Iraq How-to Manual Directed Arab Military Operatives In Afghanistan

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Translation | Analysis

An Arab regime, possibly Iraq, supplied how-to manuals for Arab operatives working throughout Afghanistan before 9/11, and provided military assistance to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

That's the most likely conclusion drawn from an apparent training manual unearthed in captured Iraqi government computer files translated and analyzed exclusively for Fox News, and made public for the first time.

The document, apparently written before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, could bolster the Bush administration's contention that Saddam Hussein was providing support for Islamic extremists who were plotting against America.

The training manual warns, in stark how-to terms, of the dangers of "information leaks," and instructs Arab operatives inside Afghanistan to dress like Afghan tribesmen, to avoid being followed ("Routine is the enemy of security"), to always be armed, and "to behave as if enemies would strike at any moment."

The manual also cautions Arabs to "beware of rapid and spontaneous friendships with Afghans who speak Arabic," and "always make sure about the identity of your neighbors and classify them as regular people, opponents or allies."

That revelation is provided exclusively to Fox News by Ray Robison, a former member of the CIA-directed Iraq Survey Group. ISG supervised a group of linguists to analyze, archive and exploit the hundreds of captured documents and materials of Saddam's regime.

Click here for more on Ray Robison and the Saddam Dossier

Fox News and Robison last week revealed the contents of a 1999 notebook kept by an Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) operative. That notebook detailed how Saddam's agents aggressively pursued and entered into a diplomatic, intelligence, and security arrangement with the Taliban and Islamist extremists operating in Afghanistan — years before the 9/11 attacks.

While the training manual revealed today by Fox News does not mention the IIS agent's notebook, the manual does suggest an Arab regime, most likely Saddam, may have provided the military help requested by the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The manual, declassified and recently released by the Foreign Military Studies Office, advises its Arab readers never to show your "military ID." That strongly suggests that Iraq was sending professional military assistance to Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks


Editor's notes:

The translation is provided by Robison's associate, known here as "Sammi," who puts translation clarifications in parenthesis. Robison uses (RR) for clarification and bold-face type for emphasis.

Translator's notes:

This seven-page document contains instructions for a group of Arab men, military ID holders, and their families. These men appear to be joining other military men already in Afghanistan who are running "hosting places." These facilities appear to be safe houses or training facilities for other Arabs. The work involves receiving Arab men who may or may not choose to stay at the facility.

Even though pre-9/11 Afghanistan was teeming with Arab Mujihadeen who were proud to represent their native countries, the instructions advise the "brothers" to keep a low profile and behave as if enemies would strike at any moment.

Begin Translation for 2RAD-2004-600760-ELC.PDF

In the Name of God the Merciful

Personnel Security:

Respected brother,

Know that one of the main causes of information leaks is from personnel (translator's note: personnel talking), this is why we try to cooperate with you so that neither you or one of your brothers becomes the cause of a catastrophe that might hit one of the brothers or all of them.

Please follow these instructions:

1- Know as much as you need. (translator's note: don't ask too many questions)

2- Don't talk too much; it is said that "silence is wisdom."

3- It is recommended that all personnel wear Afghan clothing so they do not stand out from other people.

4- All the brothers should go to the market by themselves, alone.

5- It is not advised to move alone at night. (At night, walk the streets on foot)

6- As much as possible do not disclose your identity as an Arab.

7- Avoid excitement whether by glorifying or bashing.

8- Avoid being observed (translator's note: being followed and observed) and always notice who is walking behind you or following you from a distance; review the observation manual.

9- All brothers should be always armed even if with a small knife in their pockets.

10- Check your pockets and never leave important papers in them when moving around.

11- Always be careful in personal relations with Afghans or Pakistanis.

12- Avoid giving any information about the locations of your brothers.

13- It is forbidden to discuss work issues with the women.

14- It is forbidden to take children to parks and offices.

15- It is forbidden to talk about your work or the nature of your mission with anybody who is not related to it.

16- Beware of habit in your daily routine because the rule says, "Routine is the enemy of security."

17- If you are moving and have a large amount of money, beware of showing it in the market so you do not attract robbers.

18- Always beware when you are talking about the work because somebody not related to your work, the women or the children, might hear you.

19- Beware of rapid and spontaneous friendships with Afghans who speak Arabic.

20- In public places beware of talking about work issues because some Afghans know Arabic but you cannot notice this.

21- Always be forgiving when you are buying from, selling to or dealing with Afghans and avoid trouble.

22- Children are not allowed to go out by themselves whether to buy stuff or play.

23- Always make sure about the identity of your neighbors and classify them as regular people, opponents or allies.

Security of compounds:

The security of the house or the living quarters is one of the most important aspects of security because the house contains the personnel, the equipment and the important documents. Make the house secure, securing from all those aspects, and it is advisable that these measures be taken seriously. There are important precautions, to the security of the house, that have to be taken before renting but it is not practical to list them here.

(Translator's notes: several instructions for securing the houses are listed, including location, neighborhood, weapons inside, rules for children, night-time policy, and patrolling the surroundings)

Security of the hosting places:

A hosting place is the place where most infiltration takes place. What we mean by hosting place is a public place where people, who most of the time are not related to the work, are received. But in case we are receiving special guests or others, it is not considered a hosting place but it is affiliated to the security of the special offices. (Translator's notes: there are 23 instructions for the security of the hosting places; here are 10)

At the hosting place a room for the security unit is necessary for observation:

1. The hosting place should be away from the living space of the brothers and their meeting areas.

2. Brothers should not go often to the hosting place except for a purpose.

3. It is forbidden to practice any private or secret matter in the hosting place.

4. The hosting place where our brothers are grouped, like Kandahar

a. Anybody who enters it should be known

b. Nobody lives in it unless a known party recommends him

c. Persons living in the hosting place should be organized and authorized by the brother in charge of the hosting place. It should be known where the brother is going and when he is coming back.

5. Brothers living in Kandahar and who repetitively visit the hosting place should abide by the Holy Hadith (a sacred text of Islam), "The virtue of one's Islam is to leave what does not belong to him," and not to start a relation with the brothers living in the hosting place.

6. The brother in charge of the hosting place should assign a private place for each brother living in the hosting place and not leave the decision to the visitor.

7. There should be a schedule for night guard in the hosting place.

8. The communication room should be isolated in the hosting place and not close to the visitor's rooms.

9.The hosting place should have a reception room where the visiting brother is dealt with, before entering the hosting place, and decide if he is going to stay in it.

10. Public meetings are strictly forbidden in the hosting place.

Security of movement:

First: Security of cars and vehicles

Constant movement of cars between the houses of the brothers and their workplace is a big breach which might lead to discovery of those places if the brother driving was not aware of being watched. It is possible that the car itself, with its occupant, might be a target, therefore:

(Translator's notes: several instructions for driving and car security follow; here are a few)

- The brothers driving the cars should check their car daily to make sure it does not contain any foreign material or device.

- All the brothers driving the cars should be armed and should have their weapons license.

- Brothers driving the cars should always be wearing Afghan clothing so their identity cannot be easily discovered.

- Brothers driving the cars should not always follow one path and should not have a constant habit in choosing their way.

Second: security of movement and travel inside Afghanistan

Travel is one of the most important security breaches that we should be careful of because of the long absence from the brothers and facing the dangers of the road.

- It is absolutely forbidden for a person to travel by himself, and it is preferable that the number of travelers be at least three including a trusted Afghan.

- In rest areas a brother should not show his military ID.

- The security office should be informed about the travel before the travel, and when you reach your destination you should inform the office for follow up.

(Translator's notes: several instructions for mail and communications security are listed, right out of an intelligence personnel book)

Public meetings security:

The danger of public meetings is that it often groups most of the personnel present in Kandahar. If the enemy manages to know and reach the meeting place, he would have a dangerous opportunity and to make him miss this chance we should follow some precautions.

(Translator's notes: several instructions concerning public meetings security follow)

End Translation


This document supports a few strong conclusions. It clearly proves that an Arab country was providing professional military assistance to Arab operatives in Afghanistan. While the document does not identify the country of origin of these Arab men, it's a logical omission since it wouldn't make sense to name the country in a memo whose purpose is to instruct how to hide one's nationality.

It is important to note, however, that in 1999, Iraq — along with Syria — was again identified by the U.S. Department of State as a government sponsor of terrorism, the only two Arab nations classified as state sponsors of terrorism at that time.

The document also appears to be a professional military intelligence letter of instruction. These men have military IDs. The instruction references an intelligence manual. The letter mentions "trusted" Afghans, so we know they are working in cooperation with forces in Afghanistan. It is highly unlikely that any military would send a semi-permanent contingent with families into Afghanistan for cooperation or training unless the Afghan organization was stable and in control. It therefore seems likely that these soldiers are working closely with the Taliban.

There are media reports of a group of Iraqi soldiers in Afghanistan. Jeffery Goldberg reported for The New Yorker in a February 2003 article entitled The CIA and Pentagon take another look at Al Qaeda and Iraq:

"In interviews with senior officials, the following picture emerged: American intelligence believes that Al Qaeda and Saddam reached a non-aggression agreement in 1993, and that the relationship deepened further in the mid-nineteen-nineties, when an Al Qaeda operative — a native-born Iraqi who goes by the name Abu Abdullah al-Iraqi — was dispatched by bin Laden to ask the Iraqis for help in poison-gas training. Al-Iraqi's mission was successful, and an unknown number of trainers from an Iraqi secret-police organization called Unit 999 were dispatched to camps in Afghanistan to instruct Al Qaeda terrorists."

Unit 999 might sound like it's straight out of a James Bond movie, but there are many references to an actual Iraqi intelligence unit that appears to take on Special Forces missions. Global, which sources most of its information from declassified U.S. government documents, describes Unit 999:

This "deep penetration" unit, responsible for domestic and international clandestine operations, was headquartered at the army base at Salman Pak, southeast of Baghdad. Unit 999 activities included infiltration of opposition militias in the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, a planned effort by the unit to kidnap the U.S. commander General Schwarzkopf from Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm, and sabotage attacks on Iranian oil installations in the 1990s.

This manual provides further evidence that the Iraqi military was active in Afghanistan and working with the Taliban. The Taliban harbored and trained with Al Qaeda. The information in the document matches media reports that U.S. intelligence sources believed the IIS was training Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. It also matches information from other IIS documentation that shows requests from Islamic Jihad groups in Afghanistan for Iraqi military assistance.

The author welcomes your comment on the translation and analysis of this document. You can contact Ray Robison by e-mailing him at: