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Obama Didn’t Bother Getting Valuable ISIS Intel Before Group’s Rise

REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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Obama administration officials did not bother to debrief high-level Syrian defectors with deep knowledge of Islamic State’s inner workings, The Daily Beast reports.

“I took the initiative and contacted friends at the State Department, and we had a lunch or dinner. That was it,” one former Syrian official who lives in Washington, D.C., with deep knowledge of al-Qaida networks told TheDB. These officials admit staging attacks on Syrian regime facilities to appear connected to Jihadis and to allowing original al-Qaida officials into Syria unchecked.

The Syrian regime maintained a long relationship with al-Qaida dating to 2003, when it allowed thousands of fighters to enter Iraq to kill U.S. soldiers via its borders. Assad believed the jihadists would keep the U.S. bogged down in Iraq, leaving him without scrutiny.

Following a slew of successful protest movements in Egypt and Tunisia, peaceful Syrian protestors began calling for governmental reforms in 2011. “From the first days of the revolution (in March 2011), Assad denounced the organisation as being the work of radical Salafists,” Syrian dissident Tarek Alghorani told Newsweek in 2014. Alghorani elaborated, that “he released the Salafists he had created in his prisons to justify the claim … If you do not have an enemy, you create an enemy.”
Assad frequently touts the Syrian opposition to justify his brutal tactics in the Syrian civil war. Assad, his Iranian and Russian sponsors, frequently bill their intervention in the Syrian civil war as a counter-terrorism mission.
The jihadis and Salafists released by Assad, now reportedly hold major positions in the Syrian opposition. Alghorani continued that the leader of al-Qaida’s operation in Syria was reported to be in Syrian jail before the war. Another Syrian dissident told TheDB the head of the largest Islamist militia in Syria was released from Assad’s jails.
U.S. officials are now scrambling to target al-Qaida operatives in Syria, and strike ISIS targets daily. Syrian officials with knowledge of the inner workings of these terrorist organizations were not used for intelligence purposes, as the groups grew from minor to major threats to the U.S.

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