The above interview with Dr. Vijay Prashad draws our attention to the parallel conflicts of Libya and Syria, as well as the way the two wars directly intersected in 2011-2012 (weapons shipments from Libya to Syria, now fully documented via USG declassified reports).
One of the more interesting points comes when Dr. Prashad speaks about ISIS presence in Sirte, Libya. He claims that just as many former Ba’ath officers in Iraq, after having been sidelined by U.S. intervention, joined ISIS, so are former Gaddafi loyalists joining Libyan ISIS in Sirte.
While it’s unclear whether or not there is actual evidence for this it is a worrisome and fascinating theory. Prashad is the only analyst I’ve heard propose this.
“In the Libyan capital, Tripoli, Mr. Kobler exchanged views with members of the General National Congress (GNC) group, and discussed the situation in the town of Sirte, where the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has asserted control.”
Flynn responded that, “the assessments…I believe were very accurate,” but dodged the quick follow up question, “did America allow the rise of ISIL here?”
In July Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan grilled retired Lt. Gen. Flynn over the August 2012 report produced while he served as director of the DIA. Flynn confirmed the report’s high level importance, saying that he had personally seen it during his tenure and had used it to argue Syria policy with the White House.
More interesting about this latest RT International interview is that Flynn calls for American cooperation with Russia in the fight against ISIL. Flynn assesses that Russia’s “unstated red lines were crossed” and says that Russia’s intervention is reasonable based on real interests in combating the extremists in its own backyard (Flynn specifically mentions the large Chechen presence in ISIL’s ranks).
While this is an amazing interview for the fact that a former top U.S. defense official is essentially giving validity to Russia’s actions, the RT anchor should have done a better job pursuing questions on the DIA memo (I’m surprised to be in full agreement with Flynn on Russia’s role: listen to my Russia analysis recently given to a Vancouver based public radio show).
Gorilla Radio, Chris Cook — It’s been a busy week for terror in the news. In Canada, leaders of the three major parties vying for the October 19th general election “debated” foreign policy Monday, with everyone agreeing on all the safe points to be made, while in New York, the United Nations began its annual confab with international terrorism being high on the docket, though neither Canada’s ambitious men, nor the UN broached the inconvenient provenance of ISIS, the media’s most oft-cited terror group, or the terror inflicted by its paymasters in Western capitals.
Brad Hoff is an author, journalist, educator and Managing Editor of Levant Report.com. The former Marine has taught ancient and modern history at the college and high school levels, and has lived and traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, spending most of his time in Syria prior to the 2011 uprising. His articles also appear at Antiwar.com and Foreign Policy Journal among other on-line sites. Brad’s latest article charts the curious career of ISIS commander, Omar “the Chechen” al-Shishani. Brad Hoff in the first half.
And; Russian historian, sociologist, and author, Boris Kagarlitsky is currently traveling Canada on a speaking tour sponsored in part by the Socialist Project, the Canada Research Chair in Comparative Politics (at York University), and by UVic’s Centre for Global Studies. He’ll be speaking here at UVic today at 3:30 in the David Turpin building. Boris is accompanied by Canadian journalist, lecturer, and contributing editor to the website, New Cold War, Roger Annis. Boris Kagarlitsky and Roger Annis in studio in the second half. And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us news of good goings-on going on on our city’s streets, and beyond there too, in the upcoming week.
But first, Brad Hoff and Omar al-Shishani and the Jihadis fighting under America’s umbrella. Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca. He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/ G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media
Lengthy discussion of the DIA memo begins at the 8:50 mark.
In Al Jazeera’s latest Head to Headepisode, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn confirms to Mehdi Hasan that not only had he studied the DIA memo predicting the West’s backing of an Islamic State in Syria when it came across his desk in 2012, but even asserts that the White House’s sponsoring of radical jihadists (that would emerge as ISIL and Nusra) against the Syrian regime was “a willful decision.”
Amazingly, Flynn actually took issue with the way interviewer Mehdi Hasan posed the question—Flynn seemed to want to make it clear that the policies that led to the rise of ISIL were not merely the result of ignorance or looking the other way, but the result of conscious decision making:
Hasan: You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening? Flynn: I think the administration. Hasan: So the administration turned a blind eye to your analysis? Flynn: I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision. Hasan: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood? Flynn: It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.
Hasan himself expresses surprise at Flynn’s frankness during this portion of the interview. While holding up a paper copy of the 2012 DIA report declassified through FOIA, Hasan reads aloud key passages such as, “there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria, and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”
Rather than downplay the importance of the document and these startling passages, as did the State Department soon after its release, Flynn does the opposite: he confirms that while acting DIA chief he “paid very close attention” to this report in particular and later adds that “the intelligence was very clear.”
Lt. Gen. Flynn, speaking safely from retirement, is the highest ranking intelligence official to go on record saying the United States and other state sponsors of rebels in Syria knowingly gave political backing and shipped weapons to Al-Qaeda in order to put pressure on the Syrian regime:
Hasan: In 2012 the U.S. was helping coordinate arms transfers to those same groups [Salafists, Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda in Iraq], why did you not stop that if you’re worried about the rise of quote-unquote Islamic extremists?
Flynn: I hate to say it’s not my job…but that…my job was to…was to to ensure that the accuracy of our intelligence that was being presented was as good as it could be.
The early reporting that treated the DIA memo as newsworthy and hugely revelatory was criticized and even mocked by some experts, as well as outlets like The Daily Beast. Yet the very DIA director at the time the memo was drafted and circulated widely now unambiguously confirms the document to be of high value, and indicates that it served as source material in his own discussions over Syria policy with the White House.
As Michael Flynn also previously served as director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) during a time when its prime global mission was dismantling Al-Qaeda, his honest admission that the White House was in fact arming and bolstering Al-Qaeda linked groups in Syria is especially shocking given his stature.
Consider further the dissonance that comes with viewing the Pentagon’s former highest ranking intelligence officer in charge of the hunt for Osama bin Laden now calmly and coolly confessing that the United States directly aided the foot soldiers of Ayman al-Zawahiri beginning in at least 2012 in Syria.
This confirmation is significant to my own coverage of the DIA report, as I was contacted by a number of individuals who attempted to assure me that the true experts and “insiders” knew the document was unimportant and therefore irrelevant within the intelligence community and broader Syria policy.
This began after a Daily Beast article entitled The ISIS Conspiracy That Ate the Web cited former NSA officer John Schindler as an expert source. Schindler concluded of the DIA document: “it’s difficult to say much meaningful about it… Nothing special here, not one bit.”
To my surprise, only hours after I published a rebuttal of Schindler and the Daily Beast article, I was contacted by a current high level CIA official who is also a personal friend from my time living in the D.C. area.
This official, who spent most of his career with CIA Public Affairs, made a personal appeal urging me to drop my comments attacking John Schindler’s credibility, as I had noted that Schindler is a highly ideological and scandal-laden commentator who consistently claims special insider knowledge in support of his arguments. This CIA official further attempted to convince me of Schindler’s credibility as an insider and expert, assuring me that “he has written insightfully.”
Mehdi Hasan’s historic interview with General Flynn should put the issue to rest—the declassified DIA report is now confirmed to be a central and vital source that sheds light on the origins of ISIS, and must inform a candid national debate on American policy in Syria and Iraq.
As it is now already becoming part of the official record on conflict in Syria among respected international historians, knowledge of the declassified document must make it into every American household.