How America armed terrorists in Syria

From Consortium News

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” to curb weapons going to Al Qaeda-linked jihadists in Syria, has attracted only 14 co-sponsors pointing to hypocrisy in the “war on terror,” as Gareth Porter explained at The American Conservative.

By Gareth Porter
June 23, 2017

Three-term Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a member of both the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, has proposed legislation that would prohibit any U.S. assistance to terrorist organizations in Syria as well as to any organization working directly with them. Equally important, it would prohibit U.S. military sales and other forms of military cooperation with other countries that provide arms or financing to those terrorists and their collaborators.

President Barack Obama walks along the Colonnade at the White House with then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Dec. 7, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” challenges for the first time in Congress a U.S. policy toward the conflict in the Syrian civil war that should have set off alarm bells long ago: in 2012-13 the Obama administration helped its Sunni allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar provide arms to Syrian and non-Syrian armed groups to force President Bashar al-Assad out of power. And in 2013 the administration began to provide arms to what the CIA judged to be “relatively moderate” anti-Assad groups — meaning they incorporated various degrees of Islamic extremism.

That policy, ostensibly aimed at helping replace the Assad regime with a more democratic alternative, has actually helped build up al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise al Nusra Front into the dominant threat to Assad.

The supporters of this arms-supply policy believe it is necessary as pushback against Iranian influence in Syria. But that argument skirts the real issue raised by the policy’s history.  The Obama administration’s Syria policy effectively sold out the U.S. interest that was supposed to be the touchstone of the “Global War on Terrorism” — the eradication of al Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates. The United States has instead subordinated that U.S. interest in counter-terrorism to the interests of its Sunni allies. In doing so it has helped create a new terrorist threat in the heart of the Middle East.

The policy of arming military groups committed to overthrowing the government of President Bashar al-Assad began in September 2011, when President Barack Obama was pressed by his Sunni allies — Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — to supply heavy weapons to a military opposition to Assad they were determined to establish. Turkey and the Gulf regimes wanted the United States to provide anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to the rebels, according to a former Obama administration official involved in Middle East issues.

Obama refused to provide arms to the opposition, but he agreed to provide covert U.S. logistical help in carrying out a campaign of military assistance to arm opposition groups. CIA involvement in the arming of anti-Assad forces began with arranging for the shipment of weapons from the stocks of the Gaddafi regime that had been stored in Benghazi.

Shipments from Benghazi

CIA-controlled firms shipped the weapons from the military port of Benghazi to two small ports in Syria using former U.S. military personnel to manage the logistics, as investigative reporter Sy Hersh detailed in 2014. The funding for the program came mainly from the Saudis.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress on Jan. 23, 2013, about the fatal attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11. 2012. (Photo from C-SPAN coverage)

A declassified October 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report revealed that the shipment in late August 2012 had included 500 sniper rifles, 100 RPG (rocket propelled grenade launchers) along with 300 RPG rounds and 400 howitzers. Each arms shipment encompassed as many as ten shipping containers, it reported, each of which held about 48,000 pounds of cargo.

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To help refugees, stop arming terrorists – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

From RT

March 1, 2017

To help refugees, stop arming terrorists – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s press release on her trip to Syria — January 25, 2017

I was asked, ‘Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups try to take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did.’ I had no answer.

From Tulsi Gabbard

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Returns From Syria with Renewed Calls: End Regime Change War in Syria Now

January 25, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC—Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) returned to Washington, DC after a week-long visit to Damascus, Aleppo, and Beirut to see and hear firsthand the impact of the war in Syria directly from the Syrian people. She heard stories of suffering, pain, courage and hope from people all across the country. She met with refugees, Syrian opposition leaders who led protests in 2011, widows and family members of Syrians fighting alongside groups like al-Qaeda, as well as those fighting on the side of the government. The Congresswoman also met with Lebanon’s newly-elected President Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, Syrian President Assad, Grand Mufti Hassoun, Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo, humanitarian workers, students, small business owners, and more.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard released the following statement upon her return:

“My visit to Syria has made it abundantly clear: Our counterproductive regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people.

“As I visited with people from across the country, and heard heartbreaking stories of how this war has devastated their lives, I was asked, ‘Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups try to take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did.’ I had no answer.

“I return to Washington, DC with even greater resolve to end our illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government. I call upon Congress and the new Administration to answer the pleas of the Syrian people immediately and support the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. We must stop directly and indirectly supporting terrorists—directly by providing weapons, training and logistical support to rebel groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS; and indirectly through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey, who, in turn, support these terrorist groups. We must end our war to overthrow the Syrian government and focus our attention on defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS.

“From Iraq to Libya and now in Syria, the U.S. has waged wars of regime change, each resulting in unimaginable suffering, devastating loss of life, and the strengthening of groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

“Originally, I had no intention of meeting with Assad, but when given the opportunity, I felt it was important to take it. I think we should be ready to meet with anyone if there’s a chance it can help bring about an end to this war, which is causing the Syrian people so much suffering.

“The U.S. must stop supporting terrorists who are destroying Syria and her people. The U.S. and other countries fueling this war must stop immediately. We must allow the Syrian people to try to recover from this terrible war.”

B-roll footage from Aleppo and Damascus is available here

The photos below are available here for download 

Above: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met these children at a shelter in Aleppo. Their families fled the eastern part of the city. Many of these children have only known war, loss and hardship. Their families’ only wish is for peace. Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

Above: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard meets with Syrian religious leaders in Aleppo, led by Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of the Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo, and joined by Archbishop Joseph Tabji of Maronite Church of Aleppo, Rev. Ibrahim Nseir of the Arab Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Aleppo, and others. Each called for peace, and an end to foreign support of terrorists who are trying to rid Syria of its secular, pluralistic, free society. Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

Above: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met these women at the Barzi Community Center. Many of these women have husbands who are fighting on opposite sides of the war, but who find friendship and empowerment together in their daily sewing classes.  They have hope to be able to provide for their family and take care of their children.  When asked, “Where is your husband?” many reply, “He is lost.” Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

Above: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard visits with Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other humanitarian workers at the Jibreen shelter, housing nearly 1,400 families who fled mostly the eastern part of Aleppo City. Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) is a twice-deployed combat veteran who has served as the United States Representative for Hawaiʻi’s 2nd congressional district since 2013. As a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard traveled to Lebanon and Syria as part of a delegation led and sponsored by the Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services (AACCESS)–Ohio. The 7-day trip was approved by the House Ethics Committee, as required by House rules, and was not taxpayer funded. The trip included visits to Aleppo, Damascus, and Beirut from January 14-22, 2017. Other members of the delegation included former Congressman and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and his wife, longtime peace advocates Elie and Bassam Khawam, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s husband, Abraham Williams.

Earlier this year, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608), legislation that would prohibit U.S. government funds from being used to support al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. In the same way that Congress passed the Boland Amendment to prohibit the funding and support to CIA backed-Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980’s, this bill would stop CIA or other Federal government activities in places like Syria by ensuring U.S. funds are not used to support al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIS, or other terrorist groups working with them. It would also prohibit the Federal government from funding assistance to countries that are directly or indirectly supporting those terrorist groups. The bill achieves this by:

  1. Making it illegal for any U.S. Federal government funds to be used to provide assistance covered in this bill to terrorists. The assistance covered includes weapons, munitions, weapons platforms, intelligence, logistics, training, and cash.
  2. Making it illegal for the U.S. government to provide assistance covered in the bill to any nation that has given or continues to give such assistance to terrorists.
  3. Requiring the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to determine the individual and groups that should be considered terrorists, for the purposes of this bill, by determining: (a) the individuals and groups that are associated with, affiliated with, adherents to or cooperating with al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, or ISIS; (b) the countries that are providing assistance covered in this bill to those individuals or groups.
  4. Requiring the DNI to review and update the list of countries and groups to which assistance is prohibited every six months, in consultation with the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
  5. Requiring the DNI to brief Congress on the determinations.

 

###

https://gabbard.house.gov/news/press-releases/congresswoman-tulsi-gabbard-returns-syria-renewed-calls-end-regime-change-war

Open letter from Syrians and Syrian-Americans on Rep. Gabbard’s trip

From Progessive Democrats of America

We Thank You, Congresswoman Gabbard, for Your Courageous Trip to Syria!

Jan 26, 2017

By Salah Zakkour, Press Release

We, members of the Syrian American community, wholeheartedly support Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s courageous fact-finding trip to Syria in January. With this trip Rep. Gabbard demonstrated her strong commitment and determination to bringing about an end to all forms of support by the United States Government and its allies to the extremists and terrorists who have been destroying Syria and other countries of the Middle East during the past several years. 

Rep. Gabbard’s trip to Syria was only a logical next step toward gathering the necessary first hand information in support of her similarly courageous bi-partisan bill, the Stop Arming Terrorists Act.  We consider her trip a significant step toward ending the U.S. government’s illegal policy of forced regime change in other countries, including Syria, with the help of extremist and terrorist groups. We urge all other members of Congress to follow Rep. Gabbard’s steps in order to directly see for themselves what is really happening in Syria, instead of relying on dubious information and fake news that is being fabricated by all those who are bent on overthrowing the Syrian government. Those people are blatantly ignoring the wishes of the majority of the Syrian people and closing their eyes to the humanitarian catastrophe it has created.

As they have done so after every fact-finding trip to Syria by concerned citizens of a number of countries, including those from the U.S., Australia and Britain, the same pro-regime-change people in the U.S. are once again repeating the same worn out and baseless argument that such fact finding trips to Syria, especially the one made by a member of U.S. Congress, “legitimizes” Assad government. They further argue that Rep. Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” will result in sacrificing the “moderate” opposition to Assad under the cover of fighting terrorism.

But neither of these arguments bears any relationship with reality.

As to the claim of “legitimization” of Assad government, it should be understood that the legitimacy of any government, Syrian government included, is derived from the support of its own citizens, not from a trip by a member of Congress of another country. Without taking sides about merits and demerits of the Assad government, we have to acknowledge that report after report by impartial observers has shown that the Assad government, and the Syrian Arab Army, has the support of the majority of Syrian people. These repeated reports were further confirmed by the last presidential election of June of 2014 in Syria, carried out in the presence of international observers, in which 73.4 percent of legitimate voters participated and 88 percent of them voted for President Assad. Moreover, the legitimacy of Assad government is officially recognized by the international community and the United Nations — a fact that nobody can deny. It is, therefore, upon the deniers of these facts to back up their claims to the contrary.

As to the claim of distinction between the so-called “moderate” opposition and the terrorist organizations, one does not have to look far to disprove it. First, it should be noted that these armed fighters are not the same people who were peacefully marching on the streets of Syria five years ago. In fact the peaceful opposition movement has been silenced and hijacked by the violent acts of extremist and terrorist groups like al-Nusra, Jebhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, and the like. The so-called “moderate” fighters have been fighting shoulder to shoulder in the past five years, and have refused to separate themselves from these terrorist groups, even when U.S. government asked them to for the sake of establishing a ceasefire. And their leaders have conceded that their members have joined these terrorist groups in droves and have turned the weapons they have received from the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Qatar, over to these terrorists. Even the U.S. government has conceded that a significant part of the arms delivered to these “moderate” groups has ended up in the hands of the terrorists. Moreover, the numerous testimonies of liberated citizens in Aleppo have clearly shown that the so-called “moderates” have been committing the same crimes against innocent people, as did the terrorists.

Such arguments are aimed at putting obstacles on the path of a peaceful, diplomatic resolution of the Syrian crisis. They are aimed at making a forced regime change in Syria a precondition for achieving a political resolution. And this can only be achieved through continued arming of terrorists in order to bring the Syrian government down before any negotiations can start.

It is in light of these facts that we consider Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s fact-finding trip and her Stop Arming Terrorists Act as a courageous move toward bringing a just peace to Syria. The Syrian people will be able to freely exercise their political and national rights only when these external terrorist attacks on their country have stopped.

We will be more than happy to do everything we can to help Congresswoman Gabbard in her courageous efforts to bring a just peace to Syria and the whole Middle East by putting an end to all forms of support for terrorists, especially by the United States and its allies.

Salah Zakkour

 

Co-signed by fellow Syrians and Syrian Americans: Rami Muamar • Micheile Muamar • Immanuel Kaplo • Hannah Youssef • Nabil Kaplo • Bairt Alkass • Malk Kouki • Ghazoah Hanna • Zane Alabdine Zakkour • Fahed Zakkour • Nahla Zakkour • Saleh Zakkour • Khaled Baram • Afif Ghalwanji • Nadeem Habbal • Simon Khoury • Shawqia Adboudan •Mamoun Alabbassi • Amen Tomeh • Rana Kouki • Mario Tomeh • Georgio Tomeh • Emanuel Wasouf • Tigram Hanonick • Lena Obied • Jamil Ibrahim • Talal Bitar • Mike Matook • Basal Rahal • Silva Barsoum

http://pdamerica.org/we-thank-you-congresswoman-gabbard-for-your-courageous-trip-to-syria/

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard makes fact-finding trip to Syria

“If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail,” she said. “Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL . . . and other terrorist groups with money, weapons and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.” — Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard

From Salon

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard embarks on “fact-finding” mission to Damascus, Syria; Gabbard’s Middle East trip won’t earn the Hawaii Democrat any favors among her Democratic colleagues

January 18, 2017

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a sophomore Hawaii Democrat and Iraq War veteran, recently embarked on what her office called a “fact-finding” mission to Damascus, in Syria.

Per Foreign Policy:

Congressional travel to the devastated country is exceedingly rare, especially as fighting continues in direct violation of a recent cease-fire agreement brokered by Turkey and Russia. This week, Syrian government forces backed by Lebanese militants attempted to recapture a rebel-controlled area near Damascus that includes a pumping station that supplies most of the city’s water.

Spokeswoman Emily Latimer told FP that Gabbard “felt it was important to meet with a number of individuals and groups, including religious leaders, humanitarian workers, refugees, and government and community leaders.”

“Gabbard has long been committed to peace and ending counterproductive, interventionist wars,” Latimer added, declining to disclose whether her boss had met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Gabbard’s foreign policy stances — e.g. that Assad should remain in power for so long as the U.S. is battling ISIS — starkly contrasts those of most House Democrats.

“I don’t think Assad should be removed,” she told CNN’s Chris Cuomo in November. “If Assad is removed and overthrown, ISIS, al Qaeda, Al Nustra, these Islamic extremist groups will walk straight in and take over all of Syria . . . they will be even stronger.”

The Washington Post called Gabbard “The Democrat that Republicans love and the DNC can’t control.” And as The Atlantic notes, she is a favorite of former Breitbart News chairman and current top adviser to isolationist President-elect Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

Bannon . . . has praised Gabbard’s views on guns — she supports some gun restrictions, but not others; her alignment with Republican senators on Syrian refugees coming to the U.S.; and, of course, Islamist terrorism. Indeed, Gabbard’s name was not among the 169 Democratic lawmakers who wrote to Trump criticizing his hiring of Bannon.

In 2016, Gabbard resigned as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee in order to throw her support behind Bernie Sanders, citing, “my strong belief that we must end the interventionist, regime change policies that have cost us so much.”

“This is not just another ‘issue.’ This is THE issue, and it’s deeply personal to me,” she continued in an email to the DNC obtained by Politico. “This is why I’ve decided to resign as vice chair of the DNC so that I can support Bernie Sanders in his efforts to earn the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential race.”

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.
From Activist Post
Tulsi Gabbard, Dennis Kucinich Travel To Syria On Fact Finding, Peace Mission
January 20, 2017

By Brandon Turbeville

In a surprise revelation, U.S. Representative from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard, has embarked upon an unannounced visit to Syria for a “fact-finding trip . . . to promote and work for peace.” Gabbard did not announce her trip publicly for obvious safety and security reasons. However, now that the news is out, the Western corporate press is reacting in apoplectic rage at her audacity to act in a manner unapproved by the establishment.

These press outlets have attacked her for not giving “advance notice” to Democratic Party leadership, for not yet disclosing who funded the trip, and for possibly meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. [We are sure the same reaction would be provided if she had traveled to Israel, right?] Gabbard has even been maligned as the GOP’s favorite Democrat, a wholly unfair label but one ironically hoisted upon her because of her opposition to international destabilization and imperialist wars.

What her office did say in regards to the trip was that, “She felt it was important to meet with a number of individuals and groups including religious leaders, humanitarian workers, refugees and government and community leaders.”

Gabbard is a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committee and is herself an Iraq war veteran. She has repeatedly called for an end to America’s arming and assisting of terrorist groups in Syria, even introducing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, which would bar the U.S. government from providing money or assistance to al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, Jobhat Fatah al-Sham, and the Islamic State.

“If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail,” she said. “Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL . . . and other terrorist groups with money, weapons and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.”

Gabbard is not alone on the trip, however. Former Ohio Congressman and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich is also in Syria, according to reports, having visiting both Damascus and Aleppo. Kucinich has long been a critic of U.S. aggression both under the Bush and Obama regimes.

As he stated to Sputnik in November of last year, “The United States has made wrong decisions and needs to change its course, and change it quickly. We need to back away from this idea that somehow we are going to usurp the administration of [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad. That is not our job. It is not for us to determine who the leaders of any country should be.”

He also added that, “It does not do us any good to continue to spread Cold War psychology, to engage in fantasies and lies about Russia’s role in the United States and to build policies upon those fantasies and lies.”

According to Syrian Pastor, Ibrahim Nasser, both Gabbard and Kucinich, as part of the delegation, affirmed their opposition to America’s foreign policy under the Obama administration of the destabilization and destruction of Syria. Pastor Nasser stated, “During the meeting [with the church officials] as members of the US Congress they confirmed that they oppose the policy of their administration, especially with regard to the issue of support of terrorists and they will try to convey the real picture to the US people.”

Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 850 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

This article may be freely shared in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

http://www.activistpost.com/2017/01/tulsi-gabbard-dennis-kucinich-travel-to-syria-on-fact-finding-peace-mission.html

From RT, Watching the Hawks

January 27, 2017

Coverage of Rep. Gabbard’s factfinding trip to Syria

https://www.rt.com/shows/watching-the-hawks/375241-blockade-syria-dakota-us/video/

At 6:48

Also,
https://www.rt.com/usa/374263-tulsi-gabbard-syria-trip/

“The war in Syria was begun by the US, the UK, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. “– Virginia State Senator Richard H. Black

From RT

‘For average Syrians, all members of opposition are terrorists’ – State Senator Richard Black

[the actual quote was “Syrians are offended by this idea of rebels or opposition. To them, they are all terrorists.”]

January 27, 2-17

Excerpt:

…Outspoken Virginia State Senator Richard H. Black, also commented on the draft Syrian constitution: “It is an interesting thing. What Russia is doing is a little bit what the US has done where we have come from a foreign perspective and attempted to impose rules on governments of other countries. It is much more complex with Russia. Because Russia did not begin the war in Syria. The war in Syria was begun by the US, the UK, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Russia was pulled in at a critical time. They are trying to resolve things.”

According to Richard Black, “it is always a problem when people who are not a part of the culture try to impose government rules on another nation. They are trying to bring sides together. The problem that you have is that there are no moderate rebels.”

“Tulsi Gabbard, when she made her visit to Syria, she found exactly what I had found. When I went in April, I met with Bashar Assad, I traveled all around the country and repeatedly Syrians are offended by this idea of rebels or opposition. To them, they are all terrorists,” Richard Black told RT.

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/375287-syria-draft-constitution-rebels/

VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduces legislation to stop arming terrorists

Press Release

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act today.

The legislation would prohibit the U.S. government from using American taxpayer dollars to provide funding, weapons, training, and intelligence support to groups like the Levant Front, Fursan al Ha and other allies of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, al-Qaeda and ISIS, or to countries who are providing direct or indirect support to those same groups.

The legislation is co-sponsored by:

Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT-AL), Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA-48), and Thomas Massie (R-KT-04), and supported by the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and the U.S. Peace Council..

Video of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s speech on the House floor 

Transcript of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s speech 

Under U.S. law it is illegal for any American to provide money or assistance to al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.[i]

The CIA has also been funneling weapons and money through Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and others who provide direct and indirect support to groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. This support has allowed al-Qaeda and their fellow terrorist organizations to establish strongholds throughout Syria, including in Aleppo.

A recent New York Times article confirmed that ‘rebel groups’ supported by the U.S. ‘have entered into battlefield alliances with the affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria, formerly known as al Nusra.’ This alliance has rendered the phrase ‘moderate rebels’ meaningless. Reports confirm that ‘every armed anti-Assad organization unit in those provinces [of Idlib and Aleppo] is engaged in a military structure controlled by [al-Qaeda’s] Nusra militants.’

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that many rebel groups are ‘doubling down on their alliance’ with al Nusra. Some rebel groups are renewing their alliance, while others, like Nour al-Din al-Zinki, a former CIA-backed group and one of the largest factions in Aleppo are joining for the first time. “The Syria Conquest Front—formerly known as the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front—is deeply intermingled with armed opposition groups of all stripes across Syria’s battlefields.”

The CIA has long been supporting a group called Fursan al Haqq, providing them with salaries, weapons and support, including surface to air missiles.  This group is cooperating with and fighting alongside an al-Qaeda affiliated group trying to overthrow the Syrian government. The Levant Front is another so-called moderate umbrella group of Syrian opposition fighters. Over the past year, the United States has been working with Turkey to give this group intelligence support and other forms of military assistance. This group has joined forces with al-Qaeda’s offshoot group in Syria.

This madness must end. We must stop arming terrorists. The Government must end this hypocrisy and abide by the same laws that apply to its’ citizens.

That is why I’ve introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists bill—legislation based on congressional action during the Iran-Contra affair to stop the CIA’s illegal arming of rebels in Nicaragua. It will prohibit any Federal agency from using taxpayer dollars to provide weapons, cash, intelligence, or any support to al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist groups, and it will prohibit the government from funneling money and weapons through other countries who are directly or indirectly supporting terrorists,

Stephen Kinzer, a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, and award-winning author and journalist said,

“The proposal to stop sending weapons to insurgents in Syria is based on the principle that pouring arms into a war zone only intensifies suffering and makes peace more difficult to achieve. Congress made a decision like this about the Nicaraguan contras during the 1980s. Aid to the contras was cut off by the Boland Amendment. The result was a peace process that finally brought an end to wars not only in Nicaragua, but also in El Salvador and Guatemala. This is the example we should be following. Cutting off arms shipments forces belligerents to negotiate. That is what we achieved in Nicaragua. It should be our goal in Syria as well.”

Donna Smith, Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America said,

“Progressive Democrats of America believes that it is fundamentally wrong for the United States to fund those groups or individuals aligned with al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIS, or other terrorist/extremist organizations.  The ‘Stop Arming Terrorists’ bill authored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, of Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, would help bring an end to the human tragedy unfolding in Syria where the haunting eyes of the innocent children of Aleppo call on us all to stop supporting those who threaten and kill them with ferocious intention. War is war, and terrorism is terrorism whether waged by the state or from external forces. PDA supports this measure.”

Alfred Marder, President of the U.S. Peace Council said,

“The U.S. Peace Council is honored to endorse and support the ‘Stop Arming Terrorists Bill’ as a major contribution to peace. This legislation will serve to galvanize the anti-war movement and the opposition to regime change policies that characterize our present foreign policy.”

Background:

The Stop Arming Terrorists bill prohibits U.S. government funds from being used to support al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. In the same way that Congress passed the Boland Amendment to prohibit the funding and support to CIA backed-Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980’s, this bill would stop CIA or other Federal government activities in places like Syria by ensuring U.S. funds are not used to support al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIS, or other terrorist groups working with them. It would also prohibit the Federal government from funding assistance to countries that are directly or indirectly supporting those terrorist groups. The bill achieves this by:

  1. Making it illegal for any U.S. Federal government funds to be used to provide assistance covered in this bill to terrorists. The assistance covered includes weapons, munitions, weapons platforms, intelligence, logistics, training, and cash.
  2. Making it illegal for the U.S. government to provide assistance covered in the bill to any nation that has given or continues to give such assistance to terrorists.
  3. Requiring the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to determine the individual and groups that should be considered terrorists, for the purposes of this bill, by determining: (a) the individuals and groups that are associated with, affiliated with, adherents to or cooperating with al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, or ISIS; (b) the countries that are providing assistance covered in this bill to those individuals or groups.
  4. Requiring the DNI to review and update the list of countries and groups to which assistance is prohibited every six months, in consultation with the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
  5. Requiring the DNI to brief Congress on the determinations.

Notes

[i] Levant Front (U.S. backed, via the MOC in Turkey) is working under an Ahrar al Sham led umbrella group: http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/December%202%20EDITS%20COT_2.pdf ; U.S. support for Levant Front: http://carnegie-mec.org/diwan/57605?lang=en ; CIA groups cooperated with Jayesh al-Fateh http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/01/19/the-cia-s-syria-program-and-the-perils-of-proxies.html; U.S. weapons arriving in Syria through covert, CIA-led program, via Saudi Arabia and Turkey; CIA can provide support http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-syria-obama-order-idUSBRE8701OK20120802