Friday, June 27, 2014

#ISIS Commander Abu Omar Photographed in Tent Marked 'U.S. Agency for International Development'

It's not a new photo. Pamela Geller had this last September, "Al Qaeda group in Syria enjoying USAID." As did Robert Spencer, "Al Qaeda-linked Syria group enjoying USAID?":
In any case, if this photo is real, it indicates yet again that our leadership in Washington is utterly clueless, and that their assurances that we are aiding only “moderates” are completely hollow.
According to the Religious Freedom Coalition:
The tent is part of the “non-lethal” aid that President Barack Obama bragged about sending to Syria’s “legitimate” resistance and civilians. Most news sites say the photo “purports” to be of Kavkaz wa Sham, however, the placement of the shadows clearly shows that this photo has not been photo-shopped.
Whatever. Regardless of the authenticity of the photo, Abu Omar is indeed in Syria, as reported earlier at the Long War Journal, "Chechen commander leads Muhajireen Brigade in Syria." And at the BBC, "Syria crisis: Omar Shishani, Chechen jihadist leader."

According to Wikipedia, Abu Omar:
...was named commander of the northern sector of Syria by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the summer of 2013. Units under his command have participated in major assaults against Syrian military bases in and around Aleppo, including the capture of Menagh Airbase in August 2013.[2] He is considered "one of the most influential military leaders of the Syrian opposition forces."
This is all the more important now in light of the Obama administration's approval of at least $500 million in military aid for the "moderate" rebels in Syria. See the Wall Street Journal, "Obama Proposes $500 Million to Aid Syrian Rebels: Program to Train and Equip Moderate Opposition Would Expand U.S. Role in Civil War":
WASHINGTON—The White House on Thursday proposed a major program to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels, in a significant expansion of the U.S. role in a civil war that officials fear is bleeding into Iraq and across the region.

The Obama administration requested $500 million—a larger amount than expected—to aid the Syrian opposition, reflecting growing U.S. alarm at the expanding strength of Islamist forces in Syria, who in recent weeks have asserted control of large parts of neighboring Iraq and now pose threats to U.S. allies in the region.

Coming on the heels of a decision to send 300 military advisers to Iraq, the Syrian rebel training elevates the U.S. role in the Middle East.

The proposal amounts to a major U-turn by the administration, which had sought until now to limit its involvement in the war.

However, the expanded U.S. involvement will be on President Barack Obama's terms, by emphasizing the use of partner forces, and not the direct use of American combat forces.

Speaking at a town-hall meeting in Minneapolis on Thursday, Mr. Obama emphasized that he didn't want U.S. forces fighting in the Middle East, but said recent violence has focused attention on the region.

"We've got to pay attention to the threats that are emanating from the chaos in the Middle East," Mr. Obama said.

Officials stressed there are hurdles to overcome before the expanded Syrian rebel program goes into effect, including obtaining congressional approval; figuring out how to effectively vet large numbers of rebel fighters so the U.S. doesn't end up training extremists; and persuading countries in the region to host the effort.

Officials said the program may not actually begin until next year. They said the first batch of fighters could complete training roughly six to eight months after the proposed program is authorized and funded by Congress.

Still, the move amounts to an about face by an administration that had sought to strictly limit its role in the Syrian civil war.  Related Iraq Parliament to Start Talks on New Government Think Tank: Addressing the Conflict in Syria Is the Way to Move Forward in Iraq...
Yeah, "vetting" the extremists might be important, yo.