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US Considering Openly Arming Syrian al-Qaeda Faction, al-Nusra

Published: March 5, 2015
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As reported at Antiwar.com, the US and some of its regional client dictatorships are prodding the major al-Qaeda faction operating in Syria, a brutal terrorist group called al-Nusra, to “re-brand” so the US can openly arm it.

Wikipedia notes that al-Nusra:

…is a branch of al-Qaeda operating in Syria…

…has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Turkey.

…is generally made up of native Syrian mujahideen who adhere to Sunni Islam. Its goal is to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria and create an Islamic Emirate under Sharia law.

Members of the group have referred to the United States and Israel as enemies of Islam, and warned against Western intervention in Syria.

al-Nusra is also, according to both the United States government and ISIS itself, affiliated with ISIS, formerly known as AQI – al Qaeda in Iraq.

The Council on Foreign Relations notes:

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a predominantly Sunni jihadist group, seeks to sow civil unrest in Iraq and the Levant with the aim of establishing a caliphate—a single, transnational Islamic state based on sharia. The group emerged in the ashes of the U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

And Wiki continues:

The United States accused it [al-Nusra] of being affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq; in April 2013, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq [later known as ISIS, as noted by CFR above], released an audio statement affirming this connection.

But it still gets better:

al-Nusra may have been the very group that carried out the sarin gas attack in Ghoutta, Syria, which Obama then dishonestly tried to use as a pretext to wage a full on US war of aggression against UN member state Syria.

Pulitzer winning journalist Seymour Hersh:

For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’

On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort’. (According to a Defense Department consultant, US intelligence has long known that al-Qaida experimented with chemical weapons, and has a video of one of its gas experiments with dogs.)

Last May, more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with what local police told the press were two kilograms of sarin. In a 130-page indictment the group was accused of attempting to purchase fuses, piping for the construction of mortars, and chemical precursors for sarin.

The DIA paper took the arrests as evidence that al-Nusra was expanding its access to chemical weapons.

In spring 2013 US intelligence learned that the Turkish government – through elements of the MIT, its national intelligence agency, and the Gendarmerie, a militarised law-enforcement organisation – was working directly with al-Nusra and its allies to develop a chemical warfare capability. ‘The MIT was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training – including training in chemical warfare,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Stepping up Turkey’s role in spring 2013 was seen as the key to its problems there. Erdoğan knew that if he stopped his support of the jihadists it would be all over. The Saudis could not support the war because of logistics – the distances involved and the difficulty of moving weapons and supplies. Erdoğan’s hope was to instigate an event that would force the US to cross the red line.

This means the US, after having worked out a deal with Russia to get Assad to dismantle his chemical arsenal (because of massive US public opposition to aggression against Syria), would now be openly aiding (having long been knowingly “indirectly” aiding) the terrorist group that killed 3,000 US citizens (hence the need to “re-brand”), likely carried out the Ghoutta sarin attack that killed hundreds of civilians, and is working on expanding its chemical weapons capabilities in Syria and the wider area.

It was after Muammar Gaddafi naively partially disarmed himself that the US struck, planting and detonating high explosives in support of al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups, and got Gaddafi lynched, turning Libya into a failed state.

It appears the strategy is being re-applied to Syria, with the US again showing its eagerness to act as a dishonest broker.

The US has recently been working closely with “re-branded” neo-Nazi party Svoboda, which was originally called the Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine, named in honor of Hitler’s National Socialist party.  In 2012, the EU officially designated Svoboda an anti-democratic, “racist”, “anti-Semitic” group, and the World Jewish Congress then designated it a “neo-Nazi” group.

Aiding these kinds of groups is standard operating procedure for the United States and its original home-country, imperial Britain.  The US has been working closely with non-state jihadist groups on a regular basis since the mid to late 1970s, with Britain having backed them through the 1940s and 50s (here discussed by British historian Mark Curtis).  Prof. Noam Chomsky noted in 1992 that the “US has always been involved in international terrorism, massively”.

US international terror has included, for example, huge aid to Saddam Hussein through the 1980s (through his internationally condemned gassing of the Kurds and Iranians) and into 1990.  Aid included conventional weapons (ie attack helicopters), a “witch’s brew” of chemicals for manufacturing chemical weapons, and blueprints for building chemical weapons manufacturing facilities.

Robert Barsocchini is an internationally published researcher and writer who focuses on global force dynamics and also writes professionally for the film industry.  He is a regular contributor to  Washington’s Blog.  Follow the author and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

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