Category Archives: Syria

Israel aids Muslim jihadists in Syria with weapons, air strikes, and medical care for the wounded

5 years ago, on December 18, 2010, a popular uprising in Tunisia began a wave of protests, demonstrations, riots and civil wars in the Arab world which the West enthusiastically praised and romanticized by calling the convulsions “Arab Spring.

By the end of February 2012, rulers had been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen; civil uprisings had erupted in Bahrain and Syria; major protests had broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan; and minor protests had occurred in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Western Sahara, and Palestine.

Instead of the West’s expectation that the convulsions heralded a springtime for democracy in the Arab world, what resulted was the electoral success of Islamist parties, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. All of which led some to characterize the convulsions as an Islamist Winter.

The on-going civil war in Syria between so-called “Syrian rebels” and the duly elected Ba’athist government of Bashar al-Assad had begun as “Arab Spring” civil uprisings in the spring of 2011.

In 2013, the Obama administration, together with Senate Republicans like John McCain, had agitated for a war to topple Assad. (See “Pulitzer-award journalist says Obama admin made up intelligence for war on Syria“)

Since then, the United States has continued to provide aid in training and weapons to the “Syrian rebels” hellbent on overthrowing the Assad government — the main opponent of ISIS or Islamic State in Syria. (See “CIA expands Obama-approved training of Syrian militants”)

The Obama administration insists that only “moderate” rebels are aided, but it is a known fact that those insurgents include al-Qaeda and ISIS. If Assad is overthrown, the overwhelming likelihood is that Syria will descend into chaos, with the apocalyptic and brutal Islamic State eventually seizing political power. (See “Despite months of U.S. air strikes, ISIS now controls a third of Syria“)

And now, with the Russian and Chinese military aiding Assad, the stakes are raised even higher, transforming Syria into an arena for a WWIII between superpowers.

None of that is in the interests of the United States, or so a rational person would think.

A little-reported and little-publicized fact is that Israel is exacerbating the descent of Syria into chaos by providing so-called Syrian “rebels” with:

1. free medical care to wounded “rebels”

Foreign Policy reports that according to a United Nations report, Syrian “rebels” have transported scores of wounded Syrians across a cease-fire line that has separated Israel from Syria since 1974. Once in Israel, they receive medical treatment in a field clinic before being sent back to Syria to continue their civil war against Assad. 

Daily Mail journalists embedded with Israeli troops report:

Almost every night, Israeli troops run secret missions to save the lives of Syrian fighters, all of whom are sworn enemies of the Jewish state…. Analysts suggest the Jewish state has in fact struck a deadly ‘deal with the devil’ – offering support to the Sunni militants who fight the Syrian ruler Assad in the hope of containing its arch enemies Hezbollah and Iran…. Many of the casualties rescued by Israel belong to Salafist groups …. Some may be members of Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian group affiliated to Al Qaeda that has kidnapped scores of UN peacekeeping troops in this area, and has massacred Christians deeper in Syria…. In the three years that Israel has been running these operations, it has saved the lives of more than 2,000 Syrians – at least 80 per cent of whom are male and of fighting age – at a cost of 50 million shekels (£8.7 million)…. 

2. Weapons

Israel is also providing weapons to those Syrian “rebels”.

The Times of Israel reports that Sharif As-Safouri, the commander of the Free Syrian Army’s Al-Haramein Battalion, who was arrested on July 22 by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front near the Israeli border, told his captors he collaborated with Israel in return for medical and military support.

Safouri can be seen in the video above admitting to having entered Israel five times to meet with Israeli officers who later provided him with Soviet anti-tank weapons and light arms:

“The [opposition] factions would receive support and send the injured in [to Israel] on condition that the Israeli fence area is secured. No person was allowed to come near the fence without prior coordination with Israel authorities.”

Safouri said that at first he met with an Israeli officer named Ashraf at the border and was given an Israeli cellular phone. He later met with another officer named Younis and with the two men’s commander, Abu Daoud. In total, Safouri said he entered Israel five times for meetings that took place in Tiberias. Following the meetings, Israel began providing Safouri and his men with “basic medical support and clothes” as well as weapons, which included 30 Russian [rifles], 10 RPG launchers with 47 rockets, and 48,000 5.56 millimeter bullets.

3. Bombing Syria

The Guardian reports that the Syrian government claimed that, on Dec. 7, 2015, Israeli jets bombed two installations in Syria, one near the capital, Damascus, and the second in a town near the Lebanese border.

The report by Syrian state television described the attack as “an aggression”. The state news agency Sana said: “The Israeli enemy attacked Syria by targeting two safe areas in Damascus province, namely the Dimas area and the area of Damascus international airport.”

No casualties were reported and there was no immediate comment from Israeli officials.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that monitors the country’s civil war through a network of activists on the ground, said the strike near the Damascus airport hit a warehouse, and it was unclear what was in the building. The target of the strikes might have been advanced Russian-made S300 surface-to-air missiles.

The December 7 bombings are not the first Israeli air strikes in Syria. Israel has carried out several air strikes in Syria since the revolt against the Assad government began in March 2011. In June 2015, Israel struck targets inside Syria, including a military installation, following a cross-border attack that killed an Israeli teenager. Israel said at the time that it had struck nine military targets inside Syria and had confirmed “direct hits”.

Why

George Washington writes for ZeroHedge, Dec. 14, 2015, that although Israel claims to be in a mortal struggle with Islamic terrorists, apparently some Islamic terrorists — Sunnis — are better than others.

Michael Stephens, Research Fellow for Middle East Studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), explains:

“Above all, Israel wants to prevent Hezbollah from gaining control on the other side of the border. The Sunni militants are fighting Hezbollah, so for now they share the same objectives as Israel. That’s why we’re seeing this odd cooperation between people who would be enemies under any other circumstances.”

Indeed, an Israeli spokesman confirmed that no medical support has been provided to any militants from the Shia (or Shi’ite) alliance.

Kamal Alam, research analyst at RUSI and an expert in Syrian affairs, said:

“From an Israeli viewpoint, it’s a case of my enemy’s enemy is my friend. There is no one they can trust in the Syrian quagmire, but if you get rid of Hezbollah, that’s the end of Iran in the region. Israel’s main aim has to be to eliminate Hezbollah – and whoever takes on Hezbollah is an uneasy but necessary ally. [But in] giving medical support to these fighters, Israel has done a deal with the devil.

In fact, Israel has made no secret of the fact that it prefers ISIS and Al Qaeda to the Iranian backed terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. In September 2013, outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview:

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc.… We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.

He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

In June 2014, speaking at an Aspen Institute conference, Oren extended Israel’s preference to include the apocalyptic Islamic State or ISIS. He said: “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail.”

Washington’s Blog points out that Israel’s support for al-Qaeda and Islamic State isn’t just about Iran or Shia Muslims. Israel decided long ago to break up Syria and Iraq into numerous mini-states, in part because a compliant government in Syria would allow Israel’s pipelines to win out over competing pipelines.

All of which would explain why, as Reuters puts it, “Israel loses no sleep over Islamic State”. Reuters’ Dimi Reider writes:

At first sight, it seems that Israel is just as preoccupied with the rise of Islamic State as anyone else….

Still, Israel remains the least concerned and least directly threatened country in a region increasingly rocked by Islamic State’s advance. It certainly does not see the group as an external threat. Shocking though the events in Syria and Iraq are, Israel is far beyond the range of even the most sophisticated of Islamic State’s weapons. The group’s immediate territorial interests do not extend to anywhere near Israeli borders, and its support in areas adjacent to Israel is still negligible.  What’s more, unlike many militant groups and states in the region, Islamic State has declared itself emphatically disinterested in intervening in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, preferring instead to draw its support from Sunni revanchism and introducing a semblance of order into war-torn regions of Iraq.

Islamic State also does not yet pose an internal threat to Israel. Unlike most countries bordering Syria, Israel has not been politically or demographically unsettled by the civil war there….

Even attempts by Israeli centrists and the U.S. to tie progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to the fight against Islamic State have left Israel unmoved…. Israel has been able to extract some short-term gains from unfolding catastrophe. With the West again mobilizing against a radical Islamist group, Netanyahu find himself on the familiar turf of the “war on terror.” He is capitalizing on this by trying to equate Palestinian nationalism — especially the religious wing of it — with Islamic State at every conceivable opportunity….

More shockingly, there are some who say ISIS, which became the Islamic State, was a creation of Israel:

The 97-year-old wire service Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on Aug. 13, 2014:

A senior employee of the Dutch Justice Ministry said the jihadist group ISIS was created by Zionists seeking to give Islam a bad reputation.

Yasmina Haifi, a project leader at the ministry’s National Cyber Security Center, made the assertion Wednesday on Twitter, the De Telegraaf daily reported.

“ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. It’s part of a plan by Zionists who are deliberately trying to blacken Islam’s name,” wrote Haifi, who described herself on the social network LinkedIn as an activist for the Dutch Labor Party, or PvdA.

Haifi later removed her original message, explaining, “I realize the political sensitivity in connection with my work. That was not my intention.”

Blogger George Washington of ZeroHedge asks: “Perhaps that’s why ISIS, Al Nusra and the other Islamic terrorists in Syria haven’t tried to lay a glove on Israel?” He points out the following disturbing facts:

Writing for Consortiumnews.com, Robert Parry warns:

The Saudi-Israeli alliance has gone on the offensive, ramping up a “regime change” war in Syria and, in effect, promoting a military victory for Al-Qaeda or its spinoff, the Islamic State. But the consequences of that victory could toll the final bell for the American Republic….

As much fun as the “who lost Syria” finger-pointing would be, it would soon give way to the horror of what would likely unfold in Syria with either Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front or the spin-off Islamic State in charge – or possibly a coalition of the two with Al-Qaeda using its new base to plot terror attacks on the West while the Islamic State engaged in its favorite pastime, those YouTube decapitations of infidels….

Such a spectacle would be hard for the world to watch and there would be demands on President Obama or his successor to “do something.” But realistic options would be few, with a shattered and scattered Syrian army no longer a viable force capable of driving the terrorists from power.

The remaining option would be to send in the American military, perhaps with some European allies, to try to dislodge Al-Qaeda and/or the Islamic State. But the prospects for success would be slim. The goal of conquering Syria – and possibly re-conquering much of Iraq as well – would be costly, bloody and almost certainly futile.

The further diversion of resources and manpower from America’s domestic needs also would fuel the growing social discontent in major U.S. cities…. A new war in the Middle East would accelerate America’s descent into bankruptcy and a dystopian police state.

The last embers of the American Republic would fade. In its place would be endless war and a single-minded devotion to security. The National Security Agency already has in place the surveillance capabilities to ensure that any civil resistance could be thwarted.

See also:

-StMA

Russia to deploy new “Doomsday plane” in preparation for nuclear war

Paul Joseph Watson reports for InfoWars that as tensions continue to build between NATO and the Kremlin since last week’s shoot down of a Russian fighter jet by Turkey, Russia is now equipping its Su-34 fighters with air-to-air missiles in preparation for potential dogfights with NATO over Syria.

According to DEBKAFile, on Nov. 30, 2015, Russia announced that by the end of December, it will deploy the latest version of its giant command and control aircraft designated for use during nuclear war or national disasters. The flying command center will be able to coordinate the worldwide operations of its ground, naval, air and missile forces, including nuclear weapons, as well as the country’s satellites.

Russian military sources said that the Ilyushin-80 (IL-80) jet would be used when the command infrastructure is disrupted due to a nuclear war, or when ground communication systems are absent. The sources said the plane will be permanently staffed with senior generals, operational commanders and technicians.

Ilyushin-80 Command Aircraft

Ilyushin-80 Command Aircraft

This is how Global Security describes the Maxdome, also called IL-80:

The Il-86VKP (“veh-kah-peh” – Vozdooshniy Komanndniy Poonkt – airborne command post) is Russia’s counterpart to the Boeing E-4B NEACP (National Emergency Airborne Command Post). It is meant to fly the the President of Russia and/or surviving authority figures and highest ranking members of the Soviet (now Russian) government to safety in the event of all-out nuclear war.

The IL-80 (IL-86VKP) is the air or air command center command post of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. The aircraft is designed for the control of the armed units of the Russian army in military conflicts with the use of nuclear weapons. […]

The Russian military name is Aimak […] the name given to certain nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes of Mongolian stock inhabiting the north and north-west Afghan highlands […] a bold, wild people and renowned fighters. […]

The first Il-86VKP “Maxdome” was believed to have flown for the first time in the summer of 1985, with the first completed model flying on March 5, 1987. Deliveries reportedly begain 1987. Four aircraft were converted. […]

According to the developers, on-board hardware includes up to 300 units of equipment. Normal take-off weight – 208 tons, the length of the aircraft – 59.54 meters, wingspan – 48.06 meters. The aircraft is equipped with four engines NK-86 thrust of 13,000 kg each. Cruising speed – 850 km / h, range – 3600 km. Service ceiling – 11 000m. Any other information on these machines is closed. This is one of the few still not declassified aircraft models. […]

The onboard air conditioning is filtered to keep radioactive fallout. It is hardened against flash and electromagnetic pulse. All cabin windows are deleted (including the portholes in the doors) in order to protect it from an electromagnetic pulse or nuclear explosion. Cabin entry doors are deleted except for the upper deck forward door on the left and the aft door on the right. Two of the three air stair doors [except the forward one] in the lower fuselange that characterize the Il-86 are missing. There is a baffle blocking the aft cockpit windows, possibly as an EMP or RF hazard shield. […]

On 01 December 2015 “United Instrument Corporation” (UIC, a state corporation of Rostec, announced the creation of the air command post of the second generation of strategic management based on the Il-80. The aircraft would be delivered by the Defense Ministry before the end of 2015.

The Air Command Post on the basis of the Il-80 is included in the system of air control centers of the Armed Forces. It is designed to work in conditions of failure of ground control points, knots and lines, rapidly changing operational environment, as well as in the case of an opponent of nuclear weapons. For this reason, aircraft of this type are called “Doomsday planes.” Only two countries in the world possess such weapons – Russia and the United States. An analog of the Russian Il-80 is the American Boeing E-4B.

Deputy General Director Sergey Skokov of UIC said that a new generation of Russian airborne command post has high survivability, functionality, reliability, improved weight and size and lower power consumption. Technical specifications of the permit to manage the land forces, navy, air and space forces, as well as the Strategic Missile Forces. The goal is the organization of communication networks in a totally unsuitable conditions where the ground infrastructure is non-existent or completely destroyed.

For a description of the U.S. “doomsday plane”, the Boeing E-4 Advanced Airborne Command Post, click here.

-StMA

50+ U.S. intelligence analysts accuse Pentagon of altering their reports to present distorted rosy view of war against ISIS

Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of Centcom

Shane Harris and Nancy Youssef report for The Daily Beast, Sept 9, 2015, that more than 50 intelligence analysts of the U.S. military’s Central Command (Centcom) formally complained that their reports on ISIS/Islamic State and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being altered by senior officials to present the terrorist groups as weaker than the analysts had portrayed.

The analysts are paid to give their honest assessment, based on facts, and not to be influenced by national-level policy. Assigned to work at Centcom and the U.S. military’s command for the Middle East and Central Asia, they are officially employed by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Ironically, the DIA was created to be immune from the pressures and biases of the officers leading the war, but the agency is supervised by officers at Centcom.

The analysts’ complaints prompted the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence.

The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command, charged with the war against the Islamic State, assesses intelligence. One defense official called it a “cancer…within the senior level of the intelligence command.”

In July 2015, two senior analysts at Centcom signed a written complaint to the Defense Department inspector general alleging that the reports, some of which were briefed to President Obama, portrayed the terror groups as weaker than the analysts believe they are. The reports were changed by Centcom higher-ups to adhere to the Obama administration’s public line that the U.S. is winning the battle against ISIS and al Nusra, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the analysts claim.

In recent months, members of the Obama administration have sought to paint the fight against ISIS in rosy hues—despite the latter’s seizure of major cities like Mosul and Fallujah. As examples:

  • In March, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “I am confident that over time, we will beat, we will, indeed, degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL,” the Obama administration’s preferred acronym for the group.
  • Obama said in May, “No, I don’t think we’re losing.”
  • In July, John Allen, the retired Marine general charged with coordinating the ISIS campaign, outright declared, “ISIS is losing.”

The written complaint was supported by 50 other analysts, who are willing and able to back up the substance of the allegations with concrete examples. Some of the analysts had complained about politicizing of intelligence reports for months. That’s according to 11 individuals who are knowledgeable about the details of the report and who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.

The allegations echoed previous charges that political appointees and senior officials cherry-picked intelligence about Iraq’s supposed weapons program in 2002 and 2003.

Some of those CENTCOM analysts described the sizeable cadre of protesting analysts as a “revolt” by intelligence professionals. The analysts accused senior-level leaders, including the director of intelligence and his deputy in CENTCOM, of changing their analyses to be more in line with the Obama administration’s public contention that the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda is making progress. The analysts take a more pessimistic view about how military efforts to destroy the groups are going.

The complaints allege that in some cases key elements of intelligence reports were removed, resulting in a document that didn’t accurately capture the analysts’ conclusions. The complaints also accuse some senior leaders at CENTCOM of creating a “Stalinist” unprofessional work environment. Many described a climate in which analysts felt they could not give a candid assessment of the situation in Iraq and Syria. Some felt it was a product of commanders protecting their career advancement by putting the best spin on the war.

Reports by analysts which were too negative in their assessment of the war were sent back down the chain of the command or not shared up the chain. Others, aware of “the climate around them,” censored themselves so that their reports affirmed already-held beliefs.

Two of the officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said that analysts began airing their complaints last October in an effort to address the issue internally and only went to the inspector general when that effort failed. Some of those who complained were urged to retire; some agreed to leave.

Yet a growing group of intelligence analysts persisted with their complaints. For some, who have served at CENTCOM for more than a decade, scars remained from the run-up to the 2003 war in Iraq, when poorly written intelligence reports suggesting Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, when it did not, formed the basis of the George W. Bush administration’s case for war.

According to a report by the New York Times on Sept. 15, 2015, it is highly unusual that an investigation would be opened about the intelligence conclusions in an ongoing war.

The Pentagon’s inspector general is focusing on senior intelligence officials who supervise dozens of military and civilian analysts at Centcom, which oversees American military operations against ISIS. Bridget Serchak, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon’s inspector general, said in an email, “The investigation will address whether there was any falsification, distortion, delay, suppression or improper modification of intelligence information,” as well as examine any “personal accountability for any misconduct or failure to follow established processes.”

Chinese military joins Russia in Syria

“The board is set . . . the pieces are moving.” -Gandalf, Lord the Rings: The Return of the King

According to The New York Times and FT, in addition to nine T-90 tanks and more than 500 marines for possible ground attacks, Russia is building up its air base near the port city of Latakia in Syria with some of its most advanced ground attack planes and fighter jets, and 2,000 troops as the “first phase” of its mission to shore up the Assad government. The planes are protected by at least two or possibly three SA-22 surface-to-air, antiaircraft systems, and unarmed Predator-like surveillance drones are being used to fly reconnaissance missions.

Russian air base near Latakia, Syria

Now, China is entering the fray.

The pro-Assad Al-Masdar (The Arab Source) reports on Sept. 23, 2015:

[T]he Russians appear to have a contingency that involves another world power that was absent from the U.S. led Anti-ISIS Coalition: China.

On Tuesday morning, a Chinese naval vessel reportedly traveled through Egypt’s Suez Canal to enter the Mediterranean Sea; its destination was not confirmed.

However, according to a senior officer in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) that is stationed inside the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, Chinese military personnel and aerial assets are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks (6 weeks) to the port-city of Tartous – he could not provide anymore detail.

Russia has made it abundantly clear that they are taking an active role in this conflict, but the news of the Chinese military to Syria provides more insight into their contingency.

It appears that Russia is not going to combat ISIS alone: the plan is similar to the U.S.’ idea of a “coalition” of air forces, but far more involved on the ground; this is something the U.S. and their allies have avoided since the inception of their war against ISIS.

Despite all of this, Russia and the U.S. appear to be at it again; however, this is no space or arms race, they are actively flexing their muscles through their proxies (U.S.: rebels and Russia: Syrian Army).

Map of Syria - Latakia and Tartus

ZeroHedge reminds us that it is not as if China had not given sufficient warning: “This comes two years after China warned that turmoil in Syria could have negative implications for the global economy and 18 months after Beijing, along with Moscow, used their security council vetoes to undercut a UN resolution calling for the crisis in Syria to be referred to the Hague.”

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports on Sept. 21 that “Russia and Iran have stepped up coordination inside Syria as they move to safeguard President Bashar al-Assad’s control over his coastal stronghold, according to officials in the U.S. and Middle East, creating a new complication for Washington’s diplomatic goals.”

-StMA

Russian tanks in Syria

T-90 tank

T-90 tank

James Dunn reports for the Daily Mail, Sept. 14, 2015, that according to Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis, seven Russian T-90 tanks and heavy artillery have been spotted on an airfield near the town of Latakia, a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

map of Syria with Latakia

Davis said, “We have seen movement of people and things that would indicate that they plan to use that base there, south of Latakia, as a forward air operating base.

It’s previously been reported that Russia had deployed about 200 naval infantry forces to the airfield. Moscow has also been sending about two cargo flights a day to the airfield over the past week, US officials say.

Moscow has come under increased international pressure in recent days to explain what Washington and Gulf states say is a significant Russian military build-up in Syria, where the Kremlin has been supporting Assad in a four-and-a-half-year war. Russia has said it will continue with military supplies to Syria and that its assistance to the Syrian army is in line with international law.

The military presence of Russia adds complications to the situation for the United States, which is using Syrian air space to lead a campaign of air-strikes against Islamic State.

See also:

-StMA

Obama to let in 10,000 Syrian refugees despite no way of identifying terrorists

Obama’s policy and conduct in the Middle East are nothing but a disaster.

The disaster began with his celebration of the so-called Arab Spring that brought the radical Muslim Brotherhood (MB) into power in Egypt and replaced the Khadaffi regime with chaos in Libya.

Then the premature withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq brought instead a new lethal threat of ISIS that now, as the Islamic State, controls a broad swath across Iraq and Syria. (See Blowback: ISIS leaders are former officers of Saddam Hussein’s army”)

Meanwhile, Obama is determined to do the same to Syria by arming and training so-called rebels who are every bit as extreme as the MB and ISIS, to topple the Assad government, under which Syrian Christians and Muslims had lived in peace. See:

The latest: Russia has entered the fray, with Russian troops reportedly in Syria to help the Assad regime.

Syria’s civil war, now in its 5th year, and ISIS are major contributors to the present “refugee migrant crisis” in Europe, the biggest since the second world war, as tens of thousands of Muslims pour across the borders of the Arabic Middle East and North Africa to overwhelm European countries.

The Guardian quotes an UN figure of 38% of “migrants” as coming from Syria. “The American decision to accept more refugees reflects how swiftly the Syrian war has morphed into the most pressing humanitarian crisis in recent years,” says the New York Times.

Mideast-Iraq-Syrian-Rrfugees2015 refugee crisis - asylum applications of European countriesKatie Pavlich reports for Townhall that yesterday (Sept. 10) afternoon, the Obama White House announced plans to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during the daily briefing:

“The United States, at the direction of the United States, [sic] has played a leading role in addressing the dire humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and North Africa. One thing that the United States can do is to begin to let more Syrian refugees into the United States. This year, this fiscal year that will end this month, the United States is on track to take in about 1500 Syrian refugees. The president has directed his team to scale up that number next [fiscal] year [beginning October 2015] and he’s informed his team he would like them to accept, at least make preparations, for 10,000 refugees.

There is no word yet on what the vetting process will be for refugees or how the White House plans to assure Americans the process will prevent ISIS terrorists from making their way into the United States.

Earlier this week in an interview with Fox News, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul expressed serious concern about national security and the acceptance of refugees from Syria:

“We’re a compassionate nation and this is a tragic situation but I also have to be concerned as Chairman of Homeland Security about the safety of Americans in this country and the concern that I have and that the FBI testified to is that we don’t really have the proper databases on these individuals to vet them passed and to assure we’re not allowing terrorists to come into this country and until I have that assurance, I cannot support a program that could potentially bring jihadists into the United States. We don’t know who these people are and I think that’s the bottom line here and until we know who they are, we cannot responsibly bring them into the United States. Both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have told me privately that they don’t support bringing in Syrian refugees because of the threat they pose to Americans.

In an article for Clash Daily, U.S. Infantry veteran Sgt. Omar Avila maintains that “Syrian operatives have claimed that more than 4,000 covert ISIS gunmen have been smuggled into Western nations – hidden amongst innocent refugees. The operative said the undercover infiltration was the beginning of a larger plot to carry out revenge attacks on the West in retaliation for the US-led coalition airstrikes.”

-StMA

Russian troops are in Syria to help Assad regime

And since the Obama administration is allied with and actively helping (arming and training) the jihadis who are fighting against Assad, that means Syria may become a Russia vs. USA battleground.

map of Syria

Reuters reports, Sept. 9, 2015:

Russian forces have begun participating in military operations in Syria in support of government troops, three Lebanese sources familiar with the political and military situation there said on Wednesday.

The sources, speaking to Reuters on condition they not be identified, gave the most forthright account yet from the region of what U.S. officials say appears to be a new military buildup by Moscow, one of President Bashar al-Assad’s main allies, though one of the sources said the numbers of Russians involved so far were small.

Two U.S. officials said Russia has sent two tank landing ships and additional aircraft to Syria in the past day or so and has deployed a small number of naval infantry forces.

The U.S. officials, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the intent of Russia’s military moves in Syria remained unclear. One of the officials said initial indications suggested the focus was on preparing an airfield near the port city of Latakia, an Assad stronghold.

The moves come at a time when forces of Assad’s government have faced major setbacks on the battlefield in a four-year-old multi-sided civil war that has killed 250,000 people and driven half of Syria’s 23 million people from their homes.

Syrian troops pulled out of a major air base on Wednesday, and a monitoring group said this meant government soldiers were no longer present at all in Idlib province, most of which slipped from government control earlier this year.

Moscow confirmed it had “experts” on the ground.

But Russia has declined to comment on the exact scale and scope of its military presence in Syria. Damascus denied Russians were involved in combat, but a Syrian official said the presence of experts had increased in the past year.

Officials in the United States, which is fighting an air war against the Islamist militant group Islamic State in Syria and also opposes Assad’s government, have said in recent days that they suspect Russia is reinforcing to aid Assad.

Washington has put pressure on countries nearby to deny their air space to Russian flights, a move Moscow denounced on Wednesday as “international boorishness”.

Moscow’s only naval base in the Mediterranean is at Tartous on the Syrian coast in territory held by Assad, and keeping it secure would be an important strategic objective for the Kremlin.

Two of the Lebanese sources said the Russians were establishing two bases in Syria, one near the coast and one further inland which would be an operations base.

“The Russians are no longer just advisors,” one of them said. “The Russians have decided to join the war against terrorism.”

Another of the Lebanese sources said that so far any Russian combat role was still small: “They have started in small numbers, but the bigger force did not yet take part … There are numbers of Russians taking part in Syria but they did not yet join the fight against terrorism strongly.”

The Syrian official said: “Russian experts are always present but in the last year they have been present to a greater degree.”

[…] In the latest major battlefield setback, state television reported government troops had surrendered an air base in northwestern Syria to a rebel alliance after nearly two years under siege.

The loss of the base meant the last government troops had now withdrawn altogether from central Idlib province, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that monitors the conflict.

[…] Russia says the Syrian government must be incorporated into a shared global fight against Islamic State. The United States and Assad’s regional foes see him as part of the problem.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Moscow would consider additional military measures needed for fighting terrorism in Syria if it deemed them necessary.

A senior U.S. official said on Saturday Washington had detected “worrisome preparatory steps,” including transport of prefabricated housing units for hundreds of people to a Syrian airfield, that could signal that Russia is readying deployment of heavy military assets there.

[…] Rebel sources said the Nusra Front had played a leading role in the capture of the airport. Nusra is part of a coalition of Islamist groups called the Army of Conquest which has seized most of Idlib province this year.

Note: Nusra is a branch of Al Qaeda, which former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus proposes that the U.S. arm to fight against ISIS. See “Former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus wants U.S. to arm Al-Qaeda

Another major base east of Aleppo, Kweiris, is currently besieged by ultra hardline Islamic State militants.

Nusra Front made gains in northwestern Syria alongside other insurgent groups since May, seizing the city of Idlib, the town of Jisr al-Shughour and moving closer to coastal areas vital to government control of western Syria.

-StMA

Former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus wants U.S. to arm Al-Qaeda

Members of al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the same al Qaeda that was headed by Osama bin Laden and still identified as a terrorist organization, have a surprising advocate in the corridors of American power — David Petraeus, retired U.S. Army general and former CIA Director and former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Petraeus has been quietly urging U.S. officials to consider using so-called moderate members of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front to fight ISIS in Syria, according to information from four sources familiar with the conversations, including one person who spoke to Petraeus directly.

Shane Harris and Nancy A. Youssef report for The Daily Beast, Aug. 31, 2015:

The heart of the idea stems from Petraeus’s experience in Iraq in 2007, when as part of a broader strategy to defeat an Islamist insurgency the U.S. persuaded Sunni militias to stop fighting with al Qaeda and to work with the American military.

The tactic worked, at least temporarily. But al Qaeda in Iraq was later reborn as ISIS, and has become the sworn enemy of its parent organization. Now, Petraeus is returning to his old play, advocating a strategy of co-opting rank-and-file members of al Nusra, particularly those who don’t necessarily share all of core al Qaeda’s Islamist philosophy.

However, Petraeus’s play, if executed, could be enormously controversial. The American war on terror began with an al Qaeda attack on 9/11, of course. The idea that the U.S. would, 14 years later, work with elements of al Qaeda’s Syrian branch was an irony too tough to stomach for most U.S. officials interviewed by The Daily Beast. They found Petraeus’s notion politically toxic, near-impossible to execute, and strategically risky.

It would also face enormous legal and security obstacles. In 2012, the Obama administration designated al Nusra a foreign terrorist organization. And last year, the president ordered airstrikes on al Nusra positions housing members of the Khorasan Group, an al Qaeda cadre that was trying to recruit jihadists with Western passports to smuggle bombs onto civilian airliners.

Yet Petraeus and his plan cannot be written off. He still wields considerable influence with current officials, U.S. lawmakers, and foreign leaders. The fact that he feels comfortable recruiting defectors from an organization that has declared war on the United States underscores the tenuous nature of the Obama administration’s strategy to fight ISIS, which numerous observers have said is floundering in search of a viable ground force.

Read the rest of the Daily Beast article here.

George Washington of ZeroHedge observes that Petraeus is not alone:

As we’ve previously shown, other mainstream American figures support arming Al Qaeda … and ISIS.

The U.S. actually did knowingly support Al Qaeda in Libya. And also in Syria.

And we actually ARE supporting ISIS to some extent.

David Petraeus and Paula BroadwellA highly-decorated four-star general who had served over 37 years in the U.S. Army, David Petraeus had been Commander of the International Security Assistance Force; Commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan; 10th Commander, U.S. Central Command; and Commanding General of Multi-National Force – Iraq who oversaw all coalition forces in Iraq.

On September 6, 2011, Obama recruited Petraeus to be CIA Director. A week before, in anticipation of that appointment, Petraeus had retired from the U.S. Army.

Petraeus lasted a little over a year as CIA director. On November 9, 2012, he resigned from the CIA, citing his extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell, a married woman who is the principal author of Petraeus’ biography, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. Petraeus claimed that the affair had begun in late 2011 when he was no longer an active duty military officer, and ended in the summer of 2012. The affair reportedly was discovered in the course of an FBI investigation into harassing emails that Broadwell had been sending to Jill Kelley, a Tampa socialite and a longstanding family friend of the Petraeuses whom Broadwell perceived to be a romantic rival.

~StMA

CIA director John Brennan is a Muslim convert?

Before John Owen Brennan became Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on March 8, 2013, he had spent 25 years with the CIA in a succession of positions, including as a Near East and South Asia analyst, station chief in Saudi Arabia, chief of staff to CIA director George Tenet, and director of the National Counterterrorism Center. After leaving government service in 2005, Brennan was CEO of The Analysis Corporation, a security consulting business. He returned to government service with the Obama administration as Homeland Security Advisor on January 20, 2009.

Barack Obama (l) and John Brennan (r) Photo by Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Barack Obama (l) and John Brennan (r)
Photo by Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Peter Baker and Mark Mazzetti write for The New York Times that “in the 67 years since the C.I.A. was founded, few presidents have had as close a bond with their intelligence chiefs as Mr. Obama has forged with Mr. Brennan. It is a relationship that has shaped the policy and politics of the debate over the nation’s war with terrorist organizations, as well as the agency’s own struggle to balance security and liberty.”

Given Obama’s special bond with Brennan, if the latter is a Muslim convert, there are troubling national security implications.

Brennan’s questionable loyalty dates back to the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

On September 18, 2014, on the Ground Zero radio program, a whistle blower named Greg Ford of the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion claimed that Brennan, as chief of the CIA station in Jeda, overrode concerns and ordered that the visas of the 19 plane-hijackers be stamped. At 1:32:47 into the interview, Ford talked about ISIS and how it was created. Someone called in with a question about 9/11. Ford said:

“All 19 high jackers? Where did they get their visas stamped before they came to this country to launch 9/11? They got their visas stamped in the CIA station in Jeda. And the second in command said ‘No way, absolutely we are not going to stamp those visas.’ And the fellow who was in charge, his name was John Brennan. He was the person who overrode those concerns and cautions and ordered those visas stamped in Jeda.”

There have long been rumors that John Owen Brennan is a Muslim convert. A member of this Confortium, John Molloy, Chairman of the National Vietnam & Gulf War Veterans Coalition, has heard of those rumors from his military sources. Now, we have published confirmation from a credible journalist.

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and columnist. As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He subsequently worked for the National Security Agency.  (See his extended bio here.) 

In a for-subscribers-only article for his news site, Wayne Madsen Report, on August 11, 2015, Madsen maintains there is “growing evidence that CIA’s John Brennan is a Wahhabist convert.”

Madsen begins by noting that Obama had wanted to appoint Brennan CIA director in 2009, but there was internal CIA and congressional opposition to his nomination, ostensibly because of Brennan’s involvement in “enhanced interrogation” techniques used against detainees after 9/11, but the actual reasons for the initial opposition remains unclear to this day.

When the Senate eventually voted to confirm Brennan in 2013, 34 senators voted no, including Rand Paul (R-KY), who attempted to filibuster the confirmation vote; Ted Cruz (R-TX); Charles Grassley (R-IA); Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Mike Lee (R-UT); Jeff Merkley (D-OR); Bernie Sanders (D-VT); and Richard Shelby (R-AL). Barbara Boxer (D-CA) did not vote. Madsen asks, “What did these senators actually know about Brennan, especially the Democrats, who decided Brennan was not for for the job?

Madsen lists the following tell-tale signs of Brennan’s conversion to Islam:

  • When Brennan, then Obama’s deputy national security adviser, was sworn in to head the CIA, “the Jesuit-educated former CIA officer opted to take the oath on a copy of the U.S. Constitution, not on the bible as every past CIA director, Christian and Jewish, had done.”
  • Brennan is the highest-ranking U.S. official to have ever visited the Islamic holy city of Mecca, a privilege reserved only for pious Muslims and special guests of the Saudi King, who is the “Guardian of the Two Shrines of Mecca and Medina.” 
  • At the National Security Council and at the CIA, Brennan has forbidden the use of the term “jihadist” to describe Islamist terrorists, preferring instead the word “extremists.”

Madsen then presents the following “ample evidence” that Brennan is not just a Muslim convert, but a convert to Wahhabist Islam — the same sect as Osama bin Laden’s — who considers himself a “jihadist,” or “holy warrior”:

1.“The recent revelation by retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), that the Obama administration, including Brennan at the CIA, ignored the threat of the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), provides yet further proof that a Saudi and Wahhabist ‘Manchurian Candidate’ now occupies the director’s chair on the seventh floor of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Flynn said that the White House and supporters of the Syrian rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, ignored the DIA’s SECRET report from August 2012 on the rise of the Islamist caliphate in Syria and Iraq and did nothing to stop it.” Flynn also asserted that the Obama administration funneled arms to Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Qaeda in Iraq. 

2. Brennan has shuttled frequently between Langley, Jerusalem, and Riyadh to coordinate arms transfers and other logistical support to ISIL and their allied fighters in Syria and Iraq. Witnesses in Syria, the Golan Heights, Iraq’s Anbar province, and Iraqi Kurdistan to have seen CIA and Israeli Mossad commandos transferring weapons to ISIL and affiliated forces.

3. A few weeks before the Senate voted to confirm Brennan as CIA director, former FBI agent John Guandolo revealed that Brennan had, indeed, converted to Wahhabist Islam while he was CIA station chief in Riyadh. Guandalo quoted Brennan as having said that he “marveled at the majesty of the Hajj,” the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca that is reserved only for devout Muslims. Guandalo was quoted as telling a radio interviewer, “Mr. Brennan did convert to Islam when he served in an official capacity on  the behalf of the United States in Saudi Arabia.”

According to Madsen, there are other CIA converts to Muslim, including:

    • The chief of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center under Brennan, who is known only as “Roger,” is a convert to Sunni Islam — a fact that was reported by The Washington Post. Roger’s career at the CIA started about the same time that Brennan joined the agency. Roger, whose real name is Michael A. D’Andrea or “Mike”, joined in 1979, Brennan in 1980. Both became fluent in Arabic. D’Andrea’s CIA nickname was “The Wolf.”
    • Muhammad Abdel Karim Grimm, a chief CIA operative at the Munich Islamic Center (MIC), is a German Christian convert to Salafist Islam. The MIC was funded by the CIA during the Cold War as a Muslim Brotherhood operating cell in Munich which recruited Turkish Muslim CIA operatives from Germany’s Turkish “guest worker” community.
    • Andrew Warren, who speaks six Arabic dialects and Persian, is another convert to Islam who rose in the ranks of the CIA. In 2008, Warren, the CIA’s station chief in Algiers, was ordered home by the ambassador after he was charged with drugging two Algerian Muslim women, having non-consensual sex with them, and filming the alleged rapes. Warren left the CIA and took a job with Citigroup in New York but quickly returned to the CIA after the 9/11 attack. In 2010, Warren received a 65-month prison sentence for “abusive sexual conduct” while in Algeirs and unlawful use of cocaine while possessing a firearm in  Norfolk. He pleaded guilty to the two charges but prosecutors decided not to charge Warren with rape, which would have carried a life sentence. Madsen claims that according to “a well-placed U.S. intelligence source,” Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings was working on a story about Warren and Brennan before he died in a suspicious fiery auto crash in Beverly Hills, California in June 2013, a little over three months after Brennan became CIA director.

~StMA

Blowback: ISIS leaders are former officers of Saddam Hussein’s army

Here’s an unintended consequence of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq which overthrew Saddam Hussein and his Baath party from power:

Most of the senior leaders of the murderous Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL) are former members of Hussein’s army.

Islamic State leadersLiz Sly writes for The Washington Post, April 4, 2015, that even with the influx of thousands of foreign fighters, almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi military officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes, according to Iraqis, Syrians and analysts who study the group.

They have brought to the organization the military expertise and some of the agendas of the former Baathists, as well as the smuggling networks developed to avoid sanctions in the 1990s and which now facilitate the Islamic State’s illicit oil trading.

Abu Hamza (not his real name), who had fled to Turkey last summer after growing disillusioned with the Islamic State, said, “All the decision makers are Iraqi, and most of them are former Iraqi officers. The Iraqi officers are in command, and they make the tactics and the battle plans. But the Iraqis themselves don’t fight. They put the foreign fighters on the front lines.”

Islamic State's senior leadersHassan Hassan, a Dubai-based analyst and co-author of the book ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, said the raw cruelty of Hussein’s Baathist regime, the disbandment of the Iraqi army after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the subsequent insurgency and the marginalization of Sunni Iraqis by the Shiite-dominated government all are intertwined with the Islamic State’s ascent. “A lot of people think of the Islamic State as a terrorist group, and it’s not useful,” Hassan said. “It is a terrorist group, but it is more than that. It is a homegrown Iraqi insurgency, and it is organic to Iraq.”

The de-Baathification law promulgated by L.­ Paul Bremer, Iraq’s American ruler in 2003, has long been identified as one of the contributors to the original insurgency. At a stroke, 400,000 members of the defeated Iraqi army were barred from government employment, denied pensions — but also allowed to keep their guns.

National Defense University senior fellow Col. Joel Rayburn, who served as an adviser to top generals in Iraq and describes the links between Baathists and the Islamic State in his book, Iraq After America, said the U.S. military failed in the early years to recognize the role the disbanded Baathist officers would eventually come to play in the Islamic State, eclipsing the foreign fighters whom American officials preferred to blame. while the U.S. military always knew that the former Baathist officers had joined other insurgent groups and were giving tactical support to the Al Qaeda in Iraq affiliate, the precursor to the Islamic State, American officials didn’t anticipate that they would become not only adjuncts to al-Qaeda, but core members of the jihadist group. “We might have been able to come up with ways to head off the fusion, the completion of the Iraqization process,” Rayburn said. The former officers were probably not reconcilable, “but it was the labeling of them as irrelevant that was the mistake.

Under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliph, the former officers became more than relevant. They were instrumental in the group’s rebirth from the defeats inflicted on insurgents by the U.S. military, which is now back in Iraq bombing many of the same men it had already fought twice before.

Bremer’s de-Baathification was further exacerbated by a new round of de-Baathification launched after U.S. troops left in 2011 by then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who set about firing even those officers who had been rehabilitated by the U.S. military.

Among them was Brig. Gen. Hassan Dulaimi, a former intelligence officer in the old Iraqi army who was recruited back into service by U.S. troops in 2006, as a police commander in Ramadi, the capital of the long restive province of Anbar. Within months of the American departure, however, Dulaimi was dismissed, losing his salary and his pension, along with 124 other officers who had served alongside the Americans.

The crisis of ISIS didn’t happen by chance,” Dulaimi said in an interview in Baghdad. “It was the result of an accumulation of problems created by the Americans and the [Iraqi] government.

Dulaimi cited the case of a close friend, a former intelligence officer in Baghdad who was fired in 2003 and struggled for many years to make a living. He now serves as the Islamic State’s wali, or leader, in the Anbar town of Hit. Dulaimi recalls: “I last saw him in 2009. He complained that he was very poor. He is an old friend, so I gave him some money. He was fixable. If someone had given him a job and a salary, he wouldn’t have joined the Islamic State. There are hundreds, thousands like him. The people in charge of military operations in the Islamic State were the best officers in the former Iraqi army, and that is why the Islamic State beats us in intelligence and on the battlefield.

Islamic State's notable officialsThe Islamic State’s seizure of territory was also smoothed by the Maliki government’s broader persecution of the Sunni minority, which intensified after U.S. troops withdrew and left many ordinary Sunnis willing to welcome the extremists as an alternative to the often brutal Iraqi security forces.

But it was the influx of Baathist officers into the ranks of the Islamic State itself that propelled its fresh military victories. By 2013, Baghdadi had surrounded himself with former officers, who oversaw the Islamic State’s expansion in Syria and drove the offensives in Iraq.

See also:

~StMA