Death squads in Iraq and Syria. The historical roots of US-NATO’s covert war on Syria

History that is never taught in American schools. When the US says they are sending special operations forces to a country, this is what that means. This gives more clarity on the terror that Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Latin and South America, the continent of Africa, and any country that needs “punishing” faces from the United States.
This is the democracy that the United States brings.
Global Research, July 14, 2016
Global Research 4 January 2013
salvadordeathsquad

Image: El Salvador Death Squads

This article was first published by Global Research on January 4, 2013. It is also published as a chapter in Michel Chossudovsky’s book  The Globalization of War, America’s Long War against Humanity. Global Research Publishers, 2015

In recent developments the Chilcot Report has revealed the role of Latin-american style death squads in Iraq.

The recruitment of death squads is part of a well established US military-intelligence agenda. There is a long and gruesome US history of covert funding and support of  terror brigades and targeted assassinations going back to the Vietnam war. 

As government forces continue to confront the self-proclaimed “Free Syrian Army” (FSA),  the historical roots of  the West’s covert war on Syria –which has resulted in countless atrocities– must be fully revealed.

From the outset in March 2011, the US and its allies have supported the formation of death squads and the incursion of  terrorist brigades in a carefully planned undertaking.

The recruitment and training of terror brigades in both Iraq and Syria was modeled on the “Salvador Option”,  a “terrorist model” of mass killings by US sponsored death squads in Central America. It was first applied in  El Salvador, in the heyday of resistance against the military dictatorship, resulting in an estimated 75,000 deaths.

The formation of death squads in Syria builds upon the history and experience of US  sponsored terror brigades in Iraq, under the Pentagon’s “counterinsurgency” program.

The Establishment of Death Squads in Iraq

US sponsored death squads were recruited in Iraq starting in 2004-2005 in an initiative launched under the helm of the US Ambassador John Negroponte, [image: right] who was dispatched to Baghdad by the US State Department in June 2004.

Negroponte was the “man for the job”. As US Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. Negroponte played a key role in supporting and supervising the Nicaraguan Contras based in Honduras as well as overseeing the activities of the Honduran military death squads.

“Under the rule of General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, Honduras’s military government was both a close ally of the Reagan administration and was “disappearing” dozens of political opponents in classic death squad fashion.”

In January 2005, the Pentagon, confirmed that it was considering:

” forming hit squads of Kurdish and Shia fighters to target leaders of the Iraqi insurgency [Resistance] in a strategic shift borrowed from the American struggle against left-wing guerrillas in Central America 20 years ago”.

Under the so-called “El Salvador option”, Iraqi and American forces would be sent to kill or kidnap insurgency leaders, even in Syria, where some are thought to shelter. …

Hit squads would be controversial and would probably be kept secret.

The experience of the so-called “death squads” in Central America remains raw for many even now and helped to sully the image of the United States in the region.

Then, the Reagan Administration funded and trained teams of nationalist forces to neutralise Salvadorean rebel leaders and sympathisers. …

John Negroponte, the US Ambassador in Baghdad, had a front-row seat at the time as Ambassador to Honduras from 1981-85.

Death squads were a brutal feature of Latin American politics of the time. …

In the early 1980s President Reagan’s Administration funded and helped to train Nicaraguan contras based in Honduras with the aim of ousting Nicaragua’s Sandinista regime. The Contras were equipped using money from illegal American arms sales to Iran, a scandal that could have toppled Mr Reagan.

The thrust of the Pentagon proposal in Iraq, … is to follow that model …

It is unclear whether the main aim of the missions would be to assassinate the rebels or kidnap them and take them away for interrogation. Any mission in Syria would probably be undertaken by US Special Forces.

Nor is it clear who would take responsibility for such a programme — the Pentagon or the Central Intelligence Agency. Such covert operations have traditionally been run by the CIA at arm’s length from the administration in power, giving US officials the ability to deny knowledge of it.  (El Salvador-style ‘death squads’ to be deployed by US against Iraq militants – Times Online, January 10, 2005, emphasis added)

While the stated objective of the “Iraq Salvador Option” was to “take out the insurgency”, in practice the US sponsored terror brigades were involved in routine killings of civilians with a view to fomenting sectarian violence. In turn, the CIA and MI6 were overseeing “Al Qaeda in Iraq”  units involved in targeted assassinations directed against the Shiite population. Of significance, the death squads were integrated and advised by undercover US Special Forces.

Robert Stephen Ford –subsequently appointed US Ambassador to Syria– was part of Negroponte’s team in Baghdad in 2004-2005. In January 2004, he was dispatched as U.S. representative to the Shiite city of Najaf which was the stronghold of the Mahdi army, with which he made preliminary contacts.

In January 2005, Robert S. Ford’s was appointed Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy under the helm of Ambassador John Negroponte. He was not only part of the inner team, he was Negroponte’s partner in setting up the Salvador Option.  Some of the groundwork had been established in Najaf prior to Ford’s transfer to Baghdad.

John Negroponte and Robert Stephen Ford were put in charge of recruiting the Iraqi death squads. While Negroponte  coordinated the operation from his office at the US Embassy, Robert S. Ford, who was fluent in both Arabic and Turkish, was entrusted with the task of establishing strategic contacts with Shiite and Kurdish militia groups outside the “Green Zone”.

Two other embassy officials, namely Henry Ensher (Ford’s Deputy) and a younger official in the political section,Jeffrey Beals, played an important role in the team “talking to a range of Iraqis, including extremists”. (See The New Yorker, March 26, 2007).  Another key individual in Negroponte’s team was James Franklin Jeffrey, America’s ambassador to Albania (2002-2004). In 2010, Jeffrey was appointed US Ambassador to Iraq (2010-2012).

Negroponte also brought into the team one of his former collaborators Colonel James Steele (ret) from his Honduras heyday:

Under the “Salvador Option,” “Negroponte had assistance from his colleague from his days in Central America during the 1980′s, Ret. Col James Steele. Steele, whose title in Baghdad was Counselor for Iraqi Security Forces supervised the selection and training of members of the Badr Organization and Mehdi Army, the two largest Shi’ite militias in Iraq, in order to target the leadership and support networks of a primarily Sunni resistance. Planned or not, these death squads promptly spiralled out of control to become the leading cause of death in Iraq.

Intentional or not, the scores of tortured, mutilated bodies which turn up on the streets of Baghdad each day are generated by the death squads whose impetus was John Negroponte. And it is this U.S.-backed sectarian violence which largely led to the hell-disaster that Iraq is today. (Dahr Jamail, Managing Escalation: Negroponte and Bush’s New Iraq Team,. Antiwar.com, January 7, 2007)

“Colonel Steele was responsible, according to Rep. Dennis Kucinichfor implementing  “a plan in El Salvador under which tens of thousands Salvadorans “disappeared” or were murdered, including Archbishop Oscar Romero and four American nuns.”

Upon his appointment to Baghdad, Colonel Steele was assigned to a counter-insurgency unit known as the “Special Police Commando” under the Iraqi Interior Ministry” (See ACN, Havana,  June 14, 2006) 

Reports confirm that “the US military turned over many prisoners to the Wolf Brigade, the feared 2nd battalion of the interior ministry’s special commandos” which so happened to be under supervision of  Colonel Steele:

“US soldiers, US advisers, were standing aside and doing nothing,” while members of the Wolf Brigade beat and tortured prisoners. The interior ministry commandos took over the public library in Samarra, and turned it into a detention centre, he said.  An interview conducted by Maass [of the New York Times] in 2005 at the improvised prison, accompanied by the Wolf Brigade’s US military adviser, Col James Steele, had been interrupted by the terrified screams of a prisoner outside, he said. Steele was reportedly previously employed as an adviser to help crush an insurgency in El Salvador.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

Another notorious figure who played a role in Iraq’s counter-insurgency program was Former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik  [image: Bernie Kerik  in Baghdad Police Academy with body guards] who in 2007 was indicted in federal court on 16 felony charges.

Kerik walks amidst a phalanx of bodyguards during visit to the Police Academy in Baghdad, July 2003.

Kerik had been appointed by the Bush administration at the outset of the occupation in 2003 to assist in the organization and training  of the Iraqi Police force. During his short stint in 2003, Bernie Kerik –who took on the position of interim Minister of the Interior– worked towards organizing terror units within the Iraqi Police force: “Dispatched to Iraq to whip Iraqi security forces into shape, Kerik dubbed himself the “interim interior minister of Iraq.” British police advisors called him the “Baghdad terminator,” (Salon, December 9, 2004, emphasis added)

Under Negroponte’s helm at the US Embassy in Baghdad, a  wave of covert civilian killings and targeted assassinations had been unleashed. Engineers, medical  doctors, scientists and intellectuals were also targeted.

Author and geopolitical analyst Max Fuller has documented in detail the atrocities committed under the US sponsored counterinsurgency program.

The appearance of death squads was first highlighted in May this year [2005], …dozens of bodies were found casually disposed … in vacant areas around Baghdad. All of the victims had been handcuffed, blindfolded and shot in the head and many of them also showed signs of having been brutally tortured.  …

The evidence was sufficiently compelling for the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), a leading Sunni organisation, to issue public statements in which they accused the security forces attached to the Ministry of the Interior as well as the Badr Brigade, the former armed wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), of being behind the killings. They also accused the Ministry of the Interior of conducting state terrorism (Financial Times).

The Police Commandos as well as the Wolf  Brigade were overseen by the US counterinsurgency program in the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior:

The Police Commandos were formed under the experienced tutelage and oversight of veteran US counterinsurgency fighters, and from the outset conducted joint-force operations with elite and highly secretive US special-forces units (Reuters, National Review Online).

A key figure in the development of the Special Police Commandos was James Steele, a former US Army special forces operative who cut his teeth in Vietnam before moving on to direct the US military mission in El Salvador at the height of that country’s civil war. …

Another US contributor was the same Steven Casteel who as the most senior US advisor within the Interior Ministry brushed off serious and well-substantiated accusations of appalling human right violations as ‘rumor and innuendo’. Like Steele, Casteel gained considerable experience in Latin America, in his case participating in the hunt for the cocaine baron Pablo Escobar in Colombia’s Drugs Wars of the 1990s …

Casteel’s background is significant because this kind of intelligence-gathering support role and the production of death lists are characteristic of US involvement in counterinsurgency programs and constitute the underlying thread in what can appear to be random, disjointed killing sprees.

Such centrally planned genocides are entirely consistent with what is taking place in Iraq today [2005] …It is also consistent with what little we know about the Special Police Commandos, which was tailored to provide the Interior Ministry with a special-forces strike capability (US Department of Defense). In keeping with such a role, the Police Commando headquarters has become the hub of a nationwide command, control, communications, computer and intelligence operations centre, courtesy of the US. (Max Fuller, op cit)

This initial groundwork established under Negroponte in 2005 was implemented under his successor Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.  Robert Stephen Ford ensured the continuity of the project prior to his appointment as US Ambassador to Algeria in 2006,  as well as upon his return to Baghdad as Deputy Chief of Mission in 2008.

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Operation “Syrian Contras”: Learning from the Iraqi Experience

The gruesome Iraqi version of the “Salvador Option” under the helm of Ambassador John Negroponte has served as a “role model” for setting up the “Free Syrian Army” Contras. Robert Stephen Ford was, no doubt, involved in the implementation of the Syrian Contras project, following his reassignment to Baghdad as Deputy Head of Mission in 2008.

The objective in Syria was to create factional divisions between Sunni, Alawite, Shiite, Kurds, Druze and Christians. While the Syrian context is entirely different to that of Iraq, there are striking similarities with regard to the procedures whereby the killings and atrocities were conducted.

A report published by Der Spiegel pertaining to atrocities committed in the Syrian city of Homs confirms an organized sectarian process of mass-murder and extra-judicial killings comparable to that conducted by the US sponsored death squads in Iraq.

People in Homs were routinely categorized as   “prisoners” (Shia, Alawite) and “traitors”.  The “traitors” are Sunni civilians within the rebel occupied urban area, who express their disagreement or opposition to the rule of terror of the Free Syrian Army (FSA):

“Since last summer [2011], we have executed slightly fewer than 150 men, which represents about 20 percent of our prisoners,” says Abu Rami. … But the executioners of Homs have been busier with traitors within their own ranks than with prisoners of war. “If we catch a Sunni spying, or if a citizen betrays the revolution, we make it quick,” says the fighter. According to Abu Rami, Hussein’s burial brigade has put between 200 and 250 traitors to death since the beginning of the uprising.”(Der Spiegel, March 30, 2012)

The project required an initial program of recruitment and training of mercenaries. Death squads including Lebanese and Jordanian Salafist units entered Syria’s southern border with Jordan in mid-March 2011.  Much of the groundwork was already in place prior to Robert Stephen Ford’s arrival in Damascus in January 2011.

Ambassador Ford in Hama in early July 2011

Ford’s appointment as Ambassador to Syria was announced in early 2010. Diplomatic relations had been cut in 2005 following the Rafick Hariri assassination, which Washington blamed on Syria. Ford arrived in Damascus barely two months before the onset of the insurgency.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA)

Washington and its allies replicated in Syria the essential features of the “Iraq Salvador Option”, leading to the creation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and its various terrorist factions including the Al Qaeda affiliated Al Nusra brigades.

While the creation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was announced in June 2011, the recruitment and training of foreign mercenaries was initiated at a much an earlier period.

In many regards, the Free Syrian Army is a smokescreen. It is upheld by the Western media as a bona fide military entity established as a result of mass defections from government forces.  The number of defectors, however, was neither significant nor sufficient to establish a coherent military structure  with command and control functions.

The FSA  is not a professional  military entity, rather it is a loose network of separate terrorist brigades, which in turn are made up of numerous paramilitary cells operating in different parts of the country.

Each of these terrorist organizations operates independently. The FSA does not effectively exercise command and control functions including liaison with these diverse paramilitary entities. The latter are controlled by US-NATO sponsored special forces and intelligence operatives which are embedded within the ranks of selected terrorist formations.

These (highly trained) Special forces on the ground (many of whom are employees of private security companies) are routinely in contact with US-NATO and allied military/intelligence command units (including Turkey). These embedded Special Forces are, no doubt, also involved in the carefully planned bomb attacks directed against government buildings, military compounds, etc.

The death squads are mercenaries trained and recruited by the US, NATO, its Persian Gulf GCC allies as well as Turkey.  They are overseen by allied special forces (including British SAS and French Parachutistes), and private security companies on contract to NATO and the Pentagon. In this regard, reports confirm the arrest by the Syrian government of some 200-300 private security company employees who had integrated rebel ranks.

The Jabhat Al Nusra Front

 

The Al Nusra Front –which is said to be affiliated to Al Qaeda– is described as the most effective “opposition” rebel fighting group, responsible for several of the high profile bomb attacks. Portrayed as an enemy of America (on the State Department list of terrorist organizations), Al Nusra operations, nonetheless, bear the fingerprints of US paramilitary training, terror tactics and weapons systems. The atrocities committed against civilians by Al Nusra (funded covertly by US-NATO) are similar to those undertaken by the US sponsored death squads in Iraq.

In the words of Al Nusra leader Abu Adnan in Aleppo: “Jabhat al-Nusra does count Syrian veterans of the Iraq war among its numbers, men who bring expertise — especially the manufacture of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) — to the front in Syria.”

As in Iraq, factional violence and ethnic cleansing were actively promoted. In Syria, the Alawite, Shiite and Christian communities have been the target of the US-NATO sponsored death squads.  The Alawite and the Christian community are the main targets of the assassination program. Confirmed by the Vatican News Service:

Christians in Aleppo are victims of death and destruction due to the fighting which for months, has been affecting the city. The Christian neighborhoods, in recent times, have been hit by rebel forces fighting against the regular army and this has caused an exodus of civilians.

Some groups in the rugged opposition, where there are also jiahadist groups, “fire on Christian houses and buildings, to force occupants to escape and then take possession [ethnic cleansing] (Agenzia Fides. Vatican News, October 19, 2012)

“The Sunni Salafist militants – says the Bishop – continue to commit crimes against civilians, or to recruit fighters with force. The fanatical Sunni extremists are fighting a holy war proudly, especially against the Alawites. When terrorists seek to control the religious identity of a suspect, they ask him to cite the genealogies dating back to Moses. And they ask to recite a prayer that the Alawites removed. The Alawites have no chance to get out alive.”  (Agenzia Fides 04/06/2012)

Reports confirm the influx of Salafist and Al Qaeda affiliated death squads as well as brigades under the auspices of the Muslim Brotherhood into Syria from the inception of the insurgency in March 2011.

Moreover, reminiscent of  the enlistment of  the Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war, NATO and the Turkish High command, according to Israeli intelligence sources, had initiated”

“a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011).

Private Security Companies and the Recruitment of Mercenaries

According to reports, private security companies operating out of Gulf States are involved in the recruiting and training of mercenaries.

Although not specifically earmarked for the recruitment of mercenaries directed against Syria, reports point to the creation of  training camps in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In Zayed Military City (UAE), “a secret army is in the making”  operated by Xe Services, formerly Blackwater.  The UAE deal to establish a military camp for the training of mercenaries was signed in July 2010, nine months before the onslaught of the wars in Libya and Syria.

In recent developments, security companies on contract to NATO and the Pentagon are involved in training “opposition” death squads in the use of chemical weapons:

The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday. ( CNN Report, December 9, 2012)

The names of the companies involved were not revealed.

Behind Closed Doors at the US State Department

Robert Stephen Ford was part of a small team at the US State Department team which oversaw the recruitment and training of  terrorist brigades,  together with Derek Chollet  and Frederic C. Hof, a former business partner of Richard Armitage, who served as Washington’s “special coordinator on Syria”. Derek Chollet has recently been appointed to the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (ISA).

This team operated under the helm of  (former) Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern AffairsJeffrey Feltman.

Feltman’s team was in close liaison with the process of recruitment and training of mercenaries out of Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Libya (courtesy of the post-Gaddafi regime, which dispatched six hundred Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) troops to Syria, via Turkey in the months following the September 2011 collapse of the Gaddafi government).

Assistant Secretary of State Feltman was in contact with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal,and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim. He was also in charge of a  Doha-based office for “special security coordination” pertaining to  Syria, which included representatives from Western and GCC intelligence agencies well as a representative from Libya. Prince Bandar bin Sultan. a prominent and controversial member of Saudi intelligence was part of this group. (See Press Tv, May 12, 2012).

In June 2012, Jeffrey Feltman (image: Left) was appointed UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, a strategic position  which, in practice, consists in setting  the UN agenda (on behalf of Washington) on issues pertaining to “Conflict Resolution” in various “political hot spots” around the world (including Somalia, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Mali). In a bitter irony, the countries for UN “conflict resolution” are those which are the target of  US covert operations.

In liaison with the US State Department, NATO and his GCC handlers in Doha and Riyadh, Feltman is Washington’s man behind UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahmi’s “Peace Proposal”.

Meanwhile, while paying lip service to the UN Peace initiative, the US and NATO have speeded up the process of recruitment and training of  mercenaries in response to the heavy casualties incurred by “opposition” rebel forces.

The US proposed “end game” in Syria is not regime change, but the destruction of Syria as a Nation State.

The deployment of “opposition” death squads with a mandate to kill civilians is part of this criminal undertaking.

“Terrorism with a Human Face” is upheld by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which constitutes a mouthpiece for NATO “Humanitarian Interventions” under the doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P).

The atrocities committed by the US-NATO death squads are casually blamed on the government of Bashar Al Assad. According to UN Human Rights Council High Commissioner Navi Pillay:

“This massive loss of life could have been avoided if the Syrian Government had chosen to take a different path than one of ruthless suppression of what were initially peaceful and legitimate protests by unarmed civilians,” (quoted in Stephen Lendman, UN Human Rights Report on Syria: Camouflage of US-NATO Sponsored Massacres, Global Research, January 3, 2012)

Washington’s “unspeakable objective” consists in breaking up Syria as a sovereign nation –along ethnic and religious lines– into several separate and “independent” political entities.


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Al Qaeda goes to Washington

Global Research, May 22, 2016
Syrian Al Qaeda Affiliated Leader Visited Washington, for Consultations with U.S. State Department?
A senior figure from a Syrian rebel group with links to al Qaida was allowed into the United States for a brief visit, raising questions about how much the Obama administration will compromise in the search for partners in the conflict.”  McClatchy, May 21, 2016Labib al Nahhas is known as the foreign affairs director for the Islamist fighting group Ahrar al Sham. He visited Washington in December. The leader of a terrorist entity linked to Al Qaeda was granted entry by US immigration:

That suggests that authorities granted him entry at a time when U.S. immigration authorities face political pressure to block visitors with even tenuous ties to extremist groups. Four months after Nahhas entered the United States on a European passport, U.S. authorities denied entry to a well-known Syrian humanitarian leader who had been approved to visit Washington to receive an award from international aid groups. McClatchy 

While the purpose of his visit was not disclosed, the report nonetheless intimates that he was in Washington for talks with US government officials. “His previously undisclosed visit is a delicate matter for both sides – the conservative Salafist insurgents risk their credibility with even perceived ties to the United States, and the U.S. government risks looking soft on screenings by allowing entry to a member of an Islamist paramilitary force.”

Moreover,  shortly prior to his visit to Washington, Nahhas together with other rebel leaders met with Michael Ratney (image right), U.S. State Department special envoy for Syria, in Istanbul on December 5, 2015.

Was this Istanbul meeting intended to establish the groundwork for further consultations with the jihadist leader in Washington DC?

The report suggested that the Ahrar al Sham “moderate” terrorist leader (who appears to have the profile of a US “intelligence asset”)  would be meeting with “third parties” in Washington DC  ”who might influence policymakers” –e.g. D.C. think tanks, research institutes, media, US intelligence, etc. as well as  ”lobbyists and Middle East researchers”.

The State Department declined to answer whether any U.S. officials knew in advance or expressed reservations about Nahhas’s presence in Washington, or whether State Department officials had assisted his entry.

In this image posted on the Twitter page of Ahrar al-Sham on May 6, 2016, an Ahrar al Sham fighter guards the front lines of Breidige village in northwest Syria. Unlike the Islamic State group and al-Qaida's branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham is not on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.

In this image posted on the Twitter page of Ahrar al-Sham on May 6, 2016, an Ahrar al Sham fighter guards the front lines of Breidige village in northwest Syria. Unlike the Islamic State group and al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham is not on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.

National security analysts say U.S. authorities likely knew of Nahhas’ arrival – intelligence agencies for years have watched his group’s interactions with al Qaida’s Syrian branch, the Nusra Front.

“They could make, quickly, the decision that he’s persona non grata in the United States and yet they haven’t.” Faysal Itani, a Syria specialist with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East

Links to al Qaeda

Nahhas denies his affiliation to al Qaeda:

“We have been falsely accused of having organizational links to Al-Qaeda and of espousing Al-Qaeda’s ideology. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

According to Charles Lister (Brookings):

These are bold words [above] from such a senior Ahrar al-Sham official, … , this author still finds it nearly impossible to get any group, including those already successfully “vetted” by the United States, to commit to condemning Jabhat al-Nusra in front of others, Syrian or foreign.

So was Nahhas’ omission of Jabhat al-Nusra merely an extension of this broader reality? Thus far, it would seem so. By explicitly singling out al-Qaida, Nahhas was distinguishing its Syrian affiliate, or at least much of the 60 to 70 percent Syrian portion of it, as still being a potential partner [al Nusra] in a broader and more medium-term Syrian project. Brookings, July 14, 2015

In this regard, the McClatchy report confirms that

The group’s ultimate vision is Islamist rule for Syria and its old links to al Qaida are no secret: One of the group’s founders, Abu Khalid al Suri, was memorialized by al Qaida leader Ayman al Zawahiri after his death in a bombing.

By all accounts, Ahrar al Sham is much more ideologically diverse than al Qaida, encompassing members ranging from followers of a more moderate, Muslim Brotherhood-style Islamism to Salafist jihadists whose beliefs are virtually identical to al Qaida’s.

“They’re not al Qaida but they are Salafi jihadists – they’re just not transnational ones,” Itani said of Ahrar al Sham. (McClatchy, op cit)

Al Qaeda goes to Washington! This should come as no surprise. It’s part of a routine. US officials have been working hand in glove with Al Qaeda since the onslaught of the war on Afghanistan in 1979.

President Reagan meets with Mujahideen leaders, 1980s

The original source of this article is Global Research

Former CIA official on the secret wars of the CIA — Part 2

From The Other Americas Radio
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info//article4069.htm

Transcript: THE SECRET WARS OF THE CIA

by John Stockwell

A lecture given in October, 1987

Part II – Part I Here

I just got my latest book back from the CIA censors. If I had not submitted it to them, I would have gone to jail, without trial – blow off juries and all that sort of thing – for having violated our censorship laws….

In that job [Angola] I sat on a sub-committee of the NSC, so I was like a chief of staff, with the GS-18s (like 3-star generals) Henry Kissinger, Bill Colby (the CIA director), the GS-18s and the CIA, making important decisions and my job was to put it all together and make it happen and run it, an interesting place from which to watch a covert action being done….

When the world’s gotten blocked up before, like a monopoly game where everything’s owned and nobody can make any progress, the way they erased the board and started over has been to have big world wars, and erase countries and bomb cities and bomb banks and then start from scratch again. This is not an option to us now because of all these 52,000 nuclear weapons….

The United States CIA is running 50 covert actions, destabilizing further almost one third of the countries in the world today….

By the way, everything I’m sharing with you tonight is in the public record. The 50 covert actions – these are secret, but that has been leaked to us by members of the oversight committee of the Congress. I urge you not to take my word for anything. I’m going to stand here and tell you and give you examples of how our leaders lie. Obviously I could be lying. The only way you can figure it out for yourself is to educate yourselves. The French have a saying, `them that don’t do politics will be done’. If you don’t fill your mind eagerly with the truth, dig it out from the records, go and see for yourself, then your mind remains blank and your adrenaline pumps, and you can be mobilized and excited to do things that are not in your interest to do….

Nicaragua is not the biggest covert action, it is the most famous one. Afghanistan is, we spent several hundred million dollars in Afghanistan. We’ve spent somewhat less than that, but close, in Nicaragua….

[When the U.S. doesn’t like a government], they send the CIA in, with its resources and activists, hiring people, hiring agents, to tear apart the social and economic fabric of the country, as a technique for putting pressure on the government, hoping that they can make the government come to the U.S.’s terms, or the government will collapse altogether and they can engineer a coup d’etat, and have the thing wind up with their own choice of people in power.

Now ripping apart the economic and social fabric of course is fairly textbook-ish. What we’re talking about is going in and deliberately creating conditions where the farmer can’t get his produce to market, where children can’t go to school, where women are terrified inside their homes as well as outside their homes, where government administration and programs grind to a complete halt, where the hospitals are treating wounded people instead of sick people, where international capital is scared away and the country goes bankrupt. If you ask the state department today what is their official explanation of the purpose of the Contras, they say it’s to attack economic targets, meaning, break up the economy of the country. Of course, they’re attacking a lot more.

To destabilize Nicaragua beginning in 1981, we began funding this force of Somoza’s ex-national guardsmen, calling them the contras (the counter-revolutionaries). We created this force, it did not exist until we allocated money. We’ve armed them, put uniforms on their backs, boots on their feet, given them camps in Honduras to live in, medical supplies, doctors, training, leadership, direction, as we’ve sent them in to de-stabilize Nicaragua. Under our direction they have systematically been blowing up graineries, saw mills, bridges, government offices, schools, health centers. They ambush trucks so the produce can’t get to market. They raid farms and villages. The farmer has to carry a gun while he tries to plow, if he can plow at all.

If you want one example of hard proof of the CIA’s involvement in this, and their approach to it, dig up `The Sabotage Manual’, that they were circulating throughout Nicaragua, a comic-book type of a paper, with visual explanations of what you can do to bring a society to a halt, how you can gum up typewriters, what you can pour in a gas tank to burn up engines, what you can stuff in a sewage to stop up the sewage so it won’t work, things you can do to make a society simply cease to function.

Systematically, the contras have been assassinating religious workers, teachers, health workers, elected officials, government administrators. You remember the assassination manual? that surfaced in 1984. It caused such a stir that President Reagan had to address it himself in the presidential debates with Walter Mondale. They use terror. This is a technique that they’re using to traumatize the society so that it can’t function.  Continue reading