ALLEGED ISIS PHOTO CONTROVERSY ENGULFS SEN. JOHN MCCAIN

mccain-syria-rebelsBy Matthew Boyle:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and his aides swear the Syrian “rebels” he was pictured last year with weren’t ISIS members or supporters, and the mainstream media is by and large buying the 2008 GOP presidential nominee’s story.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has endured brutal criticism—media fact checkers, reporters, and political figures have shredded him—for questioning just who McCain posed with.

But a closer look at the situation tells perhaps a different story than McCain’s office or the mainstream media have pushed.

The criticism of McCain centers around how the Arizona senator met with Syrian rebel leaders in May 2013 when he visited the country. McCain posed for photographs with those people, and since then rumors have sprouted up across the Internet that he met with ISIS or some other terrorist kidnappers or nefarious forces.

“The people in the pictures with Senator McCain in Syria included General Salim Idris, then-Chief of Staff of the Supreme Military Command of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Mouaz Moustafa, the Executive Director of the DC-based Syrian Emergency Task Force (which supports the moderate opposition and helped arrange some of the trip), and fighters and commanders from the Northern Storm Brigade, a FSA-aligned group,” McCain’s spokesman Brian Rogers told Breitbart News.

Rogers said that the senator and his team aren’t naming the “fighters and commanders from the Northern Storm Brigade, a FSA-aligned group,” because “ISIS actually threatened to kill them all, and we don’t want to put their lives at risk.” Rogers provided Breitbart News with a link to the ISIS threat to those fighters.

“ISIS targeted the Northern Storm because ISIS considers them apostates and because Northern Storm met with Sen. McCain,” Rogers said. “ISIS actually wrote out a statement that accused Northern Storm of treachery for reasons including: ‘Meeting with U.S. Senator John McCain in the hangar and making a contract with him against the Islamists.’ The statement goes on to demand that Northern Storm surrender and repent to ISIS or be killed.”

“ISIS actually killed many Northern Storm members, and we’re not going to put them at any further risk by naming them,” Rogers added.

But there’s just one problem with McCain’s office’s story. Now, McCain’s team says the senator didn’t meet with any bad figures but declines to name them, for what seems to be a legitimate reason—although those who are publicly leading combat against ISIS and against Bashar Al-Assad’s regime are probably publicly known figures there.

Just last year, however, McCain’s office had no clue who the senator met. When allegations surfaced that the senator may have met with terrorists who kidnapped someone, Rogers—McCain’s communications director—went on the record to multiple media outlets to say he didn’t know who he was meeting with, and if he did meet with kidnapper terrorists, that would be regrettable.

“None of the individuals the senator planned to meet with was named Mohamad Nour or Abu Ibrahim,” Rogers told CNN in late May 2013, right after the trip. “A number of other Syrian commanders joined the meeting, but none of them identified himself as Mohamad Nour or Abu Ibrahim.”

Rogers added later in his statement to CNN that he and the senator did not know who he was meeting with.

“A number of the Syrians who greeted Senator McCain upon his arrival in Syria asked to take pictures with him, and, as always, the senator complied,” Rogers said. “If the individual photographed with Senator McCain is in fact Mohamed Nour, that is regrettable. But it would be ludicrous to suggest that the Senator in any way condones the kidnapping of Lebanese Shia pilgrims or has any communication with those responsible. Senator McCain condemns such heinous actions in the strongest possible terms.”

Of course it’s ludicrous to suggest that McCain would condone the act of kidnapping, and nobody serious is suggesting that. The point many critics of McCain’s policies—including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)—are making is that Americans have no way of knowing which team any one of these figures is on.

“Here’s the problem,” Paul said in an interview with The Daily Beast this week. “He [McCain] did meet with ISIS, and had his picture taken, and didn’t know it was happening at the time. That really shows you the quandary of determining who are the moderates and who aren’t. If you don’t speak Arabic, and you don’t understand that some people will lie to you—I really think that we don’t have a good handle on who are the moderates and who aren’t, and I think the objective evidence is that the ones doing most of the fighting and most of the battles among the rebels in Syria are the radical Islamists.”

Paul has been roundly criticized for the remarks, starting with the publication he made them to. The Daily Beast’s Olivia Nuzzi wrote that Paul’s statement means he “repeated a thoroughly debunked rumor.” The Washington Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave Paul “Four Pinocchios,” its highest rating of dishonesty, for the statement. Kessler wrote that this story is one where he regrets “we are limited to just Four Pinocchios,” because there is “zero evidence that any of the men that McCain met with in Syria are linked to the Islamic State.”

Despite this pile-on by the media and political establishment, Paul has a serious point here, though. McCain really didn’t know who he was meeting with, and even if they were the supposedly “moderate” Free Syrian Army, who’s to know that they aren’t elements of the Free Syrian Army working alongside ISIS?

Patrick Poole, an esteemed national security reporter and expert on radical Islam for PJ Media, has reported that the Free Syrian Army’s commanders have admitted in public to working alongside ISIS. “As President Obama laid out his ‘strategy’ last night for dealing with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and as bipartisan leadership in Congress pushes to approve as much as $4 billion to arm 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,” Poole wrote on Sept. 10.

Poole cites the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star, which quotes a Free Syrian Army brigade commander as saying he is working with the “Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate — both U.S.-designated terrorist organizations.”

Read more at Breitbart

Also see:

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

US-Backed Free Syrian Army Operating Openly With ISIS, Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra

640x392_25455_221535By Patrick Poole:

As the Obama administration struggles to address the threat from ISIS and plans to go to Congress in coming weeks to up its commitment against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, multiple media reports indicate that the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) is operating openly with ISIS and other designated terrorist groups. And yet financial and military support for the FSA is the keystone to the administration’s policy in Syria.

Some background is essential.

It was just over a year ago that the Institute for the Study of War’s Liz O’Bagy was opining in the Wall Street Journal about her travels to Syria and purported discovery that the Syrian ‘rebels’ really weren’t bloodthirsty jihadists, but moderates worthy of US financial and military support – in particular, heavy weapons. Her claims about the Syrian rebels, particularly the FSA, were cited and praised by Secretary of State John Kerry and Senator John McCain.

That view, of course, quickly came crashing down as O’Bagy came under fire for failing to disclose that she was also a paid agent of a Syrian rebel front, but also that she had lied about her academic credentials. Within two weeks of her oped appearing, she was fired from the Institute for the Study of War, though she was hired two weeks later by Senator McCain as a Senate staffer.

At the same time that O’Bagy’s career was taking a hit, the narrative that the Syrian ‘rebels’ were all secular moderates was quickly collapsing. A Rand Corporation study appeared two weeks after O’Bagy’s oped saying that nearly half of the Syrian ‘rebels’ were jihadists or hardline Islamists (as if there were a discernible difference). Meanwhile, the FSA was under serious pressure from the very jihadist groups that Ms O’Bagy had assured were not a problem.

Another practical problem developed with providing weapons to the FSA. As soon as weapons shipments from the CIA were arriving in Syria, the FSA weapons caches were being raided by jihadist groups, including ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the official Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, under very suspicious circumstances. The problem got so bad that by last December, both the US and the UK had stopped weapons shipments to the FSA.

But by April of this year, the Obama adminstration’s CIA weapons spigot was turned back on, with the FSA now receiving heavy weapons, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. And in late June, President Obama asked Congress for $500 million to arm and train the FSA.

This move was not without controversy as the Syrian Military Council chief-of-staff warned that the US was circumventing the SMC and providing weapons directly to FSA units that could end up creating Afghan/Somali-style warlords in Syria. The State Department responded to that criticism assuring that the weapons were going to “moderate, vetted groups” (because, of course, the State Department has such a long illustrious history in vetting Islamic “moderates”).

The ISIS announcement of the reestablishment of the caliphate and their subsequent push further into Iraq has considerably changed the playing field and revealed the true nature of the US-backed “moderate, vetted” FSA.

Last week the Washington Post reported on the Syrian ‘rebel’ takeover of the Golan Heights Quneitra border crossing with Israel (where I reported from last year), with the ‘rebels’ capturing the UN peacekeepers stationed at the crossing. The Post noted:

The United Nations gave no further details, but an Israeli military spokesman told CNN that the captors are suspected to be members of al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, which has been fighting alongside more-moderate, Western-backed rebels for control of the area.

The “more-moderate, Western-backed rebels” fighting alongside with Jabhat al-Nusra the Post was referring to, but didn’t dare name, was none other than the FSA.

Read more at PJ Media

But They Were Really Moderate Beheadings . . .

Moderate_Rape_Beheadings_KerryNational Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy:

My weekend column asks whether Obama’s “no strategy” regarding the Islamic State terror group is really worse than the delusional strategy – popular throughout our bipartisan foreign policy clerisy – of arming and training the purported “moderate opposition” in Syria.

Those repeating the “moderate opposition” refrain – in Washington it is virtually one word now, moderateopposition – hope you won’t notice that the anti-Assad factions are dominated by Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, which is still regarded by Beltway oxymorons as a “moderate Islamist” group (indeed, a “largely secular” group) despite the recent demonstrations of their unique brand of moderation in Egypt and Gaza – and despite the fact that the moderateopposition routinely colludes with al Qaeda jihadists.

Case in point: After American citizen Douglas McArthur McCain was killed while fighting for the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria, Obama spokesman Josh Earnest was quick to credit the moderateopposition with having done him in, an exhibition of its commitment to fight these “dangerous” jihadists:

Even the reports of the death of the American who was fighting in Syria on behalf of ISIL, he was reportedly killed by elements of the moderate opposition as they were fighting ISIS [ACM: same as ISIL] elements in their country. So it’s no secret that the moderate opposition is fighting not just the Assad regime but also the dangerous elements of ISIL as well.

But alas, there is this eye-opening passage – overlooked by most, but not all commentators – from the New York Times’ report about “Mr. McCain”:

Mr. McCain moved back and forth from Minneapolis to San Diego and then abroad. Officials now know he ended up in Syria, where three days ago, Mr. McCain became the first American to die while fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He was 33. The rebels who killed him were fighting for the Free Syrian Army, a rival group backed by the United States, and they went on to behead six ISIS fighters — but not Mr. McCain — and then posted the photographs on Facebook.

Doesn’t seem very moderate to me.

Also see:

If We Want to Beat Al Qaeda, We Have to Stop Arming It

23by Daniel Greenfield:

Obama’s call for $500 million to arm and train Syrian Jihadist fighters couldn’t have possibly come at a more inappropriate time as Al Qaeda in Iraq menaces both countries.

It wasn’t the Iraq War that made the Al Qaeda affiliate so dangerous. In 2008 it specialized in suicide bombings. It wasn’t marching on Baghdad with an army behind it.

The Arab Spring destabilized the region while money, weapons and recruits poured into Libya and Syria. Obama’s regime change war in Libya led not only to the takeover of entire Libyan cities by Al Qaeda, culminating in the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, but to an Al Qaeda affiliate seizing much of neighboring Mali. Libyan terror training camps also led to an attack on the Amenas gas plant in Algeria.

Three Americans were killed in that attack bringing the US death toll from Obama’s Libyan War up to seven.

But that was last year. This year it’s the Syrian Civil War that turned its local Al Qaeda affiliates into breakout Jihadi stars seizing entire cities and terrorizing the region.

Obama’s solution is to direct money intended for counterterrorism partnerships to terrorists in Syria.

This may be one of the worst ideas that he has ever come up with. Attempts to control the flow of weapons likely played a role in the Benghazi attacks. NATO forces enforcing an arms embargo on Libya had been told to ignore Qatari weapons shipments that were meant for “moderates”.

Instead they went to Al Qaeda.

Obama and Kerry, not to mention Graham and McCain, believe that weapons can be directed to “moderate” Syrian groups and that by arming the “good” terrorists, we’ll stop the “bad” terrorists.

But there are no “good” terrorists. Promises of delivering weapons only to “pre-vetted” groups are worth as much as Obama’s assurances that Al Qaeda was on the run and that ISIS is only a jayvee team.

Kerry met with Ahmad al-Jarba, the President of the Syrian National Coalition. Al-Jarba said that $500 million wouldn’t be enough and demanded more weapons. Meanwhile Al-Jarba was feuding with Ahmad Tohme, the Prime Minister of the SNC’s fictional government. Tohme had attempted to disband the Supreme Military Council over corruption charges while firing the head of the Free Syrian Army.

None of this really matters because the SNC is a puppet regime with many puppet masters and no puppets. The Syrian front men for the Saudis, Qataris, the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey and other factions are constantly firing each other. Their Free Syrian Army is a label stamped on a bunch of Islamist militias, many of whom openly support Al Qaeda.

Four out of five of the FSA’s front commanders had demanded to work with Al Qaeda last year. Parts of the FSA joined the Islamic Front and seized the FSA’s weapons warehouses taking anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons. The FSA fighters fled. Earlier ISIS had seized USAID items intended for the FSA.

After these embarrassments Obama was forced to temporarily suspend aid to the Free Syrian Army.

A senior Al Qaeda terrorist who answered to Ayman Al-Zawahiri was a leading figure in the Islamic Front through Ahrar al Sham, which operated alongside the FSA, until he was killed in an attack by ISIS. Ahrar al Sham had a powerful role in the Supreme Military Council through Deputy Chief of Staff Abdel-basset Tawil.

The FSA, to the extent that it exists, consists of bearded Salafist fighters and commanders in the field and “moderate” leaders in suits in Qatar and Turkey who usually never set foot in Syria. They obtain weapons and money from the West for Jihadists who are much less camera friendly.

Groups such as Liwa al Ummah choose to affiliate with the FSA even while they continue fighting alongside the Al Nusra Front. Experts label some Syrian Jihadist groups as moderate and others as extremist, but the “moderates” and “extremists” fly the black flag of Jihad and fight for an Islamic state.

Pre-vetting the groups means nothing because names like the Free Syrian Army or the Supreme Military Council are only fronts for outside interests. Even the names of the individual militias are often meaningless because new groups and new umbrella groups are constantly being created and dissolved.  Fighters and commanders move from one group to another taking their weapons with them.

Keeping track of the various pseudonyms used by the commanders is already a full time job. It is often impossible to tell whether two Jihadist commanders with the same pseudonym are even the same person. Figuring out the relationship between various groups means depending on intelligence from those groups and various activists on the ground who all have their own alliances and agendas.

No meaningful vetting is possible under these circumstances and supplying weapons to “pre-vetted” groups is as good as supplying them to Al Qaeda. Supplying weapons to pre-vetted groups only  means that it will take longer for those weapons to reach Al Qaeda through barter, alliance or capture.

And even if the weapons don’t end up with Al Qaeda, they will go to Salafist groups that share its goals. The difference is that those have not yet officially declared war on us. That same false sense of security led to the murder of four Americans in Benghazi.

Read more at Front Page

Blowback! U.S. trained ISIS at secret Jordan base

Army trainers

Army trainers

WND, By Aaron Klein:

JERUSALEM – Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, were trained in 2012 by U.S. instructors working at a secret base in Jordan, according to informed Jordanian officials.

The officials said dozens of ISIS members were trained at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The officials said the training was not meant to be used for any future campaign in Iraq.

The Jordanian officials said all ISIS members who received U.S. training to fight in Syria were first vetted for any links to extremist groups like al-Qaida.

In February 2012, WND was first to report the U.S., Turkey and Jordan were running a training base for the Syrian rebels in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country’s northern desert region.

That report has since been corroborated by numerous other media accounts.

Last March, the German weekly Der Spiegel reported Americans were training Syrian rebels in Jordan.

Quoting what it said were training participants and organizers, Der Spiegel reported it was not clear whether the Americans worked for private firms or were with the U.S. Army, but the magazine said some organizers wore uniforms. The training in Jordan reportedly focused on use of anti-tank weaponry.

The German magazine reported some 200 men received the training over the previous three months amid U.S. plans to train a total of 1,200 members of the Free Syrian Army in two camps in the south and the east of Jordan.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper also reported last March that U.S. trainers were aiding Syrian rebels in Jordan along with British and French instructors.

Reuters reported a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department declined immediate comment on the German magazine’s report. The French foreign ministry and Britain’s foreign and defense ministries also would not comment to Reuters.

The Jordanian officials spoke to WND amid concern the sectarian violence in Iraq will spill over into their own country as well as into Syria.

ISIS previously posted a video on YouTube threatening to move on Jordan and “slaughter” King Abdullah, whom they view as an enemy of Islam.

WND reported last week that, according to Jordanian and Syrian regime sources, Saudi Arabia has been arming the ISIS and that the Saudis are a driving force in supporting the al-Qaida-linked group.

WND further reported that, according to a Shiite source in contact with a high official in the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Obama administration has been aware for two months that the al-Qaida-inspired group that has taken over two Iraqi cities and now is threatening Baghdad also was training fighters in Turkey.

The source told WND that at least one of the training camps of the group Iraq of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria, the ISIS, is in the vicinity of Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey, where American personnel and equipment are located.

He called Obama “an accomplice” in the attacks that are threatening the Maliki government the U.S. helped establish through the Iraq war.

The source said that after training in Turkey, thousands of ISIS fighters went to Iraq by way of Syria to join the effort to establish an Islamic caliphate subject to strict Islamic law, or Shariah.

 

 

US-made missiles reportedly in hands of Islamist fighters in Syria

1526028_-_main-340x160By 

While the opposition Syrian National Coalition, headed by Ahmad Jarba, has been meeting with US officials this week in Washington in an effort to secure further support, including more funding and additional antitank and antiaircraft weapons, news from Syria indicates that some advanced US-made weapons are already being used in various Syrian provinces by rebel fighters.

Over the past few weeks, media reports have stressed that US officials have begun a “pilot program” of providing small quantities of advanced weapons, including TOW missiles, to vetted “moderate” groups, and specifically the Harakat Hazm, which fights in a newly formed coalition called the Southern Front. [See Threat MatrixThe shadowy flow of US weapons into Syria.]

As we at LWJ have pointed out, however, alliances and accommodations between the so-called ‘moderate’ rebel groups and the Islamists have made it very difficult for outside backers of the Syrian opposition to ensure that weapons and other aid provided does not end up in the hands of the Islamists, who dominate the battlefields. [See Threat MatrixSouthern Front tries to disassociate itself from Al Nusrah, which illustrates that an increasing number of reports from 'moderate' commanders claiming independence from Islamist groups such as Al Nusrah appear to be concocted in order to secure the provision of more weapons and funding from the West.]

Yesterday the opposition activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the Islamic Front, a large coalition of mainly Islamist fighting groups, was using US TOW missiles in clashes in Aleppo against the forces of President Bashar al Assad and allies. According to SOHR, the Islamic Front (which it refers to as “Islamic battalions”) employed the weapons in Aleppo’s Al Sheik Najjar area and near Al Brej, and possibly near the air force intelligence building in Al Zahraa district as well.

Read more at Long War Journal

Also see:

Who’s Who in the Syrian War (clarionproject.org)

Britain’s Jihadists Within

70976852_019514832-2-450x325by :

Some of the “freedom fighters” who are at war against the evil tyrant Assad in Syria, the “rebels” whom both U.S. President Obama and British Prime Minister Cameron wanted to help, have now been re-classified as “the biggest threat to Britain’s security” and a “greater threat than al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” The British Home Office identifies Syria as “the most significant development in global terrorism.”

More than half of anti-terror investigations by the UK security service MI5 involve “Britons” who went to fight in Syria. Charles Farr, the Home Office’s counter-terrorism chief, and others warned that the Syrian war is stoking the biggest terror threat to the West since September 11, and this problem is predicted to persist for as long as the hostilities will continue.

Syria is much closer to Europe than Afghanistan and Pakistan, making it a particularly easy and dangerous destination for UK Muslims who come back well trained, armed and ready for business: terrorism. And because the security services monitor about half of them, the risk is very high.

Robert Spencer asks some pertinent questions:

Why aren’t they monitoring the rest? And why were these men let back into the country in the first place? Simply because they’re citizens? (Are they even all citizens?)

In the past three years, from the beginning of the conflict, no fewer than 500 Britons have travelled to Syria to fight, many more than the corresponding number for Iraq. According to French President Francois Hollande, they are actually up to 700.

Between 250 and 400 of them are believed to be back with us, although the number may be higher. Apparently, they found life there “too hard,” so they say. But they may have been encouraged to return “home” in order to carry out attacks in the UK.

Hundreds more are still in Syria, and one of them has posted an Internet video urging his coreligionists in Britain to join them and help their Syrian brothers and sisters, saying: “The doors of jihad are still open.” He is a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a group which wants Syria to become an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law and which is considered too extreme even by Al-Qaeda, that officially disowned it. The first jihadists returning provincial capital to be occupied by ISIS was the city of Raqqa, on whose Christian community it has imposed payment of the jizya and other rules associated with dhimmi status.

These are people who know their Islam, no doubt. They’ve forced even the BBC reporters to become familiar with the triple choice: convert, submit, die.

Read more at Front Page

U.S. State Department Policy Facilitates Al Qaeda in Somalia, Syria

female syrian rebelBY TAREK FATAH:

Just when you thought amateur hour had run its full course at the U.S. State Department, events in Somalia and Syria — two war zones where al-Qaida is a major player — show American ineptness has a lot more to offer.

First, came news the man hand-picked by Secretary of State John Kerry to act as the sole conduit for aid to Syria’s rebels, Gen. Salim Idriss, has been dismissed by the very Supreme Military Council of the Syrian “moderate” opposition he was supposedly heading.

Now, with no leverage on the ground, it appears the U.S. has given a walkover to whoever wins the Iran vs. Saudi Arabia proxy war in Syria.

With an insurgency that’s dominated by Islamist factions, including groups with connections to al-Qaida, even the best outcome will leave Syria in the hands of hostiles.

Further south in Somalia, the government that is supposedly an ally of the West has been accused of smuggling Western-supplied arms meant for the Somali army straight into the hands of the pro al-Qaida army of al-Shabab .

The “UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group” last week issued a confidential report accusing the Somalia government of allowing the diversion of weapons meant for its own army into the hands of a leader of the al-Qaida linked Islamist militant group, al-Shabab.

Read more at Clarion Project

McCain Lashes Out at Persecuted Syrian Christians

Syrian child

McCain claims to be motivated by the need to overthrow of Bashar Assad and to establish democracy in Syria, but the fact remains that he is supporting extremists like the Brotherhood and the Syrian Islamist rebels and is hostile to those who are being persecuted by them, like the Syrian Christians.

BY RYAN MAURO:

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) reportedly erupted at a private meeting with Syrian Christians after they complained about Islamist rebel attacks on churches and the Christian minority. The display prompted Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to apologize for McCain’s behavior. This is just the latest episode of McCain going to the bat for Islamists.

The source that reported the confrontation said that McCain “didn’t think the Syrian church leaders should even be allowed in the room.” After furiously leaving the conference room, he returned and would not even look at the Syrian Christian delegation.

Approximately 10% of Syria’s population is Christian and it was a protected minority before the arrival of jihadist groups in Syria. Though some Christians support the rebel cause — atrocities have been committed by both the rebels and the regime against Christians — far more violence is perpetrated by the Islamist rebels. The Christians’ fear for their future has prevented the community from endorsing the rebellion, which has angered Islamist rebels that consider such silence an endorsement of Assad.

McCain is a prominent supporter of U.S. military intervention in Syria on behalf of the rebel forces. While secular rebels do exist, Islamists like Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and assorted Salafists dominate the opposition forces.

McCain’s support for the rebel cause has led him to downplay the threat from its Islamist components and even to embrace discredited “experts” that share his view. In September, he hired Elizabeth O’Bagy, an expert on Syria that was fired after her lies about her resume were exposed. On Twitter, she stated that not all Islamists are extremists.

O’Bagy is a strong advocate of supporting the Syrian rebels and worked for one rebel-linked group in the U.S. named the Syrian Emergency Task Force. The group’s executive director, Mouaz Moustafa, “liked” a video on YouTube of the top Hamas leader. His “favorite videos” playlist includes other videos that support Hamas and perpetrators of terrorist attacks. Other outlets found tweets where he said he’d rather be called a member of Al-Qaeda than a supporter of Israel.

Read more at Clarion Project

Also see:

Congress secretly approves U.S. weapons flow to ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels

People stand on a street lined with damaged buildings in the besieged area of Homs January 27, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/YAZAN HOMSY

People stand on a street lined with damaged buildings in the besieged area of Homs January 27, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/YAZAN HOMSY

BY MARK HOSENBALL:

(Reuters) - Light arms supplied by the United States are flowing to “moderate” Syrian rebel factions in the south of the country and U.S. funding for months of further deliveries has been approved by Congress, according U.S. and European security officials.

The weapons, most of which are moving to non-Islamist Syrian rebels via Jordan, include a variety of small arms, as well as some more powerful weapons, such as anti-tank rockets.

The deliveries do not include weapons such as shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, known as MANPADs, which could shoot down military or civilian aircraft, the officials said.

The weapons deliveries have been funded by the U.S. Congress, in votes behind closed doors, through the end of government fiscal year 2014, which ends on September 30, two officials said.

The apparently steady weapons flow contrasts with the situation last summer, when lethal U.S. aid to the Syrian rebels dried up for a time due to congressional reservations.

Congressional committees held up weapons deliveries for months over fears that U.S. arms would not prove decisive in the rebels’ efforts to oust President Bashar Assad and his government and could well end up in the hands of Islamist militants.

A U.S. official familiar with recent developments said national security officials and members of Congress are more confident that weapons delivered to southern Syria are going to, and remaining in, the hands of moderate rebels rather than militant jihadist factions.

Congress approved funding for weapons deliveries to the Syrian rebels in classified sections of defense appropriations legislation, two sources familiar with the matter said. It was not clear when the funding was approved, but unclassified defense funding passed Congress in late December.

Some additional budget tweaks may be necessary to ensure that all the approved funding is fully available for disbursement during the current fiscal year.

Yet, officials who support providing U.S. arms to the rebels acknowledge that this has not greatly increased U.S. expectations of victory by anti-Assad forces, whether moderate or militant.

“The Syrian war is a stalemate. The rebels lack the organization and weapons to defeat Assad; the regime lacks the loyal manpower to suppress the rebellion. Both sides’ external allies… are ready to supply enough money and arms to fuel the stalemate for the foreseeable future,” said Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA analyst and sometime foreign policy adviser to President Barack Obama.

Both U.S. and European officials said that “moderate” rebels had recently consolidated their positions in the Syrian south, where they are pushing out elements linked to al-Qaeda. More militant factions remain dominant in the north and east.

Another recent development favorable to more moderate factions is that Kurdish groups that had been providing weapons and other aid financed by donors in the Gulf state of Qatar indiscriminately to both moderate and religious extremist rebel factions had greatly reduced their involvement in the arms traffic, one of the officials said.

A White House spokeswoman had no comment. Other U.S. agencies did not respond to requests for comment.

As for “non-lethal” aid like communications and transportation equipment, the United States hopes to resume deliveries to moderate groups in Syria soon, a U.S. official said on Monday.

The United States and Britain suspended non-lethal aid to northern Syria in December after reports that Islamist fighters seized Western-backed rebel weapons warehouses, highlighting fears that supplies could end up in hostile hands.

“We hope to be able to resume assistance to the SMC shortly, pending security and logistics considerations,” said the official, referring to the Supreme Military Council moderate rebel group. “But we have no announcements at this time,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Non-lethal aid was resumed to civilian groups in that region in late December.

(Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Dan Grebler)

!cid_image004_jpg@01CF1B3C

 

So, are we to believe there are “moderate jihadists”? —-> The Good and Bad of Ahrar al-Sham –  An al Qaeda–Linked Group Worth Befriending h/t @pspoole

“Are you waging Jihad for the sake of democracy and secularism? You don’t want Allah’s shari’a.”

ISIS vs FSAJihad Watch, by Robert Spencer:

Note how the ISIS jihadist assumes, and takes for granted that the FSA jihadist will know as well, that democracy and secularism are opposed to Sharia, and that jihad is to be waged for the sake of establishing Sharia. These are elementary points taught by all sects of Islam and schools of Islamic jurisprudence; they’re only obscured by Islamic apologists in the West who want to keep non-Muslims ignorant and complacent about what is happening not only in Syria, but in their own countries.

“FSA, ISIS Fighters Exchange Insults over the Two-Way Radio in the Wake of Aleppo Rebel Infighting,” from MEMRI, n.d.:

Following are excerpts from a two-way radio conversation between ISIS and FSA fighters, which was posted on the Internet on January 6, 2014:

Foreign Fighter for Al-Qaeda’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS]: You worship [FSA commander] Khaled Hiyani, you apostate infidels. We’ve declared you to be “apostates,” you heretics.

Voice of Fighter for the Free Syrian Army [FSA]:[Indistinct chatter]

ISIS Foreign Fighter: You don’t know Allah or His Prophet, you creature. You sow corruption upon the land. Allah said: “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and sow corruption upon the land, is that they should be killed, be crucified, or have their hands and feet cut from alternate sides, or be banished from the land. Such shall be their disgrace in this world, and their torment in the Hereafter.”

That’s Qur’an 5:33, the verse right after the only one every non-Muslim politician in the West knows, 5:32, the one that cribs from the Talmud about how killing an innocent person is like killing all of humanity.

You people have sown corruption upon the land. You have killed women, fornicated with women, and raped men, women, and children, yet you dare call yourselves Muslims?! What kind of Islam do you follow?!

Voice of FSA Fighter: [Indistinct chatter] Why did you come here? Go fight Israel, brother.

ISIS Foreign Fighter: Fighting apostates takes precedence over fighting original infidels. Fighting apostates, like you people, who curse Allah and His Messenger, and violate the honor of Muslims, takes precedence over fighting the Jews and the Christians. All imams concur on that.

Voice of FSA Fighter: We fight for the sake of Allah, and you fight for the sake of the taghout, you oppressor, you apostate, you [follower of Abu Bakr] Al-Baghdadi. We are mujahideen, and you are…

Taghout is rebellion against Allah, idolatry.

ISIS Foreign Fighter: For whose sake do you wage Jihad? For Hiyani, ‘Afash, and the National Coalition? Are you waging Jihad for the sake of democracy and secularism? You don’t want Allah’s shari’a, and you fight whoever does. You people are apostate infidels. Fighting you takes precedence over fighting the original infidels.Voice of FSA Fighter: You swine… …you prostitutes, you supporters of Al-Baghdadi… They follow Satan… You follow the accursed Devil. May Allah curse you. We opened our homes to you… [Indistinct chatter]

Why do you… Let’s see you dare come here. Allah be praised.

ISIS Foreign Fighter: Those of you who listen to [Khaled] Al-Hiyani should know that he is no Muslim. He curses Allah and His Messenger. He violates the honor of Muslims. He sows corruption upon the land, and is negligent about his prayers. Due to all the prohibitions that you and he violate, you are not Muslims.

Voice of FSA Fighter: You infidels. You enemies of Allah.

See also:

McCain Claims Syria Won’t Turn Al Qaeda Because of High Literacy Rate

McCain_RazanBy :

Retirement. It can’t come too soon.

Sen. John McCain angrily disputed claims that at least half of Syria’s rebels are Islamic extremists on Tuesday night.

“Not true, not true!” the Arizona Republican said to an audience member during a discussion hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, the Daily Caller reports. “There’s about 70 percent still who are Free Syrian Army.”

Much of the Free Syrian Army consists of people barely distinguishable from Al Qaeda. That is what the study documented. McCain is rigidly sticking to the FSA tag as some kind of certification of moderation while ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

Mr. McCain said it’s a “cop-out” for critics of intervention in Syria to say “we don’t know who they are.”

“The point, I think, that you and others are missing … [is that] Syria is a moderate nation. Syria has the highest literacy rate of any nation in the Middle East. They are not going to submit to a jihadis or al Qaeda group governing them. They will not.”

If there’s any proof that McCain isn’t just wrong, but has become completely incompetent to even discuss the topic, here it is. Studies have repeatedly shown that Jihadists are drawn from the middle and even upper classes.

High literacy rates is not an obstacle to terrorist involvement. It increases the probability of Islamist interests.

Assuming you can even trust the literacy rate coming out of Syria, it’s 79 percent. (If you want a reason to distrust self-reported literacy rates, Russia’s is 99 percent)

Iran’s literacy rate is 77 percent. Is that 2 percent really all the difference between being susceptible to a totalitarian Islamic regime or not?

For that matter, Turkey’s literacy rate is 95 percent (again, unrealistic) and yet it’s governed by an Islamist thug whose backers claim he’s warding of telekinesis attack plots.

Finally there’s Jordan. Jordan is the Muslim country with some of the highest rates of approval for Al Qaeda. In 2006, 61 percent of Jordanians liked Al Qaeda. (Then Al Qaeda in Iraq started bombing them and his approval ratings fell a whole lot.)

Jordan also has a literacy rate of 93.4%.

Finally, if we’re going to look at terror states, let’s hop over to the Palestinian Authority which is supposedly at 92%. 37% poll as supporting Islamic fundamentalism. (36% in Jordan, also known as Palestine 1.0)

Finally Pakistan claims a literacy rate of 79%. That ties Syria.

And we know therefore that Pakistan is a “moderate” nation that could never be taken over by “extremists”. Just ask Senator McCain. Assuming he can read.

Video Report: U.S. Syrian Jihadist ‘Allies’ Establish Brutally Unjust Aleppo Sharia Courts

An Islamist rebel group in Aleppo called "the Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Supporting the Oppressed" reviews applications for aid on Feb. 25. In addition to handing out aid, the Islamist group says it is carrying out civilian administration in parts of Aleppo.

An Islamist rebel group in Aleppo called “the Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Supporting the Oppressed” reviews applications for aid on Feb. 25. In addition to handing out aid, the Islamist group says it is carrying out civilian administration in parts of Aleppo.

By Andrew G. Bostom:

N. J. Coulson, the renowned twentieth-century scholar of the Sharia, elaborated how “matters of procedure” under Islamic law were antithetical to Western conceptions of the rule of law. Coulson demonstrated the flimsy nature of Sharia-based “evidentiary proof,” while elucidating, under the Sharia doctrine of siyasa (“government” or “administration”), which grants wide latitude to the ruling elites, how arbitrary threats, beatings, and imprisonments of defendants were permissible to extract “confessions,” particularly from “dubious” suspects.

Particularly harsh treatment is recommended for the individual of reputedly bad character whose guilt is suspected but cannot be proved in orthodox fashion. He [she] should be subjected to rigorous examination, with beating and imprisonment if necessary,

Clearly, Sharia “standards,” which do not even seek evidentiary legal truth, and allow threats, imprisonment, and beatings of defendants to extract “confessions,” while sanctioning explicit, blatant legal discrimination against women and non-Muslims, are intellectually and morally inferior to the antithetical concepts which underpin Western law.

This is the “legal system” being applied now by the Syrian anti-Assad Sharia-supremacist “rebels” in the 2/3 swath of Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, under their control. A TF-1 (the private, national French TV channelvideo report (with English subtitles) filmed by Solomon Kane and Luc Golfin at 5 minutes, 35 seconds through minute 6, demonstrates, explicitly, the application one such barbarous method of “extracting” a confession—beating a man on the souls of his bare feet with a wooden cudgel. Indeed, at just after the 6-minute mark, the head Sharia judge, “Al-Maz” enters the room where the “confession” is being “extracted,” and objects to the scene being filmed, exhorting his colleagues,

Do you want the people in Europe to think [emphasis added] we are barbarians?

Moreover, the documentary filmmakers also capture the good Sharia judge attempting to deny the very brutality their camera’s have in fact just recorded!

It is both morally unconscionable, and a looming geo-strategic disaster for the U.S. to be supporting with armaments, and potentially, missile strikes against the Assad regime, predatory, jihad-promoting “allies” who aggressively seek broad application of such a brutally unjust, Islamic Sharia totalitarian system.

Watch the French TV report below.

http://www.mrctv.org/videos/invading-sunni-muslims-force-sharia-law-occupied-aleppo-syria

Many thanks for Translation to C.B.Sashenka, and subtitling to www.vladtepesblog.com.