John O. Brennan and the CIA are cultivating a new gambit in the ongoing effort to overthrow the Syrian government and install a regime more amenable to the West and the financial elite.
“We are concerned about the use of Syrian territory by the al-Qaeda organization to recruit individuals and develop the capability to be able not just to carry out attacks inside of Syria, but also to use Syria as a launching pad,” Brennan told a hearing before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in February. “There are camps inside of both Iraq and Syria that are used by al-Qaeda to develop capabilities that are applicable, both in the theater, as well as beyond.”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said around 7,500 of the foreign mercenaries in Syria pose a domestic terror threat to the United States. “Among them are a small group of Af-Pak al-Qaeda veterans with aspirations of external attack in Europe, if not the homeland,” he said.
On Tuesday, The New York Times headlined the theory on its front page. “Syria is an appealing base for these operatives because it offers them the relative sanctuary of extremist-held havens — away from drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan — as well as ready access to about 1,200 American and European Muslims who have gone there to fight and could be potential recruits to carry out attacks when they return home. Senior counterterrorism officials have voiced fears in recent months that these Western fighters could be radicalized by the country’s civil war,” writes Eric Schmitt.
However, long before Brennan and Clapper made their ominous warnings in February and the Times launched its latest war propaganda effort, the United States, in collusion with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, moved to supplant the ineffectual Free Syrian Army with more ruthless Islamist groups capable of effectively battling the Syrian military, including al-Qaeda and al-Nusra. Radical Islamists now dominate the mercenary forces in Syria.
“Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats,” The New York Times reported in October, 2012.
The United States has publicly lamented the dominance of radical Islamism on the battlefields of Syria. “Western hopes of building a moderate Syrian opposition to President Bashar al-Assad have been set back after the Islamist militias that dominate the rebel movement said they were ‘going it alone’ and intended to establish a sharia state,” The Telegraph reported last September.
Leader of Islamic Front: Syrians will get an Islamic distatorship.
Plausible deniability is achieved by working with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Paul Pillar, a former CIA officer, told The Washington Times that if Turkey’s “Erdogan government is relaxed about aid getting into the hands of Nusra, it’s because they see Nusra as one of the more effective fighters against Assad and not because this is some kind of backdoor way of aiding whatever particular ideology Nusra represents.” This attitude, although not publicly stated, is shared by the United States.
In December, the Obama administration softened its supposed hardline against al-Qaeda inspired mercenaries fighting in Syria under the banner of the Islamic Front. A senior U.S. official said the Obama administration would be willing to support Islamist groups, “provided the groups are not allied with al-Qaeda and agree to support upcoming peace talks in Geneva,” The Washington Post reported.
The Islamic Front, widely viewed as a creation of Saudi Arabia, includes a number of groups espousing an ideology indistinguishable from that of al-Qaeda. For instance, al-Tawhid Brigade is a product of Qatar and shares ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, while another group, Ahrar ash-Sham, is fully compromised and run at the behest of al-Qaeda (the leader of this group, Abu Khalid al-Suri, aka Mohamed Bahaiah, is a longtime operative who worked as a courier for al-Qaeda). Jaysh al-Islam, formerly known as Liwa al-Islam or the Brigade of Islam, a product of Saudi Arabia, has worked with al-Nusra to massacre Alawites, Christians, Druze and Ismailites in Syria.
The United States now supports this coalition of cutthroats and beheaders, although it was reported in December the Islamic Front rejected direct collaboration with the State Department.
“Right of center Salafists in the Islamic Front are among the strongest rebel factions in Syria. They are not al-Qaeda, but the Islamic Front groups often fight alongside al-Qaeda affiliates like Jabhat al Nusra,” explained Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a leading neocon think tank.
During the CIA’s successful covert war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the United States supported, trained and armed the Afghan Mujahideen. The Arab contingent of this diversified force eventually became al-Qaeda, while elements of the Afghan part morphed into the Taliban with the help of Pakistani intelligence. In what is now a well established pattern, former allies are turned into enemies and a terrorist threat against the so-called homeland is manufactured.
The U.S. is replaying this scenario in Syria. Brennan and Clapper went before Congress and warned about the threat of al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria and the threat they pose to Americans. Meanwhile, the United States indirectly supported the very same terrorists as it struggles to unseat Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.
If this objective is accomplished, as it was far more easily in Afghanistan when the Taliban were subjected to a “carpet of bombs” and driven from Kabul and the seat of power, it will provide added emphasis to the effort on the home-front for the state and its military-industrial partners to create a permanent state of war that invariably requires authoritarian measures, including an all-encompassing surveillance and control grid now going into the place.