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Cablegate: Sulaimaniyah Military Intelligence Chief Discusses Insurgent Activity

VZCZCXRO8376
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #1888/01 1581147
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 071147Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1582
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001888

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2017
TAGS: PBS PGOV PREF PTER PINR TU IR IZ
SUBJECT: SULAIMANIYAH MILITARY INTELLIGENCE CHIEF DISCUSSES INSURGENT ACTIVITY

Classified By: Acting Political Counselor Robert Gilchrist for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (U) This is an Erbil Regional Reconstruction Team (RRT) Cable.

2. (S) SUMMARY: The head of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense Intelligence Service (MODIS), Sulaimaniyah branch, said he operates independently of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and its dominant political parties. MODIS collects information on Iraqi and foreign targets, including Iranians. MODIS supports greater information sharing with the U.S. to fight terrorism. Insurgent groups originating in Iran constitute the largest destabilizing force in Sulaimaniyah Province. The head of MODIS recognized but did not stress the threat of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) splinter groups present in the Iran-Iraq border areas. END SUMMARY.

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MINISTRY OF DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE
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3. (C) Brigadier General Nabaz Ahmed Abdullah ("Kurdah"), Head of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense Intelligence Service (MODIS), Sulaimaniyah branch, invited RRT Off to a meeting on May 21 in Sulaimaniyah.

4. (S) Established on December 28, 2004, the MODIS Sulaimanyah branch is responsible for the entire Sulaimaniyiah Province. General Nabaz said MODIS Sulaimaniyah branch also has informants in Mosul, Diyala, Kirkuk, as well as in Iran. There is a total of 300 MODIS staff working in four departments: Intelligence, Security, Technical, and Administration, the General added.

5. (S) According to General Nabaz, MODIS collects information on domestic (Iraqi) and foreign targets. He told RRT Off that MODIS Sulaimaniyah branch coordinates closely with the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement, the Third Brigade of the Iraqi army, the Iraqi Military Academy, and the KRG intelligence service (Asayish) stationed in Sulaimaniyah Province. General Nabaz underscored, however, that MODIS Sulaimaniyah branch is independent of the provincial government and not affiliated with a political party. He said he reports directly to the Minister of Defense in Baghdad. Both the Iraqi and Kurdish flags hang in front of his office building.

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WAR OF INTELLIGENCE
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6. (S) General Nabaz told RRT Off that Iraqi and Coalition forces do not sufficiently use his intelligence material in their work. Visibly disappointed by this, he spoke of a "war of intelligence" to fight terrorism and succeed in Iraq and highlighted that MODIS Sulaimaniyah branch collects information on Iran which is useful for Iraqi and Coalition partners. The General therefore proposes increased information sharing with the US. The US has great intelligence resources and he asked RRT Off if material assistance (vehicles, equipment) would be available to MODIS; it appeared the US previously provided such support to the Department of Border Enforcement (DBE), the Iraqi Army Third Brigade, Fourth Division, and the Military Academy in Sulaimaniyah Province.

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INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS
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7. (S) General Nabaz said Asayish forces gather information on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at the time of their registration in Sulaimaniyah Province. This information is passed onto MODIS Sulaimaniyah branch which forwards it to Baghdad. Name checks are conducted on arriving IDPs and the General noted that on average about five out of every 500 IDPs come back with derogatory information. He said IDPs are looking for jobs or are fleeing generalized violence. (Note: KRG officials often raise security concerns over IDPs as a destabilizing force in the region.)

8. (S) General Nabaz stressed that the real problem originates in Iran where groups attempt around-the-clock to send dangerous people into Iraq to destabilize the country. He also said trafficking in persons and increased insurgent attacks in Diyala Province are affecting security in neighboring Sulaimaniyah Province. General Nabaz said the recent rise in insurgent activity in Diyala is in reaction to the Baghdad Security Plan.

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INSURGENT RECRUITMENT
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9. (S) According to General Nabaz, insurgent recruitment is a gradual process of which the initial phase is affiliation with an Islamic political party. He said before 2003 in Sulaimaniyah Province, people were attracted to the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan because of oppression under Saddam Hussein and a sense of injustice and suffering, in particular concerning the residents of Halabja who were subject to the Anfal Campaign.

10. (S) The General added that since 2003, the more experienced insurgent groups related to Al-Qaeda (e.g. Al-Jihad al-tawhid, Jundi Al-Islam, Alsar Al-Sunna, Alsar Al-Islam, Kurdistan Battalion) and supported by Iran, use the same strategy, evoking injustice to promote mobilization and adherence. Also they point to the US as an occupying force and condemn Western secularism, he commented. General Nabaz confirmed MODIS monitors mosques for insurgent recruitment and that the level of this activity varies within the province.

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PKK AND PJAK
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11. (S) To the General's knowledge, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) has four splinter groups: PKK Turkey, PKK Solution in Kurdistan ("Hal Sadiharsan" or "Charasar"), PKK Iran -- PJAK (Party for Free Life in Kurdistan), and PKK Syria ("Rejeunvating PKK"). General Nabaz confirmed that the overt presence of PKK Solution in Sulaimaniyah Province is not permitted.

12. (S) The General commented that PJAK has a base in the Qandil Mountain, near Ranya. (Note: The Qandil Mountain straddles Sulaimaniyah and Erbil Provinces and borders Iran.) He stated that the PJAK operates there with approximately 150 members and carries out limited activity against the Iranian regime. (Note: This membership figure appears low.) RRT Off stressed to General Nabaz that the USG considers the PKK to be a terrorist organization which should be banned entirely.

13. (S) COMMENT: Kurdish military and intelligence officials working near the Iraq-Iran border identify, monitor, and assess terrorist groups but do not take action if they appear to be sleeping cells. KRG, DBE, and MODIS resources are stretched thin as they try to protect both the eastern border areas and southern Sulaimaniyah following an increase in insurgent attacks in neighboring Diyala Province. END COMMENT
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