorists is deficient. Development monitored in parallel with the country team.
Beginning in spring of 95, concerns about the possibility of terrorism began to increase. Intel community produced a series of reports which expanded and was updated as new intel was collected. These events were documented in the Defense Intel Terrorism summary, the National Military Joint Intel Center executive highlights, the chairman, joint chiefs of staff, daily Intel briefing and the military Intel digest. However, focus was on current trends and promulgations of warnings. Military intel community lacks sufficient in-depth, long-term analysis of trends, intentions, and capabilities of terrorists.
DIA had 40 people assigned to the terrorist mission at the time of the Khobar Towers bombing, yet only seven analysts were committed to accomplish detailed assessments because of other priority commitments. similar conditions exist at service component commands and in the military department elements charged with analyzing terrorism. this is particularly crucial re terrorism analysis which must promote insight and anticipation of future potential, not just repetition of historical anecdote. secretary of defense, report to the president, 9/16/96, force protection: global interests, global responsibilities.
General Downing’s report re the bombing of Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia, 30 Saudi Arabia, 94-96 Senate Intel chairman, Specter, finds Khobar Towers bombing “not the result of intel failure. ” A new committee staff report, focused on adequacy of intel re terrorist threat in Saudi Arabia. “There was a failure to use intel. ” Staff reviewed raw and finished intel from late 94 through 6/96 from CIA, DIA, NSA, State and others. Staff interviewed various members from the intel community. Committee held seven hearings.
Report determined intel in Saudi Arabia gave its highest priority to the terrorist target and aggressively collected against a range of internal and external threats from Iran, Hizballah and others. From 4/95 through the bombing the analytic community produced more than a 100 products on terrorism in the Arabian peninsula. Among most significant were the 6/13/96 Department of State report and the 6/17/96 Military Intel Digest outlining numerous suspicious incidents… that warrants improved security efforts. Senate Select Committee on Intel staff report on Khobar Towers terrorist attack 9/12/96 Saudi Arabia, 96 Intel failures left the military in Khobar (Dhahran) unaware of the magnitude of the threat. Per the chairman of the House National Security Committee. “Available intel was virtually devoid of specific knowledge of terrorist and dissident activity in Saudi Arabia. ”
Washington Post 8/15/96 a33-4 Saudi Arabia, 69 Staff of the Senate Intel Committee said in a report that U. S. military overstated the extent of security measures sought prior to the bombing in Dhahran on 6/25/96. Military only asked Saudis to move fence 10 feet rather than 400 feet later claimed. Sen. ecter said bombing was made possible by officials failure to act on 100 separate Intel warnings about terrorist acts in Saudi Arabia. A pentagon spokesman said it was unfair and cited 130 steps they took to tighten Khobar’s security.
The most of he report concerns U. S. intel reports that Muslim fundamentalists and Iranian agents targeted U. S. personnel. By march 95, intel had determined that Iranian ops in Saudi Arabia were no longer simply intel gathering acts but contained potential for terrorism. U. S. intel investigated “Iranian operatives” in the eastern province of [Saudi Arabia] who were attempting to gather intel on Dhahran.