Syria Complicit with Al-Qaeda in Iraq in Killing Americans
A federal district court in Washington, D.C., issued an opinion* last Friday awarding significant compensatory and punitive damages in a law suit against Syria brought by relatives of Jack Armstrong and Jack Hensley. Armstrong and Hensley were two U.S. civilian engineers who were kidnapped and beheaded in Iraq in 2004 by al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (“al-Qaeda in Iraq”). This incident gained worldwide notoriety after the terrorists released a gruesome video of the beheadings on the Internet.
Normally the sovereign immunity doctrine prohibits claims in U.S. courts against foreign nations. The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (”FSIA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1602 et seq., however, permits such actions arising out of acts of terrorism where the foreign nation through official action has provided material support for extrajudicial killings, where the foreign nation was a designated state sponsor of terrorism at the time, and where the victim was a U.S. national. The court found that all these conditions were met with respect to Syria and the two beheadings at issue by al-Qaeda in Iraq. The court entered judgment against Syria in the amount of $412,909,587. This total award included separate awards for loss of income from the two decedents, pain and suffering by the two decedents, solatium to the immediate family members, and punitive damages. The award for punitive damages made up $300,000,000 of the total award.
Read all the damning details of the case in this file (PDF). The thing is, much of this information was available in open source media -- including the reports of a Zarqawi training camp in Syria and Abu Qa'qa's possible ties with the Zarqawi crew (which regime clown Moubayed even admitted in one of his hilariously diverse "versions" of Abu Qa'qa'). On this, see also the column today by Meshari al-Dhaydi in Asharq al-Awsat. (Update: Al-Dhaydi's column is now available in English).
In fact, it has been reported that it was during his stay in Syria that Zarqawi planned the murder of the US diplomat Lawrence Foley in Jordan. Shaker al-Absi, who later appeared with Fateh Islam, was convicted in Jordan for his role in this murder. Syria refused to extradite him, and ended up giving him freedom of movement after a supposed detention of two years (which is clearly ridiculous and transparent) -- see here, e.g. -- facilitating his entry into Lebanon where he stayed in the bases of the Syrian-created, -trained, and -supplied proxy, Fateh Intifada, before "appearing" later on as the face of the heretofore unheard-of Fateh Islam (whom it was first said was headed by Abu Khaled al-Amleh, who is a Fateh Intifada official still harbored in Syria as far as everyone is concerned).
Here's a little more on this from an otherwise (typically) awful, confused and glaringly lacking report by Nir Rosen (emphasis mine):
The newcomers began to arrive in the camps under the name of Fatah al Intifada during the July 2006 war. They were led by Shaker al Absi, an officer of Fatah al Intifada who was trained as a pilot in Libya and served as one in North Yemen, in addition to fighting in Nicaragua. Al Absi was in his 50s. A Palestinian born in Jordan, he had spent most of his life in Syrian and Lebanese camps. He was said to have been very religious for a long time. In 2002 he was arrested by the Syrians with fifteen others for trying to infiltrate the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. He spent two and a half years in jail and, upon his release, was said to have gone to Iraq, eventually making his way to the Helweh camp in the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, near the Syrian border. There, he and his followers trained tough men from the slums of Tripoli to fight in Iraq. Gulf Arabs who flew in to Beirut to go to Iraq also gathered there. They were segregated from the rest of the camp and better financed, eating better food, such as lamb.
Abu Yasser, the Fatah al Intifada leader for northern Lebanon, was surprised because the newcomers were bearded, prayed five times a day, and abstained from smoking. He was also surprised by the presence of foreigners among them. And while Fatah al Intifada was known to pay low salaries, some of the newcomers had laptops and went around on motorcycles. He asked the Syrian-based Abu Khaled al Omla, deputy commander of Fatah al Intifada, who the newcomers were. “We have new fighters,” Abu Khalid said. “We must learn from Hezbollah’s military and discipline. They are destined for Gaza.” Abu Khalid was using his organization to reorient the networks sending fighters to Iraq and sending them to Lebanon instead.
In other words, this well-known Syrian proxy was part of the regime-sanctioned network of transit and "reorientation" for Jihadists. They could be sent to Iraq to kill Americans, but also redirected into Lebanon or, e.g., Jordan. Here's an example of the redirection to Jordan:
Last year, an attempt on the Amman Airport was barely thwarted after the arrest of Mohammad al-Darsi upon his entry on Jordanian soil. He had left Libya a few days earlier to go to Damascus, where a jihadist recruiter dissuaded him from going to Iraq, directing him towards Jordan instead, where he was to self-detonate among the travelers at Amman Airport.
For the Jordanians, who had flagged -- in vain -- Darsi's arrival in Damascus, their neighbors [the Syrians] are buying their security by tolerating jihadists on their soil.
The regime's fingers in these networks extends to European cells as well. Hence the German authorities' disclosure that recent planned attacks against American targets in Germany led back to Syria, which was also the source for the fuses of the bombs that were to be used in the attack.
Since Syria also served as the transit stop for European Jihadi-wannabes en route to either Afghanistan or Iraq, some of them could also be "redirected," as happened, e.g., with a few French ones, and the Syrians would also be able to use them to offer "intelligence cooperation" to European countries if the opportunity arose. It's a mafia terror racket in every sense of the word, using terrorist blackmail. It's more than "buying security." Terror sponsorship is the regime's principal, if not the only, foreign policy tool.
This regime is now convicted in a US court for providing material support for al-Qaeda terrorists in the murder of American civilians, not to mention soldiers.
Now they're trying to lay the groundwork with a bogus story to seek renewed security domination in Lebanon under the pretext of fighting Jihadists -- in Northern Lebanon! -- when they've been the Grand Central of terrorist networks of all stripes and colors.