How Rebels Trained by US Went on to Become ISIS
July 6, 2014
Aaron Klein / WND & Julian Borger and Nick Hopkins / The Guardian
Syrian rebels who would later join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, were trained in 2012 by US instructors working at a secret base in Jordan, according to informed Jordanian officials. In addition, both UK and French instructors were involved in US-led effort to strengthen secular elements in Syria's opposition.
Blowback! US Trained Islamists Who Joined ISIS
Aaron Klein / WND
JERUSALEM (June 17, 2014) -- Syrian rebels who would later join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, were trained in 2012 by US instructors working at a secret base in Jordan, according to informed Jordanian officials.
The officials said dozens of future ISIS members were trained at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The officials said the training was not meant to be used for any future campaign in Iraq.
The Jordanian officials said all ISIS members who received US training to fight in Syria were first vetted for any links to extremist groups like al-Qaida.
In February 2012, WND was first to report the US, Turkey and Jordan were running a training base for the Syrian rebels in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country’s northern desert region.
That report has since been corroborated by numerous other media accounts.
Last March, the German weekly Der Spiegel reported Americans were training Syrian rebels in Jordan.
Quoting what it said were training participants and organizers, Der Spiegel reported it was not clear whether the Americans worked for private firms or were with the US Army, but the magazine said some organizers wore uniforms. The training in Jordan reportedly focused on use of anti-tank weaponry.
The German magazine reported some 200 men received the training over the previous three months amid US plans to train a total of 1,200 members of the Free Syrian Army in two camps in the south and the east of Jordan.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper also reported last March that US trainers were aiding Syrian rebels in Jordan along with British and French instructors.
Reuters reported a spokesman for the US Defense Department declined immediate comment on the German magazine’s report. The French foreign ministry and Britain’s foreign and defense ministries also would not comment to Reuters.
The Jordanian officials spoke to WND amid concern the sectarian violence in Iraq will spill over into their own country as well as into Syria.
ISIS previously posted a video on YouTube threatening to move on Jordan and "slaughter" King Abdullah, whom they view as an enemy of Islam.
WND reported last week that, according to Jordanian and Syrian regime sources, Saudi Arabia has been arming the ISIS and that the Saudis are a driving force in supporting the al-Qaida-linked group.
WND further reported that, according to a Shiite source in contact with a high official in the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Obama administration has been aware for two months that the al-Qaida-inspired group that has taken over two Iraqi cities and now is threatening Baghdad also was training fighters in Turkey.
The source told WND that at least one of the training camps of the group Iraq of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria, the ISIS, is in the vicinity of Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey, where American personnel and equipment are located.
He called Obama "an accomplice" in the attacks that are threatening the Maliki government the US helped establish through the Iraq war.
The source said that after training in Turkey, thousands of ISIS fighters went to Iraq by way of Syria to join the effort to establish an Islamic caliphate subject to strict Islamic law, or Shariah.
West Training Syrian Rebels in Jordan
Julian Borger and Nick Hopkins / The Guardian
LONDON (March 8, 2013) -- Western training of Syrian rebels is under way in Jordan in an effort to strengthen secular elements in the opposition as a bulwark against Islamic extremism, and to begin building security forces to maintain order in the event of Bashar al-Assad's fall.
Jordanian security sources say the training effort is led by the US, but involves British and French instructors.
The UK Ministry of Defence denied any British soldiers were providing direct military training to the rebels, though a small number of personnel, including special forces teams, have been in the country training the Jordanian military.
But the Guardian has been told that UK intelligence teams are giving the rebels logistical and other advice in some form.
British officials have made it clear that they believe new EU rules have now given the UK the green light to start providing military training for rebel fighters with the aim of containing the spread of chaos and extremism in areas outside the Syrian regime's control.
According to European and Jordanian sources the western training in Jordan has been going on since last year and is focused on senior Syrian army officers who defected.
"As is normal, before any major decision is taken on this issue, the preparations are made so that when that decision is taken, everything is in place for it to go smoothly. That is what these groups [special forces] do. They go in in advance," a European diplomat said.
A Jordanian source familiar with the training operations said: "It's the Americans, Brits and French with some of the Syrian generals who defected. But we're not talking about a huge operation."
He added that there had so far been no "green light" for the rebel forces being trained to be sent into Syria. But they would be deployed if there were signs of a complete collapse of public services in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, which could trigger a million more Syrians seeking refuge in Jordan, which is reeling under the strain of accommodating the 320,000 who have already sought shelter there.
The aim of sending western-trained rebels over the border would be to create a safe area for refugees on the Syrian side of the border, to prevent chaos and to provide a counterweight to al-Qaida-linked extremists who have become a powerful force in the north.
British officials say new European guidelines on the Syrian arms embargo, formally adopted by the EU at the beginning of March, allow military training as long as the ultimate aim of that training is "the protection of civilians".
Paris takes an identical view of the EU rules.
Officials in Brussels say the language of the guidelines is less than clear-cut. "It's deliberately hazy," said one. "When it comes to technical assistance, what it means in practice depends on who you ask. The Brits and the French, for example, are much more forward-leaning than others. The principle is that the assistance should be for the protection of civilians, but as we saw in Libya, that can be interpreted in different ways."
British officials argue that training of Syrian forces to fill the security vacuum as the Assad regime collapses would be help safeguard civilian lives.
William Hague, the foreign minister, outlined the goals of such training on Wednesday.
"Such technical assistance can include assistance, advice and training on how to maintain security in areas no longer controlled by the regime, on co-ordination between civilian and military councils, on how to protect civilians and minimise the risks to them, and how to maintain security during a transition," he told parliament. "We will now provide such assistance, advice and training."
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "It's not the sort of thing we are going into too much detail on right now. We are big on the transition picture, because at some point Assad is going to fall, and the opposition are going to need help to provide governance in areas they control, and that of course includes security. But security doesn't just mean fighting, it also means basic law and order, and policing."
The Pentagon said last October that a small group of US special forces and military planners had been to Jordan during the summer to help the country prepare for the possibility of Syrian use of chemical weapons and train selected rebel fighters.
That planning cell, which was housed at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre in the north of the capital, Amman, has since been expanded to co-ordinate a more ambitious training programme. But Jordanian sources said the actual training was being carried out at more remote sites, with recent US reports saying it was being led by the CIA.
For the first two years of the Syrian civil war, Jordan has sought to stay out of the fray, fearing a backlash from Damascus and an influx of extremists that would destabilise the precariously balanced kingdom.
"What has happened of late is that there has been a tactical shift," said Julien Barnes-Dacey, a Middle East expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations thinktank. "Islamist forces have been gaining steam in the north and Jordan is keen to avoid that in the south. Having been very hands-off, they now see that they have to do something in the south."
He added: "There is a feeling that Jordan simply can't handle a huge new influx of refugees so the idea would be to create a safe zone inside Syria. For them it's a no-win scenario. Everything they had been seeking to avoid has come to pass."
For western and Saudi backers of the opposition, Jordan has become a preferable option through which to channel aid than Turkey. Ankara has been criticised for allowing extremist groups, such as the al-Nusra Front, become dominant on the northern front while it focused on what it sees as the growing threat of Kurdish secessionism.
"The Americans now trust us more than the Turks, because with the Turks everything is about gaining leverage for action against the Kurds," said a Jordanian source familiar with official thinking in Amman.
The US has announced an extra $60m (£40.2m) in direct aid to the rebels, including military rations and medical kits. Asked on Tuesday whether assistance included military training, the US state department spokesman Pat Ventrell replied: "I really don't have anything for you on that. Our policy has been non-lethal assistance."
Earlier this week, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, said Washington was now confident that arms supplies to the rebels would not be diverted to extremists. "There is a very clear ability now in the Syrian opposition to make certain that what goes to the moderate, legitimate opposition is, in fact, getting to them, and the indication is that they are increasing their pressure as a result of that," he said.
Syrian rebels have said that in the past few months there had been a relaxation of the previously strict US rules on what kinds of weapons were allowed across the border, and that portable anti-aircraft missiles had been released from Turkish warehouses where they had been impounded.
Matt Schroeder, who tracks the spread of such weapons for the Federation of American Scientists, said the recent appearance of modern, sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles in the hands of such fragmented rebel groups was deeply troubling in view of their capacity to bring down civilian airlines.
"This is a step above anything we've seen before in the hands of non-state actors," he said. "This is a new and unfortunate chapter in recent manpad [man-portable air-defence] proliferation."
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