Top US and Saudi Officials responsible for Chemical Weapons in Syria 7 October 2013 Articles 1836 By Dr. Christof Lehmann Source: nsnbc Evidence leads directly to the White House, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, CIA Director John Brennan, Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar, and Saudi Arabia´s Interior Ministry. The Strategic Situation, leading up to the Use of Chemical Substances in the Eastern Ghouta Suburb of Damascus on 21 August 2013. On 21 August 2013, the Syrian Arab Army launched a major military campaign in Damascus. The campaign, called “Operation Shield of the Capital”, was the largest military operation of the Syrian Arab Army in the Damascus region since the beginning of the war in 2011. Although U.S. Intelligence reports repeatedly stressed that the opposition was incapable of launching a major, well coordinated attack, the Syrian Army was confronted with an organized fighting force of 25.000 men under arms. The Saudi Arabia backed Jihadist front had amassed 25.000 fighters, organized in 13 battalions or kitab, to to launch a major assault against the capital Damascus. Most of the brigades belonged to Jabhat al-Nusrah and Liwa-al-Islam. The other brigades, which took part in the campaign, were Abou Zhar al-Ghaffari, al-Ansar, al-Mohajereen, Daraa al-Sham, Harun al-Rashid, Issa bin Mariam, Sultan Mohammad al-Fatih, Syouf al-Haqq, the Glory of the Caliphate, the Jobar Martyrs. During the night of 20 to 21 August and during the early morning hours of 21 August, the Syrian Arab Army broke through the insurgent lines in the area near the Jobar entrance. The breakthrough resulted in a collapse of the jihadists defensive positions, leading to a crushing and decisive, strategic defeat of the Jabhat al-Nusrah led brigades. The Strategic Significance of the Jobar Entrance and the Defeat. Cutting off the Insurgents Logistical Life-Line to Al-Mafraq and U.S. – Saudi Supplies. The significance of the Jobar Entrance was that it both enabled the insurgents to launch attacks against the center of Damascus and that it was the sole remaining logistical supply route. From Jobar, the insurgents could launch attacks. From Jobar they could infiltrate operatives, bombs and car bombs into the heart of Damascus. Loosing the Jobar Entrance also meant that the insurgents lost their last remaining route through which they could receive reinforcements and U.S. and Saudi supplies from Jordan. Loosing Jobar effectively cut off the insurgents connection to the Jordanian border town of Al-Mafraq, the most important logistical base for the insurgents as well as for Saudi Arabia and the United States. Al-Mafraq was already used as a major staging ground for the two failed attempts to conquer the city of Homs in June and July 2012. In 2012 al-Mafraq became the staging ground for some 40.000 fighters; more than 20.000 of them fought under the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which was under the command of Abdelhakim Belhadj and his second in command, Harati. The CIA maintains a station, US Special Forces train insurgents, and several other US institutions are present in al-Mafraq. The point is of particular importance with regards to the visit of the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Jordan, which will be detailed below. Al Mafraq has been the major transit point for Saudi and U.S. arms shipments since 2012, and the delivery of advanced Saudi and U.S. weapons to the insurgents since early August 2013. The foreign-backed mercenaries defeat during the night from 20 to 21 August and the early morning hours of 21 August frustrated any hope for a successful, large-scale, CIA-U.S. Special Forces-led military campaign against Damascus. The insurgents also suffered a decisive, strategic defeat on 17 – 18 August, when a brigade was encircled and fought down near the Syrian Israeli border in the Golan, while they were en route from the Ramtha Airbase in Jordan to Damascus. It is very likely that much of the newly delivered advanced weaponry from Saudi Arabia and the USA was destroyed there. That includes, among others, advanced Konkurs anti-tank missiles. The road is also used for weapons and troop transports from the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan, where Israeli Intelligence and the insurgents, according to an Austrian UNDOF officer, maintain a joint operations room. Liwa-al-Islam and Jabhat al-Nusrah Elite Troops to Hold Jobar At Any Cost. The collapse of the insurgent front prompted the front commanders, most of which work in liaison to U.S. Special Forces, to deploy an elite force that should prevent the Syrian Army, at all costs, from gaining access to the Jobar Entrance, and from gaining control over the Jobar area. The majority of the insurgent crack forces came from Liwa-al-Islam with some additional troops from Jabhat al-Nusrah. The commanding officer of the elite forces was a Saudi national who is known by the name Abu Ayesha, whom eyewitnesses from Ghouta later identified as Abu Abdul-Moneim. Abdul-Moneim had established a cache of weapons, of which some had a tube-like structure, and others which looked like big gas bottles. The cache was located in a tunnel in the Eastern Ghouta district of Damascus. Reports about this tunnel and the weapons cache emerged in international media, after the son of Abdul-Moneim and 12 other fighters lost their lives there, because they mishandled improvised chemical weapons and caused a leak in one of them. Besides Abu Abdul-Moneim, the supreme leader of the Liwa-al-Islam and commander of their chemical weapons specialists, Zahran Alloush took personal charge of the elite troops, along with chemical weapons specialists who were operating under his direct command. Liwa-al-Islam has, along with other al-Qaeda brigades, the capability to manufacture and launch primitive, but none the less very deadly chemical weapons. The chemical weapons which Zahran Alloush had delivered to Damascus were most likely from al-Qaeda´s chemical weapons stockpiles in Iraq. In early September 2013, Iran´s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated, that Iran had sent a memo to the White House via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, in which Tehran informed the USA, that handmade articles of chemical weapons, including Sarin gas, were being transferred to Syria. The White House failed to respond. Having to hold the Jobar Entrance and the Jobar district of Damascus “at any cost to maintain any hopes of launching a successful, major military assault on Damascus”, the insurgent commanders decided to launch a chemical weapons attack to halt the advance of the Syrian Arab Army. The political and military opposition and core members of the international alliance behind them had already decided that chemical weapons should be used in August – September. The large scale use of chemical weapons should justify renewed calls for a military intervention. Intelligence about this decision transpired in June. nsnbc international issued several reports in late June and early July, warning that the insurgents would use large scale chemical weapons attacks in August or September. The decision to launch the chemical weapon on 21 August was most likely based on two considerations. That the use of chemical weapons was already planned. That the Jobar Entrance should be defended at all costs. The final decision, made by Zahran Alloush may in fact have been predetermined together with his U.S. – Saudi liaison officers. Launching a chemical weapons attack would allow the USA, UK and France, to call for military strikes against Syria and to turn the tide. Also Russian and Syrian intelligence sources described the weapons which were used in the attack as rockets, which were altered so as to carry chemicals, launched by Liwa-al-Islam. The projectiles were most likely fired from a flatbed. Saudi and U.S. Involvement. Political and Military Responsibility. There is a growing, substantial amount of evidence that indicates direct U.S. and Saudi involvement in the chemical weapons attack. To begin with, one merely has to answer the fundamental question “Who Benefits”, and the answer is definitely not “the Syrian government”. In fact, the Federal German Intelligence Service (BND) claims that it has intercepted phone calls between Syrian officers and the Syrian High Command. The BND is convinced that none of the Syrian forces have used a chemical weapon. Leaving alone any moral considerations, the domestic and international repercussions were foreseeable and there would not have been any strategic benefit for the Syrian Army or the government. In the end, it was the USA, Saudi Arabia and Israel who achieved a major strategic and political victory by forcing the Syrian government to put its chemical weapons under international control for destruction. The USA benefits from UNSC resolution 2118 (2013), which calls for measures under the UN Charter´s Chapter VII in the case of non-compliance by the Syrian government. Moreover, UNSC Resolution 2118 (2013) paved the way for a presidential statement by the Security Council which for the first time introduced the “Responsibility to Protect” principle in the conflict. Also the involvement of Saudi Arabia ultimately points towards Washington and the White House. The involvement of Liwa-al-Islam in the chemical weapons attack establishes a strong chain of circumstantial evidence to the Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan. The supreme leader of Liwa-al-Islam and commander of the groups chemical weapons specialists, Zahran Alloush, has been working for the then Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Turki al-Faisal in both Afghanistan and Yemen in the 1980s. Since the 1990s, Alloush was involved in the Salafist – Wahabbist terrorist networks in Syria which led to his arrest by Syrian intelligence. He was released in early of 2011, when the Assad administration granted a general amnesty. Immediately after his March 2011 release from prison, Zahran Alloush began receiving substantial funds and weapons from Saudi intelligence, which enabled him to establish Liwa-al-Islam as a de facto Saudi Arabia sponsored mercenary brigade under the auspices of the Saudi Interior Ministry. Liwa-al-Islam is not the only al-Qaeda brigade which the Saudi Interior Ministry has deployed to Syria. Russian and Syrian intelligence services reported already in late 2011, that intercepted internet chatter indicated that Saudi Arabia had deployed al-Qaeda´s Omar Brigade to Syria. The Omar Brigade is specialized in high level assassinations and large scale bombings. Saudi funding enabled Alloush to establish the Liwa-al-Islam as a major fighting force in Syria. The group gained fame due to risky, high-profile attacks. On 8 July 2012, the group carried out a bomb attack against the headquarters of Syria´s National Security Council in Rawda Square, Damascus. The group succeeded in assassinating several high profile members of Syria´s security establishment, including the Deputy Minister of Defense and brother-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad, Assaf Shawkat, Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha, Hassan Turkmani, a former Defense Minister and military adviser to then Vice-President Farouk al-Sharaa. Weakening Qatar, Strengthening the U.S.-Saudi Axis. After the defeat of the predominantly Qatar-backed Muslim Brotherhood and Free Syrian Army forces, which were reinforced by Libyans, in June and July 2012, the U.S. Saudi Axis were strengthened. Uncooperative Qatari brigades which rejected the new command structure had to be removed. The influx of Salafi – Wahhabbi fighters to Syria was documented by the International Crisis Group in their report titled “Tentative Jihad”. The CIA and Saudi Interior Ministry man, Zahran Alloush, and Liwa-al-Islam, should also play a lead role in this development. In June 2013 Alloush withdrew his Liwa-al-Islam troops during a major battle with the Syrian Arab Army without announcing the sudden withdrawal to the Qatar-sponsored First Brigade and the Liwa Jaish al-Muslimeen. Both brigades were literally wiped out by the Syrian Army. Qatar-backed forces have not made a significant recovery in the Syrian theater since the June 2013 defeat, and the primary fighting forces today are Jabhat al-Nusrah and Liwa-al-Islam. Both of them receive weapons from the USA and Saudi Arabia. The development has also weakened the Free Syrian Army (FSA) which in the middle of 2013 had become a minor player in the Syrian theater. The influx of Saudi backed mercenaries and the prospect of Syria being “Balkanized” into any number of infighting Caliphates causes many patriotic FSA commanders, to consider a realignment with the Syrian Arab Army and the government. The Syrian government encourages these commanders’ decisions and offers reasonable and honorable conditions. In conclusion; the primary, foreign-backed “opposition forces” in Syria since July 2013, are U.S. – Saudi – backed al-Qaeda brigades. Most prominent among them are Jabhat al-Nusrah and Liwa-al-Islam, while the FSA still receives some support, which is primarily granted for the purpose of giving the White House the possibility to maintain a narrative about supporting “moderate forces”. Another aspect is, that the FSA is the last representative of Qatar´s, Turke´s and Libya´s Muslim Brotherhood in the Syrien theater. Both the USA and Saudi Arabia cooperate closely with Jabhat al-Nusrah, Liwa-al-Islam and other al-Qaeda brigades, including the brigades which were responsible for launching the chemical weapon on 21 August to change the tide during a catastrophic, strategic defeat. U.N. Inspectors protected by Perpetrators of Chemical Weapons Attack in East Ghouta, Damascus, on 21 August 2013. he U.S. – Saudi hand is also clearly visible with regards to the inspection of the scene of the chemical weapons attack by U.N. Inspectors. Before looking at the details at the scene of the crime, however, it is necessary to note that the U.N. Inspectors only agreed to accept Syria´s invitation after considerable diplomatic pressure from Russia, and after Syrian troops seized massive stockpiles of chemicals from the insurgents. The seizure of 281 barrels of chemicals from terrorists in the city of Banias prompted the Syrian U.N. Ambassador, Bashar Jaafari to announce: “The Syrian authorities have discovered yesterday, in the city of Banias, 281 barrels filled with dangerous, hazardous chemical materials, capable of destroying a whole city, if not the whole country”. In late August, when U.N. Inspectors prepared to inspect the scene of the chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta, the convoy was delayed because an “unidentified sniper” fired at the U.N. Inspector´s vehicles. Moreover, the “opposition” insisted that Zahran Alloush and the Liwa-al-Islam would escort the U.N. experts, and provide security for them while they investigated the use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta. Zahran Alloush delegated the actual, on the ground “security escort” for the U.N. experts to his close ally, the Liwa al-Baraa brigade from Zamalka. The U.N. inspectors, who gathered evidence in Eastern Ghouta, were thus in the custody of those who perpetrated the chemical weapons use. The renown and arguably world leading expert on chemical weapons, Dr. Abbas Forouthan, sharply criticized the U.N. expert´s report, pointing out sharp irregularities. Dr. Forouthan´s statements about the report were published in an article by Sharmine Narwani, titled “CW Expert Opinion on UN Report on Syria”. Dr. Forouthan concludes, that Overall in my view this report should be received/accepted medically with great caution and should be observed again by a team of international expert clinicians. My intention is not the denial of sarin but at least from the clinical point of view, the evidences of this report are not enough to prove the existence of a nerve gas [sarin] in this incident. Russian and other experts have repeatedly stated that the chemical weapon could not have been a standard issue Syrian chemical weapon and that all available evidence, including the fact that those who offered first aid to the victims were not harmed, indicates the use of liquid, home made sarin. This information is corroborated by the seizure of chemicals in Syria and in Turkey. Zahran Alloush receives Orders directly from Saudi Intelligence. Several commanders of al-Qaeda brigades in Syria have stated that Zahran Alloush receives his orders directly from Saudi Intelligence. Russian diplomatic sources stated among others, that many, even opposition members, were appalled by the use of chemical weapons in Syria and that people of many different political observances have provided information to Russian diplomats. Statements to the effect that Zahran Alloush receives his orders directly from the Saudi Intelligence are corroborated by the fact that both Alloush and the Liwa-al-Islam are financed by the Saudi Interior Ministry. The group was literally established with Saudi money after Alloush was released from prison in 2011. According to international law, this fact alone is sufficient to designate Alloush and the Liwa-al-Islam as Saudi mercenaries. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has acceded the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries (Mercenary Convention) on 14 April 1997 (with reservations). Whether these reservations are sufficient to exempt Saudi Arabia from the provisions of the convention or not in this case would be for experts in international law to determine. Regardless the answer to this question however, Saudi Arabia is sponsoring an internationally banned terrorist organization and is issuing direct orders to a terrorist organization´s supreme commander, Zahran Alloush. Al-Qaeda commanders in Syria have also, repeatedly stated that the Saudi Intelligence Chief, Prince Bandar, considers Liwa-al-Islam as his personal brigade in Syria. If proven in a court of law, this would have severe implications for Bandar, Saudi Arabia as well as for U.S. Officials with regard to the political responsibility for the attack. Political Responsibility for Chemical Weapons Attack in East Ghouta, Damascus, on 21 August, arguably, at the highest level of the White House. Even though no evidence has yet transpired, that would tie Prince Bandar directly to the chemical weapons attack on 21 August, his role in the attack could place the political responsibility for the attack directly with the President of the United States, Barak Obama and other top-U.S. Officials. Moreover, it is likely that a thorough investigation within the framework of an international court of law would produce the evidence. Leaving the question whether to investigate or not to the ICC, knowing that it is unlikely that the ICC would investigate, let alone charge Saudi or U.S. Officials, it is necessary to suffice with the now available evidence which is circumstantial, but sufficient to warrant further investigation. It is also sufficient to approach the ICC to demand that action be taken. To begin with, it would be sufficient to look into the many documented and admitted cases in which the Saudi Interior Ministry either admitted, or in which it has been proven that Saudi Arabia supports al-Qaeda brigades. With regards to the chemical weapons attack in East Ghouta, there is one point that stands out, which is Bandar´s threats during a meeting with Russia´s President Vladimir Putin. The minutes of the meeting clearly suggest Bandar´s direct involvement, at least with regards to political responsibility, and Bandar also implies political responsibility of top-U.S. Officials. The Bandar Putin Meeting. On 2 August Prince Bandar met Russia´s President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin. Putin and Bandar spoke, among others, about the chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta and the future of Syria´s President, Bashar al-Assad. Bandar tried to bribe Putin with weapons and oil deals in order to gain the Russian President´s support for ousting the Assad government. Bandar supposed that the Syrian government should be replaced with the Saudi-backed and sponsored opposition. Bandar guaranteed that Russia´s interests in Syria would be preserved by this Saudi-backed government if Russia supported the regime change. While Bandar attempted to gain Putin as a potential ally for regime change in Syria, he also delivered a thinly veiled threat, saying among others: “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the direction of the Syrian territory without coordinating with us. These groups don´t scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria´s political future”. Putin responded, saying that the Russians know that the Saudis have supported the Chechen terrorist groups for a decade, and that the support which Bandar just had offered was utterly incompatible with the common objectives of fighting global terrorism. Bandar continued discussing Syria, saying words to the effect that the Assad government has no future and that Saudi Arabia would not allow Assad to remain at the helm. Putin stressed that the Russian position is that the Syrian people are best to speak for themselves, rather than those liver eaters. Putin referred to an al-Qaeda commander who had cannibalized the liver of a slain Syrian soldier. Bandar resorted to threats again, warning Putin that their dispute over the future of Syria led him to conclude that there is no escape from the (U. S. -led) military option, because the political stalemate would leave the military option as the only available choice to end the stalemate. The most important statement Bandar did however, was that he said, that he expected such a U. S. -led military intervention to come soon, and that Bandar made this statement almost three weeks before the chemical weapons attack in eastern Ghouta. The Statement indicates Foreknowledge. CIA Chief Brennan and Washington have most likely been informed. Bandar´s statement strongly suggests foreknowledge, and given the close relations between Bandar and the U.S. Director of Central Intelligence, John Brennan, one must imply that top-level White House executives, including President Obama have been briefed and have had the same foreknowledge. The implications warrant an in depth investigation by an international prosecutor. Another strong indication of foreknowledge at top-White House level is that Bandar, during his Moscow visit insisted, that his initiative and his message had been coordinated with the highest authorities in the Obama administration. Either Prince Bandar lied to Putin, or top-White House officials were informed. Bandar said: “I have spoken with the Americans before the visit, and they pledged to commit to any understandings that we may reach, especially if we agree on the approach to the Syria issue”. Foreknowledge – U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey visit to Jordan. Another strong indicator of foreknowledge by top-U.S. Officials can be deducted from the visit of the United States Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey to Jordan and a statement he made prior to the Jordan visit. On 18 July, Dempsey said at a hearing at the U.S. Senate´s Armed Services Committee, that the Obama administration is preparing various scenarios for a possible U.S. Military intervention in Syria, and considering whether the USA should use “the brute of the U.S. Military, and kinetic strikes”. “The issue”, said Gen. Dempsey, “is under deliberation inside of our agencies of government”. Already on 7 July however, nsnbc international published a report, based on information from a Syria-based, Palestinian intelligence expert, who stated that the armed and political opposition, along with the international alliance behind it, is preparing a large political and military campaign in August – September. The report mentions specifically the chemical weapons use and the Jordanian city al-Mafraq, where U.S. Special forces train insurgents. Dempsey in Jordan only Days before Chemical Weapons Attack and while Saudi / U.S. Weapons Deliveries begin flowing across the Border from al-Mafraq. On 15 August 2013, the website of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) informed, that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey is visiting troops in Jordan. Dempsey´s visit came against the backdrop of major weapons deliveries to the Syrian opposition, including advanced weapons like the Konkurs anti tank missile. On the agenda in Jordan was, among other, the “Team Jordan”. The DoD informs, that “The team Jordan also includes liaison officers linking them to the services, special operation forces, the U.S. Embassy in Jordan, USAID, Britain, Canada and France. Its primary focus is planning for Syria”. It is inconceivable that U.S. Special Forces and the CIA would have given the green light for the use of chemical weapons – for example in a situation where the insurgents lose their hold on the Jobar Entrance – without the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the very least being informed about it. As stated before, U.S. Special Forces in al-Mafraq were training insurgents in special operations, including the securing of captured chemical weapons. A Palestinian intelligence expert stated to nsnbc that informants have claimed that U.S. Special Forces were training insurgents in chemical weapons use. Shortly after Dempsey arrives, on 17 August, the insurgents suffer a major strategic defeat en route from al-Mafraq to Damascus. On 21 August, shortly after Dempsey´s departure, the Liwa-al-Islam brigade launches the chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta because the insurgents could, despite the delivery of new, advanced weapons not hold the Jobar Entrance and Jobar district of Damascus. Criminal Charges on the Basis of the Nuremberg Principles. Even though the Prince Bandar´s statement in Moscow does not directly involve the U.S. President in the chemical weapons attack, the implied threat along with the statement that he is authorized by the highest level at the White House, places political responsibility with the U.S. President. The guilt of Prince Bandar is sufficiently documented even in this article. It is unlikely that CIA Chief Brennan and Bandar did not coordinate the Moscow visit as well as the use of chemical weapons. It is inconceivable that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was not informed about the planned use of chemical weapons in August – September. The involvement of the above mentioned mercenaries could be corroborated, arrests need to be made. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has more than sufficient material to warrant an investigation into the alleged guilt of all of the above. Additional articles and the Need to Establish an International Commission for the Prosecution of the 21 August Chemical Weapons Attack and Related Crimes: The following articles support top US, Saudi, and other core NATO and GCC member states as well as top Libyan officials political and command responsibility for the chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta on 21 August 2013, as well as related crimes. The articles are divided into the categories 1) UN Report, 2) Falsification of Evidence, and 3) Evidence. The total body of information contained in these articles establishes a solid foundation for the initiation of in depth investigations by international prosecutors. I strongly suggest the establishment of an international commission to produce a report to be styled to the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Should the ICC fail to investigate and prosecute, the commission would be tasked with establishing other mechanisms for the prosecution of the 21 August chemical weapons attack and related crimes. Witnesses experts and representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations who are in a position to further the establishment of such a commission are invited to contact me at email@example.com . UN Report: CW Expert Opinion on the UN Report on Syria Dr. Forouthan, who is quoted in this article, is one of the world´s leading experts on the medical aspects of chemical weapons.