Washington’s VICE: Supporting Islamists

vice newsCSP, By Kyle Shideler:

VICE News recently produced a revealing documentary highlighting the Islamic Front, a coalition of Islamist Syrian rebels. Embedded with Tawhid Brigade fighters in the Syrian city of Aleppo, the documentary maintains a generally unquestioning and supportive tone, but nonetheless is informative. Within the first five minutes, the narrator affirms the Tawhid Brigade’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the role of Qatar in supporting and backing the Islamic Front is repeatedly emphasized throughout the hour-long program. In a segment with the Islamic Front Sharia court, the judges vow to implement Islamic law in a manner not much different from the Islamic State (ISIS), although stressing that ISIS should have waited until Syria was fully liberated and Assad beaten. The VICE video does not mention, however, the Islamic Front’s ties to Al Qaeda, through the AQ-linked Ahrar Al-Sham unit of the Front, whose connections have been ably documented by jihadist monitoring website, the Long War Journal.

While perhaps news to the general public watching VICE News, these sorts of facts are well known. They were certainly known even before the push by elements of the foreign policy community in Washington to highlight the Islamic Front as the kind of rebels that should be supported in Syria. One piece for Foreign Affairs in January of 2014 referred to the Front’s Ahrar Al-Sham as “An al Qaeda–Linked Group Worth Befriending.” One of the authors of that piece, William McCants, works for Brookings Institute, a think tank revealed by the New York Times to have received $14 million over four years from the government of Qatar. The Qataris themselves had arranged for Ahrar Al-Sham to meet with Western diplomats in November 2013 just three months prior to the Foreign Affairs piece. Of course, Brookings would have us believe that their support for Qatari-backed rebel groups, and their own backing from Qatar are unrelated. And of course, it is unsurprising that Qatar would back a Muslim Brotherhood-linked rebel group, considering the strong support Qatar has expressed for the Brotherhood in the past.

Not all those who wished to put the U.S. into bed with an Al Qaeda-Muslim Brotherhood alliance in Syria have financial interests as potential motivations. For some, that support is likely ideological- as they have, like the Tawhid brigade, ties to the Muslim Brotherhood themselves.

Consider the repeated calls by the Syrian Emergency Taskforce for U.S. support for the Islamic Front, even after the U.S. was rebuffed by the group. According to the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch, an intelligence digest focusing on the Muslim Brotherhood, four of the seven named board members of the SETF have ties to Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations. The executive director of SETF, Mouaz Mustafa, was responsible for arranging Senator John McCain’s meeting with the Northern Storm rebel group. Northern Storm has been accused of playing a role in the abduction of journalist Steven Sotloff. Sotloff’s fixer for the trip, who was also kidnapped by ISIS but released, was affiliated with the Tawhid brigade, which Northern Storm later joined.

Another group, the Syrian American Council (SAC), has also attempted to position the Islamic Front as appropriate U.S. allies. Mohammed Alaa Ghanem, the group’s director of government relations accused the United States of bombing Islamic Front targets in an article entitled, “In Syria, the United States is bombing friend and foe alike.” Ghanem has publicly praised the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief shariah jurist, Yusuf Al Qaradawi, a man who called for jihad in Syria, and called for the 2004 killing of Americans in Iraq. The Syrian American Council has sponsored a speaking tour of the United States featuring a known radical cleric named Sheik Mohammad Rateb al-Nabulsi who supported Palestinian suicide bombings. Another cleric Sheik Osama al-Rifai, who raised funds for the Syrian Sunrise Foundation (which shares board members with the SAC), has publicly supported the Islamic Front. Among the places where Rifai raised funds was the Mosque Foundation of Bridgeview, Ill., whose two founders have Muslim Brotherhood ties according to documents released by federal prosecutors in the Holy Land Foundation trial.

All of this background is part of what makes the VICE documentary so revealing. What VICE stated openly is an unassuming factoid that can, in fact, be found on Wikipedia. But its unstated significance explains much regarding elements among those who support the Syrian rebels, and their fixation on involving the U.S. with the Islamic Front. The Front’s sharia judges openly, and without slick editing, stating their case for sharia law, including beheadings for “criminals,” is something that people outside of Washington will see and comprehend, even if those who should know better continue to push for relations with the Islamist group.

It seems for many in Washington, support for Islamists is a vice they are unable to quit.

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Ghosts of Aleppo (Full Length)

Published on Sep 30, 2014 by VICE News

 

Also see:

Congress’ Support of Syrian Rebels Fraught With Danger

A free Syrian Army fighter runs to avoid sniper fire (Photo: © Reuters)

A free Syrian Army fighter runs to avoid sniper fire (Photo: © Reuters)

BY RYAN MAURO:

The U.S. Congress has approved the Obama Administration’s plan to train and arm Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State terrorist group. The plan is fraught with danger and the Congress must ensure that five steps are taken to minimize its risks.

1. Create a Secular-Democratic Force

The U.S. must recognize that every existing rebel group, including the much-touted Free Syria Army, includes an Islamist component. It is against Western interests to support Islamist radicals and they are not worthy of American taxpayer money.

The bill “requires that opposition groups be vetted for associations with terrorist groups, Shia militias aligned with or supporting the government of Syria, and groups associated with the government of Iran, including, but not limited to: ISIL [the Islamic State]; Jabhat al Nusrah; other al-Qaeda related groups; and Hezbollah.”

The weak standard is that rebels must not be linked to the Assad regime (which Syrian rebels are not by definition) and Al-Qaeda affiliates, which presumably includes Ahrar al-Sham whose leadership has had high-level Al-Qaeda ties.

Over a dozen of Ahrar al-Sham’s leaders were killed in a suicide bombing recently, presumably carried out by the Islamic State. Leaders of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Front, a coalition of Syrian Islamist rebels,  mourned them.  Its new leader previously led a Free Syria Army unit.

So who can the U.S. pick as an ally?

In April 2013, the New York Times reported, “Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.” As of June 2013, 10 of 12 rebel groups were Islamist.

The most obvious candidates are the Kurds who have proven so reliable and effective in Iraq. They have defeated Al-Nusra in battle. Kurds also fought Islamist Kurds aligned with Al-Qaeda (the Islamic Kurdish Front), Ahrar al-Sham and the Qatar-backed Ahfad al-Rasoul militia.

“We as Kurds are usually secularists, and the reason for that is the injustice that we suffered through Islamic history, and certainly we would be against any new Caliphate project,” said the leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria.

Kurds are only about 10% of the Syrian population so their reach is limited. Other non-Kurdish groups must be assessed.

Read more at Clarion Project

We Don’t Need to Ally with Terrorists to Defeat ISIS

isis-431x350by Daniel Greenfield:

The big foreign policy debate now is whether we should ally with Sunni or Shiite Jihadists to defeat ISIS.

The pro-Iranian camp wants us to coordinate with Iran and Assad. The pro-Saudi camp wants us to arm the Free Syrian Army and its assorted Jihadists to overthrow Assad.

Both sides are not only wrong, they are traitors.

Iran and the Sunni Gulfies are leading sponsors of international terrorism that has killed Americans. Picking either side means siding with the terrorists.

It makes no sense to join with Islamic terrorists to defeat Islamic terrorists. Both Sunni and Shiite Jihadists are our enemies. And this is not even a “the enemy of my enemy” scenario because despite their mutual hatred for each other, they hate us even more.

The 1998 indictment of bin Laden accused him of allying with Iran. (Not to mention Iraq, long before such claims could be blamed on Dick Cheney.) The 9/11 Commission documented that Al Qaeda terrorists, including the 9/11 hijackers, freely moved through Iran. Testimony by one of bin Laden’s lieutenants showed that he had met with a top Hezbollah terrorist. Court findings concluded that Iran was liable for Al Qaeda’s bombing of US embassies. Al Qaeda terrorists were trained by Hezbollah.

While Shiite and Sunni Jihadists may be deadly enemies to each other, they have more in common with each other than they do with us. Our relationship to them is not that of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” That’s their relationship to each other when it comes to us. In these scenarios we are the enemy.

The pro-Saudi and pro-Iranian factions in our foreign policy complex agree that we have to help one side win in Syria. They’re wrong. We have no interest in helping either side win because whether the Sunnis or Shiites win, Syria will remain a state sponsor of terror.

It’s only a question of whether it will be Shiite or Sunni terror.

Our interest is in not allowing Al Qaeda, or any of its subgroups, to control Syria or Iraq because it has a history of carrying out devastating attacks against the United States. We don’t, however, need to ally with either side to accomplish that. We can back the Kurds and the Iraqi government (despite its own problematic ties) in their push against ISIS in Iraq and use strategic strikes to hit ISIS concentrations in Syria. We should not, however, ally, arm or coordinate strikes with either side in the Syrian Civil War.

Both the pro-Saudi and pro-Iranian sides insist that ISIS can’t be defeated without stabilizing Syria. But it doesn’t appear that Syria can be stabilized without either genocide or partition. Its conflict is not based on resistance to a dictator as the Arab Springers have falsely claimed, but on religious differences.

Helping one side commit genocide against the other is an ugly project, but that would be the outcome of allying with either side.

Stabilizing Syria is a myth. The advocates of the FSA claimed that helping the Libyan Jihadists win would stabilize Libya. Instead the country is on fire as Jihadists continue to fight it out in its major cities.

Even if the FSA existed as an actual fighting force, which it doesn’t, even if it could win, which it can’t, there is every reason to believe that Syria would be worse than Libya and an even bigger playground for ISIS. The FSA enthusiasts were wrong in Egypt and Libya and everywhere else. They have no credibility.

Read more at Frontpage

Also see:

The “Khorasan Group”, New Name, Old Threat

khor1CSP, By Kyle Shideler:

Recent media coverage has been bombarded by revelations of a “new terror threat“, “more dangerous than ISIS”, the Khorasan Group.

Khorasan refers to the historical area under the Islamic Caliphate that corresponds to Iran/Afghanistan/Pakistan and the subcontinent, and the Khorasan Group, according to intelligence officials speaking to the media, consists of a relatively small (between fifty and a hundred) group of veteran Al Qaeda fighters from the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. These fighters are said to include a number of highly skilled bomb makers and other operatives, led by Muhsin al-Fadhli, a native Kuwaiti, and long time Al Qaeda insider, who specializes in financing and facilitation. Jihadist social media is hinting that Al-Fadhli may have been killed in the first round of U.S. bombing.

Khorasan Group’s mission, supposedly, has been to find jihadists with western passports who have travelled to Syria, train them, and reinsert them into the West to conduct spectacular attacks of the kind that Al Qaeda is famous for.

Khorasan Group operates in and among Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and there’s been lively debate in the counterterrorism community over whether its really worthwhile distinguishing between Jabhat al-Nusra and Khorasan group at all. This is significant because Jabhat al-Nusra, despite being Al Qaeda, is deeply intertwined with the Syrian rebels at-large, and they are widely supported by these rebels, including those that the Obama strategy calls for arming and training to fight ISIS. For their part, Jabhat al Nusra hasn’t made the distinction, claiming they were the recipient of U.S. bombings.

It’s entirely plausible that intelligence suggested that this Khorasan group was preparing an imminent attack, and even if they weren’t, they are definitely enemies of America and a legitimate target.

But the extra hype about this specific group, and separating them out as somehow different or more threatening than Jabhat al Nusra, and Al Qaeda proper, has more to do with attempting to limit the negative reaction from rebels within Syria, and to distract Americans from the reality that in Syria there really are few good guys, with a possible exception of the Kurdish forces, who aren’t really receiving support. That strategy has already failed, with multiple Syrian rebel groups complaining about the strikes against Jabhat al Nusra, including one group expected to be the core of the force the U.S. intends to train to send against ISIS.

There has been an attempt to try to separate out elements of Al Qaeda, into Core, and affiliates, and in the case of the Khorasan group, small units within affiliates. Or for that matter to disassociate ISIS from Al Qaeda, as ISIS being “too brutal”, when the reality is that ISIS hasn’t engaged in any tactic that Al Qaeda didn’t institute first.

This is a misguided attempt to convince people that what we face is a series of minor groups, and that the enemy who attacked us on 9/11 is broken, and/or on the run. The reality is we face an overarching enemy, a Global Islamic Movement-which is how they identify themselves- operating in accordance with a knowable strategic doctrine that we are not addressing.

That doctrine is Shariah law. It is the same law that ISIS is instituting in its territory, and the same one that Jabhat al Nusra and several of the other Syrian groups would institute in Syria if they prove successful in defeating Assad.

Our enemy knows that you can not defeat an opponent you do not name. They do not say that their war is with the U.S. Army,  the 75th Ranger Regiment, or the 5th Special Forces Group. They say plainly and openly, that their war is with America, and the allies of America, and more importantly, that it is an ideological war, based on a conflict between belief systems which are irreconcilable.

Until we are prepared to discuss the conflict in ideological terms, we will forever be playing “whack-a-mole” with a never ending series of “new” threats.

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

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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

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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: