A Syrian opposition group with Muslim Brotherhood links says it has delivered over $12 million in U.S. government aid to Syrian rebels. The Clarion Project wrote about the Islamist links of the Syrian Support Group and how it declined to answer our questions n June.
“To date, SSG [Syrian Support Group] has delivered more than $12 million in U.S. Government and financial aid to select moderate units of the Free Syrian Army under the command of the Supreme Military Council,” the group’s November 15 newsletter states.
The Washington D.C.-based group’s website states that it has delivered over $10 million in non-lethal aid to the Free Syria Army from the U.S. government. The SSG is essentially the U.S. government’s liaison to the Syrian rebels because it is the only U.S. organization licensed to provide such aid.
As the Clarion Project reported in July, the chairman of the SSG is Mazen Asbahi. He resigned as President Obama’s Muslim outreach director in 2008 when information about his links to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood surfaced. He also “likes” numerous Islamists on Facebook.
The SSG Vice Chairman is Majd Abbar and he is linked to the Qatar Foundation. The organization is intimately connected with the Qatari government and the Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader, Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi.
The SSG directs its support to the Supreme Military Council led by General Salim Idris. Though this body is held up as the “moderate” rebel force, it includes many Islamists.
In our interview with Colonel Nagi Najjar, the U.S. liaison officer for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), he explained that the Idriss only controls part of the Free Syrian Army. Colonel Riad al-Assad controls the other.
“Qatar, the sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood, marginalized the FSA, creating its own religious proxies,” Najjar said. “Even worse, Qatar established what the FSA called a ‘coup’ in Antalya, Turkey, on December 15, 2012, declaring the ‘Supreme Military Command’ and electing General Selim Idriss as Chief of Staff,” he explained.
This divides the Syrian rebels into four factions: Al-Qaeda loyalists; the Qatari-backed Supreme Military Command linked to the Muslim Brotherhood; the Saudi-backed Salafists and the forces of Col. Riad al-Assad.
Col. Najjar argues that the U.S. needs to help unite secular forces into a body that can compete with the Islamists.
“The U.S. needs to initiate another “Antalya” meeting that makes a reconciliation between the two groups and merges and integrates Idriss into the larger FSA command under Col. Riad Al-Assad. Idriss will have his place in the command, but he cannot lead and even if he did, he cannot succeed,” he says.
Secular Syrian rebels want the U.S. to stop choosing the lesser of two evils. The easiest option is to support the “moderate” Islamists that are offering themselves as the alternative to Al-Qaeda, but that doesn’t make it wise policy.
No Islamist is worthy of the hard-earned money of American taxpayers.
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on top-tier TV stations as an expert on counterterrorism and Islamic extremism.