Syrian Brotherhood Stands Nearer to ISIS Than to U.S.

by Ravi Kumar
IPT News
September 16, 2014

1063While the United States tries to build a coalition of Arab allies to join the fight against the terrorist group ISIS, now known as the Islamic State, one group which stands to benefit directly is coming out against Western intervention and expressing unity with other radical jihadists.

A Syrian Muslim Brotherhood spokesman says attacks on the Islamic State by the United States and its allies are not the answer.

“Our battle with ISIS is an intellectual battle,” Omar Mushaweh said in a statement published Sept. 9 on the Syrian Brotherhood’s official website, “and we wish that some of its members get back to their sanity, we really distinguish between those in ISIS who are lured and brainwashed and they might go back to the path of righteous, and between those who has foreign agendas and try to pervert the way of the [Syrian] revolution.”

Rather, the first target for any Western intervention should be dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Mushaweh asserts, according to a translation of his comments by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Such comments should reinforce Western concerns about the Syrian Brotherhood, whose members are prominent among the Free Syrian Army (FSA), one of the supposedly moderate factions in the Syrian civil war which receive U.S. training and weapons. And it shows the challenge of finding truly moderate allies on the ground in Syria. Compared to ISIS, the FSA might be considered moderate. Then again, ISIS was so ruthlessly violent that al-Qaida disavowed the group in February.

In addition, the Syrian Brotherhood openly mourned the death last week of a commander in Ahrar Al Asham, a Syrian faction with ties to al-Qaida.

Mushaweh’s views about the U.S. intervention are shared by other Brotherhood members. Another Brotherhood leader, Zuher Salem, minimized the ISIS threat by comparing current American rhetoric to that which preceded the 2003 Iraq invasion.

“All of these tales that are being told by America about the primitive, terrorist and threatening nature of the Islamic State are similar to the tales that have been told in regard to the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, and about the crimes against humanity,” Salem wrote in an article published Sept. 13 by the Arab East Center, a think tank associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. “It is trifling to race with others to condemn terrorism and the killing of the American journalist, because we should be aware the aim of this anti ISIS coalition is to pave the way for an Iranian hegemony over the region.”

Yusuf Al Qaradawi, an influential Brotherhood cleric living in Qatar, joined in criticizing the American military campaign against ISIS. “I totally disagree with [ISIS] ideology and means,” he wrote on Twitter, “but I don’t at all accept that the one to fight it is America, which does not act in the name of Islam but rather in its own interests, even if blood is shed.”

While both are Sunni Muslim movements, each seeking to establish a global Islamic Caliphate, ISIS views the Brotherhood as too passive, while the Brotherhood sees ISIS as being unnecessarily violent in pursuing its aims.

The two have common enemies, however, including the ruling regimes of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, and Jordan, which have worked to cripple the Brotherhood, and which ISIS considers infidel regimes which should be toppled in pursuit of a broader Islamic Caliphate.

In another indication the Syrian Brotherhood is no moderating force, it issued a statement on its website Sept. 10 mourning the killing of Ahrar Al Asham leader Hassan Aboud in a suicide bombing.

“Syria has given a  constellation of the best of its sons, and the bravest leaders of the Islamic front and Ahrar Al Sham,” the head of the Brotherhood’s political bureau, Hassan Al Hashimi, said in the statement translated by the IPT. “We consider them Martyrs.”

Ahrar Al Sham is a radical group co-founded by Abu Khaled al-Suri, who was al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri’s designated representative in Syria. Al-Suri was killed in February in a suicide bombing believed to be carried out by ISIS.

Aboud made clear his ideological links to al-Qaida clear in a July 2013 Twitter post. “May God have mercy on the Mujahid Sheikh Abdullah Azzam. He was a scholar of Jihad and the morality.” Azzam was considered a mentor to Osama bin Laden, and pushed conspiracy theories involving Jewish and Christian plots against Islam.

The Brotherhood official mourning Aboud, Al Hashimi, has visited the United States a couple of times since the Syrian civil war started.

1064He spoke at the controversial Dar al-Hijrah mosque in northern Virginia on Nov. 17, 2013, as part of a program organized by the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF). The SETF has worked closely with Muslim Brotherhood members and some of its officials have expressed anti-Semitic statements and solidarity with Hamas.

Still, the SETF has partnered with the State Department to implement training projects in Syria. Last December, the SETF’s executive director endorsed working with a coalition of Syrian opposition groups called the Islamic Front, even though several entities involved, including Ahrar Al-Sham, had fought with ISIS and the radical Jabhat al-Nusra, or al-Nusra Front. Four Islamic Front affiliates also endorsed a declaration calling for “the rule of sharia and making it the sole source of legislation” in a post-Assad Syria.

The announcement of the event was distributed to the Dar Al Hijrah mailing list, but without mentioning that Al Hashimi is the head of the political bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood.

U.N. to dump flood of Muslim refugees on U.S.

Syrian-refugees-protest (1)By LEO HOHMANN:

Displaced Syrians will likely make up the next big wave of Muslim refugees coming to America.

Since the early 1990s, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees has selected 200,000 to 250,000 refugees from Islamic countries to be resettled in the United States. Most of them have come from Somalia and Iraq.

Syria could soon be added to the mix in the midst of that country’s brutal civil war. The Obama administration has been greasing the skids for the Syrian refugees for months, WND has learned, and the refugees will soon be dumped on American cities throughout the U.S.

In February, the State Department moved to ease the rules that protect the U.S. from accepting refugees with potential ties to terrorist organizations. The rules were seen as “too strict” by the refugee-resettlement groups that lobby Congress and the administration to continuously let in more Muslims from the war-torn Middle East.

Then on Sept. 4, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman hinted at her daily press briefing that a new wave of refugees will soon be coming from another predominantly Muslim nation – Syria.

“The United Nations high commissioner for refugees just this year started referring Syrian refugees to the United States for processing,” said Marie Harf. “Obviously, we have several thousand in the pipeline, and that number will continue to go up.”

Obama’s State Department is expected to present Congress with a list within the next two weeks that shows the total number of foreign refugees it wants to accept into the country over the next year and the countries from which they will come. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

A few local newspaper reports have already surfaced, providing clues as to where some of the Syrian refugees will be delivered. The Winston-Salem Journal carried a reportlast week that the Triad area of North Carolina could receive some of the refugees. The first Syrian family has already arrived in Greensboro, North Carolina, and is living in a hotel there, according to the Journal.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Sept. 10 that the city’s social services were preparing for “a flood of refugees” from Syria and Iraq later this year. Cleveland, Akron and Columbus, Ohio, have been hotspots in the past for Muslim refugees coming from the Middle East.

Once the refugees are relocated to an American city, they are quickly connected to an array of taxpayer-funded social services, including Medicaid, food stamps and subsidized housing. Interpreters and tutors are often provided to help bridge the language gap that refugee children will find in local public schools.

Groups like Human Rights First, World Relief Corp., the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Catholic and Lutheran churches all have strong presences in Washington and often do the bidding of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, World Relief, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Church World Services and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society push for more foreign refugees to be resettled in America, which results in more federal grants flowing into their coffers.

WND has documented in previous stories that more than 90 percent of the money used by these religious charities for resettling refugees comes from federal grants. They operate like government contractors in the lucrative resettlement business under the guise of providing “charity.”

Most of the Syrian refugees will likely be coming from Turkey, where thousands have fled across the border from Syria, but others are huddled in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.

Melanie Nezer, head of policy and advocacy at Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, one of the organizations that resettles refugees in the U.S. using federal grants, wrote an op-edMarch 28 in the New York Daily News in which she called for the U.S. to accept 75,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years. That would be 15,000 a year coming to the U.S. under permanent refugee status.

“That’s a huge number,” said Ann Corcoran, a writer and researcher for Refugee Resettlement Watch, a group that monitors the U.N.’s distribution of foreign refugees throughout the United States. She said 15,000 a year would be on a par with the Iraqi refugee program, which has produced the largest, fastest-growing refugee community in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001.

“Most of the Syrian refugees in these refugee camps are Sunni Muslims; they’re not Christians,” said Corcoran. “The camps in places like Turkey and Jordan, you’re not going to find a ton of Christians.”

The United Nations, working with the U.S. State Department, has already shipped approximately 115,000 Iraqis to American cities since Sept. 11. Another 100,000 Somalis have been resettled in the United States since that country devolved into civil war in 1993. The Somali refugees have been described as 99.9 percent Muslim by Somali-American leaders. The Iraqi refugees have also been majority Muslim and, while the exact percentages are more difficult to track, the Iraqis coming to the States have been estimated at 62 percent Muslim.

Culture clash in American cities

Once here, Muslim families have vastly more children than the typical American family. The average Somali couple in Minnesota, for example, has six children.

These refugee families have changed the demographics of their host cities, such as Shelbyville, Tennessee; Lewiston, Maine; and Minneapolis, Minnesota, all of which have reported culture clashes between Muslims expecting everything from foot baths at public colleges to dietary concessions at public schools. A Tyson Foods meat-packing plant in Shelbyville decided in 2009 to acquiesce to a local union’s demands to drop the paid holiday of Labor Day in favor of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr, a decision that Tyson later reversed in the wake of a public backlash.

Read more at WND

Syrian Rebels: We’ll Use U.S. Weapons to Fight Assad, Whether Obama Likes It or Not

1410538345073.cachedBy Josh Rogin:

President Obama has reversed course, and is finally promising to openly arm the moderate Syrian opposition. But he wants the rebels to use those weapons to fight only ISIS, not the Bashar al-Assad regime. The Syrian rebels plan to use them to fight both at the same time.

For the Free Syrian Army, the loose conglomeration of opposition fighters that are not extremists and not aligned with the Assad regime, the war against ISIS began long before President Obama’s prime time speech Wednesday night. They have been battling ISIS for a year and fighting the Assad regime for over three years. For all that time, they have been begging the United States to send them weapons, but the CIA program to arm them has been extremely limited. They are getting beaten on both fronts, badly.

“Because of our failure [the rebels] have been so badly harmed and so many killed,” said Sen. John McCain, a longtime advocate for intervening in the Syrian conflict. “The blood is on their hands, the responsibility for the casualties that they have suffered unnecessarily, the responsibility lies with the president.”

In the administration’s haste to now throw military support behind the rebels, they are now committing to fighting alongside a force that is fighting Assad, possibly drawing the U.S. directly into the Syrian civil war.

After two years of rejecting calls from his own national security team to arm the FSA, President Obama announced Wednesday night that he now wanted to arm the FSA to fight against the terrorists who are on the march in Syria and Iraq. He said the only way to beat ISIS was to train and equip the moderate rebels—the same rebels he ignored for so long—and he called on Congress to authorize the mission.

“In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its people; a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost,” Obama said, using an alternate acronym for ISIS. “Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that Obama wanted to wage war only against ISIS, not the regime in Damascus. After all, Syria is still technically a sovereign U.N. member state and the U.S. thinks the regime will be needed to negotiate the political solution to the civil war Obama mentioned.

“What the president is focused on right now, and the authorization that he feels he has under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, is to take the steps that are necessary to prevent ISIL from establishing a safe haven in Syria, and succeed in degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL,” he said.

But the Syrian opposition and the Free Syrian Army aren’t waiting for legal authorization to fight the Damascus regime; they are getting bombarded by Assad’s Syrian Arab Army every day, as it continues to commit mass murder of Syrian civilians through the siege of major cities, the dropping of barrel bombs, and the continued use of chlorine gas to kill innocents, according to international monitors.

“The fight against ISIS is one part of a multi-front war in Syria. The brutal rule and poor governance of the Assad regime generated the conditions for ISIS become the global threat that it is today,” Syrian National Coalition President Hadi AlBahra told The Daily Beast on Thursday.

He added, “Airstrikes on ISIS strongholds in Syria are a much-needed element to degrade the extremist group’s capabilities. To be effective, strikes must be accompanied by well-equipped and trained military forces on the ground. We therefore welcome the commitment to intensify the train-and-equip program to enable the Free Syrian Army to eradicate ISIS and other forms of terror in Syria, including the Assad regime.”

Read more at Daily Beast

House Amendment Would Allow Obama to Arm, Train Syrian Rebels with Terrorist Ties

awk
PJ Media, By Patrick Poole, Sep. 15, 2014:

According to reports, the House Armed Services Committee is currently preparing an amendment to arm and train the Syrian rebels that will be voted on this week. If passed, the bill will be attached to the continuing resolution to fund the government until December. **UPDATE** The amendment has been posted.

The most troubling element to the proposed amendment is a provision allowing the Obama administration to arm and train rebels with ties to terrorism. The “vetted moderate rebel” groups supported by the administration are known to be partnering with designated terrorist organizations, and the passage of this amendment would give congressional blessing to such arrangements.

According to The Hill:

The measure includes several provisions intended to satisfy Republicans and Democrats worried about giving the administration blanket authority to arm and train rebel groups, who would be used in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

It would require Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to submit the administration’s plan for training the moderate opposition 15 days before the commencement of any such activities, the aide said. That requirement was put forward by the administration, the aide added.

After that, Hagel would have to submit an update to lawmakers every 90 days.

That will be the extent of oversight by Congress — notification by the Pentagon.

But then there’s this:

The Pentagon would be required to list every individual they are recruiting, and would have to provide information on their backgrounds, including any possible links to terrorist organizations, according to the aide.

But the bill would not prohibit people with links to terrorist groups from actually participating in the program, the aide said. Such a blanket prohibition could make it tougher to recruit people for the training program.

Remarkably, this amendment is being billed by Republican leadership and the D.C. media as limiting Obama’s powers.

As I’ve been reporting here at PJ Media the past two weeks, considerable evidence is mounting that the “vetted moderate rebels” that the U.S. has already sent weapons to are allying with ISIS and other terrorist groups on the local level.

On September 3, I reported that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — the main rebel group fighting the Assad regime — recently allied with ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria. A FSA commander later confirmed my reporting on their alliance near the Lebanon border.

Then on September 9, I reported on one of the first rebel groups to receive heavy weapons from the CIA earlier this year, Harakat al-Hazm, which has also allied with Jabhat al-Nusra.

And this past weekend I reported that the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF), which had been billed as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies,” has signed a peace deal with ISIS according to both Arabic and English media reports. The head of SRF yesterday published a denial — in English (meaning, for Western audiences) — of those reports. And yet, the Wall Street Journal reported in May about SRF’s open cooperation with Jabhat al-Nusra.

So with this House amendment, Republicans would be endorsing the Obama administration’s existing policy of arming and training Syrian rebel groups known to be working with terrorists, which would effectively give Obama political cover in the case of more U.S. weapons ending up in the hands of ISIS and other terrorist groups.

They don’t call the GOP “the stupid party” for nothing.

In Search of the ‘Moderate Islamists’

pic_giant_091514_SM_Hasmas-Muslim-BrotherhoodBy Andrew C. McCarthy:

It is not out of ignorance that President Obama and Secretary Kerry are denying the Islamic roots of the Islamic State jihadists. As I argued in a column here last week, we should stop scoffing as if this were a blunder and understand the destructive strategy behind it. The Obama administration is quite intentionally promoting the progressive illusion that “moderate Islamists” are the solution to the woes of the Middle East, and thus that working cooperatively with “moderate Islamists” is the solution to America’s security challenges.

I wrote a book a few years ago called The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America that addressed this partnership between Islamists and progressives. The terms “grand jihad” and “sabotage” are lifted from an internal Muslim Brotherhood memorandum that lays bare the Brotherhood’s overarching plan to destroy the West from within by having their component organizations collude with credulous Western governments and opinion elites.

The plan is going well.

As long as the news media and even conservative commentators continue to let them get away with it, the term “moderate Islamist” will remain useful to transnational progressives. It enables them to avoid admitting that the Muslim Brotherhood is what they have in mind.

As my recent column explained, the term “moderate Islamist” is an oxymoron. An Islamist is a Muslim who wants repressive sharia imposed. There is nothing moderate about sharia even if the Muslim in question does not advocate imposing it by violence.

Most people do not know what the term “Islamist” means, so the contradiction is not apparent to them. If they think about it at all, they figure “moderate Islamist” must be just another way of saying “moderate Muslim,” and since everyone acknowledges that there are millions of moderate Muslims, it seems logical enough. Yet, all Muslims are not Islamists. In particular, all Muslims who support the Western principles of liberty and reason are not Islamists.

If you want to say that some Islamists are not violent, that is certainly true. But that does not make them moderate. There is, moreover, less to their nonviolence than meets the eye. Many Islamists who do not personally participate in jihadist aggression support violent jihadists financially and morally — often while feigning objection to their methods or playing semantic games (e.g., “I oppose terrorism but I support resistance,” or “I oppose the killing of innocent people . . . but don’t press me on who is an innocent”).

Understandably, the public is inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to people the government describes as “moderates” and portrays as our “allies.” If transnational progressives were grilled on these vaporous terms, though, and forced to concede, say, that the Muslim Brotherhood was the purportedly “moderate opposition” our government wants to support in Syria, the public would object. While not expert in the subject, many Americans are generally aware that the Brotherhood supports terrorism, that its ideology leads young Muslims to graduate to notorious terrorist organizations, and that it endorses oppressive Islamic law while opposing the West. Better for progressives to avoid all that by one of their dizzying, internally nonsensical word games — hence, “moderate Islamist.”

I rehearse all that because last week, right on cue, representatives of Brotherhood-tied Islamist organizations appeared with Obama-administration officials and other apologists for Islamic supremacism to ostentatiously “condemn” the Islamic State as “not Islamic.”

As I recount with numerous examples in The Grand Jihad, this is the manipulative double game the Brotherhood has mastered in the West, aided and abetted by progressives of both parties. While speaking to credulous Western audiences desperate to believe Islam is innately moderate, the Brothers pretend to abhor terrorism, claim that terrorism is actually “anti-Islamic,” and threaten to brand you as an “Islamophobe” racist — to demagogue you in the media, ban you from the campus, and bankrupt you in court — if you dare to notice the nexus between Islamic doctrine and systematic terrorism committed by Muslims. Then, on their Arabic sites and in the privacy of their mosques and community centers, they go back to preaching jihad, championing Hamas, calling for Israel’s destruction, damning America, inveighing against Muslim assimilation in the West, and calling for society’s acceptance of sharia mores.

The Investigative Project’s John Rossomando reports on last Wednesday’s shenanigans at the National Press Club. The Islamist leaders who “urged the public to ignore [the Islamic State’s] theological motivations,” included “former Council on American-Islamic Affairs (CAIR) Tampa director Ahmed Bedier, [who] later wrote on Twitter that IS [the Islamic State] ‘is not a product of Islam,’ and blamed the United States for its emergence.”

Also on hand were moderate moderator Haris Tarin, Washington director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); Imam Mohamed Magid, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); and Johari Abdul-Malik, an imam at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va. All of these Islamists are consultants to the Obama administration on policy matters; Magid is actually a member Obama’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.

Where to begin? CAIR, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out, is a Muslim Brotherhood creation conceived to be a Western-media-savvy shill for Islamic supremacism in general, and Hamas in particular. At the 2007–08 terrorism-financing prosecution of Hamas operatives in the Holy Land Foundation case — involving a Brotherhood conspiracy that funneled millions of dollars to Palestinian jihadists — CAIR was proven to be a co-conspirator, albeit unindicted. Mr. Bedier, who is profiled by the Investigative Project here, is a notorious apologist for Hamas — the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, which is formally designated as a terrorist organization under U.S. law. He also vigorously championed such terrorists as Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Sami al-Arian (who pled guilty in 2006 to conspiring to provide material support to terrorism).

I’ve profiled MPAC here. It was founded by disciples of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and champions of both Hezbollah and the Sudanese Islamists who gave safe-haven to al-Qaeda during the mid Nineties. After the atrocities of September 11, 2001, MPAC’s executive director, Salam al-Marayati, immediately urged that “we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list.” Without a hint of irony, MPAC’s main business is condemning irrational suspicion . . . the “Islamophobia” it claims Muslims are systematically subjected to. Like many CAIR operatives and other purveyors of victim politics, MPAC officials tend to double as Democratic-party activists.

Read more at National Review

Yet Another U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Makes Peace with ISIS

free-syrian-army-2011-11-2 (1)PJ Media, By Patrick Poole:

Obama’s hope to do anything of substance in Syria took another severe blow yesterday as the U.S.-backed and armed Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) struck a peace deal with ISIS, according to both Arabic and English language news reports.

The SRF had only a few months ago been deemed by the U.S. foreign policy establishment as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies.”

Now AFP reports:

Syrian rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have agreed a non-aggression pact for the first time in a suburb of the capital Damascus, a monitoring group said on Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the ceasefire deal was agreed between ISIS and moderate and Islamist rebels in Hajar al-Aswad, south of the capital.

Under the deal, “the two parties will respect a truce until a final solution is found and they promise not to attack each other because they consider the principal enemy to be the Nussayri regime.”

Nussayri is a pejorative term for the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.

According to media reports, other groups joining the ceasefire with ISIS include Liwa Ahrar Turkman al-Golan, Liwa Hittin and Liwa al-Umma al-Wahida.

When seeking U.S. heavy weapons, including TOW anti-tank missiles, SRF commander Jamal Maroof was full of bravado, declaring war against ISIS. In May, McClatchy reported that SRF and other “vetted moderate rebel” groups had received TOW missiles from the U.S. and posted videos of their use.

But as soon as weapons were being delivered to Maroof’s SRF forces, he was giving interviews to Western media making clear that “al-Qaeda is not our problem.”

A May 2014 report by Jenan Moussa of Al-Aan notes that Maroof runs SRF in a cave with his three wives and children:

 

During that interview where Maroof talks about receiving U.S. military aid and his soldiers receiving U.S. training, there is one curious artifact in the background:

vlcsnap-2014-09-13-12h57m59s111-1024x576

The SRF’s ceasefire with ISIS puts yet another nail in the coffin of the claims by the U.S. foreign policy establishment that there are “vetted moderate” Syrian “rebels” that we can rely upon.

As I’ve reported here at PJ Media over the past week, the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army is operating openly with ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al-Qaeda affiliate, in certain areas. I also noted an L.A. Times article last Sunday where a reporter traveling with fighters from the U.S.-backed and armed Harakat al-Hazm, one of the first groupsto receive U.S. heavy weapons, was told that the group fights alongside Jabhat al-Nusra. And earlier this week I reported on a statement by a Free Syrian Army commander admitting his group is in an alliance with ISIS fighting near the border with Lebanon.

As Congress takes up a bill to fund Obama’s plan to arm and train so-called “vetted moderate” Syrian “rebels,” even some analysts are beginning to admit that finding the right allies in Syria will be difficult. With the State Department’s disastrous record so far of identifying “vetted moderate rebel” groups who refuse to ally with al-Qaeda and ISIS, and ISIS leaders openly bragging about the U.S. arming and training rebels groups that have now defected to ISIS, some prudent caution on the part of Congress is in order before throwing more money and weapons into Syria and Iraq.

***

Daniel Greenfield comments on the SRF:

Once you get the TOW milk, you no longer need the American cow.

The SRF is yet another Free Syrian Army orbital coalition composed of assorted Islamic Jihadist militias. Maroof’s Syrian Martyrs Brigade is described as secular, but its name and logo quickly give the lie to that.

It’s backed by Saudi Arabia and it supposedly had some success against ISIS, but it’s also widely been accused of being mercenary, which means that expecting it to seriously put itself on the line is delusional.

It’s still basically Islamist and appears to be more opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood than to Al Qaeda because that’s who its Saudi bosses were worried about at the time. It casually switches up allegiances, like much of the Syrian opposition, making it something between a menace and worthless. Giving it TOW missiles was a clearly stupid move.

Also see:

LOPEZ: Obama pledges additional support for Iranian puppet regimes

In this photo released by an official website of the Iranian supreme leader's office, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014.  (AP Photo/Office of the Supreme Leader)

In this photo released by an official website of the Iranian supreme leader’s office, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Office of the Supreme Leader)

By Clare Lopez:

In a prime time address to the nation on the eve of 11 September 2014, President Obama pledged an expanded U.S. effort to destroy the Islamic State (IS), which he still calls “ISIL” (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). American air power, stepped-up training for anti-Assad Syrian jihadis (which he calls “moderate rebels”), an additional $25 million in financial aid to Baghdad, and partnership with “a broad coalition” (that currently consists of 9 countries) comprise the key elements of the new military campaign.

Given that the only territory IS currently threatens are the regimes of two Iranian puppets – one in Baghdad, one in Damascus – Obama’s announcement in effect amounts to a renewed U.S. commitment to support Tehran’s grip on regional hegemony. The nuclear talks about how quickly the U.S. will accede to the Iranian bomb resume in another week.

Remarkably, the president opened his remarks with the rather preposterous claim that “ISIL is not Islamic.” Now, Obama himself has admitted in his autobiography “Dreams From My Father” that he “made faces during Quranic studies.” Still, it might be expected that he retained something of those madrassa lessons—or at least that White House advisors (not the Muslim Brotherhood ones, though) would have steered him away from such an egregious misstatement.

As it is, one of the reasons that the Saudi regime is so shaken by the approach of IS forces toward its borders is precisely because Riyadh royals know full well their Islamic piety doesn’t begin to measure up to the purity of IS practice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the IS leader, not only boasts a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from a Baghdad university, but wears the black turban to signify descent from Muhammad. Whether entitled to claim the Islamic prophet’s bloodline or not, al-Baghdadi models his every action on the example Muslims believe set out for them centuries ago by the founder of their faith. For Muslim purists like al-Baghdadi, the Qur’anic verse 33:21 that tells them “Ye have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern of conduct for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day…” is taken quite literally (amputations, beheading, crucifixions, flogging and all).

Obama rambled on, claiming next that “ISIL is certainly not a state.” Unfortunately for the Iranian proxies in Baghdad and Damascus that are his intended beneficiaries, it is their former states that no longer exist—because the Islamic State, the Caliphate, has dismantled them. Obama did seem to recognize the effective erasure of the 1916 Sykes-Picot borders at least in some measure, though, as he declared his intent to expand U.S. air strikes more evenly throughout the Caliphate (including into what used to be called Syria as well as the former Iraq).

Apparently in pursuit of a public relations coup that’s eluded him of late, Obama nevertheless offered up additional glimpses of his unenviable conundrum about which jihadis to support on the ground in the intra-Islamic sectarian struggle that’s torn the region apart since the Islamic Uprising began in 2011.

For example, he seems to have conveniently forgotten that the ranks of today’s IS are full of Syrian jihadis armed, funded, and trained by U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) in cooperation with the now-terrified Hashemites, NATO ally Turkey, Muslim Brotherhood sponsor Qatar, and the flailing Saudi monarchy. A monster has slipped the leash but the American president says he’s more than ready to provide even more support to more Syrian rebels, who, this time, definitely will be exclusively the ‘moderate’ ones.

But what about the threat to the homeland if IS is allowed to exist and consolidate? Well, the question somehow is never asked about how either individual jihadis or small jihadi cells that an IS enclave might direct to attack the homeland are in any way different than the jihadis the Iranian or the Saudi state have launched our way over the decades—to include the hijackers of September 11, 2001 or the uncounted numbers of Hizballah cells operating across the Americas today. But there’s never been a hint of a suggestion that those jihadist sponsoring states constitute a compelling national security threat to the U.S. that requires an international coalition to deal with them.

Read more at Washington Times

Clare M. Lopez is the Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

Obama Pushes U.S. Deeper Into Middle East to Fight Islamic State

President Obama Addresses the Nation on the ISIL Threat

FULL WH TRANSCRIPTION OF SPEECH HERE

By CAROL E. LEE and JULIAN E. BARNES:

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama authorized the start of U.S. airstrikes in Syria and expanded a monthlong bombing campaign in Iraq to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic militants who recently beheaded two Americans.

The decisions, outlined Wednesday in a prime-time address to the nation on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, considerably deepen U.S. military involvement in the Middle East. They also mark an acknowledgment by Mr. Obama that the intensity of the threat from the militant group Islamic State requires the type of long-term, open-ended conflict he has resisted since taking office—and which he campaigned for the White House saying he would avoid.

In asking Americans to support another military incursion in the Middle East, Mr. Obama said his strategy to combat Islamic State, also called ISIS and ISIL, would be bolstered by a coalition of Arab and European nations. His plan builds on his authorization in August of airstrikes in Iraq to protect American personnel threatened by Islamic State and to provide humanitarian assistance to besieged Iraqis.

Mr. Obama said the U.S. goal now is to help Iraqis reclaim large swaths of territory the group has rapidly overtaken in recent months since spilling over from its stronghold in neighboring Syria. His speech paves the way for the first U.S. strikes at the group’s bases and havens in Syria.

“America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat,” Mr. Obama said in remarks from the White House. “I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

The president gave no timetable for the new, U.S.-led fight against what he described as “a terrorist organization” with members “unique in their brutality.”

In addition to launching airstrikes against the militants in Syria, Mr. Obama pledged a new dose of support for moderate Syrian fighters also battling the extremist group. Taken together, the steps draw the U.S. closer toward the volatile Syrian civil war and open a new front for American efforts in the region.

Saudi Arabia has offered to host a U.S.-run training facility for moderate Syrian rebels, U.S. and Arab officials said. The facility is expected to be able to handle as many as 10,000 fighters, but details are still being worked out, the officials said.

Read more at WSJ

Also see:

 

‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Commander Admits Alliance with ISIS, Confirms PJ Media Reporting

As-Iraq-Burns-US-Plans-500-Million-to-Terrorists-in-Syria-610x400

This is what the D.C. foreign policy establishment has reduced itself to when it comes to Syria — cozying up to al-Qaeda (or Iran and Assad) in the name of “countering violent extremism,” namely ISIS, and entertaining each other with cocktail party talk of “moderate wings” of al-Qaeda. As my colleague Stephen Coughlin observes, our bipartisan foreign policy establishment has created a bizarre language about Iraq and Afghanistan to avoid the stark reality that we lost both wars. This is the state American foreign policy finds itself in on the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by al-Qaeda.

PJ Media, By Patrick Poole, September 10, 2014:

As President Obama laid out his “strategy” last night for dealing with ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and as bipartisan leadership in Congress push to approve as much as $4 billion to arm the Syrian “rebels,” it should be noted that the keystone to his anti-Assad policy — the “vetted moderate” Free Syrian Army (FSA) — is now admitting that they, too, are working with the Islamic State.

This confirms our reporting about the FSA’s alliances with Syrian terrorist groups here at PJ Media last week.

On Monday, the Daily Star in Lebanon quoted a FSA brigade commander saying that his forces were working with the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate — both U.S.-designated terrorist organizations — near the Syrian/Lebanon border.

“We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front by attacking the Syrian Army’s gatherings in … Qalamoun,” said Bassel Idriss, the commander of an FSA-aligned rebel brigade.

“We have reached a point where we have to collaborate with anyone against unfairness and injustice,” confirmed Abu Khaled, another FSA commander who lives in Arsal.

“Let’s face it: The Nusra Front is the biggest power present right now in Qalamoun and we as FSA would collaborate on any mission they launch as long as it coincides with our values,” he added.

In my report last week I noted that buried in a New York Times article last month was a Syrian “rebel” commander quoted as saying that his forces were working with ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra in raids along the border with Lebanon, including attacks on Lebanese forces. The Times article quickly tried to dismiss the commander’s statements, but theDaily Star article now confirms this alliance.

Among the other pertinent points from that PJ Media article last week was that this time last year the bipartisan conventional wisdom amongst the foreign policy establishment was that the bulk of the Syrian rebel forces were moderates, a fiction refuted by a Rand Corporation study published last September that found nearly half of the Syrian “rebels” were jihadists or hard-core Islamists.

Another relevant phenomenon I noted was that multiple arms shipments from the U.S. to the “vetted moderate” FSA were suspiciously raided and confiscated by ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, prompting the Obama administration and the UK to suspend weapons shipments to the FSA last December.

In April, the Obama administration again turned on the CIA weapons spigot to the FSA, and Obama began calling for an additional $500 million for the “vetted moderate” rebels, but by July the weapons provided to the FSA were yet again being raided and captured by ISIS and other terrorist groups. Remarkably, one Syrian dissident leader reportedly told Al-Quds al-Arabi that the FSA had lost $500 million worth of arms to rival “rebel” groups, much of which ended up being sold to unknown parties in Turkey and Iraq.

At the same time U.S.-provided FSA weapons caches were being mysteriously raided by ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the senior FSA commanders in Eastern Syria, Saddam al-Jamal, defected to ISIS. In March, Jabhat al-Nusra joined forces with the FSA Liwa al-Ummah brigade to capture a Syrian army outpost in Idlib. Then in early July I reported on FSA brigades that had pledged allegiance to ISIS and surrendered their weapons after their announcement of the reestablishment of the caliphate. More recently, the FSA and Jabhat al-Nusra teamed up last month to capture the UN Golan Heights border crossing in Quneitra on the Syria/Israel border, taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

But the Free Syrian Army is not the only U.S.-armed and trained “rebel” force in Syria that the Obama administration is having serious trouble keeping in the “vetted moderate” column.

Earlier this week I reported on Harakat al-Hazm, which was the first of the “vetted moderates” to receive U.S. anti-tank weaponry earlier this year. Harakat al-Hazm isreportedly a front for the Muslim Brotherhood as well as  Turkey and Qatar, its Islamist state sponsors.

An LA Times article published this past Sunday from the battle lines in Syria where their reporter recounted a discussion with two Harakat al-Hazm fighters who admitted, “But Nusra doesn’t fight us, we actually fight alongside them. We like Nusra.”

Despite a claim by the L.A. Times that Harakat al-Hazm had released a statement of “rejection of all forms of cooperation and coordination” with al-Nusra Front, I published in my article earlier this week an alliance statement signed by both Jabhat al-Nusra and Harkat al-Hazm forging a joint front in Aleppo to prevent pro-Assad forces from retaking the town.

As the Obama administration began to provide heavy weaponry to Harakat al-Hazm, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy published an analysis hailing Harakat Hazm as “rebels worth supporting,” going so far as to say that the group was “a model candidate for greater U.S. and allied support, including lethal military assistance.”

That error was not as egregious as the appeal by three members of the DC foreign policy establishment “smart set” (including one former senior Bush administration National Security Council official) who argued in the pages of the January issue of Foreign Affairs for U.S. engagement with another Syrian “rebel” group, Ahrar al-Sham.

At the time their article appeared, however, Ahrar al-Sham was led by one of al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri’s top lieutenants and former Bin Laden courier, Mohamed Bahaiah (aka Abu Khaled al-Suri). This is why the article was originally subtitled “An Al-Qaeda affiliate worth befriending.” Giving too much of the game away for non-Beltway types, that subtitle was quickly changed on the website to “An Al-Qaeda-linked group worth befriending.”

That dream of “befriending al-Qaeda” was dealt a major blow earlier this week when a blast of unknown origin killed most of Ahrar al-Sham’s senior leadership. Bereft of leadership, many analysts have rightly expressed concern that the bulk of Ahrar al-Sham’s forces will now gravitate towards ISIS and other terrorist groups.

While a McClatchy article on the explosion laughably claimed that the dead Ahrar al-Sham’s leaders represented the group’s “moderate wing” who were trying to come under another fictional “vetted moderate” alliance to obtain the next anticipated flood of U.S. weapons, others have observed that tributes to the dead leaders have poured in from al-Qaeda leaders for their “moderate wing” allies.

This is what the D.C. foreign policy establishment has reduced itself to when it comes to Syria — cozying up to al-Qaeda (or Iran and Assad) in the name of “countering violent extremism,” namely ISIS, and entertaining each other with cocktail party talk of “moderate wings” of al-Qaeda. As my colleague Stephen Coughlin observes, our bipartisan foreign policy establishment has created a bizarre language about Iraq and Afghanistan to avoid the stark reality that we lost both wars. This is the state American foreign policy finds itself in on the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by al-Qaeda.

As congressional Republicans and Democrats alike will undoubtedly rush in coming days to throw money at anyone the Obama administration deems “vetted moderates” to give the appearance of doing something in the absence of a sensible, reality-based strategy for understanding the actual dynamics at work in Syria and Iraq, an urgent reexamination of who the “vetted moderates” we’ve been financing, training and arming is long overdue. It is also essential to know to whom the State Department hascontracted the “vetting.” This is especially true as ISIS leaders are openly bragging about widespread defections amongst FSA forces that have been trained and armed by the U.S. to ISIS.

Predictably, the usual suspects (John McCain and Lindsey Graham) who have been led wide-eyed around Syria by the “vetted moderate” merchants and have played the administration’s “yes men” for a fictional narrative that has never had any basis in reality will undoubtedly hector critics for not listening to their calls to back the “vetted moderate” rebels last year when they could have contained ISIS — an inherently false assumption. These usual suspects should be ashamed of their role in helping sell a fiction that has cost 200,000 Syrians their lives and millions more their homes while destabilizing the entire region. Shame, sadly, is a rare commodity in Washington, D.C.

Notwithstanding Obama’s siren call for immediate action, Congress should think long and hard before continuing to play along with the administration and D.C. foreign policy establishment’s “vetted moderate” fairy tale and devote themselves to some serious reflection and discussion on how we’ve arrived at this juncture where we are faced with nothing but horribly bad choices and how to start walking back from the precipice. As we remember the thousands lost on that terrible day thirteen years ago, truly honoring their memory deserves nothing less.

Don’t Forget About Al Qaeda

Al-Qaeda-flag-Tunisia-thumb-560x318-1191By Thomas Joscelyn:

President Obama is set to discuss his plan for confronting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in a primetime speech this evening. According to press reports, the president is ready to authorize the use of military strikes against the group in Syria. Thus far, American military action has been limited to neighboring Iraq. This is a step in the right direction by Obama. As the administration recognizes, the U.S. and its allies cannot take the fight to ISIL without targeting its substantive strongholds in Syria.

Airstrikes are not enough, however, to dislodge ISIL from its safe havens in Iraq or Syria. In Iraq, the president is trying to work with Iraqi forces, which are both weak and overly dependent on Iran. Iranian-backed forces are not going to clear and hold the Sunni lands north of Baghdad currently under ISIL’s control. In fact, Iranian-supported Shiite extremists only serve to further exacerbate the situation as they lash out at Sunnis, turning some would-be partners into ISIL’s allies or even a new generation of radicals.

There is a further complication in Syria — al Qaeda its allies control a sizable force. While everyone’s eyes are fixed on ISIL, other anti-American jihadists are still very much a part of the fight.

And the president needs to outline a strategy not only for fighting ISIL, but one that also addresses the other anti-ISIL jihadists in Syria. It is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for Obama to do so without using American military force in a more robust way.

During his appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press with Chuck Todd this past weekend, Obama insisted that the U.S. will not put boots on the ground to lead the fight. The president said America needs “to have a more sustainable strategy, which means the boots on the ground have to be Iraqi. And in Syria, the boots on the ground have to be Syrian.”

Todd pressed Obama on Syria, asking whose boots we can rely on. “Well, we have a Free Syrian Army and moderate opposition that we have steadily been working with, that we have vetted,” Obama replied. “They have been on the defensive, not just from ISIL, but also from the Assad regime.”

The president’s explanation raises a number of problems. The U.S. has not been “steadily…working with” a moderate opposition in Syria. America’s efforts were at first nonexistent, then minimal and uneven. Because the West did not forcefully back the first rebels opposed to Assad in 2011, there is no “moderate opposition” in Syria today capable of ejecting ISIL from its substantial territorial holdings.

In between ISIL and Assad sits al Qaeda’s official branch, Jabhat al Nusrah (JN), and allied groups. Not all of the non-ISIL rebels are jihadists, but even those rebels who have been “vetted” by the U.S. cannot resist working with JN because it is still one of the most effective fighting forces on the ground.

JN and ISIL are bitter rivals. And, since earlier this year, ISIL has had the upper hand. But JN is not a viable partner in any way for the U.S. Its leaders are openly loyal to Ayman al Zawahiri. And al Qaeda has dispatched a number of seasoned jihadist veterans to Syria to buttress JN’s ranks.

One of those al Qaeda veterans is known as Sanafi al Nasr, who was designated a terrorist by the Treasury Department in August. Treasury noted at the time that al Nasr “has used social media posts to demonstrate his aspiration to target Americans and U.S. interests.” Indeed, al Nasr maintains a prolific Twitter feed and has openly pined for attacks on the U.S. in his tweets.

Obama believes that there is a “core” of al Qaeda that is confined to South Asia, and that it is this “core” that poses the most serious threat to the U.S. But Obama’s paradigm for understanding al Qaeda has never been based on the evidence. Sanafi al Nasr is a “core” al Qaeda member and he openly threatens the U.S. from Syrian soil.

Read more at Weekly Standard

Fighter With ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Tells L.A. Times They Fight Alongside Al-Qaeda

cid_image004_jpg01cf1b3cBy Patrick Poole:

Last week here at PJ Media, I reported on the ongoing relations between the U.S.-backed “vetted moderate” Free Syrian Army and ISIS. I also noted that, at this time last year, the received wisdom of the Washington, D.C. foreign policy establishment was that the Syrian rebels were largely moderate.

Now, a report in this past Sunday’s L.A. Times from the frontlines in Syria finds that another “vetted moderate” rebel group, Harakat Hazm – which has received anti-tank missiles from the U.S. — has been working with al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra: a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. (HT: Tim Furnish and Tom Joscelyn.)

As Al-Akhbar reported back in May, in addition to having U.S. backing, Harakat Hazm is also backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey, and Qatar.

As the L.A. Times reporter rides with two U.S.-backed and armed Harakat Hazm fighters, the topic of conversation turns to Jabhat al-Nusra:

Harakat Hazm, for example, has struggled with being regarded as a U.S. pawn and labeled as secular in the midst of an opposition movement that has grown increasingly Islamist.

“Inside Syria we became labeled as secularists and feared Nusra Front was going to battle us,” Zeidan said, referring to an Al Qaeda-linked rebel group that has been designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization. Then he smiled and added, “But Nusra doesn’t fight us, we actually fight alongside them. We like Nusra.”

But the L.A. Times reporter then immediately adds:

In July, eight West-backed rebel brigades — all recipients of military aid — released a statement of “rejection of all forms of cooperation and coordination” with Al Nusra Front.

But at the same time Harakat Hazm was supposedly releasing a statement of “rejection of all forms of cooperation and coordination” with Nusra, it signed a statement of alliance with Nusra to prevent the Assad regime from advancing into Aleppo. The alliance statement was published on Twitter:

What the statement and the Aleppo alliance demonstrate is something that I and others have been contending all along: the so-called Syrian rebels given the State Department’s “vetted moderate” imprimatur have been playing a double-game. And the Obama administration, the foreign policy establishment and the establishment media have all gladly played along with our “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel allies.

Read more at PJ Media

***********

Moderate Syrian Rebel Application Form by Andy Borowitz at The New Yorker

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—After announcing, on Thursday, that it would seek $500 million to help “train and equip appropriately vetted elements of the moderate Syrian armed opposition,” the White House today posted the following Moderate Syrian Rebel Application Form:

Welcome to the United States’ Moderate Syrian Rebel Vetting Process. To see if you qualify for $500 million in American weapons, please choose an answer to the following questions:

As a Syrian rebel, I think the word or phrase that best describes me is:

A) Moderate
B) Very moderate
C) Crazy moderate
D) Other

I became a Syrian rebel because I believe in:

A) Truth
B) Justice
C) The American Way
D) Creating an Islamic caliphate

If I were given a highly lethal automatic weapon by the United States, I would:
A) Only kill exactly the people that the United States wanted me to kill
B) Try to kill the right people, with the caveat that I have never used an automatic weapon before
C) Kill people only after submitting them to a rigorous vetting process
D) Immediately let the weapon fall into the wrong hands

I have previously received weapons from:
A) Al Qaeda
B) The Taliban
C) North Korea
D) I did not receive weapons from any of them because after they vetted me I was deemed way too moderate

I consider ISIS:
A) An existential threat to Iraq
B) An existential threat to Syria
C) An existential threat to Iraq and Syria
D) The people who will pick up my American weapon after I drop it and run away

Complete the following sentence. “American weapons are…”
A) Always a good thing to randomly add to any international hot spot
B) Exactly what this raging civil war has been missing for the past three years
C) Best when used moderately
D) Super easy to resell online

Thank you for completing the Moderate Syrian Rebel Application Form. We will process your application in the next one to two business days. Please indicate a current mailing address where you would like your weapons to be sent. If there is no one to sign for them we will leave them outside the front door.

(H/T Andrew Bostom)

Attack ISIS in Syria Even If It Helps Assad

islamic-state-flag-plane-apCenter for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz:

Three questions are being raised by pundits and politicians about how Iran and Syria’s Assad regime should figure into possible military action by the United States and its allies against ISIS — the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, also known as ISIL and the Islamic State.

  • Is it a mistake to attack ISIS in Syria since ISIS is also an enemy of the Assad regime and such attacks may ensure Assad holds on to power?
  • Should the U.S. team up with the Assad regime to attack ISIS in Syria?
  • Should the U.S. work with Iran to destroy ISIS?

Some are arguing we should not bomb ISIS in Syria because that would strengthen Assad. Others argue since the ISIS threat is so dire, we should work with Assad to destroy it.

A few believe we should work with Iran against ISIS.

These difficult questions reflect how messy the situations in Iraq and Syria have become as a result of numerous policy mistakes by the United States and Europe over the last few years.

Doing anything to prop up the brutal Assad dictatorship is obviously an unpalatable course of action. Some experts have proposed clever ways to prevent the Syrian army from benefiting from U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Syria by also bombing Syrian airfields and attacking the Syrian army and Iranian-backed militias to buy time to train and arm the moderate Syrian rebels of the Free Syrian Army — FSA.

Such proposals are fantasies. Attacking the Syrian army would get the United States into a war with Syria and put U.S. planes at risk of being shot down by Syrian air defenses. Moreover, the Free Syrian Army is badly outmatched by ISIS and the Syrian army. After withholding arms since 2011 from the FSA, attempting to arm and train these rebels now to make them a force capable of taking on ISIS and the Syrian army would take many months, assuming this is even possible.

The truth is the United States and Europe effectively conceded the Syrian civil war to Assad years ago. If the West had attacked Syrian forces in 2011 when they began their bloody crackdown against anti-government protesters or created humanitarian safe zones in Syria in 2011 or 2012, the Syrian rebels may have defeated the Assad regime before it was shored up by Iran and Russia.

Given the seriousness of the ISIS threat and the likelihood that Assad is not going to be defeated, attacking ISIS in Syria even though this may benefit the Assad government is the right move. However, the U.S. should not do anything to further legitimize Assad by allying with him to defeat ISIS. We should instead warn Damascus that we will retaliate against any Syrian government attacks on Western aircraft. I believe the Assad government probably would go along with this.

There is a temptation to team up with Iran to combat ISIS.

I suspect senior Obama officials are already exploring this idea with Iranian diplomats on the margins of ongoing talks on Iran’s nuclear program. This would be a serious mistake. Iran bears significant responsibility for the outbreak of sectarian tensions in Iraq since 2011 due to its strong support for the Maliki government and by its training of Shiite militias that have massacred Iraqi Sunnis. America’s policy should be reduce Iran’s influence in Iraq and Syria and do nothing to increase its influence.

To defeat the ISIS terrorist army, the United States will need to make some difficult decisions that will have significant downsides. Boosting Assad by attacking ISIS in Syria is a price the U.S. and its allies should be prepared to pay given the situation on the ground in Syria and American and regional security interests.

That is as far as we should go.

The U.S. and its allies should not cooperate with the Syrian or Iranian government to defeat ISIS because of the destabilizing impact of such actions and to avoid legitimizing these regimes.

Global drive to stop jihadis going to Syria, Iraq

344317_img650x420_img650x420_crop

By Lori Hinnant:

PARIS: New laws make it easier to seize passports. Suspected fighters are plucked from planes. Authorities block finances and shut down radical mosques. And behind the scenes, Silicon Valley firms are under increasing pressure to wipe extremist content from websites as Western intelligence agencies explore new technologies to identify returning fighters at the border.

Governments from France to Indonesia have launched urgent drives to cut off one of the ISIS’ biggest sources of strength: foreign fighters. At the heart of the drive is mounting concern that the organization is training the next generation of international terrorists.

Those fears have gained urgency from the group’s horrific methods: A British militant is suspected of beheading two American journalists, and a Frenchman who fought with the ISIS is accused in a deadly attack on a Jewish museum in Belgium.

With each video that ricochets around social networks, the militants gain new recruits.

Britain has taken a particularly active role in censoring content deemed to break the country’s strict rules against extremist propaganda. U.K. officials recently revealed they have been granted “super flagger” status on sites such as YouTube, meaning their requests to remove videos with grisly content or that encourage terrorism are fast-tracked.

Over the past four years, an Internet-focused counterterror unit of London’s Metropolitan Police instigated the removal of 45,000 pieces of content, the force said last week. ISIS, however, have just as quickly found other, more decentralized platforms.

In the United States, officials are trying to identify potential jihadists by comparing travel patterns with those of people who have already joined the fight, a counterterrorism official said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss intelligence matters.

A French law to seize passports is being fast-tracked through parliament, and the government is ramping up arrests of increasingly young teenagers making plans for jihad.

That can mean last-minute arrests at the airport, as happened to a 16-year-old girl and her alleged recruiter trying to pass through security in Nice Saturday, and to a man at Australia’s Melbourne Airport who was pulled off a flight last week carrying tens of thousands of dollars in cash and ISIS’ black-and-white flag in his luggage.

Britain proposed laws Monday to let police seize the passports of those suspected of having traveled abroad to fight, while the Netherlands is making it easier to strip people of their nationality and go after Internet providers that spread propaganda.

In Bosnia, authorities carried out a major anti-terror sweep Wednesday. They detained 16 people suspected of fighting in Syria and Iraq and recruiting Balkan men to join militants there.

Anti-jihadist efforts are being ramped up in traditionally Muslim countries as well: Indonesia is breaking up meetings of ISIS supporters and seizing T-shirts and other items promoting the group, and Tunisia is shutting down mosques and suspected financiers.

For the radicals who have already reached Syria, the focus of European spy agencies is on trying to identify them when they return. That can mean scouring social media sites for photos of foreign fighters or electronic intercepts for hints of terrorist activity abroad.

Officials are considering the deployment of more advanced techniques like voice recognition to identify suspected jihadis at border control by matching their conversations to those heard on militants’ videos, former U.K. counterterrorism chief Bob Quick told the Associated Press earlier this year.

There is huge interest, he said, in “being able to identify these people at the border.”

The concern is that returning fighters will launch attacks at home. Australia draws on lessons from Afghanistan a decade ago, saying of the 25 citizens who returned to Australia after fighting against Western interests there, two-thirds became involved in terrorist activities back home. Some remain in prison.

“The Australians and their supporters who have joined terrorist groups in the Middle East are a serious and growing threat to our security,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament Monday. “People who kill without compunction in other countries are hardly likely to be law-abiding citizens should they return to Australia.”

A compilation of government estimates shows more than 2,000 people with European passports have fought or are fighting in Syria and Iraq – with most looking to join ISIS.

Read more at Daily Star

 

US-Iranian military, intelligence cooperation in war on ISIS reaps first successes in Syria and Iraq

IraqSyriaBombing

DEBKAfile, Sep. 5, 2014:

At least 18 foreign ISIS fighters including Americans and Europeans were killed Thursday, Sept. 4, in a Syrian air raid of the Al Qaeda-ISIS’ northern Syrian headquarters in the Gharbiya district of Raqqa. The raid caught a number of high Al Qaeda commanders and a large group of foreign adherents assembled at the facilty.

A second group of high ISIS officers were killed or injured in another Syrian air raid over their base in Abu Kamal near the Iraqi border.
DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that top men of the Islamist terrorist group were holding meetings at both places Thursday to coordinate IS strike plans in Syria and Iraq.  For Syria, these plans center on the Deir a-Zor and Al Qaim areas, while in Iraq, they focus on targets in the east and center of the country.

The twin Syrian air offensive coincided with the opening of the two-day NATO Summit outside the Welsh town of Newport .

The information about the two Al Qaeda meetings at Raqqa and Abu Kamal could have come from only two sources: US surveillance satellites and aircraft or Iranian agents embedded at strategic points across Syria.

Syria does not have the necessary intelligence capabilities for digging out this kind of information. Nor does its air force normally exhibit the surgical precision displayed in the two strikes on Al Qaeda bases.

It is therefore more than likely that they owed their success to the widening military and intelligence cooperation between the United State and Iran in Iraq and Syria.

President Barack Obama will have taken his seat at the NATO summit to discuss ways of fighting ISIS after word of the successful Syrian strikes was already in his pocket. While they must be credited to top-quality US aerial surveillance over Syria and Iraq, they were undoubtedly made possible by the Obama administration’s deepening military and intelligence ties with Iran.

Many of the allies present at Newport will not welcome these tidings – Britain, Germany and Australia, in particular. They deeply resent being displaced as America’s senior strategic partners by the Revolutionary Republic of Iran, after their long partnership with the US in fighting terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But they will find it hard to argue with success.

On Aug. 31, our military sources reveal, US and Iranian special forces fighting together, broke the 100-day IS siege of the eastern Iraqi town of Amerli, 100 km from the Iranian border, to score a major victory in their first joint military ground action.

Then, Wednesday, Sept. 3, US jets struck an IS base in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar, killing its commander, Abu Hajar Al-Sufi, and two lieutenants of the IS chief Abu Baker Al-Baghdadi.
While President Obama has denied having a strategy for fighting ISIS, a working mechanism appears to have been put in place to support a trilateral military offensive against al Qaeda’s Islamist State. The successful attacks in the last 24 hours were apparently made possible by this mechanism: Iranian intelligence collected US surveillance data from the Americans and passed it on to Syria for action.

Also see:

Senior Leaders of Islamic State Eliminated in Airstrikes

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Mosul

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Mosul

Arutz Sheva, By Ari Yashar, Sep. 5, 2014:

The leadership of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group in Syria and Iraq took a sharp blow on Thursday, as roughly 20 senior figures, including a top aide to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, were killed in airstrikes according to the Iraqi defense ministry.

In airstrikes on the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, where IS began its blitz conquest of Iraq in June, Baghdadi’s top aide was killed along with a senior IS military commander, Abu Alaa al-Iraqi, according to Iraqi sources cited by BBC.

It remains unclear if the airstrike was conducted by local US-trained Iraqi forces, or by the US, which has been engaged in a series of targeted airstrikes on IS terrorists in Iraq since last month.

IS took a blow in eastern Syria as well, where 18 foreign jihadist senior leaders of the group, including an American jihadist, were killed by an airstrike in the IS-held city of Raqqa according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The top IS leaders were in the municipal building of Gharbiya, which has been used as a headquarters for the extremist group, when the strike occurred.

In yet another airstrike in the eastern Syrian city of Abu Kamal near the Iraqi border on Thursday, an as yet unknown number of IS terrorists were killed according to the human rights group.

During the two airstrikes and the ensuing disorder, a total of 13 IS-held captives were able to escape according to the group.

However, IS was not deterred in its campaign of terror, abducting 40 men from the northern Iraqi Sunni town of Hawija in Kirkuk province on Thursday. Residents of the town said they were uncertain why the men were captured, since IS had captured the town without resistance last month.

The recent airstrikes in Iraq, if conducted by the US, illustrate the increasing seriousness with which America is considering IS after two US journalists, Steven Sotloff and James Foley, were brutally beheaded in executions filmed and broadcast to the world.

After the second journalist was murdered, US Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday warned IS, saying “they should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice. Because hell is where they will reside. Hell is where they will reside.”

Also see: