The American policy with regard to Syria remains in utter disarray. Despite public declarations by Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama that any punitive strike against Syria would not be about regime change, the CIA and the State Department have begun delivering weapons and other gear to the Syrian rebels in the hopes that their effectiveness will be enhanced. What will also be enhanced is the horrific brutality of these “rebels,” as they continue to commit one heinous jihadist atrocity after another.
Photographs obtained by Time magazine emphasize this gruesome reality. They show a young Syrian man kneeling blindfolded before anti-regime rebels in the town of Keferghan, near Aleppo. They were taken August 31 by a photographer unaffiliated with either side in the conflict. They depict a public beheading. It was the fourth beheading witnessed by the photographer that day.
An eyewitness who lives in the area alleged the killers belong to the Al-Qaeda affiliate known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a ruthless group of terrorists with battle experience in Chechnya, Iraq, and Mali. Due to that experience, they are one of the dominant rebel forces in Syria. Last June in Aleppo, ISIS also executed a 15-year-old boy in front of his family for the “crime” of blasphemy.
Another Islamist rebel force, Jund al-Sham, executed seven government soldiers last April. The scene was captured by a mobile phone and smuggled across the Syrian border. It was submitted to the New York Times by an ex-rebel who claimed he could no longer stomach the atrocities committed by his fellow jihadists.
In May, Abu Sakkar, who claims to be the head of the anti-Assad Independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade, is shown in a video eating the lung of a dead Syrian soldier. After cutting out the liver and the heart as well, Sakkar turns to the camera and shouts, “I swear to God, soldiers of Bashar, you dogs – we will eat your heart and livers!” He continued: “Takbir! God is Great! Oh my heroes of Baba Amr, you slaughter the Alawites and take their hearts out to eat them!”
Last July, three men were beheaded by rebels in the video shown here, and a Catholic priest, Father Francois Mourad, was shot to death by anti-Assad rebels, who put eight bullets in his body as he tried to defend nuns at St. Anthony’s monastery in Ghassanieh. “Islamists attacked the monastery, ransacking it and destroying everything,” said Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who heads the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, a jurisdiction that includes Syria and Egypt. “When Father Francois tried to resist, defending the nuns, rebels shot him.”
Local sources identified his killers as members of al-Nusra Front, another group linked to al-Qaeda.
Eliminating Christians is an intrinsic part of the rebels’ strategy, and they are being “targeted with summary executions, forcible conversions to Islam and expulsions from their homes as a result of actions taken by the courts of the ‘Caliphate of Iraq and the Levant,’ the name the al-Nusra Brigade and other Islamist rebels use in reference to the Syrian territory under their control,” Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, told Congress at the time.
Also at the time, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked how the United States could be certain that aid given to the rebels would not end up in the hands of jihadists. Psaki replied that Secretary Kerry was making it a “priority” that military aid would be sent to the Supreme Military Council (SMC) of the Free Syrian Army. “That’s been something that’s he’s been working with Congress on and has been encouraging our other partners around the world to do the same,” she said.
That would be the same Free Syrian Army (FSA) with whom the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) announced it would be coordinating activity late last month. They are seeking revenge for the chemical attack allegedly perpetrated by the Assad regime. The United States fought ISIL’s predecessor in Iraq from 2004-2011.
Furthermore, despite denials by senior FSA leaders, units of their brigade have fought with several terrorist groups including the ISIS, along with the ISIL, Ahrar al Sham, the Qatar government-backed Ahfad al-Rasoul Brigade, the Islamic Kurdish Front and the Al Nusrah Front.
Yesterday it was revealed that the Al Nusrah Front is allegedly responsible for another atrocity, the massacre of 22 people in an Alawite village in central Syria. The dead included seven women, three men over the age of 65, and four children under the age of 16, as part of what is being called an ”Eye for an Eye” campaign for the chemical attack.
The origin of that chemical attack was cast into further doubt on Wednesday, when two Europeans kidnapped and held in Syria for seven months claim they overheard a Skype conversation in which their captors suggested that rebels were behind the Damascus chemical attack. “In this conversation, they said that the gas attack on two neighborhoods of Damascus was launched by the rebels as a provocation to lead the West to intervene militarily,” said journalist Domenico Quiric, one of the prisoners. He also insisted that one the three people he overheard speaking identified himself as an FSA general. Both he and his fellow prisoner, Belgian teacher Pierre Piccinin, are astounded that the U.S. would intervene on the side of the rebels. Piccinin believes it would be “insane and suicidal for the West to support these people.”
Nonetheless, two of the FSA’s biggest supporters are Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Kerry, both of whom made the case to Congress last week that terrorists comprise only a small portion of rebel forces. To buttress their contentions, both men cited a Wall Street Journal op-ed, ”On the Front Lines of Syria’s Civil War,” written by Elizabeth O’Bagy, who was initially identified as a “senior analyst” at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). She contended “that the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al Qaeda die-hards.”
On Monday, O’Bagy was revealed to be the political director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a pro-rebel lobbying organization. Two days later, the ISW fired O’Bagy for lying about her educational credentials.
O’Bagy’s push to intervene on the side of the rebels was apparently taken up by NBC. They spoke with Syrian opposition activists who claim that allowing Assad to get away with the chemical attack will drive rebel forces into the arms of al Qaeda. “If there is no action, everyone will be desperate. We are already desperate. We are dying. Many will join al-Qaeda. Even the educated will join them, because no one else is helping,” a Syrian rebel said.
Like Kerry and McCain, NBC characterizes the FSA as a moderate group that wants democracy, even as it aligns itself with terrorists who want an Islamic state — all because America refuses to step up.
Even the New York Times sees through that contention, noting as far back as last April that the FSA’s Supreme Military Council “is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government,” and that there is no “secular fighting force to speak of” anywhere in those parts of Syria controlled by rebel forces.
Hot Air’s Allahpundit reveals the insanity of what would now be a quixotic attempt to “re-secularize” rebel forces, even as the Obama administration attempts to punish Assad. He explains that such a reality would amount to the United States ”taking on both sides” in the Syrian civil war.
Regardless, the Obama administration, according to the Washington Post, is “determined to increase the cohesion and structure of the rebel fighting units,” under the command of Gen. Salim Idriss, who heads the SMC. The same SMC with the aforementioned Islamist ambitions, and an organization from which four of their five front commanders threatened to resign in August. The men promised to break “red lines” and work “with all forces fighting in Syria,” according to a statement released by Colonel Fatih Hasun, commander of the SMC’s Homs Front and Idriss’s deputy chief-of-staff. The resignation threat may have been empty, but Hasun is already forging his own relationships with terror groups al-Nusra and ISIS.
Mark S. Ward, the State Department’s senior adviser on assistance to Syria, sums up the Obama administration’s pie-in-the-sky ambitions. “When you finally have a free Syrian government, you will know them and they will know us,” he said. “We will have been working with them week after week, month after month. These won’t be strangers.”
The left-leaning Daily Beast has a far more accurate take. Syria is “slowly becoming the jihadist haven al Qaeda has historically sought in the heart of the Arab world.”
A dozen years after 9/11, that reality is being aided and abetted by a radically leftist president, who has assembled perhaps the most reckless group of foreign policy officials the nation has seen in quite some time.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.