Across the Bay

Sunday, September 16, 2007

King of Comedy!

Numerous times on this blog I've addressed the issue of Syrian regime hands writing "analysis" which is not only unreliable and self-contradictory, but often reflecting official talking points in Damascus, if not misinformation part of the regime's information operations. I've documented some examples of this involving Sami Moubayed, and you can revisit them here and here.

Moubayed continues this "tradition." He's still trying to find a selling point for Fateh Islam (the group whose leader, who worked all his life for the Syrian proxy Fateh Intifada, was charged with planning terrorist attacks, was imprisoned for a mere two years -- well less than civil society activists, he was never handed over to the Jordanians who had also charged him and requested his extradition, instead he was released and dispatched to Lebanon into camps of the Syrian regime's proxies, which he took over without a peep of objection, and received political and material cover from Syrian proxies and allies in Lebanon after his attack on the Army, and received fighters and material through the Syrian border), and, in the midst of trying to add new spin, ends up contradicting and undermining the centerpiece of his own previous contentions and that of other regime hands.

Witness his latest gig:

Fatah al-Islam tried - and failed - to affiliate itself with al-Qaeda. That is the information from Beirut as interrogations continue with the arrested members of the terrorist organization that held the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in north Lebanon hostage for over 100 days.

Fascinating! So they're not al-Qaeda after all. But then I recalled the following from one of Sami's previous comedy skits, when he was working the circuit in May, right when the fighting in Nahr al-Bared broke out:

The last thing Lebanon needed was an internal war between its armed forces and clandestine cells with links to al-Qaeda. ... Fatah al-Islam, or the new al-Qaeda as some are calling it, was established last November. (Emphasis mine.)

And then I remembered another exceptionally priceless gig he did about 10 days ago:

So fragile was the political scene that some even doubted whether the state would pull through this latest - very unexpected and untried - experience of combating radical, military Islam groups affiliated with al-Qaeda. ... Syria cannot afford the mushrooming of radical al-Qaeda-linked groups, either on its territory or in Lebanon, from where they can easily spill over into Syria. ... A few days earlier, Lebanese Army commander Michel Suleiman made similar remarks, saying that Fatah al-Islam was linked to al-Qaeda, not Syria. (Emphasis mine.)

Ahhh, good stuff!

So let's see: on May 22 and Sept. 5, Fateh al-Islam was al-Qaeda. On Sept. 15, it had never been part of al-Qaeda! Now what does that do to the idiotic parading of the Suleiman statement (which is as shallow and as pathetic an "analysis" as it gets), as did Moubayed's fellow regime court jester (but with nowhere near the comedic sense!)? That kinda undermines that claim, doesn't it? You know, that al-Qaeda, which adopts pretty much anything these days, did not adopt Fateh Islam.

Never mind. There's more great material here; the real purpose of the piece:

Other Saudis, however, with mixed affiliations between Fatah al-Islam and al-Qaeda, are operating from Lebanon.

One is Ahmad Merii, who was arrested by Lebanese authorities on charges of a terrorist bombing in Ain Alaq in Lebanon in 2006. He too was a liaison officer between the two terrorist organizations.

We won't tell Sami that Mer'i is not Saudi (or that he was not the one charged with the Ain Alaq bombing), but OK, we get it! The Syrian regime, since feeding Sy Hersh the New Yorker story about Fateh al-Islam (which Sami quotes in his Sept. 5 and July 20 pieces), before the fighting broke out, as part of their information warfare, has been just bending over backwards, with its usual "subtlety," to tell us that the "real" problem is Saudi Arabia and its client, Hariri. Sami's punchlines are always as "subtle" as the regime he works for, and they all have that distinct ring of "truth" to them (especially the bits about how Syria doesn't -- nay cannot! -- work with Islamic extremists, even when he himself has written the exact opposite), as I showed here in one of my homages to his comedic treasure.

So what's the shtick this time? Well, the punchline, if you pay close attention, is to turn an accusation against Syria into one against Saudi Arabia, whose relations with Syria are now in the sewer. How clever!

So Ahmad Mer'i is now the Saudi (wink wink!) liaison between Fateh al-Islam and al-Qaeda. He's no longer the liaison between Fateh al-Islam and the Syrian intelligence services as a number of reports have revealed.

But then I recalled this little item I spotted in July in the pro-Syria/Hezbollah/Iran rag al-Akhbar (i.e., not in the Saudi- or Hariri-financed papers):

أكّدت مصادر مطلعة على سير التحقيقات القضائية لـ«الأخبار» أن مرعي، الذي كان مطلوباً للقضاء اللبناني، كان قبل عام 2005 يتمتّع بتغطية سورية سمحت له بالبقاء حراً، بسبب علاقته ووالده بالمخابرات السورية في الشمال

Sources with knowledge of the ongoing investigation confirmed to al-Akhbar that Mer'i, who was wanted by the Lebanese judiciary, enjoyed before 2005 a Syrian cover that allowed him to remain free, because of his father's ties to Syrian intelligence in the north.

Also, just as Sami supposedly "solved" the Abssi issue, his piece came out right before the Lebanese Army arrested Fateh Islam's spokesman, the so-called Abu Salim Taha, whose real name is Muhammad Saleh Zawawi. Zawawi, according to the reports, came from the Yarmouk camp in Syria. In other words, he came from the bosom of Syrian intelligence services.

So let's recap: Fateh Islam now "failed" to be associated with al-Qaeda even when Sami had confirmed that it was "al-Qaeda-linked" and "affiliated with al-Qaeda" -- nay, "the new al-Qaeda."

And now, Ahmad Mer'i, whom the pro-Syrian al-Akhbar, quoting well-informed sources, admitted "enjoyed a Syrian cover" because his father worked for Syrian intelligence, and whom reports said that he was a liaison between the group and Syrian intelligence (which, given his and his family's history would be plausible) is now a Saudi liaison between Fateh Islam and al-Qaeda!

This should give one pause when reading these "analysts." And given the Sy Hersh experience, journalists should pay close attention when quoting these "analysts," so as not to end up being part of information operations by a terror-sponsoring regime, as Hersh was in the most extreme case.