A new report notes that Labib al Nahhas, a senior official of Ahrar Al-Sham, visited Washington in December 2015, State Department spokesman Mark Toner cited “privacy concerns” on Monday and said he would follow up.
“I do know this individual certainly did not have any meetings that I’m aware of at the State Department,” he said on Tuesday. “I can’t speak to whether we were aware or not aware of his visit or entry into the country. I just don’t have that information.”
What makes this so interesting is that al Nahhas is the leader of an al-Qaeda affiliate that we support — Ahrar al-Sham.
“Ahrar al-Sham is not a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” Toner said when Russia recently tried to have them declared a terrorist group. Russia wants them to have a “yellow card”, a terrorist designation, partly because they are against Bashar al-Assad which is exactly the reason the US and the West supports them.
The group is a coalition of multiple Islamist and Salafist units. The group aims to create an Islamic state under Sharia law, and is openly allied with Al-Nusra Front (the branch of Al-Qaeda in Syria) with which it carries out joint operations. Syria, the United Arab Emirates,Russia, Iran and Egypt have designated Ahrar ash-Sham as a terrorist organization and won’t issue the ‘yellow card’ as requested by the UN. That, however, is in support of al-Assad.
It’s hard to believe anyone cares about the massacre of villagers, especially the Christian ones or Alawites (al-Assad is an Alawite) like the people in al-Zara.
On May 13, Al-Sham fighters raided the village of al-Zara, killing and capturing scores of inhabitants in what was described as a massacre.
Ahrar al-Sham has emerged as not just a populist revolutionary force and the most powerful non-ISIL rebel faction in Syria, but allegedly they are questioning the Islamist movement, but I wouldn’t take that to the bank.