Two Americans Arrested for Plans to Join Syrian Jihadists

Syrian rebel fighters

By Ryan Mauro:

Two Americans were arrested in the past few days as the Syrian civil war attracts Western recruits. One sought to join Hezbollah and the other took the side of an Al-Qaeda affiliate, but both believed they were fulfilling a commandment to wage jihad against the infidel.

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Syrian jihadists have a sophisticated network in America, including those favorable to Al-Qaeda-linked groups. One opposition group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood has received over $12 million in U.S. government assistance.

Another Islamist named Sheikh Osama al-Rifai has used the Syrian Sunrise Foundation to raise over $3.6 million in one tour, bringing him to Florida, Illinois, Texas, Indiana, California and Michigan. His fundraising pitch was that any donor qualifies as a “jihadist for Allah.” One event was held at the influential Mosque Foundation that is part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network.

In January, a terrorism-supporting imam named Sheikh Mohammad Rateb al-Nabulsi came to the U.S. to fundraise for Syrian “rebels” in 11 cities with help from a group called the Syrian American Council. One of the fundraisers was held at the Islamic Center of Passaic County in N.J. Other events took place in Florida, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Virginia.

In the 1980s, Afghanistan acted as the incubator for a generation of terrorists. It was the one spot where aspiring jihadists could go to get everything they needed, especially fighting experience. Other Muslims, innocently hoping to stop oppression, became radicalized on the battlefield.

Syria is modern-day equivalent. The civil war could end tomorrow, but the jihad it intensified will go on.

Read more at Clarion Project

Also see:

Al Nusrah Front, Free Syrian Army launch joint operation

By BILL ROGGIO:

The Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, teamed up with a Free Syrian Army unit known as the Liwa al Ummah to overrun a military outpost in Idlib province last week. Free Syrian Army units continue to ally themselves with the Al Nusrah Front on the battlefield despite Al Nusrah’s public affiliation with al Qaeda.

The latest joint operations between the Al Nusrah Front and the Free Syrian Army took place on March 6, when the two groups attacked a Syrian Army outpost in the city of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province. The Al Nusrah Front announced the joint operation in a statement that was released yesterday; the statement was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

The statement said that “a small group from the mujahideen of the Al Nusrah Front and Liwa al Ummah attacked the Tariq ‘Ajeeb barrier” and overran it, killing six Syrian soldiers and wounding 30 more. The Al Nusrah Front said that a tank was used by the group during the assault.

“The mujahideen took as spoils a BMP vehicle, 3 RPG launchers, a collection of light weapons, and various ammunition,” the Al Nusrah Front claimed. The two group then proceed to attack “the neighboring Ma’arzafi barrier.”

Heavy fighting has been reported in Khan Sheikhun over the past week as the Al Nusrah Front and Free Syrian Army groups have been attacking Syrian forces in the city [see video above, which shows Free Syrian Army fighters attacking Syrian troops].

The emir of the Al Nusrah Front, which was formed by al Qaeda’s branch in Iraq, publicly reaffirmed his allegiance to al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, in a statement released in April 2013. The group was added to the US’ list of Specially Designated Global Terrorist groups in December 2012. Several Free Syrian Army groups have openly joined the Al Nusrah Frontover the past year.

The Liwa al Ummah, or Brigade of the Muslim Nation, was formed by Abd al Mahdi al Harati, a deputy of Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the former emir of the al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Al Harati, who headed a rebel group during the Libyan revolution, led Liwa al Ummah for six months in 2012 before merging with the Free Syrian Army. Liwa al Ummah is estimated to have around 6,000 fighters, and is comprised primarily of Syrians, but also includes a large contingent of Libyans, Sudanese, Palestinians, Egyptians, and Arabs.

Read more at Long War Journal

Also see:

Children Victimized by All Sides in Syrian Conflict

Assad’s army hits border areas as US, Israel, Jordan enlarge South Syrian foothold

New Syrian rebel command post at Quneitra

New Syrian rebel command post at Quneitra

DEBKAfile:

The Jordanian government Sunday, Feb. 23 vehemently denied reports that Syrian rebels were undergoing training by American and its own military instructors and being sent back to fight government forces. According to US intelligence sources, those training camps have been turning out 250 rebel fighters per course and some 1,000 trainees all told are already in action on Syria’s battlefields. The Syrian government journal Tishrin has repeatedly warned Jordan that it is “playing with fire.”

On Feb. 18, Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, quite openly visited injured Syrians at an IDF military field hospital on the Golan. They chatted with wounded rebel soldiers. But on the quiet, our sources report that they took a good look at Quneitra (pop: 10,000), which is located close to Israeli lines on the Syrian side of the enclave.

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that a new Syrian rebel command center has been set up there, with the help of the US, Jordan and Israel. The CIA is investing great effort into restoring the combat capabilities of the disbanded Free Syrian Army and incorporating splinter militias likewise opposed to radical Islamist groups in a revived rebel fighting force under the command of Brig.Gen. Abdul-Illah al-Bashir

Based in the tiny Golan town of Quneitra, he has been given the grand title of “Chief of Staff of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army.”

Gen. al-Bashir defected from the Syrian army in 2012. His main qualification for the new job is his membership of the Syrian Bedouin Al Nuaim tribe, which ranges through the Golan and southern Syria. When he defected, he was followed by army officers who are fellow tribesmen.

The rebel force shaping up in Quneitra therefore consists of many indigenous fighters and a large component of local Al Nuaim tribesmen.
It is more likely than not that the new pro-American Syrian rebel force mustered under Israel’s nose is also guaranteed Israeli military insurance against a surprise attack or any hostile attempts to wipe it out. It stands to reason that this function was closely examined during the visit Israeli leaders paid to the Golan last week and is also the subject of intensive talks between Jerusalem and Washington.

But meanwhile Syrian President Bashar Assad is not standing idle.

Exactly a week ago, Saturday night, Feb. 15, the Syrian army ambushed a group of trained Syrian rebels as they crossed in from Jordan. Middle East sources reported that many were killed and others took to their heels and fled.
In the last two days, the Syrian army has moved in for an offensive on the environs of Quneitra to corner the new rebel command center. Two outlying villages, Rasm al-Hour and Rasm al-Sad, fell into the hands of government forces.

Clearly, the US-Israeli-Jordanian effort to establish a rebel-controlled border strip across the Syrian border will not be a cake walk.
Furthermore, a bomb car which exploded Sunday at the town of Atmeh on the Syrian-Iraqi border targeted a rebel-run military field hospital. At least nine people were killed.
This was another message from Damascus – this one picked up in Jerusalem that the field hospital set up on the Golan for injured Syrians is also in the sights of the Syrian army.

More ties between Ansar Jerusalem and the Syrian jihad reported

Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis) Interior Minister Video-thumb-546x508-2551By THOMAS JOSCELYN:

The Sept. 5, 2013 assassination attempt on Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim is an operation that becomes more interesting the more we learn about it. Ansar Jerusalem celebrated the operation in an Oct. 26, 2013 video featuring the suicide bomber who executed the attack, a former major in the Egyptian army named Walid Badr.

The Cairo Post and Youm7 report that the list of suspects, in addition to Badr, “includes Egyptians and two Palestinians who joined the Free Syrian Army and Al-Nusra Front,” which is al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. A “judicial source” explains that Egyptian authorities arrested the suspects in recent weeks while “targeting Syrian suspects.” In addition, an unnamed source said the “suspects returned from Syria because the jihad in Egypt became a duty particularly after the toppling of ousted President Mohamed Mursi.”

The ties between the jihad in Syria and the attack have been obvious since Ansar Jerusalem released its video. Badr himself had fought in Syria, after already fighting in Afghanistan and attempting to fight American forces in Iraq. Conspicuously, Ansar Jerusalem did not say which groups Badr fought for in these theaters of war, but obviously al Qaeda’s global network has a significant presence in each of them.

Now Egyptian judicial sources are connecting additional suspects to the Al Nusrah Front, which answers to al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri.

The Cairo Post and Youm7 reports also repeat a claim that has been previously made in the Egyptian press: “According to the National Security investigation, defendant [Muhammad Jamal al Kashef] acknowledged that the bomber was trained for a year and a half in the Sinai.” (At least one previous report said the training took place in Jamal’s camps in Libya.)

Muhammad Jamal, who founded his own al Qaeda network after being released from prison in 2011, was in direct contact with Ayman al Zawahiri in 2011 and 2012. In one of his letters to Zawahiri, Jamal revealed that he had sworn bayat (an oath of allegiance) to Zawahiri. This makes sense because Jamal was a commander in Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ). According to the State Department and the United Nations, Jamal’s network coordinated its operations with, and received assistance from, al Qaeda’s senior leadership, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Read more at Long War Journal

Turkish Charity Still Not on Terror List Despite Numerous Calls

Global Islamism: Prospects for 2014

Mideast-Iran-Election_Horo4-e1371313739782-965x543-450x313by :

Thanks to the Obama administration’s uninformed and flimsy foreign policy decisions, the year 2013 has distinctively been a blessing for the independent Islamist parties and fundamentalist Islamic governments throughout the Middle East and the world. Although it is somewhat difficult to predict what will happen in 2014 regarding the Islamists movements and prominent challenges within that (along with Iran’s nuclear ambitions), several issues can be projected based on the trends and polices carried out in 2013.

Firstly, the foreign and domestic policies carried out by the Obama administration have led to several key trends.  In 2013, Islamists and fundamentalists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and other Islamists parties have gained an unprecedented level of power, organization, and coordination, particularly across the Middle East and Africa. In Syria, for example, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has emerged as among the most powerful jihadi groups. This particular Islamist group, which seeks to rule Syria and the Levant just as the Taliban did in Afghanistan (along with fighting against infidels), has become more centralized through obtaining a unified command-and-control structure, ideologically and politically.

Reportedly, this Islamist party— which has been behind thousands of beheadings, in many cases proudly beheading people and showing it on videos— is advocating for the systematic genocide of Shi’ite Muslims or others who are “damaging Mohammed’s legacy” in perpetrating their beliefs. Currently, ISIL is the most powerful oppositional group in Syria, even overshadowing the Free Syrian Army and other rebels. It is argued that many of the arms sent to the Free Syrian Army were actually obtained by several Islamist groups, including ISIL. In late 2013, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights labeled the Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams as “the strongest group in Northern Syria.”

Beheading ordinary people, taking videos (such as the reported beheading of a young Christian girl in this widespread video, or others as seen in this video), targeting non-Muslims (primarily Christians), raping women, and kidnapping non-Muslims have become daily practice in several Muslim countries, carried out by either independent Islamist groups or by those who have recently gained control of the sovereignty of the state.

According to an Amnesty International report this week, Islamist militants are perpetrating “a shocking catalogue of abuses” conducted in secret jails, including torture, flogging, and killings after summary trials. Amnesty International added that, “Those abducted and detained by ISIL include children as young as eight who are held together with adults in the same cruel and inhuman conditions.” Despite all the atrocities and brutalities committed by the ISIL and other Isalmist groups, recent reports from various credible news outlets including Reuters indicate that the Obama administration has attempted to reach out to these Islamist groups, with the Islamists rejecting the administration’s overtures. Do these attempts empower and embolden these Islamist groups to further carry out their atrocities and barbarity?

Read more at Front Page

See also:

FSA Commander’s Assassination Underscores Jihadist Momentum in Syria

The End of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Syrian Scam

fsby :

The Free Syrian Army had one purpose. To fool America. Now the con is over.

In the deserts of the Middle East, political mirages appear easily and disappear just as easily. There are countries and armies that exist only on paper. And there are invisible tribal nations that have no flag and never appear on a map, but that have their own militias and govern themselves.

The Middle East as it exists neatly laid out in the pages of the New York Times or the Washington Post has little relationship to the messy realities of a region with few clean borders, only messy collections of tribes, families, ethnic groups and quarreling variations of Islam clinging to a few miles of dusty land, a handful of olive groves, some oil wells and their children and machine guns.

Out in Syria, the mirage of the Free Syrian Army, its camps full of soldiers defecting from the military to form a secular liberation force, has dissipated, vanishing into the sand. And all it took to knock down the Potemkin villages of the FSA that never existed was an attack on the only part of the Free Syrian Army that did exist—its warehouses full of American and European military aid.

The Free Syrian Army never existed. What did exist was neither free, nor Syrian, nor an army. The FSA was sold as an army of Syrian soldiers who had banded together under defecting officers to fight against the Assad government. The real FSA mostly consisted of Islamic brigades, indistinguishable for the most part from the other Salafist brigades in the war.  Some of these brigades were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood whose local allies, Turkey and Qatar, were the war’s biggest backers.

Perhaps even the war’s inventors.

And yet even this FSA, the one that was later being described as a collection of “moderate” Islamic militias, was just as much of an illusion. Like the attempt to draw lines around tribal encampments and call the whole thing a country, the Free Syrian Army was really a collection of militias with little in the way of an organizing structure except a willingness to identify casually with the FSA in the hopes of scoring some loot from those warehouses of American aid … and the promised American air support.

The units in the Free Syrian Army were not monogamous. They operated with the Al Nusra Front, one of the Al Qaeda groups in Syria, and any of the wannabe Caliphs and Emirs of the other Islamist militias. Their commanders and their men were out for themselves, switching team alliances as easily as reality show contestants, but with much bloodier results.

Read more at Front Page

Also see:

 

IPT Exclusive: Jihad-Supporting Imam Raised Millions on U.S. Fundraising Tour

Recent Syrian Victories Bring Al-Qaeda One Step Closer to Goal

Islamic Front

The Islamic Front in Syria, as well as other jihadi groups, are working towards establishing an emirate in Syria and the Levant.

BY CLARE LOPEZ:

During the night of December 5-6, 2013, the Islamic Front (IF), a newly-formed alliance of some 45,000 or so fighters in Syria, overran the moderate, U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army forces of the FSA’s Supreme Military Command under General Selim Idriss.

The IF fighters took control of the Bab al-Hawa border crossing from Syria into Turkey as well as a large stockpile of weapons stored in warehouses there.

The victory marked an important step in the stated direction of the IF, which, according to its charter published in late November, is committed to the formation of an Islamic emirate in the land of Al-Sham (Syria and the Levant) ruled by Islamic (sharia) law.

Many may not remember, or perhaps overlooked, a revealing interview that took place in 2005. Somehow, the Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein was able to score that interview with Al-Qaeda’s military commander in Iran, the Egyptian Seif al-Adl.

Hussein was writing a book about the Jordanian Al-Qaeda (AQ) operative, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed by U.S. forces in Iraq in 2006. His discussions with Al-Adl, however, formed what must be one of the most fascinating sections of the book, Al-Zarqawi – Al-Qaeda’s Second Generation.

From his discussions with Al-Adl and other interviews, Hussein was able to construct a timeline of events that forms Al-Qaeda’s strategic blueprint. The timeline spans the 20 years between 2000 and 2020 and describes the “Seven Phases” that Hussein’s Al-Qaeda interview subjects are following en route to the eventual restoration of the Islamic Caliphate, their key objective.

Without going through each one, suffice here to highlight Phases Three through Five, because something just happened that moves Al-Qaeda and Islam one more step closer to establishment of an emirate in the land of Al-Sham (Syria and the Levant).

The Third Phase, which spanned the years from 2007-2010, was described as the “Arising and Standing Up” time. During these years, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Israel were to be the focus of attacks by the forces of Islam.

The Fourth Phase, from 2010-2013, was identified as the time when “hated Arab governments” would be brought down. Given the strong correlation of this timeline with actual events as they unfolded in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, it is useful to correlate AQ activity with another series of key pronouncements that were closely aligned with these events.

In July 2010, Al-Qaeda published the first issue of its slick English-language online magazine called “Inspire.” This is the one that exhorted, “O Muslims rise up in defense of your Messenger.” TheMuslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide, Muhammad Badi’ responded just months later, in late September 2010, with a call to action for the “Muslim nation” and a declaration of jihad against the U.S., Israel and “Arab and Muslim regimes” that “are disregarding Allah’s commandment to wage jihad for His sake…”

Two of the elements that were needed for the Islamic uprising of 2011 were now on board. The third element fell into place in January 2011 with a fatwa from Al-Azhar that declared “Offensive Jihad is Permissible.”

Read more at Clarion Project

US Plays Dangerous Islamist Roulette in Syria

Zahran Alloush, leader of proposed Syrian Islamic Front

Zahran Alloush, leader of proposed Syrian Islamic Front

By Jerry Gordon:

Below the fold in today’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) was a mind numbing article about the Obama Administration caving in to support an Islamic Front opposition group in another desperate move In the volatile Middle East, “U.S., Allies Reach Out to Syria’s Islamist Rebels”.  The motivation is to unite Saudi and Emirate funding to support a fundamentalist militia, Jaysh al-Islam (Islamic Front)  as a Plan B against the two principal Al Qaeda affiliates, the Al Nusra Front and  the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant  (ISIS).   These Al Qaeda affiliates have effectively vanquished the so-called secular opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the country’s North and East adjoining Iraq. The al Qaeda affiliates have been bolstered by foreign fighters from Iraq, Chechnya in Southern Russia and an increasing number of Jihadis from EU countries.

These seemingly desperate efforts are directed at presenting a unified  opposition Syrian National Council (SNC)at an UN-sponsored round of alleged peace discussions in Geneva in late January 2014. The SNC is backed by the London 11, the nations in a loose coalition opposing the Assad regime. Assad is backed by Iran and its proxy Hezbollah with support from Russia. The  Assad military, supplied by Russian weapons and endless flow of arms from Iran,  has scored some successes despite acknowledging the Chemical Weapons disaster in the Damascus suburbs in August 2013.  The Assad regime has advanced in certain areas, while the Al Qaeda affiliates have taken control of swaths of the embattled country now in its 33 month of civil war with over 120,000 dead. The objective of the al Qaeda Affiliates is to create mini-Caliphates ruled under Sharia. The fundamentalist Islamic Front is headed by Syrian Zahran Alloush, whose resume indicates that there may be little difference between his form of fundamentalism and that of the Al Qaeda affiliates. 

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The only ethnic group that has shown pluck and strength in clearing out the Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria has been the Kurds in the country’s Northeast. The Kurds have achieved virtual autonomy in their ancestral homeland, Rojava , abutting both Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan.  The Kurds have control over the commercial breadbasket of Syria and its oil reserves. Not unlike their Kurdish cousins in adjacent Iraq, the Kurds in Syria have discussed the possibility of having oil flow through Turkish pipelines to the Mediterranean.

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Tensions have risen dramatically regarding Syria without any substantive resolution of objectives by SNC and  the London 11 including the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates.  The US and Saudi Arabia partnering in establishment of an Islamic Front  composed of fundamentalist fighters adds a degree of risk that the Geneva talks with the Assad Regime may  break down or be cancelled.  That raises the likely prospect that internecine bloodshed will continue in Syria. The US is now caught up in a dangerous form of Islamist roulette by siding with fundamentalist opposition in Syria to fight against al Qaeda Affiliates both groups supporting Sharia.  This could result in the disintegration of Syria into a failed state divided into warring ethno religious enclaves. Thus fueling massive refugee outflows, causing more problems for adjacent countries like Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Israel.

Read more at New English Review

 

Brotherhood-Linked Syrian Group Gets $12 Million in U.S. Aid

Syrian village under attackBY RYAN MAURO:

A Syrian opposition group with Muslim Brotherhood links says it has delivered over $12 million in U.S. government aid to Syrian rebels. The Clarion Project wrote about the Islamist links of the Syrian Support Group and how it declined to answer our questions n June.

“To date, SSG [Syrian Support Group] has delivered more than $12 million in U.S. Government and financial aid to select moderate units of the Free Syrian Army under the command of the Supreme Military Council,” the group’s November 15 newsletter states.

The Washington D.C.-based group’s website states that it has delivered over $10 million in non-lethal aid to the Free Syria Army from the U.S. government. The SSG is essentially the U.S. government’s liaison to the Syrian rebels because it is the only U.S. organization licensed to provide such aid.

As the Clarion Project reported in July, the chairman of the SSG is Mazen Asbahi. He resigned as President Obama’s Muslim outreach director in 2008 when information about his links to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood surfaced. He also “likes” numerous Islamists on Facebook.

The SSG Vice Chairman is Majd Abbar and he is linked to the Qatar Foundation. The organization is intimately connected with the Qatari government and the Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader, SheikhYousef al-Qaradawi.

The SSG directs its support to the Supreme Military Council led by General Salim Idris. Though this body is held up as the “moderate” rebel force, it includes many Islamists.

Read more at Clarion Project

 

North Carolina Man Charged with Support to Al-Qaida in Iraq

Al-Qaida-linked Rebels Desecrate Churches in Syrian Town

 

Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham presides at Palm Sunday service in Damascus in this April 1, 2012, file photo. (Catholic News Service photo/Reuters)

Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham presides at Palm Sunday service in Damascus in this April 1, 2012, file photo. (Catholic News Service photo/Reuters)

IPT, by John Rossomando: