Financing Terrorism: a gentle reminder that American taxpayers have been paying the salaries of Syrian insurgents since at least Spring 2012 – this is not just a Saudi thing

It never ceases to amaze me how well managed the “War on Terror” narrative of the US government is when it comes to Saudi Arabia. Even though nearly all of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi, the kingdom managed to escape scrutiny as the War on Terror became a renewed and driving theme in US foreign policy.

Saudi Arabia has, since the 1970’s, exported its Wahhabi radicals abroad as the unofficial arm of its foreign policy aims. This has always served a two-fold purpose: the utilization of very effective fighters in proxy wars while maintaining plausible deniability (early 1980’s Afghanistan for example), and “redirecting” homegrown radicals away from Saudi institutions for the security of the monarchy (no more messy Mecca takeovers, as in 1979).

This much is obvious to those that care to scratch the surface of recent Saudi history: Saudi Arabia is a state sponsor of terror, and is so quite openly. What is less obvious to most in the West is that the US and Britain have been, and still are, willing partners in this game (going back to at least the Carter administration). Cold War era US support for Sunni extremism in Central Asia is an old story. But many still fail to realize that it is a continuing story in places like Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and North Africa. The US has thrown in with the Sunni terrorists for sake of repelling the perceived Shia menace and any designated “rogue” state.

In Syria the US not only funnels weapons to multiple Sunni rebel groups – all of them confessing jihad in varying degrees – but even pays the salaries of Free Syrian Army fighters. This was talked about quite openly as far back as April 2012. In an April 1, 2012 article, the New York Times reported the following:

Still, the offer to provide salaries and communications equipment to rebel fighters known as the Free Syrian Army — with the hopes that the money might encourage government soldiers to defect, officials said — is bringing the loose Friends of Syria coalition to the edge of a proxy war against Mr. Assad’s government and its international supporters, principally Iran and Russia.

The US cannot even be considered an “indirect” actor in this war. Again, the US quite openly pays the salaries of anti-regime insurgents; thus, the US doesn’t just have “skin in the game” (as Hilary Clinton called for last October), it employs its own mercenaries.

As multiple Levant Report articles have pointed out, there is little separation between the FSA and officially designated terrorists like Al-Nusra Front. Even the very prominent and more mainstream Syria Comment website has chronicled many historical instances of FSA cooperation with Al-Nusra, ISIS, and the more recently established Islamic Front. All of these groups and more are official (and some unofficial) arms of US/Saudi foreign policy.

It must be further noted that the “Free Syrian Army” was a ruse from the beginning. The FSA was created and financed as an acceptable face of the “revolution” while the real muscle on the ground has always been Sunni radical militants and foreign fighters. The FSA was just a command structure artificially imposed over a myriad of jihadi groups, all with shifting alliances (one historical comparison along purely organizational lines is the Palestine Liberation Organization – it had always been referenced as a single entity, yet was an umbrella organization identifiable by its command structure layer at the top).

For those that read Arabic, a brief history of how the FSA served as a front group for foreign-backed radical death squads from the very beginning of the uprising can be found here (we at Levant Report are working on translating this important article). For those that don’t read Arabic – one can merely read the near daily admissions of Syrian opposition leaders in English. On Tuesday (3/18/14) a chief spokesman for the Syrian opposition spoke to the New York Times:

Mr. Bahra also said that the opposition’s Free Syrian Army was overhauling its leadership and that the United States could help by turning over the training and equipping of rebel fighters to the Pentagon.

“We want it to be within the Defense Department,” he said. “It has bigger resources to provide and knows how to do the military operations better than the other branches.”

The Obama administration has been providing nonlethal assistance through the State Department, and the C.I.A. has been mounting a limited effort to train and arm rebel fighters.

So now the Syrian opposition and affiliated terrorist groups are “department shopping” and hoping to drop State and go directly under the Pentagon. My dear fellow Americans, this is our tax dollars at work… remember this the next time our media or government tries to tell you that America stands against terrorism. This madness must end.

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