The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

Israel’s latest Syria ‘game-changer’ — ‘The al-Qaeda-Assad alliance’

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Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
September 21, 2013

In a highly speculative September 12 report entitled “Game-Changer: Signs of the al-Qaeda-Assad Alliance,” PJ Media’s Washington editor Bridget Johnson attempts to turn conventional wisdom about the current Syria debate on its head by asserting that “al-Qaeda is working not against Bashar al-Assad but in concert with the dictator.”

In support of this rather tendentious claim, Johnson cites a “student dissident” named Ahed Al Hendi whom she says fled Syria five years ago after imprisonment and torture by the Assad regime. According to Al Hendi, Damascus was secretly collaborating with Al-Qaeda during the Iraq War even as it sought to convince the U.S. that it was serious about fighting terrorism. That covert alliance persists to this day, asserts Johnson:

Assad appears OK with losing a building now and then by a car bomb — bombings that never hit too close to his home and that come with ample warning anyway. Al-Qaeda units, meanwhile, get left alone by Assad’s forces. “They never touch them,” Al Hendi said.

PJ Media’s spurious effort to persuade readers that Al-Qaeda is an ally rather than a foe of Assad makes a lot more sense, however, when you know that both the “conservative” American website and its seemingly objective Syrian source both have intimate ties to the country that has done most to induce Washington to use military force against Syria.

The effort to raise the $3.5 million in venture capital to start Pajamas Media [the original name for PJ Media] was led by Aubrey Chernick. A former trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank created by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, Chernick provides funding for a broad spectrum of pro-Israel organizations from the supposedly liberal Anti-Defamation League to the extremist Islamophobia-promoting Jihad Watch.

Ahed Al Hendi is Arabic Program Manager for a organization called Cyberdissidents.org. As I wrote in a May 2011 piece entitled “Arab Dissidents’ Strange Bedfellows”:

CyberDissidents.org is a project launched in 2008 by the Jerusalem-based Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies “to research and focus attention on the online activities of democracy advocates and dissidents in the Middle East, in the hope of empowering them at home and raising awareness of their plight abroad.” Until its demise in 2009, the Adelson Institute was located at the Shalem Center, a controversial research institute associated with right wing Zionist causes.

While Israel and its media assets might like Americans to believe that Assad and al-Qaeda are allies, there is far more reason to suspect an al-Qaeda-Israeli alliance in Syria. As Israel’s outgoing ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren recently admitted to the Jerusalem Post:

“The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted [President] Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran,” he said.

This was the case, he said, even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated to al-Qaida.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @O_Cathail.

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Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

September 20, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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