Where Does ISIS Get Those Wonderful Toys?

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June 17, 2015—In the 1989 film Batman, after the caped crusader rescues a damsel in distress from the Joker using a fancy zipline gun, the clown prince of crime, played by Jack Nicholson,

“Where does he get those wonderful toys?”

Especially upon seeing Batman’s nicest toys — his armored Batmobile and his military-grade Batwing fighter plane, etc — the Joker must have assumed his adversary was financed by some seriously deep pockets. And indeed, hidden behind the cowl was billionaire Bruce Wayne all along.

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Similarly, upon seeing real-life fighters also garbed in black masks and jumpsuits, and running around the poverty-stricken Middle East with such “wonderful toys” as TOW anti-tank missiles, up-armored Humvees, M1A1 Abrams tanks, and fleets of gun-mounted Toyota pick-up trucks, any perceptive person must also assume that a wealthy patron lurked in the background.

Where do they get those wonderful Toyotas?

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Indeed where do ISIS and al-Qaeda get those wonderful toys we so often see these days triumphantly bedecked with black flags? The ultimate source of virtually all of the jihadists’ gear are the deep pockets of the United States government and its client states. Uncle Sam is the veritable Bruce Wayne of Jihad. This was basically admitted in a recently disclosed Defense Intelligence Agency report. But anyone who bothered looking into it could have known this long ago, even if restricting one’s self to mainstream sources.

Most support for the jihadists has come by way of the aid the US offers, along with its allies, to the insurgency in Syria battling to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad.

Training and Logistical Support

The Pentagon and the CIA, as well as Britain and France, have been training Syrian rebels in neighboring Jordan since at least October 2012, as reported by The Guardian.

As early as April 2012, the State Department under Hillary Clinton began supplying communications equipment to rebels, according to The Wall Street Journal. In the same article, the Journal also reported that:

“…the Central Intelligence Agency and State Department — working with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other allies — are helping the opposition Free Syrian Army develop logistical routes for moving supplies into Syria and providing communications training.”

This equipment and training provided absolutely vital coordination to the opposition forces. The Journal reported that, as of June 2012, the opposition’s…

“…internal command structure appears more organized and able to communicate to a sprawling mix of insurgent groups operating across the country. (…)

This week, Syrian rebels began to say publicly they are able to intercept government military communications. Rebel commanders also say new, secure communications between their ranks have allowed them to organize larger defections.”

It is likely that, without this crucial early logistical aid from the US, the fractious and power-hungry opposition would have fallen apart, the bloody and ruinous civil war would have ended much earlier, and tens of thousands of violent deaths would have been prevented.

More to the point, the war would have ended before Syrian al-Qaeda (aka the Nusra Front) and ISIS could conquer much of Syria, and before ISIS could use its Syrian foothold to stage its conquest of the northwestern half of Iraq. By prolonging the war, the US gave the extremists the time, the space, and the chaos they needed to expand astonishingly.

As the DIA report revealed, the US government knew such blowback was a highly probable consequence of supporting the insurgency, even forecasting the resulting rise of an extremist Islamic State. Yet it barreled ahead anyway.

Non-Lethal Aid

Since the spring of 2012, the State Department has also been providing millions of dollars of what it calls “non-lethal aid,” including, “MREs, combat casualty bags, and surgical equipment,” according to Mother Jones magazine, which also reported in 2013 that the US had precious little control over who ultimately received this aid, and whether or not it ended up giving succor to terrorists. Later, this non-lethal aid came to include pick-up trucks. So, perhaps that’s where ISIS got those wonderful Toyotas.

For “Buy American” types whose patriotism is offended by seeing American-backed Islamic extremists driving around in Japanese trucks, there is something you can do about it. Apparently, if you sell your Ford truck in the US of A and it ends up at auction, there’s a chance it might wind up in Syria. Just don’t forget to remove any identifying decals before you sign the title transfer. A Texan made this mistake and sorely regretted it after he starting receiving death threats. As the Huffington Post reported in December 2014:

“A Texas plumber says he has no idea how his company’s work truck ended up in the hands of Islamic extremists in Syria.

The truck, a black Ford F-250 with the logo for Texas City’s Mark-1 Plumbing emblazoned on the door, appeared in a tweet posted Monday by the Ansar al-Deen Front, a jihadist group operating near Aleppo. In the photo, a man fires an anti-aircraft gun mounted to the bed of the truck, presumably where plumbing equipment used to sit.”

“No idea,” huh? Let’s just say it was almost certainly your tax dollars at work.

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Lethal Aid
In 2012, The Wall Street Journal reported that:

“Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have delivered arms and funds to rebel groups in Syria in a covert alliance since this spring.”

These shipments included automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition, anti-tank weapons, and roadside bombs.

This deadly delivery service continues to this day. Turkey’s chief role has been to transmit the weapons through its border with Syria. Turkey is a member of the US-power-projection vehicle known as NATO, and it hosts US bases and nuclear weapons.

The chief role of the Saudis and Qataris has been to bankroll the weapons shipments. Both Gulf States are dependent on American arms deliveries worth tens of billions of dollars every year. These deliveries were ramped up to this level in recent years with the express purpose of isolating, countering, and “deterring” Iran: the purported ringleader of the burgeoning “Shia expansion” that the Saudis hate lividly and that has been an enemy target for US foreign policy since 2007. Overthrowing Iran’s ally Assad is seen by both the US and the Gulf States as part of that project.

Turkey and the Gulf States are client regimes, greatly dependent on American support. If Washington really wanted them to stop arming the rebels, a slight tug of the purse strings would quickly do the trick. With major policy questions like this, if Turkey and the Gulf States are doing something big, it is because it is okay with Washington. Even more likely, it is because it is exactly what Washington wants, and the US is simply using its proxies to do its dirty work.

Moreover, the US did not merely green-light the arms shipments. Since at least June 2012, the CIA has been in Turkey actively steering their delivery, as reported by The New York Times.

Yet by October 2012, heat-seeking, shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft missiles were being smuggled into Syria, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. And apparently, by early 2013, they didn’t even need to be smuggled. The Guardian reported in March that:

“Syrian rebels have said that in the past few months there had been a relaxation of the previously strict US rules on what kinds of weapons were allowed across the border, and that portable anti-aircraft missiles had been released from Turkish warehouses where they had been impounded.”

Weapons that can take down a passenger airliner, permitted to pass into the hands of insurgents fighting alongside Syrian al-Qaeda. Thanks for keeping us safe, Government!

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We know who delivered them to the rebels and who paid for them. But where did these anti-aircraft missiles come from? According to the 2012 Journal report, mostly from Libya, which itself had recently been shattered into dozens of warring pieces by the US overthrow of its government (which was Hillary Clinton’s pet project). Indeed, in September 2012, The Times (the UK newspaper) reported that it had examined a ship docked in Turkey that held over 400 tons of weapons (including missiles), all of which originated from Benghazi, Libya and were bound for Syria.

The shipment arrived mere days before the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi was sacked, and the US ambassador killed, by yet another group of Sunni jihadists the US had backed (in the recent war there).

As reported by Seymour Hersh in 2014, the CIA had been watching over (and possibly directing) a “rat line” of weapons shipments that ran from jihadist-stricken, failed state Libya, through Turkey, to jihadist-stricken, failed-state-in-the-making Syria. Hillary Clinton played dumb when questioned about it by Rand Paul, but this too was confirmed by the DIA report.

Unsurprisingly, most of these weapons did not remain with the “moderate” Syrian rebels they were allegedly intended for. Already by October 2012, David Sanger was reporting for The New York Times that:

“Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.”

Even after such an abysmal track record set by its regional partners, the US soon decided it wanted a piece of the “lethal aid” action too. After laying unsubstantiated blame on Assad for a sarin gas attack, the Obama administration came within an inch of starting yet another Western air war on a Muslim country: this in September 2013. Yet, after hearing a resounding “Hell no” from a war-weary public, Obama dared not follow through. As a consolation prize for frustrated bloodlust, the CIA began clandestinely providing lethal aid directly to the Syrian insurgency, as reported by The Washington Post.

Despite Washington’s constant assurances that lethal aid recipients would be carefully vetted, the US-supplied arms ended up in extremist hands just as easily as those supplied by Turkey and the Gulf States did.

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