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Reporting a conflict

A report that has documentary evidence of how the US led coalition facilitated the rise of Islamic State

Reporting a conflict

Dear all,

A recently declassified 2012 American defence report corroborates what most objective analysts of international politics have long grumbled about: that the US led coalition of (mostly) western powers facilitated the rise of the brutal grouping calling itself Islamic State.

The Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) report was declassified at the request of Judicial Watch (a ‘politically conservative, nonpartisan government watchdog group’ which according to its mission statement “advocates high standards of ethics and morality in America’s public life”). The group’s request was actually not about ISIS but was part of their efforts to get more information about events in the Libyan city of Ben Ghazi before and after the incident in which the US Ambassador there was killed by an angry mob during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.

But one part of the report that most media outlets did not pick up on was then investigated by the determinedly independent researcher Nafeez Ahmed: he focused on the report clearly stating that US intelligence was fully aware that violent jihadi elements were an important component of the Syrian rebel movement and that arms were being sent from Libya, a country in chaos after the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, to the anti-Asad rebels in Syria.

In other words, the declassified document made clear that Pentagon was knowingly supplying arms and heavy weaponry to the Sunni extremist groups that now go under the banner of Islamic State: the report states that the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” comprise “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq].”

Ahmed says he approached a “major, national newspaper” in Britain about running the story but “they concluded it was too difficult to run at this stage”. This is even though he has in the past published extensively on the ISIS-US link and was for many years, a contributor to The Guardian.

In a radio interview with Truth in Motion Ahmed said: “There is almost like an unspoken recognition I think in the mainstream media that there are certain things we are not allowed to say. The idea that something as despicable as ISIS could actually been foreseen or facilitated deliberately, which is really what is implied by this report quite clearly.”

So why did this particular aspect (clear admission by US Intel that they were aware of the Sunni jihadi nature of the Syrian ‘rebels’) of the declassified report generate such little attention in the mainstream media? As Jay Syrmopoulos wrote in The Mint Press/The Free Thought Project: “Possibly more terrifying than the report itself may be the fact that this information has been virtually blacked out across global mainstream media”.

Nafeez Ahmed has a track record of focusing on stories that expose the rather base economic interests and venal alliances underlying government policy as well as the state’s attempts to control dissent and investigative journalism. He used to write a blog for the The Guardian who described him thus: “Dr Nafeez Ahmed is a bestselling author, investigative journalist and international security scholar. He is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, and author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization among other books. He writes for The Guardian on the geopolitics of environmental, energy and economic crises on his Earth insight blog. Except of course that he no longer writes this geopolitics blog for the paper.

His very last blog for The Guardian (July 2014) was titled “IDF’s Gaza assault is to control Palestinian gas, avert Israeli energy crisis”.

This might have had something to do with the termination of the blog — or maybe not, since apart from the oil and gas factor of global politics he has also written on the collusion of corporates and state Intel agencies to silence dissent and he is a researcher who is linked to a number of independent and citizen-fuelled initiatives which attempt to encourage investigative journalism.

The DIA report is important because it is evidence. Documentary evidence that the US was aware of the extremist and anti-Shia component of the rebels they were funding. Received knowledge and informed analysis is one thing but in this age of two minute TV ‘interviews’, solid evidence is mostly overlooked in favour of the facile sound bite. We need to remind ourselves that we must have evidence before we can begin to join the dots.

Last Thursday The Guardian‘s Seumas Milne mentioned a court decision which is a part of the same story of Intel-ISI collusion: “The war on terror, that campaign without end launched 14 years ago by George Bush, is tying itself up in ever more grotesque contortions. On [June 1, 2015] the trial in London of a Swedish man, Bherlin Gildo, accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same rebel groups the defendant was charged with supporting.” Milne says: “The prosecution abandoned the case, apparently to avoid embarrassing the intelligence services. The defence argued that going ahead with the trial would have been an “affront to justice” when there was plenty of evidence the British state was itself providing “extensive support” to the armed Syrian opposition.”

He then goes on to discuss the DIA report and says that although it is “not a policy document” and is heavily redacted “the implications are clear enough. A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of “Islamic state” — despite the “grave danger” to Iraq’s unity — as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.”

He then concludes: “In reality, US and western policy in the conflagration that is now the Middle East is in the classic mould of imperial divide-and-rule.”

Geopolitics and the battle for resources and defence markets is one thing but why are the US and countries like Saudi Arabia not worried about the monster they have helped create?

How many more executions, abductions, advances and brutality will it take for these powers to realise the Islamic State monster is not going to be confined to a designated area of anti-Asad, anti-Shia activity. These people are not just murdering the future, they want to obliterate History too. At least, Syria was able to preserve and promote important archaeological sites for the world. Apart from all the displacement and human misery caused by this conflict and the rise of ISIS our history, our ancient world is also in danger now.

Best wishes

Umber Khairi

The author is a former BBC broadcaster and producer, and one of the founding editors of Newsline.


  • Many of IS leaders are former military leaders of Saddam Hussain’s army. This is all so complicated.
    If America hadn’t armed Saddam against Iran, then helped Kuwait/Saudi Arabia against Saddam, then bombed Saddam and created a leadership vaccum, then LEFT the country leaving it open to all sorts of craziness… who knows what kind of world there would be out there

  • uncle sam has historically destroyed ancient civilisations for a predatory and ruthless so called “free market” system..with the fall of soviet union and virtually no opposing ideology except the so called “free world” meaning unchecked loot, plunder and exploitation (sic!) of indigenous communities of vulnerable nations..the rise of Al Qaeda and the more virulent throat-slitting version the IS was only a logical outcome of yankee imperialism…its going to destroy the vestiges of centuries old traditional and ancient civilisation as the global hegemon watches from the side lines without batting an eyelid (and occasional fake denouncements – sic!)…. the ultimate winner of the mayhem and unspeakable atrocity in the middle east is the zionist state of israel …under uncle sam’s watch indeed…

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