RARE.US Reports: Surprise! ISIS is now using U.S. made missiles originally supplied to Syrian rebels

LR Editor’s Note: The diffusion of Raytheon’s TOW anti-tank missile systems into the hands of recognized terror groups operating in Syria and Iraq has been something Levant Report has watched closely over the past year. A highly visible and popular news feed, RARE.US, now confirms what many Syria watchers have long known. The article sources my own LR article from six months ago, so it is good to know that word of this is slowly going more mainstream. Would not any sane American citizen say that this at the very least warrants a serious Congressional investigation? How would CIA and Pentagon officials explain this?

RARE.US, Kevin Boyd — ISIS has acquired a very large arsenal of weapons in its campaigns in Syria and Iraq, including weapons provided by the United States originally intended for Syrian rebel groups.

In a disturbing turn of events, video released by ISIS shows that the organization is now using American made BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles. The Long War Journal reports the group is on the offensive in the eastern Syrian city of Hasakah

Continue reading here…

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Ex-CIA No.2 Mike Morell Acknowledges Israeli-Qaeda Relationship Along the Golan

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

JERUSALEM POST (6/20/15)—From his vantage point of 33 years as a professional intelligence officer, Michael Morell has snap advice to Israel. “Don’t make deals with them. Pressure them. Fight them. Turn against them, otherwise they will turn against you.”

The former deputy director of the CIA’s comments were made in response to a question regarding reports in the Arab and international media – in order to maintain peace and tranquility along its border with Syria, Israel has reached tacit understandings with the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaida, which controls the border along the Golan Heights. “From my experience following al-Qaida I think and believe that you must not try to cut deals with them. Pakistan tried to do it with these guys telling them: We won’t attack you if you don’t attack us. But it is a dangerous game. Even if you cut a deal with them, they won’t honor it.”

Read the full article here…

Brad Hoff Interviewed by TRUTH IN MEDIA on Syria, DIA Report, & Media’s Failure

Truth in Media/Joshua Cook — Military veteran and journalist Brad Hoff has a unique perspective of Syria after living there off and on for years.

“I ended up settling down in Syria, and loved the culture, loved the people,” he said to Joshua Cook in an exclusive interview.

Hoff said that of course he saw problems there, but the typical stereotypes that he had of the region shattered.

“Got really interested in how the media was covering Syria, and that’s what really got me involved in writing about the place,” he explained. “The mainstream media writing about the conflict in Syria just completely failed on so many fronts.”

The Daily Beast’s coverage of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report, Hoff said, was a hit piece

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW at Truth in Media…

The DIA Islamic State Story & Going Out on a Limb with Independent Muckraking

My reporting began going viral within days after being published on May 19. Investigative journalist and best-selling author Nafeez Ahmed,  whose counter-terrorism work gained official recognition by the 9/11 Commission, followed on May 22 with an excellent in-depth investigative piece on the DIA report at INSURGE intelligence, which greatly expanded on my report, putting it into full geopolitical context.

Most significantly, Nafeez was able to get a public statement from the British Foreign Office:

“AQ and ISIL are proscribed terrorist organisations. The UK opposes all forms of terrorism. AQ, ISIL, and their affiliates pose a direct threat to the UK’s national security. We are part of a military and political coalition to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and are working with international partners to counter the threat from AQ and other terrorist groups in that region. In Syria we have always supported those moderate opposition groups who oppose the tyranny of Assad and the brutality of the extremists.”

This carefully prepared, formal and to-be-expected denial managed to give the story more visibility. Over the following weekend, RT News, the flagship Russian network, which claims distribution reach to about 700 million households in over 100 countries, relied heavily on content found on LevantReport.com for its coverage of the DIA document as well as former Ambabassador to Syria Robert Ford’s prior relationship to ISIS-linked commander Col. Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi.

On the heels of Russian coverage, the story made headlines in national German news, carried across leading daily newspapers and in some of the top circulating political magazines. This included, among others: Junge Welt, Die Welt, News.de, General Anzeiger, FOCUS Online, WAZ (Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung), Hamburger Abendblatt,Ostthuringer Zeitung, and the German TV news channel, n-TV.

When news of the August 2012 DIA document swept Russia and Iran after that first weekend I must have popped up on DIA’s “radar”. Before this, I had contacted DIA Public Affairs on Friday, May 22, just prior to going on The Scott Horton Show, hoping to gain some kind of better context though which to understand the document, but got no response.

The following Monday, after the initial foreign media coverage, the DIA public affairs spokesman sent me an email, left a voice message on my phone, and said he was ready to receive questions. I was caught off guard by this unexpected development, as I represent no big network, am not a professional journo, and typically my analysis/editorial site does not even get much visibility.

I’m as independent as it gets. In fact, the night I wrote the story I had just finished grading stacks of final exams (as I am a teacher with a hectic schedule). A retired military intelligence veteran told me, in an online forum, that I must have “hit a nerve” in order for the DIA to contact me so quickly after the weekend (the DIA monitors foreign media as part of their intelligence collection mission).

The other factor must have been the sudden visibility in the U.S. that Nafeez Ahmed’s piece got when it was copied to Zero Hedge—the financial blog referred to by many as “the Drudge Report of Wall Street”—the report got 250,000 views in a matter of a couple days (and as of this writing has 350,000+). But again, it was likely the foreign coverage that gained their attention, and prompted the DIA to return my call.

This whole episode represents the complete failure of American mainstream media. That an invisible freelance writer with a day job, and with no broader backing of any kind, would have to nervously push this story because the mainstream media wouldn’t touch it, only using the Benghazi angle for the purpose of a partisan fight against Hilary, represents an indictment of all those organizations that are so concerned over their reputations, that they dare not “go out on a limb” in fear of being accused of dabbling in “conspiracies”.

I literally (and quite rudely) had to run out of a faculty meeting in order to take the DIA’s call. As I fired questions at DIA spokesman James Kudla, I remembered thinking… why had this fallen on me to do this, and not someone whose job it actually is to grill government agency officials? But I was reminded why I was doing it by DIA’s surprising responses, as a Middle East Eye column explains:

When asked repeatedly by journalist and ex-US marine Brad Hoff to dispel claims that the West aligned itself with IS or ISIS at some point in Syria, the DIA’s official response was telling: “No comment.”

A new day has dawned in America when a government agency representing the military can’t comment over whether its intel says “the West backed ISIS.” It should have been an easy denial—I expected to be told to pack up my tin foil hat and go home.

But that’s not what happened after pushing hard for that expected denial; and yes, it is telling when an America veteran is given a “no comment” to a question as simple as, “Are you able to at least deny that the DIA’s analysis revealed that the West backed ISIS at some point during the conflict in Syria?” But perhaps the DIA spokesman was just trying to be as honest as the original intelligence information report. It is simply something he can’t deny.

But I was never alone in my reporting. While FOX News and others refused to pursue the shocking contents of the particular DIA information report in question (though they had paid-staffers and reporters pouring through the collection of docs), it was non-mainstream outlets like Moon of Alabama, Antiwar.com, Foreign Policy Journal, the Scott Horton Show, and countless independent journalists and blogs that were the first to realize the newsworthiness of the contents.  To you all I say thank you.

Slowly, reporting of the document is creeping into the U.S. mainstream. “Headline & Global News” has published two reports (see here and here), while Breitbart.com has reluctantly acknowledged (beneath a Benghazi headline) that the report is “right on the nose” in predicting that a terror-driven “Islamic State” would arise out of militarized U.S. support to the opposition in Syria, and a May 28 Salon.com article pointed us to “The Benghazi outrage we should actually be talking about: Newly revealed documents show how the CIA stood by as arms shipments from Libya enabled the rise of ISIS.”

The stakes are high. On Monday, May 25, it was widely reported that the U.S. and Turkey reached some level of agreement for a planned no fly zone over Syria in support of the opposition insurgents each country has agreed to train and send into the conflict zone. This proposed strategy would see so-called “moderate” rebels attempt to fight both ISIS and the Syrian government at the same time (even as all “moderate” groups declare that their true ultimate goal is to fight the Syrian government). Such an escalation would be bad for the people of the region, bad for America, and bad for our long overextended armed forces.

But knowledge of the DIA ISIS document threatens to awaken the American people from their slumber. They have been told non-stop, from all corners, that Islamic State is the single greatest and most horrific terror threat that mankind has ever seen, representing a new and unique form of evil.

Americans need to read about the origins of IS in the plain words of the internal Pentagon document. They need to know that a defense official couldn’t simply say that the idea of the West backing the Islamic State was ludicrous. They need to know that in America one is now forced by the realities of recent alliances to say “no comment” to such a question that only a few short years ago would be unthinkable to even formulate.

While the mainstream media will likely refuse to cover this, it is not going away. Rand Paul is in a fight with hawks in his own party. Very recently, Paul cryptically referenced the DIA document in support of his argument that it wasn’t U.S. troop withdrawal that allowed for IS’s rise, but the decision to arm and fund, and give political support to the Syrian rebels (he likely learned about this document through his father, see video above). As the campaign for the Republican nomination heats up, he is sure to reference the document more vocally. At that point, the mainstream will be forced to acknowledge the document, and it will become part of the national conversation.

More recently, The Huffington Post, The Guardian (UK), and Jacobin reported on the DIA document. No matter how much resistance there is in establishment discourse, this is not going away.

Former MI6 High Ranking Official Alastair Crooke Validates DIA ISIS Document in Huffington Post Analysis

“In short, the DIA assessment indicates that the “wedge” concept was being given new life by the desire to pressure Assad in the wake of the 2011 insurgency launched against the Syrian state. “Supporting powers” effectively wanted to inject hydraulic fracturing fluid into eastern Syria (radical Salafists) in order to fracture the bridge between Iran and its Arab allies, even at the cost of this “fracking” opening fissures right down inside Iraq to Ramadi.  (Intelligence assessments purpose is to provide “a view” — not to describe or prescribe policy. But it is clear that the DIA reports’ “warnings” were widely circulated and would have been meshed into the policy consideration.)

But this “view” has exactly come about. It is fact. One might conclude then that in the policy debate, the notion of isolating Hezbollah from Iran, and of weakening and pressurizing President Assad, simply trumped the common sense judgement that when you pump highly toxic and dangerous fracturing substances into geological formations, you can never entirely know or control the consequences. And once you go down this road, it is not easy to “walk it back,” as it were: the toxicity is already suffused through the rocks.”

Read the full article here…THE WORLD POST/ HUFFINGTON POST (6/1/2015):

Guest Analysis by Robert Barsocchini: A Critical Examination of the DIA Document on Dynamics of Syrian Conflict

DIA 24 hour watch center (Public Domain/Wiki Commons)

LR Editor’s Note: We are pleased to host this guest analysis by Robert Barsocchini, an internationally published researcher and writer who focuses on global force dynamics and writes professionally for the film industry. He is a regular contributor to Washington’s Blog. On Monday (5/25), Juan Cole dismissed well-known international security scholar Nafeez Ahmed’s investigative piece on the newly declassified 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency documents as “just a clickbait story”—Cole did this while offering his own brief and superficial analysis in a mere 190 words of what is actually a complex DIA document. The below point-by-point examination of the DIA documents in question provides the truly in-depth analysis that Cole fails to give us. (Note: Embedded Tweets are not endorsements of the article, but provide broader context of events unfolding in Syria).                                                                                                                                              

by Robert Barsocchini

Here, I wrote that these documents “may” say the US/West wanted/want a Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria, because the declassified docs 1) say “Salafist, Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria”; 2) in the next sentence, the doc defines the “The West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey” as the countries that “support the opposition”; 3) they later say the “opposition forces are trying to control the Eastern areas”, where Syria borders Iraq, and, specifically of this control of Eastern areas, say the “Western Countries, the Gulf States, and Turkey are supporting these efforts”. 4) In a section about “effects on Iraq” the docs say that “there is a possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria…”, then say “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

However, while the document begins by stating that “The West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey support the opposition”, the document, as noted, also defines other groups, which could be considered “powers”, as either components of or supporters of the opposition: Salafists, Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI. The report states: “AQI supported the opposition from the beginning…”

While the FSA is defined as “opposition”, Salafists, Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are initially described as “the major forces driving the insurgency”, not as “the opposition”. It could be that the document means that the FSA is “the opposition” and the West, its allies, and the Islamic groups are simply all supporting them, but with different individual goals. However, AQI is also directly described as “opposition” to Assad: “AQI declared its opposition of Assad’s government because it considered it a sectarian regime targeting Sunnis.”

In the section that says “there is a possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria…”, then that “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want”—this section of the doc defines the opposition forces controlling the Iraq/Syria border as “Syrian Free Army”, the FSA, and says the FSA will try to take “advantage of the sympathy of the Iraqi border population”.

It then says that “If the situation [likely meaning FSA control of the border] unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).” (The US obviously opposes Iranian expansion and sides with the Sunnis, but the last part of this sentence, as it is framed in terms of Shia expansion, may suggest that here the “supporting powers to the opposition” may be referring not the sentence stating “The West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey support the opposition”, but to earlier sentences stating “AQI supported the opposition from the beginning…” and “AQI declared its opposition of Assad’s government because it considered it a sectarian regime targeting Sunnis.”

Thus, perhaps this is simply unclear writing, or too much is censored, and what this really means is that while both AQI and “The West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey” support the “opposition” (and AQI also comprises the opposition), only the AQI part of that support for the opposition would want a “Salafist Principality” to be established. This is clearly stated regarding the effect on Iraq. However, the US/West do strongly support existing Salafist Principalities, as noted above, including the most ideologically expansionist one, Saudi Arabia. Thus, supporting a Salafist Principality, and annexation of territory (Israel, Cuba, Diego Garcia, etc.), is something the US already does currently. (International relations scholar Dr. Nafeez Ahmed notes that a RAND corp report previously advised the US “to capitalise on the Shia-Sunni conflict by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes in a decisive fashion and working with them against all Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world.”)

The doc says the above-noted “deterioration”, likely referring to the ‘unravels’ term above, “has dire consequences on the Iraq situation.” It continues that this “deterioration” would give more momentum to terrorist groups and could allow them to declare an “Islamic state”, “which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.” (A study out of British universities noted that US government/media did not report on ISIS publicly until it began to seize oil fields. Then, the study shows, the US sent drones to try to stop ISIS.)

The last uncensored sentence of the doc says that the third consequence of the “deterioration of the situation” (‘the situation’ likely meaning the FSA control of the border region) would be terrorist elements from all over the Arab world “entering into Iraqi arena.”

The rest of the document is censored, as are some sections before this.

Overall, what we can see in the document clearly states that a Salafist Principality is not desired by the West in terms of the Iraqi situation, but may or may not suggest that this principality is desired in terms of isolating Assad, which is a stated goal of the West and its allies (not just isolating, but removing). However, it is also a goal of AQI and its allies, which are defined both as supporting “the opposition” and having “declared its opposition of Assad’s government”. While this group and its affiliates could be viewed as a strategic asset for isolating Assad, they could also be viewed as a third party outside the wider global contest between West and East, which is opposed to either. However, a group in Syria opposed to both sides could be seen as preferable to having a group allied with the East and opposed to the West.

International security scholar Dr. Nafeez Ahmed analyzes these documents and concludes the US practices a policy of “sponsoring Islamist terrorism for dubious geopolitical purposes.”

“According to the newly declassified US document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of this strategy, and warned that it could destabilize Iraq. Despite anticipating that Western, Gulf state and Turkish support for the “Syrian opposition” — which included al-Qaeda in Iraq — could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the document provides no indication of any decision to reverse the policy of support to the Syrian rebels. On the contrary, the emergence of an al-Qaeda affiliated “Salafist Principality” as a result is described as a strategic opportunity to isolate Assad.”

“The secret Pentagon document thus provides extraordinary confirmation that the US-led coalition currently fighting ISIS, had three years ago welcomed the emergence of an extremist “Salafist Principality” in the region as a way to undermine Assad, and block off the strategic expansion of Iran.”

“The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, the DIA document asserts, is “exactly” what the “supporting powers to the [Syrian] opposition want.” Earlier on, the document repeatedly describes those “supporting powers” as “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.”

Charles Shoebridge, a former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism intelligence officer, said (noted by Ahmed) that the documents “raise vitally important questions of the West’s governments and media in their support of Syria’s rebellion.”

“Throughout the early years of the Syria crisis, the US and UK governments, and almost universally the West’s mainstream media, promoted Syria’s rebels as moderate, liberal, secular, democratic, and therefore deserving of the West’s support. Given that these documents wholly undermine this assessment, it’s significant that the West’s media has now, despite their immense significance, almost entirely ignored them.”

Ahmed quotes a former US Marine: “US intelligence predicted the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but instead of clearly delineating the group as an enemy, the report envisions the terror group as a US strategic asset.”

Ahmed concludes: “The rise of a Salafist quasi-state entity that might expand into Iraq, and fracture that country, was therefore clearly foreseen by US intelligence as likely — but nevertheless strategically useful — blowback from the West’s commitment to “isolating Syria.”

What the docs establish beyond doubt is that, in 2012, when they were written, the US saw the likelihood of a “Salafist Principality” or “Islamic State” being established, and was fully aware the insurgency in Syria was mainly driven by Islamic groups, who were fighting Assad and also supporting the FSA, which itself has been shown to have Islamic tendencies. For example, an FSA commander is on video saying he would want to implement Sharia law. But the West and its allies continued their support, as FSA members openly shared their US supplies with the ISIS-related groups, and even converted to ISIS.

As Ahmed puts it, “the Pentagon continued to support the Islamist insurgency, even while anticipating the probability that doing so would establish an extremist Salafi stronghold in Syria and Iraq.”

This “entire covert strategy was sanctioned and supervised by the US, Britain, France, Israel and other Western powers.”

“As Shoebridge told me, “The documents show that not only did the US government at the latest by August 2012 know the true extremist nature and likely outcome of Syria’s rebellion” — namely, the emergence of ISIS — “but that this was considered an advantage for US foreign policy. This also suggests a decision to spend years in an effort to deliberately mislead the West’s public, via a compliant media, into believing that Syria’s rebellion was overwhelmingly ‘moderate.’”

Ahmed quotes a former MI5 officer explaining that after Libya and other such projects by the West, we see in this behavior towards Syria “part of an established pattern. And they remain indifferent to the sheer scale of human suffering that is unleashed as a result of such game-playing.”

What we already knew before these docs is that the US and West strongly support extremist Salafist states as part of their strategy of eating away at the parts of the world not under the US thumb, the “East”: Syria, Iran, Russia, and China. The US and West themselves are built on and continue to support and commit theft and annexation of territory, and support, commit, or ignore (if they are not politically helpful) all kinds of mass killings, including by groups worse than ISIS; these have included the Khmer Rouge, the Suharto Regime, and the US itself: the establishment of the USA and the building of it into a superpower was a process that involved crimes worse than anything ISIS will ever accomplish.

Further, ISIS, as pointed out by Kofi Annan and many others, arose as a consequence of the illegal US invasion of Iraq, motivated largely by Bush Jr.’s religious fanaticism, an invasion the international community tried and failed to prevent, which, the most recent and comprehensive report finds, has killed about 1 to 2 million or more people, another feat ISIS will never accomplish.

While studies and many official statements make clear, and it is obvious to any minimally non-US-brainwashed individual, that the invasion was largely about oil, even if we disregard that, ignore the rest of US history, and declare the US had/has “good intentions” regarding Iraq, that puts us at the level of of Japanese fascists, who believed in their “good intentions” regarding their invasions of China and elsewhere.

People with too much power always declare good intentions, and are often sincere, as they get god-complexes and view themselves as humanity’s benevolent saviors. But the reason war (including supporting warring proxies) is outlawed as an instrument of policy is that it has disastrous consequences, as we are seeing, even for the sincerely well-intentioned.

Additional Notes:

It should be stressed that clearly admitting the West would “want” a Salafist principality in Eastern Syria is not generally the kind of statement people in governments would make of themselves, even in private, hence makes it less likely here that the West is being referred to specifically by that statement, as does the inclusion of the phrase “if the situation unravels” (meaning FSA control of the East) an Islamic state could result.  However, it is noteworthy that the West and the Islamists are so easily conflated in this document (this conflation may well be intentional as a way of discussing benefits without clearly stating that they might be desired), as they are clearly delineated as both being opposed to the Assad government, and for similar reasons – opposing Iran and the Shia, backed by Russia and China, the latter part being of greater import to the West.  The doc also makes very clear that the FSA was/is being supported by AQI and its Islamist affiliates, and that those Islamists were known to be “the major forces driving the insurgency”.  It has long been known that FSA shares its US/Western/Gulf/Turkish supplies with and converts to Islamist groups, and AQI, the ISIS precursor, has always been known as particularly aggressive.  And as Dr. Ahmed points out, the document nowhere suggests ending aid to the opposition due to its being driven by AQI and affiliates, and only frames the potential creation of the “Islamic state” as a bad thing in relation to Iraq.  In relation to Syria/Assad, it is not framed as a bad thing, but as something that would be seen to “isolate” Assad, a goal shared by the West and the Islamist groups.  So, these documents may well be an example of discussing a strategy while attempting to maintain some degree of “plausible deniability”.

It must also be remembered that the US and West not only support extremist Salafi/Wahhabi/Sharia established states, but have on numerous occasions worked with, backed, aided and/or paralleled some of the goals of non-state groups such as the Mujahedin and al Qaeda (in Afghanistan – see Brzezinski, Bob Gates; Bosnia, Kosovo – on these see Fulton in scholarly journal Global Security Studies), including under Obama in relation to Libya.  In US support for the Mujahedin in Afghanistan and then the Taliban, the support was not even seen as a means to an end, but a completely acceptable end in itself: the US was fine with the Taliban taking power and staying in power, as long as it cooperated with the US.  That is the bottom line.  As soon as it proved uncooperative, the US “discovered” the Taliban human rights violations that non-governmental US monitors had been decrying for years, while the US was supporting the Taliban (here).  And, as noted, abhorrent behavior is not a deterrent to US support.  The US has committed far worse crimes than ISIS and supported groups far worse than ISIS.  Only those unfamiliar with history and glued to US TV can think ISIS is some new level of evil in the world, or at least one not seen for a long time.  The only qualifier for US support is whether the group in question is willing to cater to US business and strategic interests.