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The Battle for Syria

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Al-Qaeda Presence in Syria Disturbs U.S. Officials

June 4th 2012

Syrian security forces

In Syria, as government troops continue to massacre members of the civilian population, Iran is hard at work supporting both the Bashar al-Assad regime and the al-Qaeda terrorists all for the Iranian government's own benefit, according to Pentagon officials today.

"I believe al-Qaeda is seeking to consolidate its power in the Middle East and will once again attack the United States' mainland and its interests in order to deter Americans from entering the fray in Syria," said Mike Snopes, a former military intelligence officer and New York police detective.

On Thursday, Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, while briefing the press at the Pentagon said, “[Pentagon officials] remain deeply troubled and concerned by the ongoing violence in Syria and by the horrific acts of the Assad regime against [his] own people.” “And we certainly have seen reports and have reason to believe that Iran continues to assist the Assad regime in committing these acts of atrocities against the Syrian people,” he added.

Kirby said defense officials have seen but cannot confirm reports that the Iranians are using commercial airliners to move arms into Syria for both Assad's forces and at the same time for the members of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) who have entered Syria in hopes of capitalizing on the chaos. “The larger issue here is that the Iranian regime, Tehran, continues to support, in tangible and intangible ways, the Assad regime,” Capt. Kirby added, “and that needs to stop.”

"What is evident is that Iran will support al-Qaeda in Syria and Hezbollah in North and South America and still finds the resources to keep the United States at bay in their quest for nuclear weapons," said a former U.S. police commander now an Israeli police official specializing in counterterrorism. The Israeli police source said that al-Qaeda is more diverse than American officials realize. "Besides Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries, al-Qaeda continues to have ambitions in the United States and Europe," he said.

During a White House briefing, Obama spokesman Jay Carney said the administration has been focused on the need to bring about a political transition in Syria sooner rather than later. “The longer that Assad and his thugs are allowed to brutally murder the Syrian people, the more likely it becomes a sectarian civil war; the more likely that it spills over Syrian borders; the more likely that it transforms into a proxy war with different players including … Iran, which is already engaging in malignant behavior with regards to the Syrian situation, stepping up that kind of activity and not being alone in doing that,” Carney stated.

At the Pentagon, Capt. Kirby stated that defense officials believe “al-Qaeda has some presence inside Syria and interest in fomenting violence in Syria.” He added, “We do not believe they share the goals of the Syrian opposition or that they are even embraced by the opposition … The sense that we get is that it is primarily members of [al-Qaeda in Iraq] that are migrating into Syria.”

But the Law Enforcement Examiner's Israeli source disagrees with that assessment. "That's exactly what the Obama White House said about the Egyptian uprising and the Muslim Brotherhood and look who may be running that country soon and imposing Sharia law," he said.

The Defense Department supports the administration’s position, Kirby said, while providing options to the nation’s leaders for other potential responses.

“That's what we do and we would be irresponsible if we weren't thinking about options, whether or not they're called for," he said.

Jim Kouri writes for the Examiner, from where this article is adapted.

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