The above video entitled, “US Key Man in Syria Worked Closely with ISIL and Jabhat al Nusra,” which shows raw reporting footage compiled by “Eretz Zen” channel (YouTube), is the clearest video evidence to date documenting the role of the United States in creating and sustaining ISIS on the Syrian battlefield.
Amazingly, the video has yet to be widely viewed, even though it has been authenticated by the top academic Syria expert in the U.S., Joshua Landis, of the University of Oklahoma, and author of the influential Syria analysis site Syria Comment. Dr. Landis, himself a mainstream analyst regularly quoted by outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Aljazeera, commented on his Twitter account about the footage (8/27/14): “in 2013 WINEP advocated sending all US military aid thru him [Col. Okaidi]. Underscores US problem w moderates.”
The video, documenting (now former) U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford’s visit to FSA Col. Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi in Northern Syria, also shows the same Col. Okaidi celebrating with and praising a well-known ISIS commander, Emir Abu Jandal, after conducting a successful joint operation against Syrian Army forces at Menagh Airbase in early August 2013. Abu Jandal’s identity can be further established in an interview he did with Al-Jazeera (Arabic), immediately after the capture of the airbase.
In interview footage from the Eretz Zen video, the U.S. “key man” Okaidi, through which U.S. assistance flowed, also praises ISIS and Al-Qaeda as the FSA’s “brothers”. The video further shows Okaidi proudly declaring that al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda in Syria) makes up ten percent of the FSA.
In truth the “Free Syrian Army” was from the beginning but a “branding” construct created by western and Gulf governments. Men like Okaidi were marketed to the world as the “face” of the Syrian opposition, but in reality served as conduits of covert support for more effective fighting forces like ISIS and al-Nusra Front.
The summer of 2013 was a time when ISIS was still operating under the radar and thus not well known to the western public. The capture of Menagh was celebrated by the American political class. Looking back at mainstream reporting of the rebel operation, one finds admissions like the following in the Wall Street Journal:
“Foreigners fighting with an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq—called the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS—led the capture of the Minigh air base north of Aleppo early Tuesday, according to local activists and some rebel commanders. The seizure offers Syria’s rebels a strategic victory after eight months of failed advances on the base.”
While much reporting at the time declared the Menagh campaign a victory for the FSA, it was ISIS that led the assault with the initial suicide bombings that aided rebel entry into the base.
EA Worldview, a Middle East analysis website operated by University of Birmingham (UK) professor Scott Lucas, also provided confirmation and analysis of the raw video footage in an article, “Which Insurgents Captured Menagh Airbase & Who Led Them?”, written just after the base takeover:
“However, the biggest clue as to their relationship with the Free Syrian Army may be in this video, posted on Monday immediately after Menagh fell. In it, the FSA head of the Aleppo Military Council, Abdul Jabbar al-Oqaidi, leads a press statement praising his fighters for taking the base. Standing next to him is ISIS Emir Abu Jandal, whom al-Oqaidi invites to give a statement.
The footage indicates that not only are there links between ISIS and FSA fighters on the ground, but that there was a high level of coordination and collaboration in the operation to besiege and take the airbase…”
It must be remembered, as the video so clearly documents, that Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford was the State Department’s top man giving public and material support to commanders like Okaidi and his ISIS and Nusra fighters.
The most powerful weapons documented were the two 90mm Yugoslav anti-tank rocket launchers, known as “Osas,” which resembled rockets that were transferred to moderate Syrian rebels, reportedly by Saudi Arabia last year.
The Washington Post fails to remind its readers that the weapons originated through a CIA program—a program which resulted not in arming so-called “moderates”—but in the arming, as early photographs of the program’s beneficiaries prove, of ISIS and other terrorists.