Turkey is a covert supporter of the brutal regime of ISIS, according to commentators becoming increasingly outspoken.
They tell a story like a James Bond thriller. Except the drama, death, and courage are taking place in real life, right now.
McClatchy, for example, a chain of 29 newspapers in 28 U.S. markets, published an investigation last week reporting that Turkey "orchestrated" the kidnapping by radical Islamists of about 50 newly deployed "moderate" Syrians trained by the U.S. at a cost of $500 million. The result was the deaths of nearly 10 percent of the recruits regarded as a major U.S. strike force against ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIL, or Daesh).
Additional claims of a hidden alliance between ISIS and Turkey, a NATO-ally of the United States, are summarized below. These are bolstered by reports that Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently undertaken hundreds of air bombing attacks against Kurds fighting ISIS compared to less than a half dozen such attacks against ISIS itself. President Obama is shown meeting with Erdogan at the White House on Dec. 7, 2009.
None of the 2016 presidential candidates from either party or prominent congressional leaders have sought to resolve the questions even though U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is heavily focused on fighting ISIS, a group of radical Islamists from many nations that some allege include former U.S.-trained militants.
Meanwhile, U.S. authorities last week obtained an 11-year prison sentence for a 17-year-old Virginia resident who admitted using social media to raise funds for ISIS, which Turkey clearly has also been coddling if not supporting in vastly more substantial ways than a teenager could.
Listed below (roughly in reverse chronological order) are headlines from recent reporting and commentary attacking Turkey, and implicitly the Obama administration. The attacks target also the administration's anti-ISIS "czar" John R. Allen (right), a retired Marine four-star general, and the bipartisan congressional leadership that has permitted the nation's moral, strategic, and financial disasters in the Middle East:
- McClatchy, Syrian rebels: Turkey tipped al Qaida group to U.S.-trained fighters, Mitchell Prothero, Aug. 24, 2015.
- American Conservative, How Turkey Plays the War on Terror, Philip Giraldi, Aug. 25, 2015.
- Consortium News, The Case for Pragmatism, Robert Parry (shown in file photo), Aug. 24, 2015.
- Business Insider, Senior US military official: Turkey 'needed a hook' and tricked us on ISIS, Natasha Bertrand and Michael B. Kelley, Aug. 25, 2015.
- OpEdNews, Insouciance Rules The West, Paul Craig Roberts, Aug. 19, 2015.
- Huffington Post, Turkey Pays Former CIA Director and Lobbyists to Misrepresent Attacks on Kurds and ISIS, Harut Sassounian, Aug. 19, 2015.
- Fox News, Turkey's strikes on Kurds could drag US into new front, military sources fear, Lucas Tomlinson and Jennifer Griffin, Aug. 10, 2015.
- American Conservative, Deep State America, Philip Giraldi, July 30, 2015.
Allen, former chief of the Pentagon's Central Command (CENTCOM) and special forces SOCOM headquarters in Tampa, has resurrected his career following his hundreds of email exchanges with Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, who had come to public attention in November 2012 after President Obama obtained the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus for an affair with Army Reserve Lt. Col. Paula Broadwell, his biographer.
Kelley reportedly assisted if not initiated the investigation of Broadwell leading to Petraeus because Kelley suspected Broadwell was becoming too friendly with Petraeus, also a former CENTCOM commander. Kelley and her twin sister, both born in Lebanon, and their husbands were involved in the social and defense contracting scene revolving around military leaders from MacDill Air Force Base.
As reported by the Washington Post in Gen. John Allen cleared in misconduct inquiry, a Pentagon inquiry promptly cleared Allen of wrongdoing regarding the emails, which sources described as flirtatious. Little is known about the substance of the emails. But Allen, like his predecessor Petraeus, and others involved, had multiple military operations underway for military actions in nations ultimately tolling hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of displaced people, and trillions of dollars in costs so far to U.S. taxpayers.
Allen denied impropriety in his hundreds of emails with Kelley and retired rather than accept a presidential invitation to command NATO. Obama then appointed Allen in September 2014 to lead coalition-building against ISIS and in late July named a career State Department official in July to complement Allen's effort with more diplomacy.
Petraeus (shown in his CIA official photo) is back in the news, not surprisingly because of his neo-con, Wall Street and military connections. He is promoting a plan reported by Shane Harris and Nancy Youssef in the Daily Beast Aug. 31: Petraeus: Use Al Qaeda Fighters to Beat ISIS. Now CEO of a Wall Street affiliate of KKR, Petraeus remains influential with militarists, including fellow Obama administration appointees, some of whom are affiliated with the Petraeus-oriented Center for a New American Security (CNAS).
Yet the Petraeus plan by its own terms underscores how Western interventionism begun during the last part of the Carter era to arm Islamists has led to one horror after another, except for fanatical anti-communists, arms merchants, and a relatively few other insiders with similar agendas.
Below is a sample of commentaries by other pundits who assert that Turkey, ostensibly a non-religious democracy, is increasingly controlled by a hidden "Deep State" that works with similar factions elsewhere, including those positioned in the U.S. government and private sector. The situation is fluid and over-simplified here for brevity since Turkey has such diverse politics that it is operating under an interim government, albeit dominated by the AKP and Erdogan, because AKP failed to assemble a coalition after June 7 elections.
Returning to the alternative analysis by the recent critics of Erdogan: Turkey is not necessarily double-crossing the official governments of United States and its other allies who say they want to eliminate ISIS, but is instead advancing the interests of radical "Deep State" miltarist factions within allied nations. The dissident U.S. factions are claimed to include parts of the Pentagon, CIA, and State Department that contend against those U.S. colleagues who seek to crush ISIS because of its murderous brutality.
- Tax Wall Street Party, State Department Spokesman Forced To Defend ISIS Czar Allen From Clear Implication He Was A Mastermind Of “Reworking” Euphoric Pentagon Intel On Alleged Defeat Of ISIS, Webster G. Tarpley, Aug. 30, 2015.
- WMR, By design -- Many of ISIL's enemies are also America's enemies, Wayne Madsen, June 22, 2015 (Subscription required).
- Zero Hedge, Secret Pentagon Report Reveals US "Created" ISIS As A "Tool" To Overthrow Syria's President Assad, Tyler Durden, May 24, 2015.
Yet just six weeks ago, the United States announced what purported to be a major breakthrough: Turkey's permission for the U.S. and other allies to use a Turkish base to bomb ISIS. Critics increasingly argue that Turkey's supposed cooperation under Erdogan cannot be taken at face value because he has emerged as his nation's leading pro-Islamist force in a decade of rule. These news reports from July summarize the initial conventional mainstream view announced by U.S. State Department and other officials in their briefings:
- Washington Post, Turkey agrees to allow U.S. military to use its base to attack Islamic State, Liz Sly and Karen DeYoung, July 23, 2015.
- BBC,Turkey attack: Border security to increase, says PM, Staff report, July 21, 2015.
We begin with the McClatchy investigative report:
"The kidnapping of a group of U.S.-trained moderate Syrians moments after they entered Syria last month to confront the Islamic State was orchestrated by Turkish intelligence, multiple rebel sources have told McClatchy," wrote Mitchell Prothero in the McClatchy investigative report, Syrian rebels. "The rebels say that the tipoff to al Qaida’s Nusra Front enabled Nusra to snatch many of the 54 graduates of the $500 million program on July 29 as soon as they entered Syria, dealing a humiliating blow to the Obama administration’s plans for confronting the Islamic State."
Rebels familiar with the events said they believe the arrival plans were leaked because Turkish officials were worried that while the group’s intended target was the Islamic State, the U.S.-trained Syrians would form a vanguard for attacking Islamist fighters that Turkey is close to, including Nusra and another major Islamist force, Ahrar al Sham.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday called for Turkey to do more to contribute to the international fight against the Islamic State. A senior official at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, declined to respond to questions about the incident, saying any discussion of Turkey’s relationship with Nusra was off limits.
On July 30, 2012, the White House published on its site a photo of an unhappy-looking President Obama wielding a baseball bat as he spoke by phone with Erdogan.
After reporters pressed White House spokesman Jay Carney about a possible hidden meaning, Carney explained that Obama was a baseball fan and a dedicated Chicago White Sox supporter. Erdogan told the National Turk newspaper he had no hard feels toward his friend Obama and the photo merely underscored their ongoing close relationship.
Yet at both nation's capitals, insiders speculated that such an unusual display was not accidental. Yet the overall situation is difficult for beat reporters to convey. The explosive and secretive aspects include war, human disaster, power struggles between allies, and national elections, including that facing Obama in 2012. Allied intervention to overthrow Syria's government would also grow to include the Benghazi massacre of four U.S. personnel on Sept. 11, 2012, and arguably also the romantic scandal involving Petraeus and others.
Thus, most of the columns cited above and amplified below are from independent and alternative media, including those identified with both conservative and left viewpoints.
To maintain access to authorities, the mainstream media generally depend on official briefings and other access to officials and restricted news locales. Their reporters tend for additional reasons such as the phenomenon of "pack journalism" to confine questions to relatively narrow ranges of possibilities that typically exclude the possibility that spokespeople might lie or that factions exist within the U.S. government with strongly held views different than those of a president or cabinet member.
However, recent developments — including the mysterious growth of ISIS atrocities and military strength in a landlocked part of the world vulnerable to allied air power — have raised serious questions regarding potential complicity with ISIS by U.S. allies, especially Turkey under Erdogan, 61. The former semi-pro football player served prison time for Islamist advocacy as a young man, but went on to become mayor of Turkey's capital city of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998 and prime minister from 2003 to 2014 before his current post under a nationalist AKP party he founded in 2001.
The president's full name is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with the last name pronounced roughly as if the accented "ğ" were like a "w" in English. The Turkish "ğ" is omitted in most English-language news reports, including here, for ease of typography.
Two news reports Aug. 31 illustrate the tension mounting within Turkey as its president seeks to expand the power of his Justice and Development Party in advance of elections he has called for Nov. 1 following AKP's surprise loss of a parliamentary majority in June 7 elections that saw Kurds win 13 percent of the vote, thereby enabling office-holding under rules requiring at least 10 percent of the vote.
Hurriyat Daily News reported this week, All measures to be taken to make Nov 1 polls safe: Erdoğan, quoting the leader as saying security forces will take all necessary measures to ensure election safety on Nov. 1 in a bid to avoid the repetition of problems that allegedly occurred in the June 7 polls. Meanwhile, the Asian Times reported in Turkish military turns on Erdogan over Kurd conflict that "A grief-stricken outburst from an army officer at his brother’s funeral has galvanized public anger at Turkey’s military campaign against Kurdish rebels."
In theory under Turkey's governing structure, Erdogan holds a politically neutral and largely ceremonial post. Governing power is supposed to centerin the prime minister's office, which he held for years.
But many of Turkey's actions show that he remains the nation's strong man, intent on fostering Islamic and nationalist sentiments in advance of November elections and diminishing the clout of the Kurdish minority within Turkey and in border areas of Syria and Iraq. Turkey has allowed recruits for ISIS to pour through its border and is suspected of complicity in allowing ISIS to profit from oil sales and other trade with the outside world via Turkey.
Most obviously, Turkey's military for months prevented Kurdish and other reinforcements from assisting a largely Kurdish civilian population in the border town of Kobani in Syria from defending themselves against ISIS. The Kurds, belatedly assisted by U.S. air power, eventually routed ISIS from Kobani and have since gained military control of most of the Syrian-Turkish border areas, defeating ISIS forces in several major battles.
Turkey has long (and unsuccessfully) sought for the United States to use its air power to create a "No-Fly Zone" to protect forces (including Al Qaeda-linked troops) seeking to overthrow Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad.
Former Istanbul-based CIA officer Philip Giraldi assessed such developments in a column published Aug. 25 by The American Conservative, whose founding editor was former Nixon aide and GOP presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan. "From the start," Giraldi wrote, "Turkey, which nominally opposes radical rebel groups like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, has been curiously absent from the fray, instead arguing that the major effort should be focused on defeating al-Assad."
Indeed, when I was in Istanbul last July bearded rebels were observed in the more fundamentalist neighborhoods collecting money for ISIS without any interference from the numerous and highly visible Turkish police and intelligence services. Turkey has also been surreptitiously buying as much as $3 million worth of smuggled oil from ISIS every day, virtually funding the group’s activities. Ankara has allowed ISIS militants to freely cross over the Syrian border into Turkey for what might be described as R&R (rest and recreation) as well as medical care and training. Weapons have been flowing in the opposite direction, cash and carry, some provided by the Turkish intelligence service MIT.
Lost in the shuffle are Washington’s hapless diplomats and soldiers, trying to make sense of the long-abandoned U.S. interests, but that does not mean that Americans will be immune from blowback as the situation continues to deteriorate. The United States Consulate General in Istanbul, where I once-upon-a-time worked, came under gunfire two weeks ago, while Kurdish militants have already begun a new terror campaign directed against foreign tourist targets in Istanbul and along Turkey’s Aegean and south coast.
Dire as that commentary might seem, Giraldi preceded it with his even worse Deep State America column July 30. in it, he suggested that the United States, like Turkey, operates with a "deep state" where militarists operate unaccountably and secretly because voters and elected officials are bypassed the true power centers, banks and major industrialists that in effect control the governmental apparatus, including the White House, Congress, courts, law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
America’s deep state is completely corrupt: it exists to sell out the public interest, and includes both major political parties as well as government officials.
Politicians like the Clintons who leave the White House “broke” and accumulate $100 million in a few years exemplify how it rewards. A bloated Pentagon churns out hundreds of unneeded flag officers who receive munificent pensions and benefits for the rest of their lives. And no one is punished, ever. Disgraced former general and CIA Director David Petraeus is now a partner at the KKR private equity firm, even though he knows nothing about financial services. More recently, former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell has become a Senior Counselor at Beacon Global Strategies. Both are being rewarded for their loyalty to the system and for providing current access to their replacements in government.
Similar allegations have been voiced by others during the past month, including former Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn in an interview with Al Jazeera Mehdi Hasan and re-reported by RT's Gayane Chichakyan Aug, 11, US ex-intelligence chief on ISIS rise: It was 'a willful Washington decision.'
Flynn's comments followed disclosure of a 2012 "Secret" DIA document released as part of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, which focused primarily on the evidence that the Obama administration knew of arms supplies from a Libyan terrorist stronghold in Benghazi to rebels in Syria. The DIA provides military intelligence in support of planners, policymakers and operations for the U.S. Department of Defense and intelligence community.
These developments were summed up Aug. 30 in a column headlinedTurkey duped the US, and ISIS reaps rewards published in the United Kingdom's Independent.
The advance of the Syrian Kurds, who now hold half of the 550-mile Syrian-Kurdish border, was the main external reason why Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered the US closer cooperation, including the use of Incirlik, which had previously been denied. The domestic impulse for an offensive by the Turkish state against the Kurds also took place in June when the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) won 13 per cent of the vote in the Turkish general election, denying Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) a majority for the first time since 2002. By strongly playing the Turkish nationalist and anti-Kurdish card, Mr. Erdogan hopes to win back that majority in a second election on 1 November.
There are signs of a growing understanding in Washington that the US was duped by the Turks, or at best its negotiators deceived themselves when they agreed their bargain with Ankara. Senior U.S. military officers are anonymously protesting in the U.S. media they did not know that Turkey was pretending to be going after Isis when in practice it was planning an offensive against its 18 million-strong Kurdish minority. How does Isis itself assess the new US-Turkish accord? Its fighters may find it more difficult to cross the Syrian-Turkish border, though even this is uncertain. But it will be relieved that its most effective enemy in Syria, the PYD, will in future be restrained by Turkish pressure. Its PKK parent organisation is coming under sustained attack from Turkish forces in south-east Turkey and in the Qandil Mountains of Iraq.
Critical Commentaries on Turkey and Erdogan
Huffington Post, Turkey Charges Vice News Journalists With Supporting ISIS; "Baseless and alarmingly false, Vice responds," Michael Calderone Aug. 31, 2015. Two Vice News journalists and their fixer were charged Monday with "engaging in terror activity" on behalf of the Islamic State, or ISIS, allegations the media company quickly dismissed as an attempt to censor its reporting. "Today the Turkish government has leveled baseless and alarmingly false charges of 'working on behalf of a terrorist organization' against three Vice News reporters, in an attempt to intimidate and censor their coverage," said Kevin Sutcliffe, head of news programming in Europe, in a statement. "Prior to being unjustly detained, these journalists were reporting and documenting the situation in the southeastern Turkish province of Diyarbakir."
"Vice News condemns in the strongest possible terms the Turkish government's attempts to silence our reporters who have been providing vital coverage from the region," Sutcliffe added. "We continue to work with all relevant authorities to expedite the safe release of our three colleagues and friends." Vice News has become known for reporting in some of the most difficult and dangerous parts of the world, including getting unprecedented access last summer to part of Islamic State-controlled Syria. The three journalists -- Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, of the U.K., and an unnamed journalist fixer -- were detained Thursday in a predominately Kurdish region of southeastern Turkey. Reuters reported that the journalists, who were "filming clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants," did not have government accreditation.
Turkey's President Recep Erdogan, U.S. NATO ally suspected of secretly supporting ISIS to advance his Islamist and electoral agenda
American Conservative, Deep State America, Philip Giraldi, July 30, 2015. Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Democracy is often subverted by special interests operating behind the scenes. The concept of “deep state” has recently become fashionable to a certain extent, particularly to explain the persistence of traditional political alignments when confronted by the recent revolutions in parts of the Middle East and Eastern Europe. For those who believe in the existence of the deep state, there are a number of institutional as well as extralegal relationships that might suggest its presence.
American Conservative, How Turkey Plays the War on Terror, Philip Giraldi, Aug. 25, 2015. Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest. America’s reluctant ally finally offers token assistance against ISIS only as cover for a campaign against the Kurds. The United States’s engagement in the Middle East since 2001 would be a comedy of errors but for the fact that it is not funny. It all began with the exploitation of a befuddled President George W. Bush by a group of neoconservative advisers who had long planned to invade Iraq and oust its President Saddam Hussein using phony arguments about Baghdad being a nest of terrorists and a repository of weapons of mass destruction. The bungled occupation was followed by a prolonged case of democracy building that essentially destroyed Iraq as a nation and eventually led to a sectarian government closely tied to neighboring Iran that had the temerity to ask U.S. forces to leave at the end of 2011. The United States has also given open and covert support to rebel groups operating in Syria in the insane belief that overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad would lead to the creation of a new democracy. Just like in Libya, apparently.
From the start, Turkey, which nominally opposes radical rebel groups like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, has been curiously absent from the fray, instead arguing that the major effort should be focused on defeating al-Assad. Lost in the shuffle are Washington’s hapless diplomats and soldiers, trying to make sense of the long-abandoned U.S. interests, but that does not mean that Americans will be immune from blowback as the situation continues to deteriorate. The United States Consulate General in Istanbul, where I once-upon-a-time worked, came under gunfire two weeks ago, while Kurdish militants have already begun a new terror campaign directed against foreign tourist targets in Istanbul and along Turkey’s Aegean and south coast.
WMR, Who's responsible for 3-year old Aylan Kurdi's death? Wayne Madsen (shown in file photo), Sept. 3, 2015 (subscription required and excerpt used with permission). The world is in angst over an photograph of a dead Syrian Kurdish boy who washed ashore after the boat transporting the baby boy capsized while en route from Turkey's Bodrum peninsula to the Greek isle of Kos. Four other children, including Aylan's 5-year old brother and their mother, also drowned. Fingers of blame are being pointed at European countries that have objected to having to bear the brunt of dealing with the influx of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. Some neo-conservatives, always eager to avoid blame for their own failed policies, are blaming Syrian President Bashar al Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran's government, and even Chinese President Xi Jinping for the refugee crisis. Those responsible for Aylan's body washing ashore on a Turkish beach are not Assad's or Putin's governments but the nations that have encouraged the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and their allies to bring death and destruction to Syria's Kurds, Shias, Alawites, Christians, and Sunni tribes who oppose Salafism and Saudi Wahhabism.
Business Insider, Senior US military official: Turkey 'needed a hook' and tricked us on ISIS, Natasha Bertrand and Michael B. Kelley, Aug. 25, 2015. Turkey 'decided to light a match' and 'won't be able to control the intensity' of what happens next. Turkey is 'playing a dangerous game' with ISIS — and what comes next could make it worse. US-trained rebels allege that Turkish intelligence tipped off Al Qaeda's al-Nusra Front and orchestrated the kidnapping of US-trained rebels entering Syria, Mitchell Prothero of McClatchy reports. Though experts immediately advised skepticism of the accusations, the situation typifies the contradictory priorities in the faltering partnership between the US and Turkey against ISIS in Syria. "All of this speaks to a bigger issue of how Turkey is perceived to have been nurturing the Islamist side of the Syrian insurgency at the expense of Syrian nationalists," Aaron Stein, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Business Insider.
Consortium News, The Case for Pragmatism, Robert Parry (shown in file photo), Aug. 24, 2015. Exclusive: Since American neocons emerged in the 1980s, they have pushed an aggressive “regime change” strategy that has left bloody chaos in their wake. The cumulative impact, including Mideast refugees flooding Europe and overuse of sanctions, is now contributing to a global economic crisis. Crashing global stock markets – punctuated by the bracing 1,000-plus point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the start of Monday’s trading before a partial bounce-back – are a reminder about the interdependence of today’s world economy and a wake-up call to those who think that the neocon-driven ideology of endless chaos doesn’t carry a prohibitively high price. The hard truth is that there is a limit to the amount of neocon-induced trouble that the planet can absorb without major dislocations of the international economic system – and we may be testing that limit now.
Asian Times, Turkish military turns on Erdogan over Kurd conflict, Tom Coghlan and Hannah Lucinda Smith, Aug. 31, 2015. A grief-stricken outburst from an army officer at his brother’s funeral has galvanized public anger at Turkey’s military campaign against Kurdish rebels. Government ministers have faced heckling at several public funerals for soldiers killed in operations against PKK rebels in the past week. The public criticism came after electrifying scenes when a uniformed army officer publicly blamed the death of his brother in military operations on the political leadership.
McClatchy, Syrian rebels: Turkey tipped al Qaida group to U.S.-trained fighters, Mitchell Prothero, Aug. 24, 2015. The kidnapping of a group of U.S.-trained moderate Syrians moments after they entered Syria last month to confront the Islamic State was orchestrated by Turkish intelligence, multiple rebel sources have told McClatchy. The rebels say that the tipoff to al Qaida’s Nusra Front enabled Nusra to snatch many of the 54 graduates of the $500 million program on July 29 as soon as they entered Syria, dealing a humiliating blow to the Obama administration’s plans for confronting the Islamic State. Rebels familiar with the events said they believe the arrival plans were leaked because Turkish officials were worried that while the group’s intended target was the Islamic State, the U.S.-trained Syrians would form a vanguard for attacking Islamist fighters that Turkey is close to, including Nusra and another major Islamist force, Ahrar al Sham. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday called for Turkey to do more to contribute to the international fight against the Islamic State. A senior official at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, declined to respond to questions about the incident, saying any discussion of Turkey’s relationship with Nusra was off limits. Former Gen. John Allen, the Obama administration's chief of its ISIS strategy, is shown in a file photo. Story highlights:
- Nusra quickly captured graduates of the U.S. $500 million train-and-equip program
- Motive: Humiliate program, press U.S. to change its focus
- Pentagon says it sees ‘no indications’ allegations are true
Belling Cat via Foreign Policy, The Other Foreign Fighters: An Open-Source Investigation into American Volunteers Fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Nathan Patin, Aug. 27, 2015. This report’s main finding is that there have been at least 108 Americans who have volunteered to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria between August 2014 and the beginning of August 2015. Other key findings include the following:
- As of 13 August 2015, 70 of the Americans appear to still be abroad.
- The Americans hail from at least 31 states across the US; more foreign fighters come from Texas than any other state.
- More than two thirds of the Americans have prior military experience.
- With the exception of the Coast Guard, every branch of the US armed forces is represented among the Americans, with the Marine Corps and Army predominating.
- The age range of the Americans is between 23 and 61; anecdotally, the Americans appear to be in their 20s and 30s on average.
- Ranging from software engineers to surf instructors, there is no one size fits all occupation or career field other than military service that characterizes the Americans.
- The three primary groups that the Americans join are in order of popularity the YPG, PUK, Peshmerga, and Dwekh Nawsha.
- A wide range of motivations inspire the Americans to fight IS, not the least of which is a sense that something needed to be done in the face of IS’s continuing barbarity.
“The foreign fighter phenomenon as it relates to the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Syria has been well documented by governments, the media, and the academic literature. Estimates vary, but the general consensus is that between 20,000 and 30,000 foreigners from more than 100 countries have traveled to Syria to fight with various Sunni jihadist groups. Of those, roughly 150 to 200 are American citizens. This report seeks to shed light on a related, yet understudied phenomenon, namely, that of Americans traveling to Iraq and Syria to fight against the Islamic State (IS)."
Washington Post, After setbacks, U.S. military looks for ways to recalibrate new Syrian force, Missy Ryan, Aug. 13, 2015. Officials say they don't yet know how best to use and protect a smaller-than-expected group of rebels. It was a dismal debut: Shortly after their arrival at an outpost in northern Syria, dozens of U.S.-trained fighters were hit by a surprise assault by 50 al-Qaeda militants. A few days later, five of them were abducted by Islamists. Within weeks of the start of their mission, the new force had disbanded.
OpEdNews, Insouciance Rules The West, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in a file photo), Aug. 19, 2015. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency until his retirement in August 2014, has confirmed that the Obama regime disregarded his advice and made a willful decision to support the jihadists who now comprise ISIS. Here we have an American government so insouciant, and with nothing but tunnel vision, empowering the various elements that comprise Washington's excuse for the "war on terror" and the destruction of several countries. Just as the idiot Europeans produce their own refugee problems, the idiot Americans produce their own terrorist problems. It is mindless. And there is no end to it.
In American politics, interest groups are more powerful than the elected politicians. Look around you. The federal agencies created to oversea the well-being of the national forests, public lands, air and water are staffed with the executives of the very polluting and clear-cutting industries that the agencies are supposed to be regulating. Without a strong movement behind him, from whose ranks a president can staff an administration committed to major changes, the president is in effect a captive of the private interests who finance political campaigns. Reagan is the only president of our time who had even a semblance of a movement behind him, and the "Reaganites" in his administration were counter-balanced by the Bush Establishment Republicans.
PaulCraigRoberts.org, Europe’s Refugee Crisis, Finian Cunningham, Sept. 3, 2015. Europe is suffering a refugee crisis of Europe’s own making. By mindlessly and immorally supporting for 14 years Washington’s illegal and unjustified wars in the Middle East and North Africa that have murdered and displaced millions of peoples, European governments have created a flood of refugees into Europe. Instead of accepting their responsibility for peoples whose lives Europe has helped to ruin, European governments are employing fences and violence to keep out the hordes of peoples displaced by Washington’s violence and the violence that Washington’s violence unleashed. Those who escaped the Americans are now being murdered by ISIS.
Huffington Post, Turkey Pays Former CIA Director and Lobbyists to Misrepresent Attacks on Kurds and ISIS, Harut Sassounian, Aug. 19, 2015. Thousands of articles have been published worldwide in recent weeks exposing Turkey's strategic trickery -- using the pretext of fighting ISIS to carry out a genocidal bombing campaign against the Kurds who have courageously countered ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The Wall Street Journal reported on August 12 that a senior US military official accused Turkey of deceiving the American government by allowing its use of Incirlik airbase to attack ISIS, as a cover for President Erdogan's war on Kurdish fighters (PKK) in northern Iraq. So far, Turkey has carried out 300 air strikes against the PKK, and only three against ISIS! Erdogan's intent in punishing the Kurds is to gain the sympathy of Turkish voters in the next parliamentary elections, enabling his party to win an outright majority and establish an autocratic presidential theocracy.
To conceal its deception and mislead the American public, within days of starting its war on the Kurds, Ankara hired Squire Patton Boggs for $32,000 a month, as a subcontractor to the powerful lobbying firm, the Gephardt Group. Among the U.S. lobbyists for Turkey, perhaps the most questionable is Porter Goss (shown in an official photo as CIA Director from 2004 to 2006), who has agreed to sell his soul and possibly U.S. national secrets for a fistful of Turkish Liras.
Fox News, Turkey's strikes on Kurds could drag US into new front, military sources fear, Lucas Tomlinson and Jennifer Griffin, Aug. 10, 2015. Just hours after a deal last month allowing the U.S. to use Turkey’s air bases to launch sorties against ISIS, Turkey pulled a move that left American military leaders surprised and outraged, and raised questions about the two nations' alliance in the war on the jihadist army. With only 10 minutes notice to their American partners, Turkey launched a massive air strike of its own July 24 against a Kurdish militant group in the northern mountains of Iraq. The U.S. had barely enough warning to make sure its own forces were out of the way, according to a military source with knowledge of the tension Turkey's attack caused in the allied headquarters in the air war against ISIS. "A Turkish officer came into the CAOC, and announced that the strike would begin in 10 minutes and he needed all allied jets flying above Iraq to move south of Mosul immediately,” said the military source, describing events that took place in the center, in a secret location in the Middle East. "We were outraged."
King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his entourage arrive to greet President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)
Consortium News, Playing with the Fire of Terrorism, Joe Lauria, May 31, 2015. By pandering to Saudi Arabia and the Sunni-controlled Gulf states, the U.S. government is playing with fire, allowing the spread of Sunni radicalism to destabilize targeted governments like Syria but unable to control the resulting terrorism, writes Joe Lauria.
Washington Post, This Virginia teen will spend 11 years in prison for helping ISIS through social media, Brian Fung, Aug. 28, 2015. It's a sign of how blurry the lines can be between speech and action in the digital age.
Commentaries Suggesting Turkey Will Fight ISIS
Washington Post, Turkey agrees to allow U.S. military to use its base to attack Islamic State, Liz Sly and Karen DeYoung, July 23, 2015. Turkey has agreed to let the United States use Turkish soil to launch air attacks against the Islamic State, signaling a major shift in policy on the part of the once-reluctant American ally. The decision to allow U.S. warplanes to use the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey is one element in a broad cooperation plan first broached nine months ago. Additional elements — including expanding U.S. airstrikes into the western part of the border area and using Turkish military ground spotters to guide them — are being discussed and finalized. Turkey had resisted being drawn too deeply into the war against the Islamic State because of concerns about the direction of the Obama administration’s Syria policy.
BBC,Turkey attack: Border security to increase, says PM, Staff report, July 21, 2015. Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu has promised to boost security along the country's border with Syria after 30 people were killed by a bomb in the town of Suruc. Investigators think the blast was caused by a female suicide bomber from the Islamic State group. Around a hundred people were injured. Monday's bomb hit a group of youth activists planning to cross into Syria to help rebuild the town of Kobane. The blast triggered violent protest in Istanbul. A witness told the Reuters news agency that hundreds of protesters in Istanbul chanted slogans accusing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (shown in a photo) of collaboration with ISIS.
Hurriyat Daily News, All measures to be taken to make Nov 1 polls safe: Erdoğan, Aug. 31, 2015. Security forces will take all necessary measures to ensure election safety on Nov. 1 in a bid to avoid the repetition of problems that allegedly occurred in the June 7 polls, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said. “I believe our government, our Armed Forces and Interior Ministry will take all measures for election safety so that we’ll get through [the polls] with minor damage,” Erdoğan told reporters late Aug. 30 on the sidelines of a Victory Day reception. “I presume that what happened in the June 7 [elections] will not be repeated on Nov. 1 as part of election safety.” Erdoğan has previously alleged that voters in southeastern and eastern Anatolian provinces were not free to cast votes due to threats and pressure imposed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Guardian, ISIS attack was against Turkey, not just Kurds, and it is a threat to all the world, Abdurrahman Bilgiç, Turkish ambassador to the UK, Aug. 30, 2015. The letter from Diane Abbott and others (Western bombs will not stop ISIS in Syria, 25 August) needs some clarification. The ISIS/Daesh attack in Suruç was not against the Kurds, but against Turkey and Turkish citizens. Not all victims of this attack were of Kurdish origin. Daesh poses a direct and imminent threat not only to Turkey or the other countries in the region, but also to Europe, other western countries and all citizens of the world. Daesh is a global problem, and the international community as a whole should take all the necessary measures to tackle this threat. Failure to do so bears the risk of being affected by the epidemic of radicalisation and its repercussions. Geographical distance from Daesh-controlled areas in the Middle East does not help diminish this threat. Turkey, for its part, has been proactively and comprehensively discussing means of tackling these problems with allies.
Guardian, Turkey carries out first air strikes as part of anti-ISIS US coalition, Staff report, Aug. 29, 2015. Turkish fighter jets have carried out their first air strikes as part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State in Syria. A Turkish foreign ministry statement said that late on Friday the jets began attacking Isis targets across the border in Syria that were deemed to be threats to Turkey. After months of hesitation, Turkey agreed last month to take a more active role in the fight against ISIS.
Washington Post, U.S.-Turkey deal aims to create ‘safe zone’ in northwest Syria, Karen DeYoung and Liz Sly, July 26, 2015. Turkey and the United States have agreed on the outlines of a de facto “safe zone” along the Turkey-Syria border under the terms of a deal that is expected to significantly increase the scope and pace of the U.S.-led air war against the Islamic State in northern Syria, according to U.S. and Turkish officials. The agreement includes a plan to drive the Islamic State out of a 68-mile-long area west of the Euphrates River and reaching into the province of Aleppo that would then come under the control of the Syrian opposition. If fully implemented, it would also bring American planes in regular, close proximity to bases, aircraft and air defenses operated by the Syrian government, and directly benefit opposition rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Updates on U.S. State Department and White House
U.S. State Department, U.S. Special Envoy for Syria Michael Ratney's Trip to Moscow, Media relations staff, Aug. 28, 2015. U.S. Special Envoy for Syria Michael Ratney [a career diplomat, shown in an official photo] visited Moscow August 28 for consultations with Russian officials on the ongoing conflict in Syria. These meetings in Moscow are part of consultations to follow up on Secretary Kerry’s recent discussions with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Doha and Kuala Lumpur, as well as ongoing efforts to support the Syrian opposition and to work toward greater convergence of views among both foreign governments and the Syrians themselves on a political transition in Syria and the defeat of extremists. The United States remains strongly committed to achieving a genuine, negotiated political transition away from Bashar al-Assad that brings an end to the violence and leads to a future that fulfills Syrians’ aspirations for freedom and dignity.
Politico, Four Seasons rolls out the red carpet for King Salman, Kate Bennett, Sept. 3, 2105. In anticipation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia’s stay, the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown has done some redecorating — literally rolling out red carpets in order to accommodate the royal’s luxurious taste. Eyewitnesses at the property have seen crates of gilded furniture and accessories being wheeled into the posh hotel over the past several days, culminating in a home-away-from-home fit for the billionaire Saudi monarch, shown in a file photo and who is in Washington for his first White House meeting with President Barack Obama tomorrow. “Everything is gold,” says one Four Seasons regular, who spied the deliveries arriving at the hotel. “Gold mirrors, gold end tables, gold lamps, even gold hat racks.” Red carpets have been laid down in hallways and even in the lower parking garage, so the king and his family never have to touch asphalt when departing their custom Mercedes caravan.
The guests staying at the 222-room hotel for the next couple of days are all part of the 79-year-old king’s entourage of Saudi diplomats, family members and assistants, one source said; a full buyout of the entire property was reserved for the visit. Guests who had booked to stay at the Four Seasons during the royal visit have apparently been moved to other luxury hotels in town. A call to the Four Seasons confirmed the hotel is sold out Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. King Salman, who ascended the throne in January, has a habit of displacing commoners for his own comforts; this summer, during a sojourn to the French Riviera, his eight-day stay forced the closure of a popular beach, enraging locals. Salman rolls deep, with a reported 1,000-person delegation joining him for his seaside August vacation.
Background From Left and Other Alternative Media
Tax Wall Street Party, State Department Spokesman Forced To Defend ISIS Czar Allen From Clear Implication He Was A Mastermind Of “reworking” Euphoric Pentagon Intel On Alleged Defeat Of ISIS, Webster G. Tarpley (shown in file photo), Aug. 30, 2015. The scheming U.S. ISIS Czar John Allen is increasingly in big trouble because of his obvious leading role in faking the Pentagon’s intelligence picture regarding ISIS. Allen’s name was raked over the coals at the Wednesday and Thursday State Department briefings, where Foggy Bottom mouthpiece Admiral John Kirby had to defend the seditious general from a barrage of hostile questions. The combat reports had been “reworked,” meaning falsified, including those given to Obama. The obvious goal was to camouflage the fact that the U.S. war on ISIS has been a phony war, designed to keep this congeries of butchers intact for future use against Assad, Iran, and Russia. At the same time, the Allen-Erdogan safe haven for terrorists in northern Syria has now been seized by ISIS. At first, this territory was held by al Qaeda in the form of the Nusra brigades. Nusra cleared out under orders from terrorist controller and Turkish President Erdogan, leaving a few bedraggled mercenaries from the “Free Syrian Army.” These were the brushed aside by ISIS, which thus gained direct access to a number of towns in the Aleppo. Allen has another big problem in the person of State Department official Michael Ratney, now the US special envoy for Syria.
Ronald Reagan meets mujahideen leaders at White House (Reagan Library)
Global Research, Twenty-six Things About the Islamic State (ISIL) that Obama Does Not Want You to Know About, Michel Chossudovsky, Sept. 3, 2015 (originally published
Nov. 18, 2014). Recent developments confirm what is known and documented: Washington is behind the Islamic State (ISIS) and at the same time it is behind the moderate Al Qaeda terrorists, which the Obama administration is supporting as part of America’s campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS). And they expect us to believe that they are committed to waging a campaign against terrorists. The Islamic State (ISIS) was until 2014 called al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Al Nusra is an al Qaeda affiliate which has committed countless atrocities in Syria. It is now considered by the Obama administration as the “Moderate Opposition.” America’s “anti-terrorist campaign’ consists in supporting a so-called “moderate” Al Qaeda entity (Al Nusra) with a view to going after another al Qaeda entity entitled The Islamic State, formerly designated as Al Qaeda in Iraq. “Al Qaeda is going after Al Qaeda”, and both wings of al Qaeda are supported covertly by US intelligence. Both ISIS and Al Nusra are protected by the Western military alliance. Both Al Qaeda entities are used to destroy Syria and Iraq. The air campaign allegedly against ISIS does not target ISIS, it targets Syria and Iraq, schools, hospitals, factories, residential areas, government buildings, roads, bridges, etc. Both Al Qaeda affiliated entities are being used to destroy Iraq and Syria as nation states. The terrorists are the foot-soldiers of the Western military alliance. US-NATO-Israel are state sponsors of terrorism, providing training, weapons and money to various terrorist formations. The endgame is “regime change” in Syria and the fragmentation of Iraq.
RT, US ex-intelligence chief on ISIS rise: It was 'a willful Washington decision,' Gayane Chichakyan, Aug, 11, 2015. The United States didn’t interfere with the rise of anti-government jihadist groups in Syria that finally degenerated into Islamic State, claims the former head of America’s Defense Intelligence Agency, backing a secret 2012 memo predicting their rise. 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.
Huffington Post, FBI: When It Comes To @ISIS Terror, Retweets = Endorsements; Which makes Twitter one of the bureau's best informants, Ryan J. Reilly, Aug. 7, 2015. The FBI's best informant has played a role in dozens of terrorism cases over the past several years and provided endless intelligence on extremists across the United States. The informant is young, rich, well-connected, easily distracted and really into reality television. The informant's name? Twitter. The social network is an "extraordinarily effective way to sell shoes, or vacations, or terrorism," and it puts propaganda in the pocket of kids and those with troubled minds, FBI Director James Comey said recently. "It's buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz. It's the constant feed ... the devil on your shoulder all day long, saying, 'Kill, kill, kill.'" FBI agents have cited suspects' tweets in a slew of recent terrorism cases. Federal prosecutors have charged several Twitter users who allegedly support the Islamic State with lying to federal agents about their Twitter activity. In other cases, the FBI has pointed to Twitter activity -- including retweets -- as probable cause for terrorism charges. In one case, a 17-year-old pleaded guilty to providing "material support" to a designated foreign terrorist organization by tweeting out links.
Law enforcement officials are ramping up their monitoring of Twitter. The company received 2,879 information requests from federal, state and local law enforcement authorities within the U.S. in 2014 -- a 66 percent increase from the 1,735 it received in 2013, according to its transparency report. Overall, there was a 72 percent jump in the number of accounts affected by such requests in the second half of 2014. The requests could be seeking additional user information, IP addresses and even the content of direct messages sent through the network.
Among the recent terrorism cases that pointed to Twitter, the feds brought criminal charges against Ali Shukri Amin, a 17-year-old from Virginia who operated the Twitter account @AmreekiWitness, simply for sending certain tweets. The government -- which in press releases alternatively referred to Amin as a "Manassas Man" and a "Virginia Teen" -- focused on Amin's tweets about ways to use Bitcoin to financially support the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS. Amin has pleaded guilty and, in a statement of facts, agreed that he had operated the Twitter account, which "boasted over 4,000 followers," as a "pro-ISIL platform during the course of over 7,000 'tweets.'"
WMR, By design -- Many of ISIL's enemies are also America's enemies, Wayne Madsen, June 22, 2015 (Subscription required and excerpted by permission). As the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) prepares to blow up the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra with landmines, it is becoming increasingly clear that the terrorist "caliphate" and the United States share some common foes. Although many of these common enemies are found in the Middle East, for example, Lebanese Hezbollah, the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, and the Houthi rebels of Yemen, some are found in Afghanistan and even in the Far East. As more "indications and warnings" are gathered from the ISIL killing and mass destruction fields in Syria and Iraq, it is becoming clear that ISIL, from the very beginning, was a construct of the Central Intelligence Agency and its pro-Saudi and pro-Israeli director, John Brennan; Israel's Mossad, which has ensured that Israeli targets are exempt from ISIL attack; and Saudi Arabia, which actually permitted ISIL attacks against two Shi'a mosques, one in the village of al-Qadeeh and the other in Dammam, in the Eastern Province, where Shi'as have a majority over Wahhabist Sunnis. In Iraq and Syria, U.S. and Israeli weapons have been seen by eyewitnesses being transferred to ISIL and forces of its allies, including the Al Nusra Front in Syria. Saudi bank cash receipts have been found in abandoned ISIL headquarters in both Syria and Iraq. The ISIL attacks on the Shi'as of Saudi Arabia are believed by many to be warnings by the unholy alliance of Washington, Tel Aviv, and Riyadh against predominantly Shi'a Iran.
WMR, ISIL seen as non-Islamic cult by Mideast intelligence services, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 23, 2014 (Subscription required and excerpted by permission). Middle Eastern intelligence services have reported to WMR that they believe that the so-called "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant," or ISIL, also known as "Islamic State" and "Islamic State of Iraq and Sham," is actually a quite non-Islamic cult developed by Israel and the Central Intelligence Agency and funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to destabilize the entire Middle East and beyond. Currently, ISIL ranks include some 12,000 volunteers from 81 different countries. A large number of these volunteers, recruited from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, have no family links to Islam. Of the some 100 French women and teens recruited by ISIL, only 20 percent are Muslims. The remainder are Catholics and Jews. Recently, the FBI apprehended three female teens from Denver who were trying to board a flight in Germany to fight for ISIL in Syria. Iranian, Syrian, and Lebanese intelligence services now believe that ISIL is actually a nihilist mind control death cult, similar to those like the People's Temple, the Raelians, and the satanic Temple of Set, which were all incubated under the CIA's MK-ULTRA program.
Zero Hedge, Secret Pentagon Report Reveals US "Created" ISIS As A "Tool" To Overthrow Syria's President Assad, Tyler Durden, May 24, 2015. A declassified secret US government document obtained by the public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, shows that Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad. According to investigative reporter Nafeez Ahmed in Medium, the "leaked document reveals that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, despite anticipating that doing so could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). According to the newly declassified U.S. document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of the strategy, but described this outcome as a strategic opportunity to “isolate the Syrian regime.” And not just that: as we reported last week, now that ISIS is running around the Middle East, cutting people's heads of in 1080p quality and Hollywood-quality (perhaps literally) video, the U.S. has a credible justification to sell billions worth of modern, sophisticated weapons in the region in order to "modernize" and "replenish" the weapons of such U.S. allies as Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iraq.
Tax Wall Street Party, Saudi King Visits Washington, Webster G. Tarpley, Aug. 31, 2015. On Sept. 4, King Salman of Saudi Arabia will be visiting President Obama, reportedly to discuss the unrest in Syria and Yemen. Salman is the world’s top terrorist financier, supplier and controller; the barbarians of ISIS are partly his project. Our hope is that Obama will demand that this miserable feudal relic halt all support for ISIS and various rebel fanatics, perhaps even threatening that US use for Saudi oil will be diminished with the advent of Iranian oil on the world market.
The Allen-Petraeus Vortex
Daily Beast, Petraeus: Use Al Qaeda Fighters to Beat ISIS, Shane Harris and Nancy Youssef, Aug. 31, 2015. To take down the so-called Islamic State in Syria, the influential former head of the CIA wants to co-opt jihadists from America’s arch foe. Members of al Qaeda’s branch in Syria have a surprising advocate in the corridors of American power: retired Army general and former CIA Director David Petraeus. The former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has been quietly urging U.S. officials to consider using so-called moderate members of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front to fight ISIS in Syria, four sources familiar with the conversations, including one person who spoke to Petraeus directly, told The Daily Beast. The heart of the idea stems from Petraeus’s experience in Iraq in 2007, when as part of a broader strategy to defeat an Islamist insurgency the U.S. persuaded Sunni militias to stop fighting with al Qaeda and to work with the American military.
The tactic worked, at least temporarily. But al Qaeda in Iraq was later reborn as ISIS, and has become the sworn enemy of its parent organization. Now, Petraeus is returning to his old play, advocating a strategy of co-opting rank-and-file members of al Nusra, particularly those who don’t necessarily share all of core al Qaeda’s Islamist philosophy. However, Petraeus’s play, if executed, could be enormously controversial. The American war on terror began with an al Qaeda attack on 9/11, of course. The idea that the U.S. would, 14 years later, work with elements of al Qaeda’s Syrian branch was an irony too tough to stomach for most U.S. officials interviewed by The Daily Beast. They found Petraeus’s notion politically toxic, near-impossible to execute, and strategically risky.
Yet Petraeus and his plan cannot be written off. He still wields considerable influence with current officials, U.S. lawmakers, and foreign leaders. The fact that he feels comfortable recruiting defectors from an organization that has declared war on the United States underscores the tenuous nature of the Obama administration’s strategy to fight ISIS, which numerous observers have said is floundering in search of a viable ground force.
Washington Post, Gen. John Allen cleared in misconduct inquiry, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Jan. 23, 2013. The Pentagon’s inspector general has cleared the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan of wrongdoing following an investigation into whether he exchanged inappropriate e-mails with the same Tampa socialite involved in the scandal that prompted David H. Petraeus to resign as CIA director, U.S. officials said Tuesday. The FBI uncovered messages from Marine Gen. John R. Allen during its investigation of Petraeus last year. The tenor of some of the e-mails, which senior defense officials described as racy and flirtatious, prompted Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to order a formal inquiry. In a letter sent to Allen on Friday, the inspector general wrote that Allen had not violated military prohibitions against conduct unbecoming an officer, according to the senior U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter on the record. “He was completely exonerated,” one of the officials said.
Allen exchanged the messages with Jill Kelley, 37, who ingratiated herself with several senior officers at the Tampa headquarters of the U.S. Central Command. Kelley’s complaint to the FBI about another set of messages — ones that were harassing — eventually led to the discovery of an affair between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The FBI determined that Broadwell, for reasons still not clear, had sent Kelley the harassing e-mails. A spokesman for Allen declined to comment. The inspector general’s investigation prompted the White House to place on hold Allen’s nomination to become the supreme allied commander in Europe. Allen is scheduled to relinquish command in Afghanistan early next month, and the Pentagon has not yet requested that the Senate Armed Services Committee reschedule his nomination.
Politico, Subpoenas for reporters near in Petraeus leaks lawsuit, Staff report, Sept. 1, 2015. A First Amendment showdown may be looming with new indications that journalists are about to be pulled into litigation over leaks about the government investigation that led to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus and, ultimately, his conviction on a charge of mishandling classified information. Lawyers for Jill Kelley, a Florida woman who claims her privacy was violated by the FBI and Defense Department in the course of the probe, are signaling plans to subpoena reporters to appear at depositions to answer questions about their anonymous sources for stories about the inquiry. "Plaintiffs have indicated that they may seek to depose certain reporters in September and/or October," lawyers for Kelley (shown in a file photo) and for the government said in a joint filing last week with U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington.
Politico, Jill Kelley breaks silence on scandal, Kevin Robillard, Jan 22, 2013. Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite at the center of the David Petraeus scandal, says Paula Broadwell tried to blackmail her last summer, according to a report Tuesday. “There was blackmail, extortion, threats,” Kelley told the Daily Beast. roadwell was a Petraeus biographer who was having an affair with the general-turned-CIA director. Her emails to Kelley led to the FBI’s discovery of the affair, and eventually to Petraeus’s resignation. Separately, Kelley was linked to the top American commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. John Allen, who was investigated for exchanging emails of a possibly inappropriate nature with her, but he was cleared of wrongdoing by the Pentagon’s inspector general, according to reports Tuesday.
New York Post, Gen. John Allen also helped Jill Kelley’s sister during custody battle, Geoff Earle, Nov. 13, 2012. Both Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen intervened in the same nasty child custody battle involving Natalie Khawam, the “psychologically unstable” twin sister of Jill Kelley (Gilberte "Jill" Khawam Kelley), whose bombshell claims of being threatened by Petraeus’ lover led to the top spy’s resignation last week, the Post has learned. Allen, the four-star general top commander in Afghanistan, was revealed last night to have exchanged thousands of pages of of emails with Kelley, who went to the feds after receiving threatening e-mails from Paula Broadwell, the married mistress of Petraeus. A judge noted in the file that Khawam “has attached letters from Gen. David H. Petraeus averring to her ability to appropriately parent the child, and is prepared to present corroborating testimony at trial.” And in court documents filed by Kelley’s sister Natalie Khawam, she name-drops both Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island — who both have ties to a Providence, RI, lawyer/Democratic fundraiser who loaned a whopping $300,000 to Khawam.
Daily Beast, Betraeus! Jill Kelley’s Campaign to Befriend Petraeus, Allen, and Other Top Brass, Michael Daly, Nov. 14, 2012. The second woman in the Petraeus scandal is a canny socialite who doggedly cultivated the CIA director and Gen. John Allen (shown in an official photo), got them to write letters backing her sister in a custody case — and even talked her way into jumping with an elite parachute unit. There is still no telling how many fates were about to turn when an FBI agent handed 37-year-old Jill Kelley his card after speaking at one of the “civilian academies” the bureau runs as part of its public-relations effort. Kelley later dialed the number on the card to tell the agent she had been receiving a series of unnerving emails. The chain of events that followed would see the agent shamed for supposedly sending Kelley a shirtless picture of himself, although according to one knowledgeable law-enforcement source, it actually was a photo of himself with what appears to be a prominent politician and some other guys at a casual outing where they had their shirts undone.
Washington Post, FBI probe widens to second general, Craig Whitlock, Nov. 13, 2012. Scandal probe ensnares commander of U.S., NATO troops in Afghanistan. The FBI probe into the sex scandal that led to the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus has expanded to ensnare Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced early Tuesday. The FBI probe into the sex scandal that prompted CIA Director David Petraeus to resign has expanded to ensnare Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced early Tuesday. According to a senior U.S. defense official, the FBI has uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 documents — most of them e-mails — of “potentially inappropriate” communications between Allen and Jill Kelley, a 37-year-old Tampa woman whose close relationship with Petraeus ultimately led to his downfall.
Town and Country, Four-Star Scandal, Vicky Ward, March 2013. Sisters Jill Kelley and Natalie Khawam invaded Tampa society like twin buccaneers. They were hilariously over-the-top, stars of their own imaginary reality show. But as they climbed ever higher, the revelations became ever more disturbing, with an FBI investigation, an American hero brought down, and, told here for the first time in detail, a tangled history of their own.
OpEd News, Good Riddance Petraeus, Ray McGovern, Nov. 10, 2012. Peace activist and author Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst who provided daily briefings to two presidents. As commander in Afghanistan, Petraeus was able to elbow the substantive intelligence analysts in Washington off to the sidelines. As for winning hearts and minds, it was Petraeus who shocked Afghan President Hamid Karzai's aides by claiming that Afghan parents might have burned their own children in order to blame the casualties on U.S. military operations. And the same Petraeus eagerly increased the incredibly myopic drone strikes in Pakistan, killing thousands of civilian "militants" and creating thousands more to contend with in the "long war" now alienating a nuclear-armed country of 185 million people. If, by now, you get the idea that I think David Petraeus is a charlatan (and I am not referring to sexual escapades), you would be correct.
Consortium News, Behind Petraeus’s Resignation, Robert Parry, Nov. 10, 2012. Exclusive: The resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus over an extramarital affair marks a stunning reversal for the longtime media darling. But some in President Obama’s inner circle are not displeased the neocon-friendly ex-general is gone, reports Robert Parry. The messy departure of CIA Director David Petraeus over an extramarital affair removes the last high-ranking neoconservative holdover from George W. Bush’s administration and gives the reelected President Barack Obama more maneuvering room to negotiate a settlement over Iran’s nuclear program.
WMR, Petraeus indiscretion may be linked to "October Surprise" plot, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 9, 2012 (Subscription required and excerpted here with permission). CIA director General David Petraeus, lauded by neo-cons for his marshaling of troops in contrived military campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, in support of the "global war on terror," throughout the Arab and Muslim world as the chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), resigned suddenly on November 9. Petraeus claimed that he was resigning over an extra-marital affair. Petraeus graduated from West Point in 1974 and soon married Holly Knowlton, the daughter of General William Knowlton, the superintendent of West Point while Petraeus was a cadet. Petraeus has been married to his wife for 37 years,
The Washington spin machine is claiming that President Obama first heard about Petraeus's affair and his intent to resign on the evening of November 8. However, a few weeks ago, Petraeus attended a Canadian embassy screening of the movie "Argo," which depicts the CIA's rescue of Americans in Tehran during the U.S. embassy siege. Petraeus was said by several other attendees to be preoccupied with other matters and totally disinterested in the film that received kudos from current and former CIA rank-and-file. There is a belief by many in the intelligence community that Petraeus's affair was already known to the White House weeks ago but that it was decided that his resignation would be tendered after the November 6 election to avoid another scandal on top of the festering Benghazi consulate attack. Moreover, the Petraeus scandal and the siege of the U.S. compound in Benghazi may be linked.
Paula Broadwell, the co-author along with The Washington Post's Vernon Loeb, of Petraeus's biography titled All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, has been under investigation by the FBI for trying to access Petraeus's e-mail, possibly while Petraeus's CIA-issued secure personal digital assistant and/or laptop were left unattended during trysts. The FBI, according to some media reports, has indicated that neither Petraeus nor Broadwell, who also served as an Army officer and is a married West Point graduate with two sons, face criminal charges. WMR has reported in the past that Loeb is a frequent target of National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance as a result of his publication of leaks from intelligence sources.