While the al-Qaeda presence fighting alongside US-backed rebels in Syria has been known for some time now, US intelligence officials are increasingly concerned about the terrorist group’s dramatic growth within Syria’s opposition.
“Al-Qaeda has advanced beyond isolated pockets of activity in Syria and now is building a network of well-organized cells, according to US intelligence officials, who fear the terrorists could be on the verge of establishing an Iraq-like foothold that would be hard to defeat if rebels eventually oust President Bashar Assad,” the Associated Press reports.
The fact that intelligence officials are increasingly speaking to the press, albeit anonymously, about aiding al-Qaeda in Syria shows the growing concern in Washington for such an absurd policy.
The US has been sending non-lethal aid, like communications gear and intelligence assistance, to the rebel militias in Syria, while the CIA is facilitating the delivery of weapons from Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
According to one US intelligence estimate, as many as a quarter of the 300 rebel groups in Syria may be fighting under the banner of al-Qaeda, says Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. But those figures are growing every day, with new fighters flooding into Syria all the time.
The CIA is supposedly employing a “vetting process” to avoid having the aid get into the hands of Islamic extremists, but the process is made up of untrustworthy, third-party sources and intelligence officials have recently told the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times that the truth is that the US doesn’t know who is getting the money and weapons.
For what seem to be twisted political reasons and ambitions to change the regime in Syria, Washing is quite literally helping those it has fought in its last two wars. Intelligence officials told the AP that “veterans of the Iraq insurgency [are] employing their expertise in bomb-building to carry out more than two dozen attacks so far,” while “others are using their experience in coordinating small units of fighters in Afghanistan to win new followers.”