The New American, by Alex Newman, March 14, 2017:
A bipartisan bill to prohibit U.S. taxpayer funding and arming of terrorist groups and their associates is making progress in Congress, most recently having a companion bill introduced in the Senate by popular liberty-minded U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.). The legislation, originally sponsored in the House by Democrat Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, takes aim at lawless U.S. government “regime change” schemes overseas that often involve providing money, weapons, training, and other support to savage terror organizations. High-profile voices on both sides of the aisle have joined forces to get the bill passed into law. Of course, aiding designated terror groups is already a serious crime, but for whatever reasons, the laws have not been enforced against federal officials.
In particular, the new legislation, known as H.R. 608 in the House, bans the provision of any assistance by the federal government to al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and the Islamic State, sometimes known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh. The “Stop Arming Terrorists Act,” as it is being dubbed, would also prohibit official U.S. aid to any individual or group affiliated with, associated with, or cooperating with any of the proscribed terror organizations. Finally, the legislation bans any funds to state sponsors of those groups, which would ensnare a number of ostensible U.S. government “allies.” The director of national intelligence would be in charge of making the determinations, in consultation with the appropriate congressional committees. Providing anything from cash and weapons to training and intelligence would be prohibited under the bill.
Senator Paul, a leading constitutionalist and non-interventionist in Congress, introduced the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” last week in the Senate as S. 532. “One of the unintended consequences of nation-building and open-ended intervention is American funds and weapons benefiting those who hate us,” Senator Paul said in a statement announcing that the companion legislation to the House measure had been filed. “This legislation will strengthen our foreign policy, enhance our national security, and safeguard our resources.” Like his father, retired Congressman and GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, Senator Paul has been a longtime critic of the U.S. government’s illegal policies arming terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda.
At this point the evidence of U.S. government support for terrorists is overwhelming, with President Trump going so far as to call Obama and Hillary Clinton co-founders of ISIS. As The New American has documented extensively, official U.S. intelligence documents show that multiple Western and Islamic governments allied with Washington, D.C., have also supported ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terror groups in Syria. In fact, the Obama administration was exposed in Pentagon documents supporting jihadist terrorists in Syria from the beginning. A 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report revealed that the Obama administration knew al-Qaeda was leading the rebellion in Syria, supported it anyway, and that one of the goals of supporting the terrorist-led “revolution” was to create a “salafist principality,” today known as the Islamic State, in Eastern Syria.
“The West, Gulf countries [the Islamic regimes ruling Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, etc.], and Turkey support the Syrian opposition,” explains the Pentagon report, adding that “al-Qaeda” and other terrorists are the “major forces driving the insurgency” against Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad. “There is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist [fundamentalist Islam] principality in Eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.” Of course, that is exactly what happened when ISIS declared the establishment of its “caliphate” in Eastern Syria and parts of Iraq.
Top U.S. intelligence officials later confirmed publicly that, despite being advised not to by military officials, Obama deliberately aided terrorists under the guise of helping “moderate” jihadists overthrow Assad. Former DIA chief Michael Flynn, who led the military-intelligence agency at the time, told Al Jazeera that Obama and other top officials knew exactly what they were doing. “I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision,” said Flynn, who went on to serve for a short period as Trump’s national security advisor. “I think it was a willful decision.” The interviewer, Mehdi Hasan, sounded shocked at the frankness and the enormity of the revelation that Obama was willfully aiding terrorists. But Flynn stood firm.
The Republican and Democrat lawmakers behind the bill stop arming terrorists seem to recognize those facts, too. “For years, the U.S. government has been supporting armed militant groups working directly with and often under the command of terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government,” Representative Gabbard, the chief sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “Rather than spending trillions of dollars on regime change wars in the Middle East, we should be focused on defeating terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, and using our resources to invest in rebuilding our communities here at home.”
Gabbard, who traveled to Syria on a fact-finding mission this year and met with government, religious, and opposition leaders, has been very outspoken about the the U.S. government’s lawless and disastrous intervention in that conflict on behalf of terror groups. “Their message to the American people was powerful and consistent: There is no difference between ‘moderate’ rebels and al-Qaeda (al-Nusra) or ISIS — they are all the same,” Gabbard said, adding that the conflict in Syria is basically “a war between terrorists under the command of groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda and the Syrian government.”
Ironically, then-Vice President Joe Biden and other top U.S. officials admitted the same thing, even while their boss was sending weapons and money to designated terror groups. When asked in Senate testimony whether any “major” U.S. allies supported ISIS, for example, then-U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey noted that it is even worse than that. “I know major Arab allies who fund them,” he said. Under the proposed legislation, any of those “Arab allies,” mostly Sunni Islamic dictatorships, would be cut off from U.S. taxpayer assistance, and especially military assistance.
Speaking at Harvard, meanwhile, Biden admitted that “there was no moderate middle” among the Syrian “rebels,” flatly contradicting Obama. Biden also explained that the “anti-ISIS” coalition armed and created ISIS. “What my constant cry was that our biggest problem was our allies…. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands, of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight,” Biden said. “Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” Those terrorists went on to become ISIS, Biden said.
For Representative Gabbard and the group of bipartisan lawmakers joining her effort to end U.S. taxpayer support for terror groups, it is time to ensure that no more American wealth goes to support the savagery of terrorists wreaking havoc across the Middle East. “The fact that American taxpayer dollars are being used to strengthen the very terrorist groups we should be focused on defeating should alarm every Member of Congress and every American,” she said. “We call on our colleagues and the Administration to join us in passing this legislation.” So far, a solid group of lawmakers including constitutionalists such as Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Ted Yoho of Florida, along with a number of progressives, have joined forces with Gabbard to support the legislation.
The aunt of dead Syrian boy who washed up on a beach and whose picture was circulated worldwide has also announced her support for the legislation. Speaking at a press conference alongside Gabbard, she said arming terrorists was only making matters worse. “[Representative] Tulsi understands that arming the so-called rebels in Syria has only led to more bloodshed, more suffering, and created more refugees,” Tima Kurdi, the aunt, said in a widely quoted statement. “A military solution in Syria is not the answer. I hope that President Trump will stop arming terrorists and commit to a political solution in Syria — it is the only way to restore peace.”
While the legislation is admirable, it should be common sense that American tax money should not be flowing to savage terrorist groups, dictatorships, or terror affiliates. In fact, providing material support to designated terror organizations is already a serious crime under federal law, and there are no exceptions provided in the relevant statutes for government officials. That means a significant number of senior officials across multiple U.S. administrations could be subject to prosecution, if existing law were to be enforced. The American people must demand that Congress and the entire U.S. government obey the Constitution and follow the noninterventionist advice of America’s Founders.
Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is normally based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter@ALEXNEWMAN_JOU. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.