Ben Ariel / Israel National News & Reuters – 2015-03-15 15:44:00
United States to Provide $70 Million in Aid to Syrian Opposition
Ben Ariel / Israel National News & Reuters
CANADA (March 13, 2015) — The United States is working to provide an additional $70 million in non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition, the State Department said Friday, according to Turkey’s Anadolu news agency.
Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced the new funds during an event marking the anniversary of the Syrian revolution. The event was attended by Syrian opposition representatives and Syrian Americans.
The proposed funds would include $30 million to bolster the Syrian opposition and local governance structures in their efforts to provide basic services in the war-torn country, according to Anadolu.
An additional $25 million is earmarked for non-lethal support for approved armed Syrian opposition groups “to protect their communities from the duel threat posed by the Assad regime and extremist groups,” according to the State Department.
The remaining roughly $15 million will be used to provide digital security training for activists, civil society members, journalists and other opposition figures, and to support documentation of war crimes, human rights violations and other Syrian government abuses.
Congress must first sign off on the additional funding, the report noted. If approved, it would bring to nearly $400 million in US assistance to the Syrian opposition since the war began in 2011.
In January, Syria’s opposition interim government received $6 million from the United States in the first direct financial US support for the rebel body.
The money is for development and relief projects in “areas liberated by the moderate Syrian opposition,” it said in at the time, including food deliveries, public services and supporting local rebel councils.
More than 200,000 people are reported to have died in the conflict in Syria, and roughly half of the country’s pre-war population has been displaced.
CIA Money from Secret Fund
Ended Up in Hands of al-Qaida — Report
Washington (March 14, 2015) — About $1m provided by the CIA to a secret Afghan government fund ended up in the hands of al-Qaida in 2010 when it was used to pay a ransom for an Afghan diplomat, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden had at first been concerned about the payment, fearing the CIA knew about the money and had tainted it with poison, radiation or a tracking device, the Times said, and suggested it be converted to another currency.
The newspaper said letters about the ransom payment were found in the 2011 raid by US navy Seals, who killed bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The communications were submitted as evidence in the trial of Abid Naseer, who was convicted this month in New York of supporting terrorism and plotting to bomb a shopping center in Manchester, England.
The Times said Abdul Khaliq Farahi was the Afghan consul general in Peshawar, Pakistan, when he was kidnapped in 2008 and handed over to al-Qaida. He was released two years later after Afghanistan paid al-Qaida $5 million, a fifth of which was CIA money that came from an Afghan government fund that received monthly cash deliveries from the agency, the Times said.
The newspaper said an al-Qaida member wrote bin Laden that the ransom money would be used for weapons, operational needs and payments to families of al-Qaida fighters held in Afghanistan.
The Times said the cash the CIA delivered to the Afghan presidential palace under President Hamid Karzai was used to buy the support of warlords, legislators and others, as well as to cover expenses for clandestine diplomatic trips and housing for senior officials. Afghan officials told the newspaper the payments have slowed since Ashraf Ghani became president in September.
In addition to the al-Qaida correspondence, the Times story was based on conversations with Afghan and Western officials, the newspaper said, noting that the CIA declined to comment.
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