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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 10/6/14

The University of Al-Qaeda? America's "Terrorist Academy" in Iraq Produced ISIS Leaders

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"...my constant cry was that our biggest problem is our allies -- our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends -- and I have the greatest relationship with Erdogan, which I just spent a lot of time with -- the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially 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 against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world...

"So now what's happening? All of a sudden everybody's awakened because this outfit called ISIL which was Al Qaeda in Iraq, which when they were essentially thrown out of Iraq, found open space in territory in eastern Syria, work with Al Nusra who we declared a terrorist group early on and we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them. So what happened? Now all of a sudden -- I don't want to be too facetious -- but they had seen the Lord. Now we have -- the President's been able to put together a coalition of our Sunni neighbors, because America can't once again go into a Muslim nation and be seen as the aggressor -- it has to be led by Sunnis to go and attack a Sunni organization."

Biden apologized for his remarks on Sunday, but he basically let the cat out of the bag. Actually, what he said wasn't new at all, but it did lend credibility to what many of the critics have been saying since the very beginning, that Washington's allies in the region have been arming and funding this terrorist Frankenstein from the onset without seriously weighing the risks involved. Here's more background on Turkey's role in the current troubles from author Nafeez Ahmed:

"With their command and control centre based in Istanbul, Turkey, military supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were transported by Turkish intelligence to the border for rebel acquisition. CIA operatives along with Israeli and Jordanian commandos were also training FSA rebels on the Jordanian-Syrian border with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. In addition, other reports show that British and French military were also involved in these secret training programmes. It appears that the same FSA rebels receiving this elite training went straight into ISIS -- last month one ISIS commander, Abu Yusaf, said, "Many of the FSA people who the west has trained are actually joining us." ("How the West Created the Islamic State," Nafeez Ahmed, CounterPunch)

Notice how the author points out the involvement of "CIA operatives." While Biden's comments were an obvious attempt to absolve the administration from blame, it's clear US Intel agencies knew what was going on and were at least tangentially involved. Here's more from the same article:

"Classified assessments of the military assistance supplied by US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar obtained by the New York Times showed that 'most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups' are going to hardline Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster."

Once again, classified documents prove that the US officialdom knew what was going on and simply looked the other way. All the while, the hardcore takfiri troublemakers were loading up on weapons and munitions preparing for their own crusade. Here's a clip that Congress should have read before approving $500 million more for this fiasco:

" ... Mother Jones found that the US government has 'little oversight over whether US supplies are falling prey to corruption -- or into the hands of extremists,' and relies 'on too much good faith.' The US government keeps track of rebels receiving assistance purely through 'handwritten receipts provided by rebel commanders in the field,' and the judgment of its allies. Countries supporting the rebels -- the very same which have empowered al-Qaeda affiliated Islamists -- 'are doing audits of the delivery of lethal and nonlethal supplies...'

"The government's vetting procedures to block Islamist extremists from receiving US weapons have never worked." ("How the West Created the Islamic State," Nafeez Ahmed, CounterPunch)

These few excerpts should help to connect the dots in what is really a very hard-to-grasp situation presently unfolding in Syria. Yes, the US is ultimately responsible for Isis because it knew what was going on and played a significant part in arming and training jihadi recruits. And, no, Isis does not take its orders directly from Washington (or Langley) although its actions have conveniently coincided with US strategic goals in the region. (Many readers will undoubtedly disagree with my views on this.) Here's one last clip on Turkey from an article in the Telegraph. The story ran a full year ago in October 2013:

"Hundreds of al-Qaeda recruits are being kept in safe houses in southern Turkey, before being smuggled over the border to wage 'jihad' in Syria, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

"The network of hideouts is enabling a steady flow of foreign fighters -- including Britons -- to join the country's civil war, according to some of the volunteers involved.

"These foreign jihadists have now largely eclipsed the 'moderate' wing of the rebel Free Syrian Army, which is supported by the West. Al-Qaeda's ability to use Turkish territory will raise questions about the role the Nato member is playing in Syria's civil war.

"Turkey has backed the rebels from the beginning -- and its government has been assumed to share the West's concerns about al-Qaeda. But experts say there are growing fears over whether the Turkish authorities may have lost control of the movement of new al-Qaeda recruits -- or may even be turning a blind eye." ("Al-Qaeda recruits entering Syria from Turkey safehouses," Telegraph)

Get the picture? This is a major region-shaping operation that the Turks, the Saudis, the Qataris, the Americans etc., are in on. Sure, maybe some of the jihadis went off the reservation and started doing their own thing, but even that's not certain. After all, Isis has already achieved many of Washington's implicit objectives: Dump Nuri al Maliki and replace him with a US stooge who will amend the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), allow Sunni militants and Kurds to create their own de facto mini-states within Iraq (thus, eliminating the threat of a strong, unified Iraq that will challenge Israeli hegemony), and create a tangible threat to regional security (Isis) thereby justifying US meddling and occupation for the foreseeable future. So far, arming terrorists has been a winning strategy for Obama and Co. Unfortunately for the president, we are still in the early rounds of the emerging crisis. Things could backfire quite badly, and probably will.

(NOTE: According to Iran's Press TV: "The ISIL terrorists have purportedly opened a consulate in Ankara, Turkey and use it to issue visas for those who want to join the fight against the Syrian and Iraqi governments. ... The militants are said to be operating freely inside the country without much problem." I have my doubts about this report which is why I have put parentheses around it, but it is interesting all the same.)

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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.

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