TERROR ATTACKS IN PARIS AND BRUSSELS: Who is “Abu Suleyman”, the French IS executive behind it all ? (2)

By Patrick BAHZAD

 Capture - CopyIn last week's piece ("Going after the masterminds"), we focused on the environment in which the Paris attacks of November 2015 had taken place: a gradual increase in the threat level, combined with a number of failed or thwarted attempts at causing havoc through "lone gunmen" attacks all across Western Europe, in France in particular. Based on a couple of "open source" articles, we also considered the prospect of a French national being the IS executive in charge of organising and overseeing the Paris carnage and – possibly – its Brussels' spin-off. This week's piece is going to look more closely at details regarding this alleged mastermind, analysing information about his possible identity and assessing its credibility.

 While the nom de guerre "Abu Suleyman al-Faransi" has most definitely been the subject of extensive research by various intelligence agencies, it has now made it into MSM headlines with a new piece by "The Daily Beast". A big question mark doesn't always make for a good title, but when you're asking about the "Frenchman Running IS Terror Networks in the West ?", you're already making quite a statement. Before turning to new and sometimes contradictory evidence, let us first look into how the name "Abu Suleyman" first appeared on the IC and media radar.

As previously explained, ISIS inspired or influenced individuals have been trying to stage attacks in the West ever since early 2014, with most attempts failing out of the sheer incompetence of their would-be authors, or because they were foiled in due time by law enforcement. The most dangerous plots were definitely the work of Syria returnees, with Mehdi Nemmouche being the most "successful" (4 people killed at the Jewish Museum of Brussels, in May 2014). On the other hand, there was also a much larger number of failures by so-called "self-radicalized" individuals having never left for the Middle-East, and some of these botched operations have been quite embarrassing to IS leadership in Iraq and Syria.

The Paris Attacks as the work of IS' "Security Office"

To the spokesman of the "Islamic State" in particular, Mohammad al-Adnani, this must have felt like a slap in the face. On September 22nd 2014, he had called onto his followers to kill Western "disbelievers", especially the French, in any possible way, yet the result of this call remained discouragingly poor, until the night of November 13th 2015. What Adnani and  members of the IS Security Office ("Maktab al-Amni") had probably failed to recognize, was that Western recruits with no prior experience from Middle-Eastern training camps or frontline fighting lacked even the minimal expertise to stage what IS would have considered a successful strike, i.e. one that could attract sufficient media and government attention to allow for a huge propaganda stage and Jihadi media campaign.

Mehdi Nemmouche, himself an ISIS member and Syria returnee, was a significant exception to the amateurishness displayed by characters such as the would-be Thalys train shooter, whose weapon jammed when he was upon to fire on passengers in the Amsterdam to Paris high-speed train, prompting two US servicemen to overpower him as they saw him struggle with his AK-47. There were other examples illustrating the clumsiness of the IS inspired "lone gunmen" or demonstrating the ability of the IC to foil plots as rudimentary and crude as those. To members of Europe's counter-intelligence however, early success against such poor attempts didn't bode well for the future: sooner or later, someone would manage to carry out an attack, or the IS would be able to recruit an individual determined and skilled enough to pull it through.

As it happened, both these threats materialized in the Paris attacks of January 2015, when three individuals who had been on French terror watch lists without ever going to fight in the Middle-East killed a total of 17 people. One of the attackers, Amedy Coulibaly, even acted on direct order of an IS executive based in Syria, whose identity is still being investigated to this very day. What must already have been clear to "Islamic State" planners, was that a truly large scale attack, one that would echo for days and weeks in the Western media, would call for a much stronger input in manpower and resources from the organisation itself. Testimony obtained from a number of ex-IS members suggests that preparations for such a centrally organised attack started quite early and were probably given the go ahead when the ineptitude of the "domestic terrorists" in the West became all too apparent.

The department within the "Islamic State" that was tasked with the planning, preparation and implementation of the attack was the aforementioned Security office, or rather one of its four directorates, the "Amn al-Kharji" (office for foreign operations). Having grown gradually out of Amni's other three directorates, the office for foreign operations had gained such importance within the IS, that a number of foreign operatives were recruited as mid-level executives within its ranks. Most of them obviously had a European background, and some were North-Africans (Tunisians in particular) with a good command of the French language.

By the time the preparations for the Paris November attacks were underway, the top man in the "Amn al-Kharji" was a Tunisian who was later dispatched to Libya and who went by the nom de guerre  "Abu Abderahman al-Tunsi". Now, the aliases Jihadis pick to mask their real identity combine both an actual name ("Kunya"), in this case "Abu Abderahman", together with a place/nation/ethnic group of origin ("Nisba"), in this instance "al-Tunsi", meaning "the Tunisian". As we shall see, this detail is important in order to distinguish various fighters featuring a similar "Kunya".

Planning the Attacks

As far as we can tell, the plan for the Paris attacks may very well have been designed by the man everybody is now looking for, the elusive "Abu Suleyman al-Faransi". The operation definitely bears the hallmark of someone familiar enough with the layout of Paris and a couple of subtleties of the areas and places that were targeted. the But even though "Abu Suleyman" was probably involved in the planning, the "green light" came from much higher up, namely from al-Adnani himself, probably after a vetting process that involved "Caliph" al-Baghdadi as well, either directly or through one of his close associates.

As an organisation used to conducting clandestine operations, the IS had no trouble dividing the various organisational tasks among individuals it had hand-picked for that purpose. One of these figures was Frenchman Salim Benghalem, on the United States list of "Special Designated Global Terrorists" since September 2014, an ex-IS interrogator and now executive in one of Amni's other directorates, who was in charge of picking likely candidates. However, it was up to "Amn al-Kharji" to do the proper selection.

This is where Abdelhamid Abaaoud came into play, the operational leader of the Paris November attacks. With two of Adnani's closest associates, both of them Tunisian nationals with a good knowledge of Western and French culture in particular, he assessed the suitability of each potential attacker. The final say was Adnani's, in his quality as IS top executive in Syria, media "head honcho" and influential figure in the security apparatus of the organisation.

Adnani, one of the first Syrians who had joined ISIS predecessor organisation AQI under Abu Musab al-Zarkawi, is also considered to be well-read and knowlegeable in religious matters, which could have its importance when it comes to designating the French individual going by the name of "Abu Suleyman". Be that as it may, the attempt at putting a face and name onto this alias will be a difficult task. No doubt, intelligence agencies working on this case have suspicions and evidence, but the IS has proven it had a few tricks up its sleeves when it comes to confusing foes about the men within its ranks.

For those with an eye for that kind of detail, it won't come as a surprise that Abubakr al-Baghdadi's predecessor as head of ISIS, the now forgotten "Abu Omar al-Baghdadi", was long considered to be non-existent by US intelligence, a fictional character established by the terror organisation to allegedly mask the fact it was being lead by a council of senior members only. Similarly, it was recently discovered that two of ISIS' most important figures, Abu Ala al-Afri and Abu Ali al-Anbari were one and the same person, and that a number of details regarding Anbari's alleged bio were nothing more than inventions aimed at hiding the true identity of ISIS' number 2, i.e. Abdulrahman Mustafa al-Qaduli by his real name.

Beware of IS' intel tricks

While the "Islamic State" has not acknowledged the fact it had tried to confuse Western intelligence about this issue, it has now admitted both these figures' death, which kind of settles the issue as far as they are concerned. However, what this anecdote undeniably demonstrates, is that whatever comes out of the black hole that is the "Islamic State" should be treated with utmost caution, regardless of the source. In similar fashion, it should also be noted that IS members changed their nom de guerre or were provided with an additional one, as they took on new tasks within the organisation. The aforementioned al-Qaduli for example was known to have as many as 7 different aliases, and members of the organisation who were sent to Libya over the course of the last months were also provided with new names, in addition to their previous one.

This brings us back to the actual issue at hand, namely the hunt for the mastermind behind the Paris attacks, "Abu Suleyman al-Faransi". The reasons why this individual is considered with such interest are manifold. On the one hand, there is human intelligence coming from allegedly former IS members. The piece by "The Daily Beast" for example relies on such information. Testimonies such as these emphasize Abu Suleyman's role in planning the attacks and confirm his subsequent promotion to IS leader in charge of terror attacks in Western Europe.

Other than this human intelligence, there is also a direct link to the Paris attackers themselves. As surviving witnesses told French investigators, the men who stormed the "Bataclan" concert hall on the night of Novembers 13th 2015, killing 130 people as they shot indiscriminately into the crowd, uttered the name "Abu Suleyman" when they seemed confused about what to do next, as the siege was dragging on. Although they didn't manage to get in touch with this man, mention of his name certainly triggered interest among the investigative team, given that the attackers had also established mobile phone communications with the logistics team that had stayed in Brussels during the attacks.

If the "Bataclan" team was in touch with accomplices coordinating the multipronged assaults on various locations in the French capital, why would they get in touch with yet another individual, unless he was higher up the IS food chain and could provide for clearer guidance about how to proceed ? Furthermore, references to the same figure were made in audio files found in a computer belonging to one of the Brussels suicide bombers. Therefore, the notion of a Frenchman being in charge in IS operations in the West came out of piecing together this evidence with the human intelligence obtained in Syria – or Turkey for that matter.

Evidence pointing to "Abu Suleyman"

Taken as a whole, these assumptions make for a rather convincing case, but when it comes to identifying the man behind the alias of "Abu Suleyman al-Faransi", you got your work cut out for you! Even people involved in the investigation got confused by the number of "Abu Suleyman" aliases existing in IS ranks in general, and in the Paris/Brussels cell in particular.

Before making a call as to the reliability of information pertaining to a French IS emir going by such a  nom de guerre, you need to make sure all other possibilities are actually non-starters. As things stand, there are two sources of confusion in this case: one is French national Charaffe al-Mouadan, a 27 year old IS member who had personal links to one of the "Bataclan" attackers, as well as operational connections to the Paris ringleader, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Al-Mouadan's nom de guerre was indeed "Abu Suleyman", but he does not fit the profile described in any of the "open source" pieces and, furthermore, he was killed in a US airstrike at the end of December 2015.

The other individual connected to the same alias is one of the two el-Bakraoui brothers who blew themselves up in Brussels, in March of this year. In the latest edition of its French language magazine, IS revealed his nom de guerre to be "Abu Suleyman" as well, adding however that he was "al-Belgiki", not "al-Faransi". Finally, it should be noted – for the record – that IS still has a another prominent member going by the name of "Abu Suleyman", but he already has a high-up position as their "Defense Minister" and does not provide for a viable option as a likely suspect either.

Having exhausted all other known possibilities, the question that begs to be asked is how credible is the human intelligence about this alleged "French IS emir" ? This is where the search gets real tricky as the information available varies depending on the source. What all pieces written about this man seem to agree on however is that he is in his mid-thirties, French educated and married to a French woman, with two children, all living in Northern Syria. These pieces of evidence alone should enable law enforcement to cut down the list of likely suspects to reasonable size.

Genuine information regarding his identity ?

Other information seems pretty sketchy however, and even contradictory: according to some, Abu Suleyman is a convert who joined ISIS some three years ago. According to others, he's a pale skinned French national of North African extraction, who used to work as a gym manager (or coach) and whose father was an imam. Obviously, he can't be all of this at the same time and maybe none of these alleged features bear any truth. Why French intelligence, which is arguably in the best position to confirm his true identity, won't provide any further details is difficult to comprehend. Given the publicity given to his story in sites such as "The Daily Beast" and "The Daily Mirror", or intelligence newsletters such as "TTU", there is no doubt  people in Raqqa know somebody is onto "Abu Suleyman".

Other than difficult to maintain OPSEC regarding the ongoing investigation, one rationale for the continued silence of French officials is that they might be confused themselves about the intelligence they received, or – worse – they are embarrassed by what they have found out about the identity of the man in question. On the one hand, it is totally plausible that the IS has been trying to protect the identity of this high level operative by spreading both truths and falsehoods about him, thus making sure all this information reaches Western media and intelligence, providing for an overall picture that is hard to decipher. IS has done so in the al-Afri/al-Anbari case for years, quite successfully, and they might want to do it again here.

On the other hand, the IC may already have a pretty good idea about the identity of "Abu Suleyman" but refrain from making it public for fear of further embarrassment after a number of faults came to light in various terror related cases of recent times. While this possibility is in no way the most likely, it cannot be dismissed out of hand, as several pieces of evidence regarding the mastermind of the Paris attacks point to a network going back to the mid-2000s, when France was confronted with a previous wave of Jihadi cells funnelling fighters and money into Iraq, most of the time through Syria.

While none of the individuals involved in those networks attempted to carry out an attack on French soil at the time, they formed the hard-core of the Jihadis who joined IS a few years later. Two groups in particular, the so-called network of the "Buttes-Chaumont", going by the name of a park in Paris where some of these would-be fighters used to train in 2004-2005, and the "Artigat" group, a Salafi community established in the countryside south of Toulouse in the early 2000s, strike the eye as the perfect suspects and background to the yet elusive "Abu Suleyman". As we shall see in part 3 of this piece, chances are, he is a man who was part to either one of these groups.

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33 Responses to TERROR ATTACKS IN PARIS AND BRUSSELS: Who is “Abu Suleyman”, the French IS executive behind it all ? (2)

  1. Amir says:

    Totally out of the box and a bunch of free associations that probably make no sense:
    I am not a native Arabic speaker but found it interesting that the subject is called “Abu Suleyman al-Faransi” and not “Farangi”. French, French speaking or Western and if the later do they mean geographically or culturally Western.
    Süleyman is the Turkish version of Solomon while the Arabic is generally written as Sulaiman or Sulayman, at least in Latin letters.
    Solomon’s meaning refers to peace (?!) and obviously it’s relationship with the biblical figure, the Hebreew profit, whose father (Abu) was David (Daud, Dawood, Dawud in Arabic).

  2. Bill Herschel says:

    Thank you for this very informative article.

  3. Amir,
    Some of what you’re referring to may have to do with transcription rules followed by those who write an alias in latin alphabet, depending on which language they speak. You’re right about the general rule of “Suleyman” being the Turkish version of Solomon, but there is plenty of evidence for Jihadi fighters of various colour using this spelling rather than the more Arabic “Sulayman”.
    That being said, with regard to this individual, I’m pretty sure you’ll find all kinds of transcriptions of his nom de guerre.

  4. Bill Herschel says:

    Must add an additional comment although I had definitely not intended to. First of all, having lived in France, I am particularly interested in your article and am, again, thankful for being able to read it. I guess my question from that perspective would be, “Do you think LePen will be elected President?” One wonders how many successful attacks it will take to elect her. One more would certainly change some votes.
    But that is not why, or only indirectly why, I want to comment again. American History is being written tonight. Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for President. A man who theoretically cannot be bought and who is a real actor on the same level with a Jack Benny or a Mel Brooks. I know that Ronald Reagan is considered to be a Saint on the Right, but one must admit that he was an actor the same way Hector Lopez was a baseball player. Trump is incredibly talented in the spotlight.
    The verbal/philosophical/moral/… battle between him and Clinton may actually contain substance. Oh, and I think pretty much anyone with functioning neurons will admit that Clinton can be bought. Bring it on.

  5. Bill Herschel says:

    Well, I slandered Hector Lopez. He was a poor fielder (“Hector giveth and Hector taketh away”), but he could hit and he lived in the shadow of Maris and Mantle. He didn’t get much of a break on radio broadcasts.

  6. different clue says:

    Bill Herschel,
    Trump has already performed two major services for America. He has retired the Bush Dynasty from the political stage for some time to come. And he appears to have neutralized the evil Ted Cruz for this presidential cycle.

  7. F5F5F5 says:

    It looks like the French services have been very good at identifying potential terrorists, but very bad at following up on them.
    Maybe it has something to do with how Sarkozy (Minister of Interior 2005-2007, then President 2007-2012) disrupted the French anti-terror apparatus after the 2002 Karachi bus bombing case turned into a “Karachigate”, and/or during his dealings with Gaddafi etc.

  8. Jackrabbit says:

    Kasich is still in the race. Kasich is more likely than Cruz to do well in the remaining races.
    I don’t think the NEVER TRUMP crowd have given up yet.

  9. Jackrabbit says:

    Al-Mouadan’s nom de guerre was indeed “Abu Suleyman”, but … he was killed in a US airstrike at the end of December 2015.
    I’m not sure how much credence we should give to a claim of ‘killed by airstrike’. US have claimed to have killed ISIS personnel in airstrikes that weren’t actually killed.

  10. Jackrabbit says:

    What about the bungling French security services and France’s unwillingness to confront countries that support ISIS after the Charlie Hebdo attack? Instead, France staged a public relations charade and passed police-state laws that failed to prevent a worse attack – despite warnings from Iraqi intelligence.
    ‘Where’s Waldo?’ may be really interesting in its own right, but it diverts us from the root of the problem:
    >> ISIS is _useful_ to the ‘Assad must go!’ Coalition;
    >> That’s why many Coalition countries have directly or indirectly supported ISIS ($$, arms, training, oil trading, propaganda, madrasas, weak anti-ISIS efforts, etc.);
    >> Seymour Hersh described a conspiracy (USA, KSA, Israel) to use extremists as a weapon in “The Redirection” (2006), which has been confirmed by subsequent events and reporting;
    >> ISIS terr0r has been an excuse to extend/expand costly and invasive GWOT measures and increase anti-Muslim sentiment.
    We need to do more than swat the mosquitoes, we need to drain the swamp of unaccountable power that uses and abuses people for its own ends.

  11. elaine says:

    Please explain why France allows the “returnees” to freely roam rather
    than arresting or deporting them upon discovery. What’s the rational?

  12. There are probably a variety of reasons, in particular the number of suspects on the terror wat lists, which are stretching resources very thin. The failed restructuring of domestic intelligence under Sarkozy is another one. You might say also that nobody wanted to see the problem for what it was …

  13. I’m not sure which countries you mean when you say they support ISIS.
    Not sure I agree on much of what you say actually … Coalition countries supporting ISIS ? Don’t think so.
    As for Hersch’s piece about the “rat line” I’m aware of it but it’s hardly a conspiracy.

  14. Nobody gets to roam freely. Do you think these people come back and openly boast about where they have been ? Additionally a number of the Paris attackers entered the EU with the many refugees who arrived in 2015. Picking hem out of thousands of individuals is not easy, especially when they have well forged or even genuine ID papers in a different name. Greek authorities just let many go through without any further check, even when they had doubts about someone.

  15. Bill Herschel says:

    France makes billions selling arms to Saudi Arabia. And they make billions on tourism. The lights are burning late in the Elysée Palace.

  16. Peter in Toronto says:

    If Col. Lang is reading this, could I press you to comment on Trump’s foreign policy speech?
    Linked below, if you haven’t seen it yet:

  17. Jackrabbit says:

    There is plenty of information available to connect the dots. Some highlights (see more at the links below):
    2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report
    ““The West, Gulf countries [the Islamic regimes ruling Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, etc.], and Turkey support the Syrian opposition . . . There is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist [fundamentalist Islam] principality in Eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want…”
    Other newly released official U.S. documents obtained by Judicial Watch also show that the Obama administration was fully aware that weapons were being shipped from Benghazi to Syrian jihadists
    VP Joe Biden
    “The fact is, the ability to identify a moderate middle in Syria, um, was, uh — there was no moderate middle,” Biden said, acknowledging that history was likely to record the facts. “What my constant cry was, that our biggest problem was our allies — our allies in the region were our largest problem.” Specifically identifying the Islamist rulers of Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, along with unspecified others such as Qatar, Biden noted that “they were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war.”
    So, with that in mind, “what did they do?” the vice president asked before providing a partial answer. “They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad; except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” He did not mention the role of the CIA and the State Department in the process, of course, but that has been well documented by countless sources.
    “Now you think I’m exaggerating — take a look,” Biden continued. “Where did all of this go? So now what’s happening? All of a sudden everybody’s awakened because this outfit called ISIL, which was Al Qaeda in Iraq, which when they were essentially thrown out of Iraq, found open space in territory in eastern Syria, [and] work with Al Nusra who we declared a terrorist group early on, and we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them.”
    Gen. Martin Dempsey
    . . . responding to a question by pro-Syrian jihad senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) about U.S. allies supporting ISIS, explained: “I know of major Arab allies who fund them.”
    Training anti-ISIS fighters
    After spending $40 million of a $500 million program to “train and equip” anti-ISIS fighters, about 100 fighters were graduated. About 95 of these immediately defected and turned over their arms.
    As reported by CBS News, hundreds of others that were trained left the program early because (it was claimed they said) they believed that fighting Assad as a greater priority. Leaving many questions unanswered (and not followed up by the Press): 1) how much training did these drop-outs actually get? 2) did the drop-outs get arms/supplies? etc.
    . . . “moderate” Syrian opposition — all of whom proudly describe themselves as Islamists and jihadists fighting for Allah against an “apostate” regime — have openly boasted of their collaboration with both al-Qaeda and ISIS. “We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the [al-Qaeda-linked] Nusra Front by attacking the Syrian Army’s gatherings in … Qalamoun,” commander Bassel Idriss with the Obama-backed “Free Syrian Army” recently told Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper.
    Indeed, entire FSA brigades armed and trained by Obama and his “allies” have proudly defected to ISIS, taking all of their Western government-provided weaponry with them. Even Islamic State operatives boast of their intimate ties with Obama’s “moderate” rebels in major media outlets. “We are buying weapons from the FSA,” ISIS terrorist Abu Atheer was quoted as saying by Al-Jazeera. “We bought 200 anti-aircraft missiles and Koncourse anti-tank weapons. We have good relations with our brothers in the FSA. For us, the infidels are those who cooperate with the West to fight Islam.”

  18. Fred says:

    “You might say also that nobody wanted to see the problem for what it was …”
    I think that is also an American problem, though things haven’t gotten as bad here … yet.

  19. The US sorted out their own pig sty after 9/11. While nothing is perfect, I think CT-efforts displayed by the US are pretty solid overall. But fingers crossed anyway …

  20. This is a discussion we have had on SST time and again. I beg to differ so we gonna have to leave it at this. You’re free of course to connect dots where there is no causation, but that is opinion then, not fact.

  21. turcopolier says:

    Peter in Toronto
    I watched the whole speech when he gave it. I heard two distinct elements in it. On the one hand he said whatever was necessary to assuage various special interest groups; Zionists first and foremost, internationalists, etc. OTOH he said that he will govern from a POV that always places American interest first, seeks a rapprochement with potential adversaries; Russia, China, etc., will build very strong armed forces but be “very slow on the trigger.” In the area of trade he says he will re-negotiate the free trade deals that so many Americans blame for the rapid disappearance of American industry. a great many people think, as I do, that the theory of comparative advantage in economics creates economies that benefit the investor class (like me) and puts Americans who once had good wages in the position of not having the money with which to buy the cheap goods that come into the country from China, Vietnam, Mexico, etc. Trump is a negotiator. He is now negotiating with various groups to sink a deal over the presidency but his very willingness to challenge accepted and received wisdom with regard to so many sacred cows indicates to me that this is probably the real Trump while the pandering to AIPAC etc is merely trickery but skilled trickery. pl

  22. Jackrabbit says:

    Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.
    . . .
    The policy shift has brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace, largely because both countries see Iran as an existential threat. They have been involved in direct talks, and the Saudis, who believe that greater stability in Israel and Palestine will give Iran less leverage in the region, have become more involved in Arab-Israeli negotiations.
    . . .
    Martin Indyk, a senior State Department official in the Clinton Administration who also served as Ambassador to Israel, said that “the Middle East is heading into a serious Sunni-Shiite Cold War.” Indyk, who is the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, added that . . . “The White House is not just doubling the bet in Iraq,” he said. “It’s doubling the bet across the region. This could get very complicated. Everything is upside down.”
    . . .
    Flynt Leverett, a former Bush Administration National Security Council official, told me that . . . “This is all part of the campaign of provocative steps to increase the pressure on Iran. The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them.”
    . . .
    Nasr compared the current situation to the period in which Al Qaeda first emerged. In the nineteen-eighties and the early nineties, the Saudi government offered to subsidize the covert American C.I.A. proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Hundreds of young Saudis were sent into the border areas of Pakistan, where they set up religious schools, training bases, and recruiting facilities. Then, as now, many of the operatives who were paid with Saudi money were Salafis. Among them, of course, were Osama bin Laden and his associates, who founded Al Qaeda, in 1988.
    This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”
    . . .
    In the past year, the Saudis, the Israelis, and the Bush Administration have developed a series of informal understandings about their new strategic direction. At least four main elements were involved, the U.S. government consultant told me.
    First, Israel would be assured that its security was paramount and that Washington and Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states shared its concern about Iran.
    Second, the Saudis would urge Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian party that has received support from Iran, to curtail its anti-Israeli aggression and to begin serious talks about sharing leadership with Fatah, the more secular Palestinian group. (In February, the Saudis brokered a deal at Mecca between the two factions. However, Israel and the U.S. have expressed dissatisfaction with the terms.)
    The third component was that the Bush Administration would work directly with Sunni nations to counteract Shiite ascendance in the region.
    Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. Syria is a major conduit of arms to Hezbollah.
    . . .

  23. I published your comment for the effort you put into compiling it. Being off topic however, and consisting in information widely accessible, I would recommend you don’t waster your time on drafting large excerpts. A simple link will do, preferably under a topic that is relevant to the subject you’re considering.

  24. Bill Herschel says:

    I agree with you completely pl. Not that that makes any difference. However, I would like to add something. the Commentariat this morning is unanimous that Trump has essentially no chance against Clinton. In the event, I believe that had the Democratic Party attempted to design a candidate who will lose to Trump, they could not have done a better job than Clinton.
    On the other hand, the better Trump does, the harder time Republicans running down ticket will do… unless they support him.
    I wonder what others think.

  25. Jackrabbit says:

    I was responding to your remark: “Coalition countries supporting ISIS? Don’t think so.”
    Biden, Dempsey, and DIA disagree: our allies, who are members of the ‘Assad must go!’ Coalition HAVE supported ISIS (and we have too – at least indirectly).
    I could have also mentioned: ISIS oil trading with Turkey; Turkish and Israeli medical aid to ISIS and al Nusra; the lame bombing campaign (in light of Russia’s much more determined effort); and loads of propaganda meant to confuse Western populations (why would that be necessary except as cover?)
    Now you raise the bar with “no causation”. See my comment (above) with excerpts from Sy Hersh’s “The Redirection” for causation. Summary: KSA and Israel saw Iran as the biggest beneficiary of the Iraq War and wanted to use extremists to counter Iran’s influence. The USA choose to help our “allies in the region” in this endeavor.

  26. turcopolier says:

    Bill Herschel
    IMO Trump can beat her by proceeding to abuse her over her many vulnerabilities. Some of these are connected to her history and others are more deeply personal. He would be wise to have surrogates attack her while he stands silent in the matter but he may not be capable of doing that. Skillfully done he can destroy her step by step as a plausible future president. Another handicap he has is his imprecision of language. Like a lot of generals and other grandees he seems to think that ambiguity in speech, partial sentences and omitted necessary words make him less vulnerable to criticism. That is a mistake. He needs to say things like; SOME Mexican illegals, A FEW Arabs, etc. pl

  27. Jackrabbit says:

    One more thing…
    Let’s not forget that in the crucial early months of ISIS’ growth, Obama refused to bomb/attack ISIS until/unless Maliki resigned as PM.
    The Obama Administration wouldn’t even deliver planes (already paid for!) to Iraq while Maliki was in office.

  28. Bill Herschel,
    Piers Morgan, who is what we might call in Britain an old tabloid hack, who has also worked in the States, has taken over presenting the ITV morning show ‘Good Morning Britain’.
    This morning he told his co-presenter, and the world British ‘media’ world of which she is a representative specimen, that, in essence, that they were living in cloud-cuckoo-land – they did not understand that Trump was far more popular, and Hilary Clinton far less so, than they realised.
    Unlike him, I have never lived in the United States. But what Morgan said ‘meshed’ with my own gut instinct, which has long been that, as you write, ‘had the Democratic Party attempted to design a candidate who will lose to Trump, they could not have done a better job than Clinton.’
    I think he will crucify her.

  29. Peter in Toronto says:

    Thank you for your insights. I was struck with the same impression. He needs not pick a fight with AIPAC at the moment, but I feel he will not yield when it comes to American interests versus the numerous Israeli agents that monopolize certain areas of foreign policy.
    His comments about the need to proliferate the values that propelled Western society and the rest of the world into prosperity and relative peace were spectacularly refreshing, after 8 years of Obama’s moral relativism.
    Likewise discussing things like protecting the tax base with tariffs is something I have not heard uttered in public in the US in several decades.
    I’m optimistic but cautious because I know the delegate system and electoral college favour Clinton in the general this November.

  30. elaine says:

    Don’t the Turks have records of who passed through their country en route to

  31. different clue says:

    Bill Herschel,
    Imagine the American political system as being analogous to the Arctic Ocean sea ice, metaphorically speaking. Till recently, the ice was solid and moved around in predictable patterns. Just lately the ice has started breaking apart here, melting through there . . . and the plates are grinding around in unpredictable ways. So it is hazardous to make a near-future prediction in a world of melting grinding ice based on legacy knowledge from a time of solid stable ice. What serious commenters or Republican strategerists predicted the advance of Trump through the primaries to this point? What serious commenters or Democratic strategerists predicted the size and pressure of the discontent-field into which Sanders has drilled a well?
    Its safe to predict that Clinton will get the D nomination because she is Wall Street’s politician this time, just like Obama was in 2008. But after that, who knows? The Clintonists have been going out of their way to mock and insult and patronize the Sanderists. Some of the Sanderists may be driven to get quiet passive-aggressive revenge on election day as a result. That should be factored into any prediction.

  32. different clue says:

    David Habakkuk,
    Here is a little Trump campaign ad, just a sample of what he can do/ will do.

  33. Fred says:

    I recently read this interview with one of the members of the band that was playing at the Bataclan the night of the attack. From his perspective it sounds like one or more staff members at the facility may have been involved. Does this correlate to what the latest police reports show?

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