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Antifa Members from U.S. went to Syria to Fight Alongside Kurdish Marxist Groups

Communism is an internationalist movement, so this comes as no surprise. It would be illuminating to know what other training Antifa has received, who are its funding sources, and whether it has any connection, in light of the increasingly manifest Leftist-Islamic alliance, with jihad groups. Once they’re in Syria, it wouldn’t be hard to make such connections, and that may have been why they went there, instead of anywhere else in the world where they could have met up with violent Marxists. These Kurdish Marxist groups fought against the Islamic State (ISIS), but wouldn’t have any problem with other jihad groups that share its determination to destroy the free societies in the West.

“DHS Investigates Alleged Antifa Protesters as Terrorists Trained in Syria,” by Daniel Villarreal, Newsweek, August 3, 2020 (thanks to the Geller Report):

An intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states that anti-fascist activists (Antifa) are being investigated as possible terrorists with affiliations to Syria, even though no self-identified members of the loosely-affiliated Antifa protest movement have either been proven to commit any murders or carry out any terrorist attacks.

The July 14 report, entitled “The Syrian Conflict and its Nexus to the U.S.-based Antifascist Movement,” states “ANTIFA is being analyzed under the 2019 DHS Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence,” according to a copy of the document obtained by the progressive political magazine The Nation. It received a copy from someone who previously worked on DHS intelligence.

The report details more than half a dozen people identified with various far-left causes who have personally visited Syria to fight alongside Kurdish factions. The factions include the YPG, the People’s Defense Unit; the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party; and the Peshmerga, military forces that provide security for Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region. None of these organizations are currently listed by the U.S. as terrorist groups.

“There appears to be a clear connection … between ANTIFA ideology and Kurdish democratic federalism teachings and ideology,” the report stated. “(U.S. Customs and Border Protection) concern about and interest in these individuals stems from the types of skills and motivations that may have developed during their time overseas engaged in foreign conflicts.”…

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Revealed: Russia’s Great Game in the Middle East

It was a bizarre turn of events at the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York on the 70th Anniversary of the world body.  President Obama gave a speech lambasting Putin’s Russia over its seizure of Crimea and  invasion of eastern Ukraine violating the country’s sovereignty. However, he paid court to Russia and China for supporting the  Iran nuclear pact unanimous approved  by the UN Security Council poised to release tens of billions in sequestered funds as of December 15, 2015. He  questioned Russia’s sudden military presence in western Syria building a military complex to bolster the Assad regime.  A regime that rained barrel bombs causing the deaths of 250,000. A regime ethnically cleansing the country’s Sunni population sending millions to displaced persons camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon and hundreds of thousands in flight to the EU.  The President got warm applause over his rapprochement with Cuba.

Putin, when he had his turn at the rostrum accused the U.S., without naming it, of causing the rise of the Islamic State through its invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan,  ultimately creating a Sunni supremacist Caliphate.  Following Putin Iranian President Rouhani  had his turn at the rostrum in the Assembly hall. He made the astounding proposal that an international alliance including Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq  combat terrorism in the Middle East.  A proposal that Rouhani  said should be confirmed in another Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action akin to the Iran nuclear pact.  He noted the nuclear pact  was  concluded  “without the impediment of the Zionist enterprise”, meaning Israel.  Witness  the cheek of President Rouhani   of Iran  suggesting  a new Shia alliance in the Middle East, plus Russia welcoming  the US to join in fighting Sunni Supremacist  Islamic State.

What was on display at the UN was the supplanting  of the U.S. in the new great game of the Middle East by  Russia.  It was enough to make one’s head spin with these sudden turns  of events. It made the U.S., look like a “JV team “struggling  to keep up.

The usually astute Shoshana Bryen, senior director of the Washington, DC-based  Jewish Policy Center  was asked  by this writer during the September 27, 2015 Lisa Benson Show why  these developments occurred so suddenly.  She said that  Putin’s Russia like all great powers do when they are confronted by a vacuum, especially one that threatens its national  interests.  Thousands of Jihadists have left Chechnya, Dagestan, and Tartarstan in Russia attracted by the Salafist  Islamic doctrine of the Islamic State as a declared Caliphate.  Thus  Putin’s objective is to “bottle” up these Sunni Jihadists in Syria and Iraq.  Putin admitted as much in a CBS 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose  Sunday evening when he said:

More than 2,000 fighters from Russia and ex-Soviet republics are in the territory of Syria. There is a threat of their return to us. So instead of waiting for their return, we are better off helping Assad fight them on Syrian territory.

Watch the CBS 60 Minutes Charlie Rose interview with Russian President Putin:

When Lisa Benson asked Bryen about  where Iran’s proxy Hezbollah stood in these developments, she  replied  Hezbollah “had not been an efficient fighting force in Syria.  Further, she commented that Russian presence in Syria is meant to actually limit Hezbollah’s  involvement, perhaps  to a defensive role “in the Alawite enclave.”  Moreover, she noted  that Putin is not interested  in a war with Israel ,suggesting that the meeting with Netanyahu  in Moscow was  to coordinate means to avoid conflict. However, Bryen  noted  Putin has another interest in the region, “control over the flow of gas to Europe” being developing offshore in Israeli, Egyptian,  and Lebanese fields.  Bryen thinks there is ‘no evidence’ of Russian presence on the Syrian frontier on Israel’s Golan Heights.  Notwithstanding a spate of rocket and mortar attacks on the Golan responded to by the IDF this past weekend that Israeli Minister of Defense Ya’alon thinks were ordered by Iran.  We shall soon see whether Putin’s gamble pays off.  Or results in another graveyard  like Afghanistan  rout of the Soviet 40th Army in 1989.

We could see this  thunder clap about to occur in the run up to the UN General Assembly session.  We had the Russian announcement of  military aid and mission to be established in the Alawite bastion of Latakia province.  Included were  the building of expanded landing fields to accommodate Ilushin cargo aircraft  and squadrons of  Mig and Sukhoi fighters, transiting from Russia to Syria  via Iran and Iraqi airspace. Then there was the announcement of Black Sea fleet maneuvers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.  In late July, following the UN endorsement of the Iran deal, Revolutionary Guards Quds Force Commander  Qasem Soliemani in Moscow  met with Putin and  Russian Defense Minister Shogui. Those discussions were  ostensibly to expedite deliveries of Russian advanced air defense systems, but  in reality to plan for Russian direct involvement with Iranian forces . In May , we witnessed an alleged US ally, Iraqi Premier Haidar al-Abadi traveling to Moscow  to obtain additional fighter  deliveries to aid in the battle against the Islamic State. Meanwhile, President Obama had committed 3, 500 American military trainers to assist  the  Iraqi National Security forces  to recover Anbar province and  Mosul. Abadi, our alleged ally in the coalition against ISIS,   brought in Russian military advisors to link  up with   Soliemani  directing  Iraqi Shia militia forces.

The unkindest  cut of all was the announcement  on the eve of the UN General Assembly of a joint intelligence and security operations center in Baghdad sharing  information among Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

There was  also evidence that the U.S. led coalition strategy in Syria and Iraq “defeating and degrading” ISIS had collapsed.  That was reflected  in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee by CENTCOM commander, Gen. Lloyd Austin who told Senators that  the $500 million program to train Syrian opposition fighters had failed ignominiously. We had spent $40 million training and equipping 60 candidates, who signed waivers that they were to fight ISIS, not Assad. 40 of those surrendered their weapons and joined Al Qaeda affiliate jabhat al Nusra.    If that wasn’t  enough, we had the roiling scandal of a revolt by CENTCOM  intelligence analysts who requested a Pentagon Inspector General  investigation into why assessments were being prettied up by superiors  to present a misinformed picture to the President and National Security Staff that we were succeeding in the air campaign without US boots on the ground.  That was further depicted in testimony by ex-CIA director, retired Army General Petreaus , who  testified  before the same Senate Armed Services Committee  recommending establishing   no fly zones, sanctuary havens in country and deploying  Special Forces teams.  Add to that the failure of the Obama White House to honor its commitment to supply  Syrian Kurdish YPG  and Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces with updated weapons, ammunition and equipment.  The Kurds are  being attacked by Turkish air force fighters.  To cap things off, retired Marine Gen. John Allen, coordinator of the  Coalition effort,  resigned after a year of service.  As former Defense Intelligence Agency  head, retired Army General Michael Flynn observed, this is what you get when you “politicize intelligence”. The President suggested in his UN address  that the Islamic State   “violent extremism , distorts ”the true meaning of the Islamic faith.”

Russian may have “frozen” the Syrian conflict in a stalemate.  The U.S. finds itself suddenly on the sidelines, largely, by its own “red lines”. Now with Russia’s direct involvement in Syria and Iraq, we will soon find out if ISIS is vanquished or remains a growing global threat. Such are the rules of The Great Game that in the 19th Century pitted imperial Czarist Russia against the British Empire.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Pentagon: Kurds “Reliable and Effective” Partners in War Against Islamic State

Monday, July 6, 2015 was a red letter day in Washington with Pentagon officials acknowledging the critical role of Kurdish YPG and Peshmerga forces successfully fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq. President Obama appeared at the Pentagon to give an update on the campaign to “degrade and destroy the Islamic state”.  It wasn’t a great score card since his declaration made on national television on September 10, 2014. He suggested that winning the war was going to a “generational conflict’.  “This will not be quick. This is a long-term campaign. (ISIS) is opportunistic and it is nimble,” Obama said. As usual he reiterated that the ISIS campaign was “not a war against Islam”.  This despite that ISIS  practices pure Salafist Islam that has attracted tens of thousands of foreign fighters from across the Muslim ummah. The President still hasn’t addressed a coherent strategy except to commit minimal numbers of  U.S. trainers to develop combat cadres in both Iraq and Syria and conduct air assaults against ISIS targets. During his remarks he pointed to more than 5,000 air strikes in Iraq, Syria and North Africa equivalent to just three days of  air operations during the Gulf Wars.

According to CNN, President Obama suggested that the ‘coalition’ was going after “the heart” of the Islamic State. He exhorted Congress to confirm the replacement head of the Treasury Department, Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Adam Szubin.  He suggested that U.S. Trained forces had some successes on the ground in both Iraq and Syria backed up by air support, without naming them.   They are the Kurdish YPG (Popular Resistance Forces) in Syria and the Peshmerga in Iraq.  In our July New English Review (NER) Article, “Empowering Kurdistan”, those front line Kurdish forces have been the only forces capable of rolling back ISIS forces.  Obama and his national security staff had met with President Barzani  and aides of the Kurdish Regional Government in early May 2015 during the latter’s meetings in Washington seeking quality weapons and support  in the war against ISIS. We noted in our NER article that both KRG and Syrian Kurdish leaders had met separately with Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) in the House and Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ).  That resulted in amendments to the National Defense Appropriate Act authorizing military assistance for Kurdish fighting units in both Syria and Iraq.

Watch this C-Span video of President Obama’s Pentagon Conference on the ISIS War, July 6, 2015:

Secretary Ashton Carter and French Defese Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian Pentaon, July 6, 2019 Source Carolyn Kaster AP

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, The Pentagon, July 6, 2015. Source: Carolyn Kaster/AP.

A few hours before President Obama and military leaders briefings on the War against ISIS, there was another Pentagon meeting with a more positive message. This one featured  Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter and French Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian to specifically discuss military aid for the Kurds.  McClatchey had a definitive report on that more substantive meeting recognizing the Kurds as “reliable and effective allies” in the war against ISIS, “Kurdish militia proving to be reliable partner against Islamic State in Syria.”   The McClatchey report noted:

In comments Monday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged that Kurdish fighters from the YPG militia are identifying bombing targets for U.S.-led airstrikes. He referred to the militia as “capable,” hailed its “effective action,” and said because of the Kurds’ actions, U.S. forces had been able to “support them tactically.”

It was the first public description by a senior Obama administration official detailing the cooperation that has been unfolding for months between the United States and the militia, which has drawn the ire of key NATO ally Turkey.

The militia’s success is one of the reasons the United States is intensifying its bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Syria, Carter said.

“That’s what we were doing over the weekend north of Raqqa, which is conducting airstrikes that limit ISIL’s freedom of movement and ability to counter those capable Kurdish forces,” Carter said, referring to the Islamic State by a common acronym.

Carter’s singling out of the YPG, or the People’s Protection Units, comes after months in which U.S. officials have said they were putting off a more concerted campaign in Syria in favor of pressing against the Islamic State in Iraq because the U.S. lacked a capable ground partner in Syria. As long ago as October, then Pentagon spokesman John Kirby was blunt about why U.S. activities there were lagging: “We don’t have a willing, capable, effective partner on the ground inside Syria. It’s just a fact.”

Secretary Carter went on to commend the YPG, ironically an offshoot of the Turkish Kurdish resistance PKK, still listed as a terrorist organization. The YPG successes have unnerved Islamist Turkish President Erdogan that he has suggested invading Syria to establish a 100 x 30 mile buffer zone to forestall further Kurdish advances to the west of Kobani on the Turkish frontier at Suruc.  Turkish military leaders are less supportive of that incursion.  Moreover, Erdogan’s agenda may have been effectively eclipsed despite an agreement to form a working coalition with the Turkish National Party, HNP. The latter was one of three minority parties, including the Kemalist CHP and the upstart Kurdish HDP that won a plurality of seats in the Ankara Parliamentary elections of June 7, 2015.

Carter went to site the YPG contributions in Syria:

Backed by U.S. air power, he said, YPG forces have advanced in the past weeks to within 18 miles of Raqqa, the main stronghold of the Islamic State in Syria.

“That’s the manner in which effective and lasting defeat of ISIL will occur, when there are effective local forces on the ground that we can support and enable so that they can take territory, hold territory and make sure that good governance comes in behind it,” Carter said.

How far the YPG will push its offensive is uncertain. Raqqa is not traditionally a Kurdish area, and Kurdish forces, which are said to number an estimated 16,000 troops, are not expected to try to take the city alone.

But the YPG offers a much more robust anti-Islamic State force inside Syria than does the training program the United States has undertaken: so far, only about 190 so-called moderate rebels have been enlisted in the program, which is intended to train 5,000 anti-Islamic State fighters a year.

The United States last month also expanded its airstrikes to northern Aleppo, another key northern Syria city about 100 miles west of Raqqa, putting the Islamic State on notice that a new drive to remove them from what is called the Marea front could be in the offing.

[…]

Carter made it clear that U.S. and allied warplanes are increasingly depending on the Kurdish forces as part of the Pentagon’s broader campaign to defeat the Islamic State.

“We are doing more in Syria from the air,” Carter said. “I think you saw some of that in recent days. And the opportunity to do that effectively is provided in the case of the last few days by the effective action on the ground of Kurdish forces, which gives us the opportunity to support them tactically.”

What has not been addressed publicly is the delivery of quality military weapons and training of YPG and Peshmerga forces who have fought with Soviet era weaponry against U.Sl arms and equipment obtained by ISIS from fleeing Iraqi national forces routed from Mosul in June 2014 and Ramadi in late May 2015. That may soon be coming given the presence of French Defense Minister Le Drian.  You may recall Secretary Carter upon learning of the fall of Ramadi accused Iraqi national forces of having” no will to fight”.  The Kurds exemplify military valor and have a proven record.

Secretary Carter should move expeditiously to release weapons and equipment from the US War Reserve Stock pre-positioned in Israel to the YPG, KURDNAS forces in Syria and Peshmerga in Iraq. Moreover, Gen. James Allen who heads the U.S.-led coalition force should ramp up aerial sorties beyond the paltry 40 sorties used to provide close air support to the YPG this past weekend. President Obama, unfortunately, has yet to recognize the pure Salafist form of Islam that is embodied in the barbaric violence perpetrated by ISIS on women, children, ancient religious minorities and Syrian and Iraqi military prisoners. Yes, Mr. President this is a war against Salafist Islam that the secular Muslim Kurds recognize must be destroyed.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of a female Kurdish fighter known as ‘Rehana’ (Image from Twitter user / @PawanDurani).