The Independent reports, “Jihadists see Syria insurgency as just the beginning of a Middle East revolution.”
Shortly before its operatives killed 14 Iraqi Shia children in a school bombing this month, the group once known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq sent guerrillas into northern Syrian villages with orders to reopen local Sunni classrooms. In a series of early-autumn visits, the militants handed out religious textbooks and backpacks bearing the group’s new name: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
A four-hour drive to the east, a rival al-Qa’ida faction, Jabhat al-Nusra, was busy setting up a jobs programme in Ash-Shaddadi, a desert town it has held since February. The Islamists restarted production in an oilfield that had been closed by the fighting, and fired up the town’s gas plant, now a source of income for the town.
The two rebel groups, with their distinct lineages to the terrorist network founded by Osama bin Laden, have concentrated Western fears of rising jihadist influences within Syria’s rebel movement. Two-and-a-half years after the start of the country’s uprising, Islamists are carving out fiefdoms and showing signs of digging in.
“We all have the same aqidah [Islamic creed] as al-Nusra or the Islamic State,” said a 23-year-old Jordanian Palestinian who gave the name Abu Abdallah in an interview in Jordan and who fights for a rebel brigade allied with the Islamists. “The aim is to free the Muslim lands and have the Islamic flag there.”
The prominence of the two groups — as fighters, as recruiters and, more recently, as local administrators — appears to have accelerated even as the Obama administration seeks to bolster moderate and secularist rebels with new weapons and training. Multiple independent studies, as well as Western and Middle Eastern intelligence officials, show the hard-line Islamists surging ahead by almost every measure, undermining Western efforts to find a democratic alternative to President Assad.
The entire article is frightening and worth reading. But the main point I want to bring out is that the US government has done all this before. Osama bin Laden was created through the US government’s efforts, in cooperation with the Saudi kingdom, to finance and support Jihadist resistance in Afghanistan.
Remember, our support for “martyrs” in Aghanistan to fight the Soviets did not just bring a few extremists to that part of the world and teach fighting skills to those who survived. It inspired the development of funding networks so that all the Saudis and others who admired the courage of the mujahedeen were trained to give money to their causes. These causes did not end with the Soviets leaving Afghanistan but moved into other “resistance movements” (say, Bosnia) and into outright terrorist attacks.
We are now fortifying those developments and inspiring a new generation of radicals to fund and support terrorists.
At least, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan didn’t know about 9-11 when they made their fateful decisions. What excuse do John McCain and Barack Obama have?