Tony Cartalucci, Contributor
The discredited and now obscure, defected Syrian ambassador Nawaf Fares, had claimed mid-summer of 2012 that the Syrian government had been behind the influx of foreign terrorists that entered Iraq during the later phases of the US-British occupation of Iraq. These terrorists took part in campaigns of sectarian-driven violence that divided and destroyed an already devastated Iraq. Fares spectacularly claimed that he himself was involved in organizing terrorist death squads in a hamhanded attempt to implicate the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
What Fares actually revealed, however, was an invisible state within Syria, one composed of Saudi-aligned, sectarian extremism, operating not only independently of the government of President Assad, but in violent opposition to it. This “state-within-a-state” also so happens to be directly affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, the leading forces now fighting in Syria with significant Western-backing against the Syrian government.
The documented details of this invisible terror state were exposed in the extensive academic efforts of the US Army’s own West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). Two reports were published between 2007 and 2008 revealing a global network of Al Qaeda affiliated terror organizations, and how they mobilized to send a large influx of foreign fighters into Iraq.
Image: Cover of the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq.” The report definitively exposed a regional network used by Al Qaeda to send fighters into Iraq to sow sectarian violence during the US occupation. This exact network can now be seen demonstrably at work with NATO support, overrunning Libya and now Syria. The terrorists in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi that US Ambassador Stevens was arming, is described by the 2007 West Point report as one of the most prolific and notorious Al Qaeda subsidiaries in the world.
The first report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq,” was extensively cited by historian and geopolitical analyst Dr. Webster Tarpley in March of 2011, exposing that NATO-backed “pro-democracy” rebels in Libya were in fact Al Qaeda’s Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), listed by the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf) as an international terrorist organization.
The West Point report exposed Libya as a global epicenter for Al Qaeda training and recruitment, producing more fighters per capita than even Saudi Arabia, and producing more foreign fighters than any other nation that sent militants to Iraq, except Saudi Arabia itself.
Image: Libya, despite its relatively small population, came in second overall, producing foreign fighters to wage sectarian war in Iraq. Libya exceeded all other nations per capita in producing foreign fighters, including Al Qaeda’s primary patrons, Saudi Arabia. These diagrams were produced by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, on pages 8 and 9 of its “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” report.
But Libya’s foreign fighters weren’t drawn equally from across the nation. They predominately emanated from the east (Cyrenaica), precisely where the so-called 2011 “pro-democracy revolution” also began, and where most of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s attention had been focused over the course of at least three decades, fighting militant extremists. The cities of Darnah, Tobruk, and Benghazi in particular fielded the vast majority of foreign fighters sent to Iraq and also served as the very epicenter for the 2011 violent, NATO-backed uprising.
Image: West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s 2007 report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” indicates that the vast majority of Al Qaeda terrorists arriving in Iraq from Libya, originated from the country’s eastern region, and from the cities of Darnah and Benghazi in particular. (Right) A map indicating rebel held territory (red) during Libya’s 2011 conflict. The entire region near Benghazi, Darnah, and Tobruk served as the cradle for the so-called revolution. The US government is just now revealing the heavy Al Qaeda presence in the region, but clearly knew about it since at least as early as 2007, and as other reports indicate, decades before even that.
Clearly, the US military and the US government were both well aware of the heavy Al Qaeda presence in Cyrenaica since as early as 2007. When violence flared up in 2011, it was clear to many geopolitical analysts that it was the result of Al Qaeda, not “pro-democracy protesters.” The US government, its allies, and a complicit Western press, willfully lied to the public, misrepresented its case to the United Nations and intervened in Libya on behalf of international terrorists, overthrowing a sovereign government, and granting an entire nation as a base of operations for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).
A similar scenario is now playing out in Syria, where the West, despite acknowledging the existence of Al Qaeda in Benghazi, Libya, is using these militants, and the exact same networks used to send fighters to Iraq, to flood into and overrun Syria. This, after these very same Libyan militants were implicated in an attack that left a US ambassador dead on September 11, 2012.
Image: Libyan Mahdi al-Harati of the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf)-listed terrorist organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), addressing fellow terrorists in Syria. Harati is now commanding a Libyan brigade operating inside of Syria attempting to destroy the Syrian government and subjugate the Syrian population. Traditionally, this is known as “foreign invasion.”
LIFG terrorists are veritably flooding into Syria from Libya. In November 2011, the Telegraph in their article, “Leading Libyan Islamist met Free Syrian Army opposition group,” would report:
Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, ‘met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,” said a military official working with Mr Belhadj. “Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim Libyan president) sent him there.’
Another Telegraph article, “Libya’s new rulers offer weapons to Syrian rebels,” would admit
Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya’s new authorities on Friday, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, The Daily Telegraph has learned.At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians requested “assistance” from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms, and potentially volunteers.
‘There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,’ said a Libyan source, speaking on condition of anonymity. ‘There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see.’
Later that month, some 600 Libyan terrorists would be reported to have entered Syria to begin combat operations and have been flooding into the country ever since.
Image: West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s 2007 report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” also indicated which areas in Syria Al Qaeda fighters filtering into Iraq came from. The overwhelming majority of them came from Dayr Al-Zawr in Syria’s southeast, Idlib in the north near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border. (Right) A map indicating the epicenters of violence in Syria indicate that the exact same hotbeds for Al Qaeda in 2007, now serve as the epicenters of so-called “pro-democracy fighters.”
In Syria, the southeastern region near Dayr Al-Zawr on the Iraqi-Syrian border, the northwestern region of Idlib near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border, produced the majority of fighters found crossing over into Iraq, according to the 2007 West Point study.
These regions now serve as the epicenter for a similar Libyan-style uprising, with fighters disingenuously portrayed as “pro-democracy” “freedom fighters.” These are also the locations receiving the majority of foreign fighters flowing in from other areas described in the 2007 report, mainly from Saudi Arabia via Jordan, and from Libya, either directly, through Turkey, or through Egypt and/or Jordan.
Image: The most prominent routes into Syria for foreign fighters is depicted, with the inset graph describing the most widely used routes by foreign fighters on their way to Iraq, as determined by West Point’s 2007 Combating Terrorism Center report “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” (page 20). These same networks are now being used, with the addition of a more prominent role for Turkey, to target Syria directly. (Click to enlarge)
The 2007 West Point report also describes the routes taken by the fighters entering Iraq. The most prominent routes by far were from Syria itself, the Libya-Egypt-Syria route, the Saudi Arabia-Syria route, and the Saudi Arabia-Jordan-Syria route. These routes are clearly being used yet again, only this time, instead of sowing sectarian violence and destabilization in Iraq, these foreign fighters, with NATO backing, are targeting Syria directly.
Subversion of Syria was Planned by the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia in 2007.
While many Western think-tank documents, including the joint US-Israeli “Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” recognized Syria as a threat to corporate-financier hegemony throughout the Middle East and beyond, it wasn’t until at least 2007 that a fully articulated plan was developed for actually rolling back or eliminating Syria as a viable, independent nation-state.
The specific use of Al Qaeda-affiliated militant organizations, not just inside Syria, but from across the region was a key component of the plan, revealed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker report titled, “”The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?”
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Scattered clashes and reports of a deadly bombing near a Damascus children’s playground marred the first day of a four-day cease-fire in the Syria conflict on Friday, but in most parts of the country the level of violence appeared to subside because of the truce, called in deference to the most important Muslim holiday of the year.
With the threat of violence diminished, protesters emerged onto the streets of cities and towns across the country. Syrian state television showed President Bashar al-Assad making a rare public appearance, attending the morning prayers for the start of the holiday, Id al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, in a central Damascus mosque. There was no sound, but Mr. Assad was seen to be chatting amicably with other worshipers.
The most brazen violation appeared to be a car bomb that exploded near what state television said was a children’s playground in southern Damascus. The television broadcast pictures of a fire truck hosing down building wreckage that the broadcast said was devastation from the bomb. There was significant damage and a number of casualties, the official report said, without being more specific. Amateur video uploaded on YouTube showed extensive destruction from the blast.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the violence from abroad, said the blast killed five people and injured more than 30, including children. The reports said the explosion occurred in Zuhur, a poor, mostly Sunni neighborhood. Previous car bombs, often claimed by extremist organizations, usually targeted security branches.
10:48AM EDT October 26. 2012 –
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrians took to the streets for the largest anti-regime protests in months in several cities Friday, taking advantage a lull in fighting as a cease-fire took effect at the start of a Muslim holiday. But scattered violence including battles over a northern military base and a Damascus suburb illustrated the difficulty of maintaining even a limited truce.
The Syrian military has agreed to cease military operations for four days beginning Friday morning with the start of the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday, in line with a truce proposed by international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and endorsed by the U.N. Security Council.
But there were no arrangements for monitoring compliance, and past cease-fire efforts have collapsed as both sides refused to lay down their arms.
Clashes erupted over a military base outside the strategic town of Maaret al-Numan in the north, and five people were killed in government shelling and sniper fire in the Damascus suburb of Harasta, activists said.
Fighting also was reported in several other parts of the country as the day progressed. The violence underscored the complexity of the situation, with the badly fragmented opposition sending mixed signals about the truce, some endorsing it and others rejecting it as irrelevant.
President Bashar Assad’s government accepted the truce but left significant loopholes, declaring it would respond to any rebel attack or attempts by foreign forces to intervene.
Still, a decline in violence elsewhere allowed protesters in Damascus and several other cities to pour into the streets in numbers not seen in months.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said protesters rallied after holiday prayers in Aleppo, the central province of Homs and the city of Hama. Demonstrators also took to the streets in the suburbs of Damascus and the southern province of Deraa, where the uprising began. Three people were wounded when troops tried to disperse protesters in Deraa, the group said.
In the Damascus suburb of Kfar Batna, Syrians waved rebel flags, cheered, clapped and in some cases danced to revolutionary songs, according to a video posted online.
“May God curse your soul Hafez,” they shouted in the Damascus suburb of Kfar Batna, in reference to Bashar’s father and the late Syrian president, Hafez Assad. “Syria wants freedom,” the protesters added, according to a video posted online.
“You will fall, Bashar!” shouted protesters in Douma, another video showed.
The videos appeared consistent with AP’s reporting on the demonstrations in the area.
Mohammed Saeed, an activist based in Aleppo, which has seen some of the fiercest fighting of the war, said the city was “relatively calm” despite shelling in several areas and clashes near the city’s military airport that killed at least four people.
He said via Skype that marches took place in the neighborhoods of al-Shaar, Hanano and Bustan al-Qasr as well as several suburbs.
The festive and mostly peaceful protests were reminiscent of the mass demonstrations that ignited the civil war in March 2011. In recent months, gatherings have been much smaller, a result of a brutal crackdown by the Assad regime and fighting in the streets.
“It reminds me of the early days of the revolution, the days when people could go out and protest peacefully,” Damascus-based activist Khaled al-Shami said. Security was tight around the capital, and police forces erected additional checkpoints on main roads. In side streets, people performed prayers and protested freely, al-Shami said.
By Salma Abdelaziz, CNN
(CNN) – Artillery shelling, water outages and food shortages, rather than presents and sweets, greeted many Syrians on the most important Muslim holiday of the year.
“There is no Eid here. What are you even talking about? How can you have Eid amid shelling? May God watch over us. We have rockets falling over us. The situation is horrific. Eid has no meaning for us,” Abu Fouz, a 48-year-old resident of Aleppo, told CNN.
Eid al-Adha, literally meaning The Feast of Sacrifice, is one of two major holidays in Islam. It commemorates millions completing the holy pilgrimage called the Hajj to Saudi Arabia. It marks the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God.
“During Eid, Muslims traditionally slaughter animals and give the meat to poor people. This is the communal aspect of the holiday to give charity, food and meat to the poor and needy. Due to the civil war in Syria, Eid is essentially suspended because the constant killing and violence results in a breakdown of society,” Akbar Ahmed, former Pakistani ambassador to the United Kingdom, said.
About 19 months since anti-government demonstrations in the southern city of Daraa sparked a nationwide uprising and a military crackdown to quash dissent, the ancient country is still mired in a civil war that has claimed the lives of an estimated 30,000 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Markets across the Middle East are generally flooded with customers as families purchase new clothes and gifts for relatives and prepare large feasts for Eid al-Adha, but the Syrian civil war has destroyed the country’s once-vibrant economy.
“We feel like we are in a large prison. Yesterday, the markets were attacked and many business raided by Syrian security forces. Dozens of men were arrested. We cannot celebrate with so many dead and missing and the constant shelling,” said Alaa, a resident of Idlib who refused to giver her full name for personal safety reasons.
The World Food Programme says that up to 3 million people are expected to be in need of food over the coming year and in areas of ongoing armed conflict, civilians lack basic needs such as electricity, water and food supplies.
“There will be no sweets this year. We don’t even have bread. People stand in line from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. just to buy a bag of bread, which now costs almost double,” Jelan, a college student in Idlib city, told CNN.
The Syrian government announced it will suspend military operations from Friday morning to Monday as part of an Eid al-Adha cease-fire, but “reserves its right to respond” to attacks.
“There are reports that the regime is planning to bomb Homs. Army defectors provided intelligence to the opposition that the Syrian government may use car bombs. So many civilians are very scared about Eid and what the cease-fire may bring,” said Saleem Kabbani, a member of the Local Coordination Committees in Homs.
The adha, or sacrifice, is the central tenant of Eid al-Adha, requiring all Muslims with the financial freedom to do so to sacrifice an animal. It’s typically a goat or lamb, and they distribute its meat to the poor. The tradition stems from Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God, who according to the Muslim holy book, the Quran, provided a lamb in the boy’s place.
Published: 26 October, 2012, 12:29
Edited: 26 October, 2012, 20:51
At least five people were killed and 32 others wounded after a car bomb exploded in Damascus, according to preliminary reports by Syrian state media. The violence comes despite an official ceasefire honoring the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Human rights activists claim 47 people died in the blast.
The bomb reportedly detonated near a children’s playground in Daf al-Shok, a Sunni residential neighborhood in a a southern district of the Syrian capital. Kids are feared to be among the casualties.
Extensive damage to nearby buildings was reported. State news agency SANA said “terrorists” were responsible for the blast.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also says 11 Syrian soldiers were wounded in a separate car bomb attack on a checkpoint in Daraa, a city in the country’s southwest.
Earlier in the day, the human rights watchdog claimed that rebels had laid siege to a military base one kilometer from the highway, and that government forces had opened fire in a nearby village.
“Violent clashes started around 10:30 am (9:30 am Paris time) around the Wadi Deif base. The army responded by bombing the neighbouring village of Deir Sharqi. It is the first violation of the ceasefire,” Rami Abdul Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.
Syria’s military said a number of posts came under attack of “terrorists” Friday, including those in Deir Ezzor, Douma, Homs and Dara, as well as in several other locations.
The General Command said “the Armed Forces are firing back and confronting the armed terrorist groups,” as quoted by SANA. The Command considered the attacks as “clear violation” of the announcement truce.
A tenuous truce was called into effect hours earlier on Friday morning following an agreement between the Assad government and the rebels to observe a four-day ceasefire in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi proposed the truce after visiting Syria earlier this week in the hopes of creating what he called “a political environment where political talks are possible.”
The ceasefire seemed doomed to fail from the start, as both the government and the rebels began setting numerous conditions shortly after the truce was announced.
The Free Syrian Army said that its fighters would not commit to a ceasefire unless detained rebels were released from custody on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Assad government said it reserved the right to retaliate against any violence by opposition forces during the truce. Damascus also said it would respond to any attempts to smuggle weapons across Syria’s borders, and would take measures to prevent ‘terrorists’ from entering the country.
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