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.

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The DIA Gives an Official Response to LevantReport.com Article Alleging the West Backed ‘Islamic State’

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9d/US_Defense_Intelligence_Agency_%28DIA%29_seal.png

ON FRIDAY, MAY 22, I contacted the DIA Public Affairs office seeking official response to my May 19 article entitled, 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency document: West will facilitate rise of Islamic State “in order to isolate the Syrian regime”. DIA Public Affairs did not respond at that time.

YESTERDAY (5/26), THE DIA CONTACTED ME via email and requested that I submit my questions. Today, May 27, DIA Public Affairs spokesman James M. Kudla contacted me via telephone at 1:37pm (Eastern Standard Time) and agreed to give an official DIA comment to my questions concerning the declassified 2012 DIA intelligence report released through Freedom of Information Act request to Judicial Watch (14-L-0552/DIA/287-293).

THE BELOW IS A FULL TRANSCRIPT of the phone interview. Permission is given by Levant Report to freely copy and circulate.*


 

James Kudla [JK]: In response to the questions you submitted through email… As noted in the document itself, it’s an informational report and is not finally evaluated intelligence, and the redacted sections in the document released under FOIA means it is not a complete document.

Brad Hoff [BH]: Does this document forecast in 2012 that the external powers supporting the Syrian opposition would allow an Islamic State in Eastern Syria in order to isolate or put military pressure on the Syrian regime? 

JK: I have no comment on the contents of the document, nor on your interpretation of the document in your article. To reiterate, the document is raw information and has not been interpreted or analyzed, so it is not a final intelligence product.

BH: Does this document affirm that the DoD knew that what the document refers to as the West was supporting an opposition insurgency in Syria that had elements of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, or AQI, within in?

JK: I do not speak for the Department of Defense, only for the DIA. For the DoD you would have to call the Pentagon’s Public Affairs desk. I have no comment on the contents of the document.
 
BH: Can you confirm that this particular document FOIA released, marked 14-L-0552/DIA/287-293, was circulated among the Joint Staff, USCENTCOM, CIA, DHS, Dept. of State, SecDef office, and those agencies listed under the header?
 

JK: I can’t confirm how it was circulated or who read it, but we can confirm that copies were sent to its addressees listed in the header information.

BH: Are you able to dispel some current headlines that say the West aligned itself with ISIS during 2012 or at any point during the conflict in Syria?

JK: There are a lot of headlines circulating, I cannot evaluate each one. I cannot comment on that.

BH: Would you like to take this opportunity to dispel any accusations currently circulating?

JK: I have no comment on that.

BH: 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?

JK: No comment. I have no additional comments for you.

—END INTERVIEW

The above is official comment given to Brad Hoff from:

JAMES M. KUDLA, PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER, OFFICE OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, DIA HQ N635i

 

*Questions or media inquiries for Brad Hoff, managing editor of Levant Report, should be directed to Levantreport(@)gmail.com