Skip to main content

How did al Qaeda in Syria end up with anti-aircraft missiles?

After the terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a rebrand of Jabhat al-Nusra, which is the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate, claimed responsibility for the dramatic downing of a Russian Su-25 fighter jet over Idlib in northwest Syria on Saturday – the first Russian plane downed in Syria since 2015 – a number of analysts have published articles asking the obvious million dollar question: where did al-Qaeda get the portable anti-aircraft missile system used in the attack?

Once such article in Al-Monitor speculates on the following: “The three immediate questions that arose from the attack were how the downing was made possible, how the militants acquired the arms and whether there was a bigger-level player behind the attack.

And Al-Monitor seems to answer its own question in the following when listing the array of allied groups now operating under the leadership of al-Qaeda (HTS) – among them, groups previously “vetted” and approved to receive advanced weaponry by the CIA (specifically the TOW anti-tank missile): “Dozens of miles of Idlib province are contested among an array of groups, including the terrorist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a rebrand of Jabhat al-Nusra, which was affiliated with al-Qaeda; the Free Syrian Army; and its affiliate Jaish al-Nasr, which is considered a “moderate opposition group” that received weapons from the United States. Minutes after the downing of the Su-25, Alaa al-Hamwi, the military commander of Jaish al-Nasr’s aid defense battalion, claimed responsibility for the attack. Alaa argued that Jaish al-Nasr’s command supplied weapons to protect against the Russian air assault. Later, however, HTS claimed responsibility for downing the plane.

Though U.S. intelligence and defense officials have long denied that so-called “vetted” groups in Syria were recipients of anti-aircraft systems, rumors to the contrary have been persistent for years. The latest denial came immediately on the heels of Saturday’s Russian jet shoot down, which resulted in the death of the pilot on the ground as he came under fire by jihadists. Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway told Russia’s TASS: “The United States has not provided any of its allied forces in Syria with anti-aircraft weapons.

The Pentagon spokesman further said, according to RT, that the US-led coalition is currently not engaged in any operations in the area where the jet was downed Saturday, indicating the coalition’s combat efforts are “geographically orientated on the current fight with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) in eastern Syria.” Yet the statement clearly avoided any reference to past U.S. programs to arm so-called “moderates” – whether through the secretive CIA program or DoD program. And this is to say nothing of allies like Saudi Arabia who worked closely with U.S. intelligence for years in supplying weapons to anti-Assad militants.

But does anyone remember this? …from The Wall Street Journal all the way back in February of 2014, headlined Saudis Agree to Provide Syrian Rebels With Mobile Antiaircraft Missiles – U.S. Also Giving Fighters Millions of Dollars for Salaries: “Washington’s Arab allies, disappointed with Syria peace talks, have agreed to provide rebels there with more sophisticated weaponry, including shoulder-fired missiles that can take down jets, according to Western and Arab diplomats and opposition figures. Saudi Arabia has offered to give the opposition for the first time Chinese man-portable air defense systems, or Manpads, and antitank guided missiles from Russia, according to an Arab diplomat and several opposition figures with knowledge of the efforts. Saudi officials couldn’t be reached to comment. The U.S. has long opposed arming rebels with antiaircraft missiles for fear they could fall into the hands of extremists who might use them against the West or commercial airlines. The Saudis have held off supplying them in the past because of U.S. opposition.

And also this March 2014 report from U.S. government-funded Voice of America News: “Saudi Arabia reportedly is offering to provide Syrian rebels more sophisticated weapons, including shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles that can take down fighter planes and helicopter gunships. They could be a game changer in the Syrian civil war. Known as MANPADS or man-portable air defense systems, the shoulder-fired missiles are a highly-effective weapon. Now, Saudi Arabia is offering to supply moderate rebels with these weapons. That could tip the balance on the battlefield. [...] President Barack Obama is said to be rethinking U.S. strategy toward Syria. No doubt arming the Syrian rebels will be on the agenda when Obama travels to Saudi Arabia in late March.

Meanwhile, in February 2018 there’s this to consider. al-Qaeda controls a strip of land (Idlib province) not far from the Mediterranean coast and has now clearly demonstrated the capability of shooting down aircraft.

More:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk among the biggest billionaire profiteers of the COVID-19 pandemic

globinfo freexchange

A new report by the Institute for Policy Studies, shows that between January 1, 2020 and April 10, 2020, 34 of the US’s wealthiest 170 billionaires have seen their wealth increase by tens of millions of dollars.

Eight of these billionaires —Jeff Bezos (Amazon), MacKenzie Bezos (Amazon), Eric Yuan (Zoom), Steve Ballmer (Microsoft), John Albert Sobrato (Silicon Valley real estate), Elon Musk (Tesla and SpaceX), Joshua Harris (Apollo Global Management), and Rocco Commisso (Mediacom) — have seen their net worth surge by over $1 billion.

The Jeff Bezos Wealth Surge is an unprecedented dynamic in the history of modern markets. Tracking Bezos’ wealth requires a real-time hour-by-hour tracker. As of the publication of the report [April 23, 2020], Bezos’ wealth has increased over $25 billion since January 1, 2020 and $12 billion since February 21st, 2020, the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. 
The stock market crash initially left Bezos’ net worth deeply damaged, down to…

It has started: Greece becomes the blueprint for the 21st century corporate feudalism

globinfo freexchange
Greece has just become the blueprint for the 21st century corporate feudalism through a preposterous environmental bill passed on Tuesday.
Just when the neoliberal government lifted most of the restriction measures that were imposed to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, it rushed to pass the bill through unconstitutional actions. These have been strongly condemned by the main opposition party, SYRIZA.
As reported by the Associated Press:
Greek lawmakers approved a controversial environmental bill Tuesday that the opposition and environmental groups slammed for opening the door to exploratory oil and gas drilling in protected areas.

[...]

On the eve of the vote, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund said they had collected 30,000 signatures in an online petition against the legislation, which they say will remove vital safeguards for environmental protection.

Beyond the drilling, this legislation is deeply problematic in many areas, as has already been estab…

New court files expose Sheldon Adelson’s security team in US spy operation against Julian Assange

An exclusive investigation by The Grayzone reveals new details on the critical role Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands played in an apparent CIA spying operation targeting Julian Assange, and exposes the Sands security staff who helped coordinate the malicious campaign.
by Max Blumenthal
I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole.

–Mike Pompeo, College Station, TX, April 15, 2019
Part 2 - Pompeo outlines the attack on Assange
Pompeo’s first public speech as CIA Director, hosted at the Washington DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank on April 13, 2017, was one of the most paranoid and resentful addresses ever delivered by an agency chief.
The former Republican congressman from Kansas opened his speech with an extended tirade against the “Philip Agees in the world,” referring to the CIA whistleblower who handed over thousands of classified documents to leftist publishers that revealed shocking details of illegal US regime change and assassination …

The neoliberal machine mocks Millennials and Gen Xers through a documentary about Bernie's awful mistreatment by the corporate media!

globinfo freexchange
Now that the "Bernie Sanders" threat for the establishment has been neutralized (for a second time), the neoliberal machine is free to pretend that it cares about the truth.
Kyle Kulinski speaks about a new documentary by VICE about the media bias against Bernie Sanders. Although the doc trailer is pretty impressive, Kulinski starts with a pretty remarkable argument he saw on Twitter:
                         Credit to VICE. Thank you for this documentary. Curious how it released after Bernie dropped out. 

Kulinski finds that the mainstream media still have enough power to neutralize an undesirable candidate, as they did with Bernie, despite the fact that most of the people don't trust them. He also explains the demographics of this year's race for the leadership of the Democratic party.

As he supports, Millennials and Gen Xers overwhelmingly supported Bernie Sanders against the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation (in which Bernie actually be…

Το κίνημα Slow News: η απάντηση στα Fake News?

globinfo freexchange
Στον θαυμαστό καινούργιο κόσμο, ο αβάσταχτος όγκος πληροφοριών που καταναλώνουμε καθημερινά έχει γεννήσει ένα δυστοπικό παράδοξο: την ίδια στιγμή, αμφισβητούμε και πιστεύουμε τα πάντα. Το μυαλό μας έχει βυθιστεί σε μια δίνη από tweets, αναρτήσεις, βίντεο, hoaxes και fake news.
Τα τελευταία χρόνια, σε διάφορα μέρη του πλανήτη, νησίδες αντίστασης έρχονται στην επιφάνεια. Ολιγομελείς ομάδες ανεξάρτητων δημοσιογράφων αγωνίζονται να οικοδομήσουν ένα εναλλακτικό μοντέλο πληροφόρησης, το οποίο βασίζεται σε μια εξαιρετικά απλή αρχή: πρέπει να κόψουμε ταχύτητα. Ένα μαχητικό ντοκιμαντέρ που έχει βαλθεί να αποδείξει ότι η δημοσιογραφία παραμένει ο βασικός πυλώνας της δημοκρατίας.
https://www.filmfestival.gr/el/section-tdf/movie/1047/13001


Το ενδιαφέρον αυτό ντοκιμαντέρ του Alberto Puliafito, ερευνά ένα νέο είδος δημοσιογραφίας που γεννήθηκε από την ανάγκη για δημοσιογραφική αυθεντικότητα μέσα στο σημερινό, χαοτικό μιντιακό τοπίο.
Σε ένα σύστημα που χαρακτηρίζεται από μια αδι…

New court files expose Sheldon Adelson’s security team in US spy operation against Julian Assange

An exclusive investigation by The Grayzone reveals new details on the critical role Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands played in an apparent CIA spying operation targeting Julian Assange, and exposes the Sands security staff who helped coordinate the malicious campaign.
by Max Blumenthal
I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole.

–Mike Pompeo, College Station, TX, April 15, 2019
Part 3 - Journey to “the dark side”
On February 26, 2017, Wikileaks announced the forthcoming release of a major tranche of CIA files revealing details of the agency’s hacking and electronic surveillance tools. One such spying application called “Marble” allowed agency spies to implant code that obfuscated their identity on computers they had hacked. Other files contained evidence of programs that allowed hackers to break into encrypted messaging applications like Signal and Telegram, and to turn Samsung smart TVs into listening devices. 
Two days after Wikileaks’ initial announcement, on February …

Τίποτα δεν σταματάει το νεοφιλελεύθερο "οδοστρωτήρα" τους ...

globinfo freexchange
Αφού τελείωσαν τα χειροκροτήματα για τους γιατρούς του Εθνικού Συστήματος Υγείας, ο Μητσοτάκης επέστρεψε στην "κανονικότητα" της αποστολής του, που, με λίγα λόγια, είναι η ιδιωτικοποίηση και το ξεπούλημα των πάντων. Έτσι, μετά το διάλειμμα λόγω πανδημίας, φανέρωσε και πάλι το πόσο αδημονεί να οδηγήσει το Εθνικό Σύστημα Υγείας στο δρόμο της ιδιωτικοποίησης.
Όπως αναφέρει το tvxs.gr:
                         Δεν πρόλαβαν να περάσουν λίγες μέρες από την άρση του Lockdown και την απομάκρυνση, σε πρώτη φάση, του σοβαρού υγειονομικού κινδύνου της πανδημίας, και ο Κυριάκος Μητσοτάκης επανέφερε τα σχέδια για ιδιωτικοποίηση του ΕΣΥ, εγκαταλείποντας τα «χειροκροτήματα» και τις αναφορές στους «ήρωες» υγειονομικούς και στη σημασία του δημόσιου συστήματος υγείας. Παρά το «σκληρό μάθημα» που έδωσε η πανδημία στους νεοφιλεύθερους λάτρεις της «αγοράς», φαίνεται πως η κυβέρνηση δεν εγκατέλειψε ποτέ τους αρχικούς σχεδιασμούς της, παρά τον τρόπο που το δημόσιο σύστημα υγεία…

How the USA erased the USSR victory over Nazi Germany

Moderate Rebels
The Soviet Union played the leading role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II, but the US government has tried to erase its unimaginable sacrifice. Historian Peter Kuznick discusses the real history of WWII, and how 80% of Nazis were killed on the Eastern Front with the USSR.

Δεν τους βγαίνει με τίποτα η "στρατηγική ήττα" ...

globinfo freexchange
Τα πράγματα φαίνεται να εξελίσσονται σχεδόν όπως τα είχαμε προβλέψει.
Όπως είχαμε επισημάνει ήδη από τα μέσα Απριλίου, στο επόμενο διάστημα αναμένεται να δούμε νέες, αλλεπάλληλες "φουσκωμένες" δημοσκοπήσεις από την φιλοκυβερνητική μηχανή προπαγάνδας, ώστε να προετοιμαστεί ψυχολογικά το κοινό για το επικείμενο αποτέλεσμα των εθνικών εκλογών.
Στις δημοσκοπήσεις αυτές θα βλέπουμε ενδεχομένως την ψαλίδα μεταξύ ΝΔ και ΣΥΡΙΖΑ συνεχώς να μεγαλώνει, με μια ταυτόχρονη πτώση του ποσοστού του κόμματος της αξιωματικής αντιπολίτευσης, σε βαθμό που να δικαιολογεί την στρατηγική του ήττα.  
Ωστόσο, το 20,3% του ΣΥΡΙΖΑ, δεν συνιστά στρατηγική ήττα στο βαθμό που επιθυμεί το καθεστώς και η ντόπια ολιγαρχία, εν όψει μάλιστα και απλής αναλογικής. Οπότε θα πρέπει να αναμένουμε στο αμέσως επόμενο διάστημα ένα νέο βομβαρδισμό από δημοσκοπήσεις στις οποίες το ποσοστό του κόμματος της αξιωματικής αντιπολίτευσης θα "ροκανίζεται" σταδιακά, έτσι ώστε να δημιουργηθεί το κ…

COVID-19 took Chicago black lives first & exposed structural racism

Democracy Now!
The coronavirus pandemic's disproportionate toll on African Americans through the story of Chicago's first 100 recorded deaths. 
A report by ProPublica found that 70 of the first 100 people to die were African American. Black people account for 30% of Chicago's population and 72% of COVID-19 deaths.
ProPublica reporter Adriana Gallardo, who contributed to the report "COVID-19 Took Black Lives First. It Didn't Have To.", says the story paints a picture of "sophisticated structural racism" in Chicago.