There has recently been a small stir in the American media, as media organizations from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal to the Associated Press have finally gotten around to acknowledging a “presence” of al-Qaeda and like-minded jihadist groups among the Syrian rebel forces seeking to topple the regime of Bashar al-Assad. But observations made by German journalist Daniel Etter during a recent visit to rebel-controlled towns near the embattled city of Aleppo suggest that there is no mere “presence” of jihadists among the rebels: religiously-inspired mujahideen is what the rebels are. The real question is whether there is a presence of anything else.
Etter’s report also provides evidence that rebel authorities are subjecting civilians to arbitrary detention and torture and summarily executing captured members of the regular Syrian armed forces.
For the details, see my new article on Asia Times Online here.
Update: A more complete version of this article, with links to source and supporting materials, is now available at the Investigative Project on Terrorism here.
In light of the current American administration’s rapprochement with the Muslim Brotherhood, it is hardly surprising that many observers would regard a recent book by former Wall Street Journal reporter Ian Johnson as, in effect, the book of the hour. Bearing the sensational title A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West, Johnson’s volume contains an even more sensational thesis: namely, that the U.S. had already gotten involved with the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and that the Brotherhood’s leading representative in Europe at the time, Said Ramadan, was even a CIA asset! On Johnson’s account, the CIA helped Ramadan to seize control of the “mosque in Munich” of the book’s title. The claim is all the more sensational inasmuch as the mosque would in the aftermath of 9/11 come to be linked to al Qaeda. It is not difficult to understand, then, why Johnson’s book has been hailed as a “cautionary tale.”
And this it would be, were it not for the fact that the tale Johnson tells is not supported by the evidence. Recent German research based on many of the same archival sources does not only cast doubt on Johnson’s conclusions, it also broaches an obvious question that Johnson simply ignores: namely, to what extent were German authorities — and, in particular, the CIA’s German counterpart, the BND — cooperating with the Muslim Brothers? German author Stefan Meining has uncovered evidence that by the early 1980s there indeed existed a full-fledged “alliance between West German intelligence agencies and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
See my new essay in the current issue of Policy Review magazine – available online here.
German intelligence estimates that “around 90” terror attacks, which “can be attributed to organizations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups,” were carried out in Syria between the end of December and the beginning of July. As reported by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, this was revealed by the German government in a response to a parliamentary question. In response to the same question, the German government admitted that it had received several reports from the German foreign intelligence service, the BND, on the May 25 massacre in the Syrian town of Houla. But it noted that the content of these reports was to remain classified “by reason of national interest”…
For these and related developments, see my new report at Asia Times Online here.
News that the U.S. State Department issued a visa to Hani Nour Eldin, a member of Egypt’s Gama’a al-Islamiya or Islamic Group, has sparked a roaring controversy over the circumstances and appropriateness of the decision. But in the midst of the controversy, one important point appears to have largely escaped notice.
See my new post at Breitbart.com here.
A report from Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), which attributes the Houla massacre to anti-Assad rebel forces, has given rise to controversy. Critics have accused the FAZ and other sources, which have likewise reported this alternative version, of disseminating regime “propaganda.” If, however, the alternative version is indeed regime propaganda, then it would appear that the UN observer mission in Syria encountered regime “propagandists” even in rebel-controlled Houla…
See my new report on PJMedia here.
The results of Sunday’s legislative elections in Greece have been widely hailed as a vote “for the euro,” with news services painting the elections as a virtual “referendum” on eurozone membership. “For the euro” in the present context means, more precisely, for the austerity measures that the European powers-that-be have made clear are the condition both for European bailout funds and for continued Greek euro membership. If the elections indeed represented a “referendum” on the euro, however, upon closer examination of the results, it is by no means obvious that the euro won.
See my new post on the website of World Affairs here.
In a post on National Review Online, Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi and Phillip Smyth maintain that claims that Syrian rebels were responsible for the Houla massacre are the stuff of “outlandish conspiracy websites.” But a closer look at their argumentation reveals that they are the ones that have to resort to conspiracy theorizing.
See my reply at The Corner on NRO here.
It was, in the words of U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, the “tipping point” in the Syria conflict: a savage massacre of over 90 people, predominantly women and children, for which the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad was immediately blamed by virtually the entirety of the Western media. Within days of the first reports of the Houla massacre, the U.S., France, Great Britain, Germany, and several other Western countries announced that they were expelling Syria’s ambassadors in protest.
But according to a new report in Germany’s leading daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants and the victims were supporters of Assad…
For details and additional background, see my new article on National Review Online here.
Lazy, profligate, scheming Greeks versus honest, thrifty, industrious Germans. Southern vice versus northern virtue. For much of the news media, the euro sovereign debt crisis could be summarized in the form of a morality play opposing national or regional stereotypes. But what if the financial strains on the so-called PIGS that threaten the eurozone are a product of the eurozone itself? What if the problems of the euro, in other words, are of the euro’s own making?
A careful look at trade statistics reveals the disaster that the euro has been for the “PIGS” – and the boon that it has been for Germany.
See my new essay in the current issue of World Affairs — now available online here.
Back in mid-February, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned that al-Qaeda had “infiltrated” the Syrian opposition. At roughly the same time, videos began emerging on the internet that clearly revealed just what an understatement – to put it mildly – Clapper’s observation represented. The videos show Syrian rebel brigades proudly posing with the al-Qaeda flag and protestors holding it high. This was not a matter of “infiltration,” with the word’s connotations of stealth and cunning, but rather of an openly publicized affiliation.
In the meanwhile, an even more revealing video has come to light. It shows demonstrators in a public square in Syria holding up the al-Qaeda flag and chanting “Allahu Akbar!” What is particularly notable about this video, however, is that the demonstrators are women…
For background, context, and the video itself, see my new article on Breitbart.com here.