US ex-intelligence chief on ISIS rise: It was 'a willful Washington decision'
An interview with retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), given to Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan, confirms earlier suspicions that Washington was monitoring jihadist groups emerging as opposition in Syria.
General Flynn dismissed Al Jazeera’s supposition that the US administration “turned a blind eye” to the DIA’s analysis.
Flynn believes the US government didn’t listen to his agency on purpose.
“I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision,” the former DIA chief said.
The classified DIA report presented in August 2012, stated that “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al- Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” being supported by “the West, Gulf countries and Turkey.”
The document recently declassified through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), analyses the situation in Syria in the summer of 2012 and predicts: “If the situation unravels, there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria… and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”
The report warns of “dire consequences” of this scenario, because it would allow Al-Qaeda to regain its positions in Iraq and unify the jihadist Sunni forces in Iraq, Syria and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against all other Muslim minorities they consider dissenters.
“ISI (the Islamic State of Iraq) could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards of unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory,” the DIA report correctly predicted at the time.
Those groups eventually emerged as Islamic State (IS formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front, an Islamic group loyal to Al-Qaeda.
Unlike the US State Department, which rushed to label the declassified DIA memo as unimportant soon after its declassification, the DIA’s former head expressed full trust in the 2012 report, stressing he “paid very close attention” to this document, adding “the intelligence was very clear.”
Al Jazeera notes that Lieutenant General Michael Flynn became “the highest ranking intelligence official to go on record,” saying the US and other states, notably Turkey and the Gulf Arab states, were sponsoring Al-Qaeda-led rebels in Syria with political support and weapons in an attempt to overthrow President Bashar Assad.
When Al Jazeera’s Hasan asked Flynn why he didn’t attempt to stop the US coordinating arms transfers to Islamic extremists, the retired general said: “I hate to say it’s not my job, but my job was to ensure the accuracy of our intelligence,” said Flynn, who also served as director of intelligence for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) during the US hunt for Bin Laden.
With the Al-Qaeda’s notorious founder killed in Pakistan in 2011, the former DIA head admitting the US sponsored Al-Qaeda-associated groups a year later in Syria should come as a shock to American media outlets, such as the Daily Beast, which criticized the DIA memo as unworthy.
Author for the Levant Report, Brad Hoff says hours after he published a rebuttal to the Daily Beast article, he was contacted by a personal friend, a high level official with CIA Public Affairs, who urged Hoff to drop his comments regarding the IS issue, insisting the Daily Beast article had been “written insightfully.”
Assad blame game ‘encourages more groups like ISIS’
RT’s Gayane Chichakyan asked US State Department spokesperson John Kirby to comment on the DIA memo and Flynn’s assessment of it. In response, Kirby ignored the claims, solely blaming Assad for the rise of Islamic State forces.
“I am certainly not going to talk about the intelligence report that I haven’t seen … The rise of ISIL inside Syria was, in fact, helped by Assad regime’s lack of legitimacy to govern effectively its own people and its own territory,” Kirby said.
Washington’s approach to Syria only helps to further destabilize the situation by exclusively presenting the Syrian president as a leader who has ‘lost’ legitimacy, Washington Bureau Chief for Al-Quds, Said Arikat, told RT.
“It is very difficult to contain the situation in Syria or Iraq. It is very difficult to put that genie back in the bottle. If the United States was really intent on defeating ISIS, it has to create or facilitate conditions by which or through which you can have a political resolution,” Arikat said.
“And you begin by saying we want all Syrian representatives, including those who look at Assad as a representative. That is the only way. To continue to adhere to the stubborn line that Assad has lost his legitimacy is basically agitating for more of these groups to emerge. Today we have ISIS, tomorrow we might have something else,” he added.