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Tuesday, February 9

White House still supports Al Qaeda-linked fighters in Syria. Why?

Here is the podcast for Thomas Joscelyn's February 8 Long War Journal report for John Batchelor's radio audience. Although John titled the podcast segment "Russian Battle Plan to Conquer Aleppo," much of the discussion examines the chameleon-like aspect of al Qaeda in Syria (and elsewhere). Al Qaeda is the organization with a thousand faces and as such it's made fools of intelligence analysts who don't do their homework then claim AQ poses little threat.

Thomas and Bill Roggio, his colleague at Long War Journal, are willing to do the homework, which takes practically living at jihadi social media/internet sites, and so they can reel off the many names Qaeda operates under and organizations it's closely allied with, putting paid to the claim that Qaeda's influence has waned and that it's not interested in grabbing territory. On the contrary, it gets stronger every year and takes control of more and more territory.

Long War Journal has repeatedly warned that while Islamic State grabs the headlines it's Qaeda that's the greater threat -- and LWJ was warning of the threat years before IS arose. Today, South Yemen is under Qaeda's control, to such extent they're now setting up their own version of a caliphate there, as Thomas explained during his report last night.

For details on both topics listen to the podcast and see Thomas Joscelyn's February 3 report for LWJ:
AQAP provides social services, implements sharia while advancing in southern Yemen 

and his February 6 report,

Jihadists reinforce other rebels during key battle in Aleppo province

From the second report:
... Zanki is not al Qaeda. But as the skirmish with Al Nusrah demonstrated, Zanki does not want to offend al Qaeda’s men, cooperates with them on the battlefield and believes in a version of “religious law” (sharia) that is at least similar to Al Nusrah’s.
Despite its adherence to an Islamist ideology and alliance with Al Nusrah, Zanki has received American-made TOW missiles, which it has used against both the Assad regime and the Islamic State. ...
So the question is just how blind the U.S. intelligence community can be, year in and year out. The question got even more interesting when it was leaked that a faction amongst America's top military brass bypassed the White House to supply the Syrian Army with intelligence on the activities of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations operating in Syria. The faction was clearly aware of the dangers posed by all the organizations including AQ and didn't seem blinded at all. 

From Military to Military, Seymour Hersh, London Review of Books, 7 January 2016:
... The military’s resistance dates back to the summer of 2013, when a highly classified assessment, put together by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then led by General Martin Dempsey, forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria’s takeover by jihadi extremists, much as was then happening in Libya.
A former senior adviser to the Joint Chiefs told me that the document was an ‘all-source’ appraisal, drawing on information from signals, satellite and human intelligence, and took a dim view of the Obama administration’s insistence on continuing to finance and arm the so-called moderate rebel groups.
By then, the CIA had been conspiring for more than a year with allies in the UK, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to ship guns and goods – to be used for the overthrow of Assad – from Libya, via Turkey, into Syria.
The new intelligence estimate singled out Turkey as a major impediment to Obama’s Syria policy. The document showed, the adviser said, "that what was started as a covert US programme to arm and support the moderate rebels fighting Assad had been co-opted by Turkey, and had morphed into an across-the-board technical, arms and logistical programme for all of the opposition, including Jabhat al-Nusra [Al Qaeda in Syria] and Islamic State. The so-called moderates had evaporated and the Free Syrian Army was a rump group stationed at an airbase in Turkey."
The assessment was bleak: there was no viable ‘moderate’ opposition to Assad, and the US was arming extremists. ...
If you know all this, do you still keep fooling around with the extremists? Something is very screwy somewhere in the American civilian government and/or its military. Could the screwiness emanate from Capitol Hill? Don't know. I only know it has to be found and rooted out before the screwballs get a great many Americans killed. Or should I say a great many more.   


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