By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
It sounds like a sensational charge. “Twelve years after we were attacked by al Qaeda, 12 years after 3,000 Americans were killed by al Qaeda, President Obama now asks us to be allies with al Qaeda,” Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) says.
But support for the senator’s point came in the form of an NBC Nightly News report by correspondent Richard Engel on Wednesday night. Anchor Brian Williams described it as “an exclusive look at how al Qaeda is increasingly in this fight,” in Syria.
Reporting from southern Turkey, Engel said, “The U.S. has decided it is not going to intervene in Syria, at least for now. But al Qaeda is. Every day we see its fighters in this city in the streets, at the airports, heading into Syria.”
Engel interviewed someone named Abu Abdul Rahman, on his way to Syria to fight with al Qaeda. “We have a prayer. Oh, Allah. Please annihilate enemies. Bashar is an enemy. America is an enemy. Let them fight.”
He says, “This was a dream for me to wage jihad, to bleed for Allah.”
Despite the claim about the U.S. not intervening, The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration is going ahead anyway, and that “The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration…” The cost is estimated at $250 million.
The Post claims the aid is “aimed at supporting rebel fighters who are under the command of Gen. Salim Idris,” a so-called “moderate,” but quotes officials as saying there are fears that assistance “could wind up in the hands of jihadists.” One official insisted, “We vet individuals who are getting our assistance to make sure they are not affiliated with terror organizations.”
Other than “vetting,” whatever that means, the paper did not explain any more about the safeguards in place to stop the weapons and other aid from getting into the hands of al Qaeda.
The “moderate” General Idris, a favorite of the Obama Administration and Al Jazeera, told the Muslim Brotherhood channel in a May 8 video interview that “Israel is an enemy country,” and that Assad and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah are “Israeli collaborators.”
These are hardly “moderate” comments.
The Post said the secret CIA policy had the support of Republican Senator Bob Corker (TN), “who has pressed the Obama administration to do more to help the rebels.” Corker is the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee and voted for a resolution authorizing war in Syria.
Mike Flynn of Breitbart mocked Corker as one of the “big thinkers” in the Republican Party, who believes “that we aren’t arming jihadis quickly enough.”
A smuggler told NBC’s Engel that he had moved 300 foreign fighters from Turkey to Syria in the past four months, and many other smugglers are “doing exactly the same thing.” In al Qaeda-controlled areas of Syria, Engel reported how “Islamic justice” is meted out: public executions, and a man being whipped for marrying a woman too soon after her divorce.
In an earlier report, Engel noted, “Al Qaeda put out the call to go to Syria and it was answered.”
He reported, “The al-Nusra Front used to be the worst, the hardest of the hardcore Islamists, earning a spot on the State Department’s list of terrorist groups. But now, Nusra has been surpassed by newer, more bloodthirsty gangs. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (also known as ISIS) is more radical than Nusra. So are the Mohajeroun, ‘the migrants.’”
Engel asked, “So who exactly would the United States be helping if it bombed Syria? We don’t really know. Neither do many Syrians. In some ways Washington would be providing air support for al Qaeda-backed fighters. The extremists would benefit from U.S. military intervention and try to make advances. But attacking Assad’s regime would also help the FSA [Free Syrian Army] and its moderate leader General Salim Idris, a U.S. ally.”
The idea of “moderates” in the opposition is an idea popularized by the discredited Elizabeth O’Bagy, just fired by the Institute for the Study of War for claiming a non-existent Ph.D. She had been a regular commentator on television and a major source of information for the Obama administration and Republican Senator John McCain (R-AZ).
She is apparently still serving as the “political director” of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a pro-rebel group. Her work for the organization had been concealed by the media, including The Wall Street Journal, which promoted her views about “moderates” in the Syrian opposition.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].