Behind Syrian resistance lurks Al Qaeda. Certainly AQ Iraq fighters are present in numbers. What is not talked about is what role Al Qaeda’s 2IC, Syrian Abu Musab Al Suri and former member of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, is playing in the civil war and how the fallout will affect us in our homelands.
55 year old Abu Mus’ab (moussaab) Al-Suri (al-souri) is also known as:
• Mustafa Setmariam (sitt-maryam) Nasar, and
• Umar Abd al-Hakim
What many have forgotten is that Syrian Al Suri was al-Qaeda’s operations chief in Europe and the alleged terrorist mastermind behind the July 7 London bombings and is currently unaccounted for.
He was freed from a Syrian jail by President Bashar Assad’s regime before the civil war along with his deputy, Abu Khalid, in late December 2011.Both are now on the loose.
Guess what his specialty is apart from strategy and command? He is a mechanical engineer expert in chemical warfare!
In 1990’s in Afghanistan he was known as known as Mustafa Setmariam Nasar and ran two of Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist training camps where he began experimenting with chemical weapons and set up sleeper cells in Europe. In 1997 and worked as a military trainer at al Qaeda’s notorious Darunta camp, where the terror group experimented with chemical weapons.
In the mid-1990s, he served as an editor for a GIA-linked [now-defunct Algerian Armed Islamic Group] jihadist magazine along with Abu Qatada, the radical cleric who was considered to be al Qaeda’s ambassador to the United Kingdom.
As Abu Musab al-Suri he wrote an encyclopaedic, 1,600-page volume entitled “The Call for Global Islamic Resistance”, templates for Paris Metro attack 1995, Casablanca in 2003, Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005 terrorist attacks.
As Umar Abd al-Hakim, Al Suri published a 900 page treatise in May 1991, entitled ‘The Islamic jihadi revolution in Syria’ (al-tajrubah al-suriyyah).
Al Suri has been the main advocate of so-called “leaderless jihad,” which urges Muslims to establish their own cells without linking up with al Qaeda’s global network, in order to escape detection. Al Suri advocated that jihadists use the Internet and other methods to gather their information to conduct attacks.
With chemical warfare now in their hands the security forces need to be vigilant as to who they are supporting in Syria and what flow of materials and personnel in these soon to be US brigades are linked to Al Suri or his allies or fellow ideological travellers in the Salafi-Jihadi camp.
It is well accepted that in 2013 the Salafi Jihadists have infiltrated the Free Syrian Army (FSA) brigades that the US is about to arm train and assist. “There has been an ever growing radicalization of the FSA. Since late last year Use of the FSA label was increasingly rare among armed groups, many of which were abandoning the Syrian national flag in favour of the black banner of the Prophet. The rise of hard-line Salafi factions like the al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF) led by Ahrar al-Sham, a faction with strong roots among Syrian veteran fighters of the Iraq war, was apparently irresistible.” [http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/08/09/external_support_and_the_syrian_insurgency
It is also well known that the FSA has been conducting joint operations with Al Qaeda Iraq’s Syrian militia Al-Nusra Front.
The previous leader of the FSA, Riad Mousa al-Asaad has made controversial statements such as suggesting that suicide bombing is “an integral part of revolutionary action, of Free Syrian Army action”. [“Inside Syria’s War”. Dateline SBS. 31 July 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012].
The leader of the rebel FSA who replaced Riad Mousa al-Saad is Selim Idris. Idris is apparently a front man that can be used to illicit Western support. However the real power is from the aides he has appointed as his deputies.
These two men are Islamist commanders Abdelbasset Tawil from the northern province of Idlib (linked to Emir Abu Abdullah’s 20,000 strong militia called Harakat Ahrar ash-Sham Al Islami (“Islamic Movement of the Free Men of the Levant”) an extremist Salfi-Jihadi group) and Abdelqader Saleh from the adjacent province of Aleppo (who is also leader of the 8,000 strong Tawheed Brigade).
In other words, Idris is “the non-Islamist front man for what will be an Islamist-controlled army….American intelligence agents in southern Turkey supervise the handover of weapons to the rebels. They make no attempt to stop arms from going to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists while they make no attempt to funnel the guns to moderates. The only restriction is that they not go to al-Qaida affiliated Salafists. One day those guns will be used to commit unspeakable atrocities against Christians and other minority groups just as they will be used to install an Islamist regime and kill or intimidate its opponents.” [http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/us-policy-turning-syria-into-anti-western-antisemitic-islamist-state/2012/12/18/0/?print ]
Both Tawil and Saleh’s battalions are aligned with the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (al-Jabhah al-Islāmiyya as-Sūriyyah ). SIF train their recruits in military matters and also in religious Islamist indoctrination.
Currently the funding comes from prominent donors include the Kuwaiti preacher Sheik Nayef Hajjaj al-Ajami, Saudi-based Syrian preacher Adnan al-Aroor, and Kuwaiti politician Hakim al-Mutayri.
Adnan al-Aroor has a Saudi funded TV show beamed into Syria in which he denounces non-Salafist minorities in Syria. Sheik Nayef Hajjaj al-Ajami is infamous for his November 2011 broadcast in which he said that Allah transformed the Jews, the ‘scum of mankind’ into Apes and pigs.” Hakim al-Mutayri is a member of the Mutayr tribe, one of the largest Bedouin tribes in Kuwait and an exponent of extreme Salafism.
Therefore even though Idris is an electrical engineer and former Brigarier General of the regime, his ‘unified command’ is dominated by Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists and excludes the most senior officers who had defected from Assad’s military.
“The Iraq War offers a sobering portrait of what this might look like. The Iraqi resistance was originally spawned from a secular albeit Sunni-dominated regime, but in little more than a year the sectarian conflict had transformed it into a jihadi insurgency spearheaded by al-Qaida. For Syria, a similar development would be catastrophic — and the Middle East would likely feel its broader effects for years to come. “ [ www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/10/15/holy_warriors ]
Whilst the future for Syrian minorities and the rest of the Middle East looks bleak, heaven help our homelands if the extremists in Syria get visas to travel to our Homelands (just like the CIA allowed Al Qaeda ‘freedom fighters’ last century) or indoctrinate insurgents who come back to our homelands armed with the knowledge and capability of chemical warfare.
The combination of extremism, bloodlust of a civil war and the knowledge of explosives and chemical weapons is a huge security risk for our homelands.
al-Suri’s best known work is the 1600-page book The Global Islamic Resistance Call (Da’wat al-muqawamah al-islamiyyah al-‘alamiyyah) which appeared on the Internet in December 2004. In it al-Suri ‘proposes that the next stage of jihad will be characterized by terrorism created by individuals or small autonomous groups (what he terms `leaderless resistance’) which will wear down the enemy and prepare the ground for the far ambitious aim of waging war on `open fronts’ …. `without confrontation in the field and seizing control of the land, we cannot establish a state, which is the strategic goal of the resistance.’
al-Suri was a major contributor to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s “Inspire magazine” in English.
Before al Suri was arrested in May 2006 he said: “I reiterate my call for mujahidin who are spread in Europe and in our enemies’ countries or those able to go there, to the significance of moving fast to hit Britain, Italy, Holland, Germany, Japan, Australia, Russia and France and all countries who have a military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan or the Arab peninsular or to hit their interests in our countries and all over the world. And let all the sleeping cells awaken now because the war is in its peak and the enemy is about to collapse with the evidence for this now being clear.”
We have seen the fruits of al Suri’s strategy in the 2004 Madrid Bombings, London 2005 Bombings and the attempted 2006 Trans-Atlantic Bomb Plots, The Fort Hood Shootings 2009, the attempted underwear bombings of aircraft in 2012, the 2012 Toulouse mass murders, the recent Woolwich slayers and the Boston Marathon bombers. Imagine if the next group of lone wolf extremists inspired or directed by al Suri and his Salafi Jihadi’s et al have chemical weapons at their disposal.
Lund, Aron, “Syria’s Salafi Insurgents: The Rise of the Syrian Islamic Front” February 2013 http://www.ui.se/eng/upl/files/86861.pdf
Abu Moussaab al-Souri, “durous mustafada min al-tajruba al-jihadiya al-musallaha fi souriya” (“Lessons learned from the armed Jihad ordeal in Syria”), combating Terrorism Center, West point, afGp-2002-600080, arabic original: ctc.usma.edu/posts/lessons-learned-from-the-jihad-ordeal-insyria-original, english translation: ctc.usma.edu/posts/lessonslearned-from-the-jihad-ordeal-in-syria-english-translation
Brynjar Lia, Architect of Global Jihad: The life of al Qaida strategist Abu Mus’ab al-Suri, Hurst publishers, 2007
Abu Basir al-Tartousi Salafist Jihadist in Syria: http://www.ui.se/eng/upl/files/86861.pdf
Where is Our Sovereignty?
In the name of anti-terrorism, the Justice Department of U.S.A has urged its acquisition of all modes of powers since the birth of our country. Following are some fundamental considerations.
Why, at all, do our civil rights have to be sacrificed in order to protect (so called) us from terrorists by this outside force, called as hegemony? Why even has U.S. taken the responsibility on interfering in Pakistan’s (and the worlds) internal matters as that of security? The argument is whether security is more crucial than our liberty. We are told that the Justice Department requires these powers in order to make us secure. But the central question goes deeper – will the sacrifice of our liberty actually make us safer, for we accept their dominance and let them interfere in our matters, why?
Can we be made absolutely safe by U.S.’s interference in our security matters? No. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together realizes this. The War on Terrorism, occurring in Pakistan, will not be won, as this war is a political act, done by politicians for political reasons. We had a war on poverty, and lost. We had a war on drugs, and lost. These kinds of wars are not about resolving issues, they are about appearing to resolve issues.
The biggest blind liberty we openly give to The U.S. is the power to name anyone amongst us as a terrorist or a supporter of terrorism, without any proof or any judicial review of the claim; we trust American leaders to name someone a terrorist or a devotee of terrorism only for the reason of protecting from terrorists. They do this in secret, on the basis of whatever information or sources they characterize, and with no one ever able to review their decision.
Once they have determined that someone is a terrorist or a supporter of terrorism (remember no testimony required), they assert (or want) the right to detain indefinitely, and in clandestine. That is, should they decide you are a terrorist or a supporter of terrorism; they get to secretly arrest you and hold you as long as they want without anyone knowing why or where. No court is able to review this situation. Where is our sovereignty at this point?
The above, of course, has to do with the eavesdropping they want to do, or their ability to come into our homes without a warrant and copy our hard drive, and make it possible to copy all the keystrokes we make and harass us for whatever petty grievance they hold.
Now ask yourself, how does their interference in our matters of security make us safe from terrorists? How does their power to name someone a terrorist or a supporter of terrorists, without judicial review, make us safer? Such a power only makes the judgments, of those who hold this power, safe from any abuse of that power. How the power to search and arrest without warrant make us safer? For it threatens not the terrorists, but our sovereignty.
Nuclear Terrorism and Pakistan
Nuclear terrorism is a potential threat to the world security. According to the EU representative terrorists can get access to nuclear and radioactive materials and they can use it to terrorize the world. Nuclear security expert Mathew Bunn argues that “An act of nuclear terrorism would likely put an end to the growth and spread of nuclear energy.”After 9/11 the world has observed that al-Qaida wanted to get nuclear weapons. In case terrorists acquire nuclear materials, they would use it for the production of a dirty bomb. A dirty bomb is not like a nuclear bomb. A nuclear bomb spreads radiation over hundreds of square while; nuclear bomb could destroy only over a few square miles. A dirty bomb would not kill more people than an ordinary bomb. It will not create massive destruction, but it will cause the psychological terror which will lead to a panic situation which is more devastating. The world has not experienced of any act of nuclear terrorism, but terrorists expressed their desires to gain nuclear weapons. The IAEA has observed thousands of incidents of lost, left and unauthorized control of nuclear materials and such materials can go into the wrong hands.
After 9/11 terrorism generated negative perceptions about the nuclear security of Pakistan. Often western community pressurizes Pakistan that its nuclear weapons can go into the wrong hands due to the terrorism in it. The fact is that Pakistan has faced many terrorist attacks, but not any attack towards its nuclear installation facility and radiation has been occurred. Mostly, nations obtain nuclear weapons for the international prestige, but Pakistan is one of those states which obtained nuclear capability to defend itself from India which has supremacy in conventional weapons. It played a leading role in the efforts of nuclear security since inception of its nuclear weapons. The result is that no single incident of theft and sabotage has been recorded in Pakistan.
Pakistan is a very responsible state and it has taken foolproof measures to defend the its nuclear installations and nuclear materials against any terrorist threats. Pakistan is not the member of the nonproliferation(NPT), Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and Fissile material cut off treaty (FMCT) because India has not signed them. If Pakistan signs these treaties and India does not, it would raise asymmetry between both rival states of South Asia. Pakistan’s nuclear non-proliferation policy is based on principles as per the NPT norms, although ithas not signed it. Pakistan had also proposed to make South Asia a nuclear free zone in 1970 and 80s, but India did not accept that.
However, Pakistan is a strong supporter of non-proliferation, nuclear safety and security. In this context, it is the signatory of a number of regimes. Pakistan has established the its Nuclear Regulatory authority (PNRA) since22 January, 2001 under the obligations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The PNRA works under the IAEA advisory group on nuclear security and it is constantly improving and re-evaluating nuclear security architecture. Pakistan has ratified the 2005 amendment to the physical protection convention for the physical security of nuclear materials. When Obama announced nuclear security summit in 2009,Pakistan welcomed it. It has not only attended all nuclear security summits, but proved with its multiple nuclear security measures that it is a responsible nuclear state. Pakistan’s nuclear devices are kept unassembled with the Permissive Action Links (PALs) to prevent the unauthorized control and detonation of nuclear weapons. Different US policy makers and Obama have stated that “we have confidence that the Pakistani military is equipped to prevent extremists from getting an access to the nuclear materials.”
The dilemma, however is that some major powers favour India due to their geopolitical interests, despite India’s low score in nuclear security than Pakistan, as is evident from the reports prepared by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).The US has always favoured India for the membership of the NSG ignoring Pakistan request to become a member of the NSG, despite that it has taken more steps than India to ensure nuclear safety and security. It is following United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540(which is about the prevention of proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDS) and it is the first state which has submitted its report to the UN.
The report explains the measures taken by Pakistan to ensure radiological security and control of sensitive materials and WMDs transfer. Although Pakistan has suffered a lot due to terrorism, but its nuclear security measures are strong and appreciable. Recently, IAEA director visited Pakistan and appreciated its efforts in nuclear safety and security. In view of Pakistan’s successful war against terrorism, its success in eliminating terrorism in the country, and strong measures that it has taken to secure its nuclear installations and materials, their should be no doubt left about the safety Pakistan’s nuclear materials.
U.S. lead the War on Terror and the Afghan Peace
The region known today as Afghanistan has been subjugated to a series of warfare since the soviet occupation, till date, including the United States led NATO’s is on in full swing. Afghanistan shares its borders with multiple countries, including Pakistan. The unrest in Afghanistan has been a major cause of instability of the region, including the spread of terrorism in the neighbouring countries, particularly along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The people of these areas known by the ethnicity of “Pashtuns” have been the major effected population of the unrest. From training those to become the U.S. backed “mujahideen” against the former USSR to unleashing the war on terror against them when they started to retaliate, Pashtuns are the sufferers.
The purpose of the mention of this scenario basically highlights the fact that the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan- the Pashtuns- have witnessed avery prolong war. This is a war that is neither the creation of their own, nor concerns them directly. It is a war with no clear end, with no particular benefit and it is only hurting the people. In fact, this long war has brought miseries to the people of Afghanistan and the region, that now must end.
The insurgencies in Afghanistan have resulted in the worsening of security situations in Pakistan, as is evident through the course of history. Finally, these insurgencies took the shape of suicide bombings to widespread terror attacks that resulted in large scale life and property losses. In Pakistan the the spill over of terrorism from Afghanistan has been rooted out successfully with the success of the “Zarb-e-Azb” and the ongoing operation “Rad-UL-Fassad. Although Pakistan has achieved this grand success after giving immense human sacrifices and suffering heavy economic losses.
The recently announced US Strategy / Policy on Afghanistan is also going to have a significant effect on the future regional developments. The salient points of president Trump’s Afghan Policy announced in 2017 can be summarized under six main headings:
1.Troop Levels: Pentagon authorized to ramp up troop numbers, who will be engaged in counterterrorism and training activities.
2.Military Autonomy: Military commander were delegated authority to act in real time and expand the US operations to target terrorists and criminal networks in Afghanistan.
3.Open-ended: No fixed timelines given for completion of the mission in Afghanistan.
4.Fighting Enemies: But Not Nation-building. Victory in Afghanistan will mean “attacking our enemies” and “obliterating” the Islamic State group. Vowed to crush al-Qaeda, prevent the Taliban from taking over the country, and stop terror attacks against Americans. US will continue to work with the Afghan government, “however, US commitment is not unlimited, and support is not a blank cheque” and the US would not engage in “nation-building”.
5.Pakistan Bashing: The US “can no longer be silent” about alleged terrorist safe havens in Pakistan. Trump alleged that Pakistan often gives sanctuary to “agents of chaos, violence and terror”, the Taliban and other groups who pose a threat to the region and beyond.
6.Enhanced Indian Role: India to help more in Afghanistan, especially in the areas of economic assistance and development.
These stated interests call for a continued, ongoing unrest in the region. While the U.S. does not realize its own failings in Afghanistan, to cover up its own failures it asks Pakistan to “DO MORE”. In this context, it should be realized by the US and its other allies that Pakistan has already played a major part in the war on terror by defeating terrorism in its border regions with Afghanistan and elsewhere in the country by giving sacrifices much more than what the US and NATO forces have suffered from. Therefore it is the US who has to review its policies in Afghanistan and find a solution of the conflict there to bring peace to the region.
The United States Government should now realize that the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan have suffered too much from the war on terror and its backlash in the form of terrorist incidents. Especially Afghanistan people who have suffered since last 40 years want relief and peaceful conditions to resettle in their houses. The region also wants peace to focus on its economic development and welfare of its people.It is therefore better that the US initiates peace talks with the Taliban along with other Afghan groups to agree on a formula of US withdrawal from Afghanistan and holding free and fair elections in Afghan to form a government that is acceptable to all Afghans. This is the only way to end the war and bring peace in the region, so that the people of this region could also lead a normal life, like the people of other regions.
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