'Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra in Syria may have significant amounts of sarin'
RT:France, the US and UK are saying the UN report
clearly points to the Assad government's involvement in the
August attack . But how can they be so sure, especially as the
document states that improvised rockets may have been used,
possibly pointing to rebel involvement?
Michael Maloof: I have a report from a source who has
direct connections with classified information and he basically
told me that [the] US military did an assessment based upon 50
indicators and clandestine interviews that the sourcing of sarin
originated out of Iraq and into Turkey before some of it was
confiscated in May in Turkey. He believes that since that report
was disseminated in August in 2013, that there has actually been
a more significant amount of sarin production both in Iraq and in
Turkey going to the opposition, principally Al-Qaeda and
That was their specific target, to see to what extent Al-Qaeda
was actually involved in production, in research and
dissemination. He says what was confiscated was bench level or
small specimens at the time, but that the production now they
believe is much more robust and that the non-proliferation,
genie, as he says, is no longer exclusive. So there's quite an
increasing concern that this is still ongoing, that production is
occurring among some Sunni salafists in Iraq and continues to be
transported into Turkey.
RT:Can you tell us more about that classified document you’ve seen, which shows that the US knew that Al-Qaeda linked rebels in Syria had sarin gas?
MM: The document itself was published in August 2013 by
the National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC). It’s part of the
intelligence community. The fact that some of it was actually
captured in May along the border in Turkey and it was actually
Al-Qaeda, and since it was disseminated my sources are telling me
that production has probably increased significantly and sarin
gas is being produced quite widely now. That it's actually
ongoing and there's actually a Saudi financier whose name I’m
trying to obtain right now.
This raises a whole host of questions, and even though Mr Kerry
says we know what the origin of the August 21 shot was into the
outskirts of Damascus that killed hundreds of people including
children, he tells me that they have been scouring Syria for more
than a year looking at all the Syrian military activities and
that they have no information on any artillery having been fired
that day at that time into that location. So this raises all
kinds of further questions as to what this information is which
Kerry possesses, but refuses to share with the world.
RT:Why is the US not taking any action against the Syrian rebels then? After all, they believe that Al-Qaeda, their sworn enemy has chemical weapons.
MM: Clearly the administration does not want to get more
deeply involved in a Middle East conflict. It’s probably a
political and policy call on the Obama administration’s part.
Again, this is speculation on my part, but I think it would go
absolutely against the grain of trying to assist the rebels and I
think the administration’s goal really is regime change. You have
an opposition and foreign fighters that have now integrated into
the opposition being involved in this. This absolutely goes
contrary to what their policy direction is and results in
We’ve had separate reports already that Al-Qaeda elements are rather significant in numbers and have permeated into the opposition. So the ability to distinguish who gets what and where becomes much more problematic for this administration. I think that the administration is trying to oust Assad, but the fact that you have those foreign fighters there, for them to admit it would absolutely undermine their entire policy approach.
‘US cannot afford another war with questionable results’
RT:The US says they want to see the Geneva peace talks
take place - yet they've just offered more support to the
opposition. How is that going to bring the peace process
MM: You've got to distinguish the opposition. The
opposition has refused to meet as long as the Assad government is
going to be represented at Geneva 2. But I think with Russian
President Putin’s direction and leadership in all this, I think
the United States is compelled to have that meeting and to try
and resolve this. It certainly isn’t going to please the
opposition but the United States has basically boxed itself into
a corner on this policy approach, because the next question is
what happens in response to any bombing or regime change.
Regime change would clearly be done through military action and
by force, so what the repercussions of that will be is something
the administration doesn’t want to confront, and I think it’s
something the opposition feels very disappointed about and it
could be very demoralizing for them as a consequence.
The United States cannot afford to get involved in another
military conflict with questionable results, and certainly in
terms of time, where it’s all going to lead to. So I think it
would be in the interests of the United States and Russia to get
Geneva 2 underway and get something resolved. I think the
leadership of Mr. Putin and certainly Foreign Minister Lavrov
have come up with a solution and I think that that’s something
that has to be pursued. Whether you get the opposition to come
along is highly questionable, but I think at this stage the big
boys are calling the shots on this, not the opposition.
You must keep in mind that the opposition itself is very
fragmented. You have over a thousand elements in there that don’t
talk to one another, it’s not a unified effort, and this actually
consolidates Assad’s position, particularly with the help of Iran
and Russia at this point.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.