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American Resistance To Empire

Ukraine Army Promises To Keep Out of Emerging Civil Conflict

Ukraine Army Decay Checks Egypt-Like Option as Rift Grows

BLOOMBERG

By Leon Mangasarian, Kateryna Choursina and Daryna Krasnolutska

Photographer: Koerner/Getty Images
While the president’s inability to staunch a wave of popular protests in the city’s main square echoes the final days of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Russian-born Alexander Defense Minister Pavlo Lebedev has said the Ukrainian army won’t get involved on either side.

As Ukraine looks to solve its escalating crisis, the nation’s military has so far been out of the equation.

Two decades of budget cuts have left the army a shadow of its post-Soviet-breakup self. Even with loyalists across the top of the command structure, the poorly trained and ill-equipped military is unlikely to be an option for President Viktor Yanukovych. Soldiers also loath getting involved in politics, unlike in other hotspots including Egypt.

“Morale is low,” Susan Stewart, the deputy head of the Eastern Europe and Eurasia Research Division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, said in an interview. “They are relatively poorly trained and their equipment is inadequate.”

While the president’s inability to staunch a wave of popular protests in the city’s main square echoes the final days of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Russian-born Defense Minister Pavlo Lebedev has said the Ukrainian army won’t get involved on either side.

Yanukovych and the opposition are at an impasse after concessions by the government failed to end the spreading protests that turned deadly last week. With the cabinet’s resignation not enough to placate activists, the two sides are bracing for escalating tensions.

‘Urgent Steps’

The Ukrainian president, who went on sick leave yesterday, denounced opposition leaders and accused them of putting their political interests “above the existence of Ukraine itself.” The European Union warned that the conflict threatens to escalate into a civil war that may break Ukraine apart.

The country’s 182,000 military personnel have so far stayed in their barracks throughout the crisis.

The Defense Ministry today called on Yanukovych “to take urgent steps, within the limits of law, to stabilize the country.” Ministry staff members at a general meeting yesterday expressed “support” for Yanukovych and spoke of the “threat” to the territorial integrity of Ukraine if the crisis worsens, it said in a statement on its website.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a phone call with Lebedev last month called for restraint against civilians. Hagel cited the potential damage of any involvement by the military in breaking up demonstrations, while Lebedev said Yanukovych’s position is not to use the army against protesters, the U.S. Department of Defense said in an e-mailed statement.

Reduced Size

The size of the military pales in comparison with the 800,000-strong army the ex-Soviet republic inherited after independence in 1991, Yevhen Lupakov, head of the Union of Officers in Ukraine, said in a phone interview.

Since then, Ukraine transferred 4,400 nuclear warheads to Russia, according to David Cortright and Raimo Vayrynen in their book, “Towards Nuclear Zero.”

Plans to overhaul the armed forces have been “hampered by inadequate funding,” according to The Military Balance 2013, published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. The military is capable “only of providing limited territorial defense” and “aging Soviet-era equipment increasingly needs to be replaced,” according to the report.

Joerg Forbrig, senior program officer for Central and Eastern Europe at the Berlin bureau of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., said the military’s position in society doesn’t compare to that in Egypt and Turkey, where it has played a decisive role in times of crisis, he said.

Golden Eagle

Throughout the protests, Yanukovych has relied on Interior Ministry forces, police and the troops of the elite unit Berkut, the beneficiaries of budget allocations under the president.

Soldiers earn 2,500 hryvnia ($295) a month and officers get 3,000 hryvnia, Lupakov said. Personnel in Berkut, or Golden Eagle, earn about 4,300 hryvnia a month, about 50 percent more than regular police.

As the crisis escalated, Yanukovych started working on shoring up army loyalty, pledging to double soldiers’ pay. Soldiers were ordered to show their allegiance at special gatherings, according to Anatoliy Hrytsenko, defense minister in 2005-2007.

“The defense minister is loyal, but the troops may not be,” Stefan Meister, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin, said in a phone interview.

Yanukovych is grappling with unrest that’s spread across the country criss-crossed with pipelines taking Russian gas to Europe. The crisis, sparked by the president’s rejection of a European Union integration pact, escalated last weak, leaving as many as eight people dead.

Bigger Berkut

If deploying soldiers is taboo, Yanukovych’s means are limited as Berkut numbers about 4,000 in the nation of 45 million.

“The opposition’s tactic is to spread the protests nationwide because Yanukovych doesn’t have enough Berkut forces,” Meister said.

With the government unable to count on the army, a possible avenue would be expanding Berkut. The weekly newspaper Zerkalo Nedeli reported Jan. 27 that there’s a government plan to increase the personnel of Berkut and a similar unit called Grifon to 30,000. The report said Grifon currently has 1,000 members. The government denied having such plans.

“I wouldn’t rule out that Yanukovych could resort to the violent route,” Stewart said. “It’s not the most likely scenario but it cannot be ruled out if he’s desperate and pushed into a corner.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Leon Mangasarian in Berlin at lmangasarian@bloomberg.net; Kateryna Choursina in Kiev at kchoursina@bloomberg.net; Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev at dkrasnolutsk@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net; Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net; James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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There Is No “Al-Qaeda In Iraq,” Only An Official Cover Story for US Army Covert Actions

[There is no AQ In Iraq, no ISIL, nor any “Islamic State In Syria (Sham)….there are only secret military operations needing a name, an excuse to be, most of all, a real leader.  Today, the state of Iraq, Interior Ministry released the following photo of the man who is known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.]

Iraq releases rare ‘ISIS chief’ photo

Agence France Presse

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Iraq int photo

A handout picture released by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MOI) shows a photograph purportedly of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, an Al-Qaeda-linked group fighting in Iraq and Syria. AFP PHOTO / MOI/ HO

THIS IS CLEARLY NOT THE MAN IN THE PHOTO BELOW.

[This is the man that is currently pretending to be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, alleged to be leader of Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, the guy who is supposedly leading the insurrection against the Free Syrian Army.  Would that make him a “terrorist” or an “actor,” since he is playing a role in this grand production?  In the performance, we see a weird, unintended script twist, where life imitates art, meaning that the Baghdadi guy is much like the “Mandarin” character from “Ironman 3,” played by Sir Ben Kingsley. 

The actor playing a role to cover military action.  Perhaps “Al-Qaeda In Levant” is a “Sham,” existing only on video (SEE:  U.S. Military: ‘Islamic State of Iraq’ Fronted by Imaginary Leader).  

“Baghdadi” was allegedly the man in charge of the Iraqi group, after original leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed. 

As for Zarqawi himself, he was allegedly killed in Chechnya, long before the second Iraq War, according to respected Jordanian/Chechen terrorist leader, Ibn al-Khattab. 

abu-musab-al-zarqawi  This is an early photo of Zarqawi.   Is the guy who was killed as “al-Zarqawi” the same guy? ]
abu musab al-zarqawi
*   *   *   *
the daily star
BAGHDAD: The Iraqi interior ministry Wednesday published a photograph purportedly of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, an Al-Qaeda-linked group fighting in Iraq and Syria.

The photograph, the first of its kind published by an official source, provides a rare glimpse of the man leading a militant group blamed for killing countless Iraqis, as well as fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The black-and-white picture shows a balding man with a beard wearing a suit and tie.

“Intelligence forces have obtained a recent portrait of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and they also got three handwritten letters,” said the statement accompanying the photograph, published on the ministry’s website.

“The security forces call on the people to provide any information that helps lead to the arrest of this criminal.”

Baghdadi’s group has been blamed for a litany of attacks across Iraq in recent months, and ISIS has been involved in a deadly standoff with government forces in western Iraq’s Anbar province.

In Syria, ISIS has also been fighting not only forces loyal to Assad but also fellow rebel groups. The ISIS leader has, however, reached out to other rebel groups in a bid to curb the infighting.

ISIS, which was previously the Islamic State of Iraq, was formed in April 2013 when Baghdadi sought to merge his group with Al-Nusra Front, but they rejected the alliance and pledged allegiance directly to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Since then, the two groups have functioned separately.

Turkish Army Bombs ISIL Inside Syria To Assist Beseiged FSA Fighters

[Turkey is the source of the bombing ISIL story, as well as the Turkmen fleeing FSA/ISIL fighting in the north (SEE:  Thousands of Turkmen flee to Turkey amid ISIL-rebel clashes).  If Turkey really did bomb an ISIL “convoy,” then it was done bailing-out the outgunned Free Syrian Army losers.]

Turkish army bombards Isil convoy in Syria

  • Gulf News

Incident is first pitting Turkey against jihadist group which has been fighting the Al Assad regime

Istanbul: The Turkish army said on Wednesday it had opened fire on a convoy of vehicles in northern Syria belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) jihadist group. The army said the attack, carried out on Tuesday, came after two Turkish military vehicles had been fired upon at the Cobanbey border post in the south [should be north–ed.] of the country.

“A pick-up, a truck and a bus in an Isil convoy were destroyed,” read the statement, published by Turkish media. There were no casualties on the Turkish side. The incident is the first pitting Turkey against the Syrian jihadist group, which has been fighting forces loyal to President Bashar Al Assad as well as fellow rebel groups in the north of the country since January.

Turkey, a fierce opponent of Assad’s regime, has been accused of supplying arms to several rebel groups fighting to topple him since March 2011. Ankara has categorically denied the accusation. The Turkish army has fired into northern Syria several times in retaliation for shelling from on Turkish villages.

Saudi Economy to Run on Empty by 2020

Saudi Economy to Run on Empty by 2020

Petrified of Petroplex

energy and capital

By

I have to tell you something: I love it when OPEC — and especially Saudi Arabia — is in full-blown panic mode. And that’s exactly what’s happening as you read this.

In fact, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a report that the spoiled Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal — the 26th richest man in the entire effing world — was scolded in public for his remarks to a Canadian rag a few weeks ago.

If you missed it, here’s what he said…

“The new shale oil discoveries are a threat to any oil-producing nation in the world,” he said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “Definitely it is a worry and concern… It is a matter of survival.”

This follows an open letter he wrote last May to the Saudi oil minister begging him to realize the danger the U.S. oil boom poses to the Middle East and pleading with him to help diversify the Saudis’ oil export-dependent economy.

It’s unclear what options are available to them (if any). But we do know one thing: He’s right to be sweating in his keffiyeh.

After all, how would you feel about America’s current oil boom if you were part of a ruling family whose power rested on its ability to corner almost 20% of the world’s proven oil reserves?

Or maybe he’s actually fretting about his own country’s finances. He’s already admitted publicly that, thanks to the shale revolution, any country that gets 92% of its budget from oil exports is in for a grim day of reckoning.

Or he could be fixating on another number: seven million. That’s how many barrels of oil per day the U.S. is now producing, up two million since 2008.

Though if I were him, I’d be worrying about the scariest number of all…

2015.

That’s the year the United States is projected to surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producer, according to the IEA.

It must make their heads spin. Just five years ago, no one had ever heard of fracking. By 2010, the U.S. had already become the world’s largest producer of natural gas. And just four months ago, we began to produce more oil than we import for the first time in decades.

This comes just as OPEC itself reveals demand for its oil fell by a half million barrels per day last year. It expects a similar decline for 2014…

Make no mistake: Thanks to the shale oil revolution, OPEC is on the run.

A perfect storm of improved U.S. fuel efficiency, rising renewable energy capacity, and — most of all — fracking technology is bringing forth the day when the Middle East is just a pile of sand and we can get enough of that black goo without them — more cheaply and terror-free.

And it all begins with a 70-square-mile area in Western Texas…

Karzai Claiming US Staging “False Flag” Attacks

Karzai reportedly suspects US hand in recent Afghanistan attacks

foxnews

 

  • Afghanistan_Cham640.jpg

    January 25, 2014: Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP)

 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai reportedly believes that the U.S. government and military have been a hidden force behind recent insurgent attacks in Afghanistan, such as an attack earlier this month that killed 21 people, including three Americans, in Kabul.

 

The Washington Post, citing an Afghan official who it said was sympathetic to Karzai’s view, reported that the Afghan leader believes that dozens of attacks blamed on the Taliban have been planned by the U.S. to weaken his government and foment instability in the country. The official did acknowledge that Karzai had no concrete evidence of American involvement in any attack.

The report is another sign of the deepening rift between the U.S. and Karzai, who has continued to refuse to sign a tentative security agreement allowing for American troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014, preferring to leave the issue for his successor following Afghanistan’s April presidential election.

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James B. Cunningham told the Post that Karzai’s reported suspicions represented “a deeply conspiratorial view that’s divorced from reality … It flies in the face of logic and morality to think that we would aid the enemy we’re trying to defeat.”

 

Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan added, “We have spent 12 years trying to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan in the face of threats from terrorist and insurgent networks . . . to suggest otherwise does a grave disservice to those who have sacrificed for the people of Afghanistan.”

 

According to the Afghan official quoted by the Post, Karzai’s theory is based on suspicions that the attacks are intended to draw attention away from civilian casualties caused by U.S. airstrikes. In addition, the official contends that attacks like that on the Kabul restaurant were “too sophisticated to be the handiwork” of the Taliban.

 

For their part, the Taliban have rejected any possibility of the U.S. playing a role in their attacks, with spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid telling the Post, “Whatever claims [of responsibility] we make, those are attacks that have genuinely been carried out by our forces.”

Saudi Cleric Begs Syrian Islamists To Honor Zawahiri’s Authority

[Baghdadi’s little rebellion against the old Egyptian doctor will undermine the intended storyline being adapted to the Syrian script.  Hopefully they will just kill each other off, but it is more likely that the Al-Qaeda in Iraq stance will radicalize the situation even further.]

Saudi cleric’s reconciliation initiative for jihadists draws wide support, then a rejection

 

 

@mhesne.jpeg

Dr. Abdallah Muhammad al Muhaysini, as pictured on his Twitter feed. Muhaysini spearheaded a reconciliation initiative to end the jihadist infighting in Syria. The proposal mirrored a message from Ayman al Zawahiri that was released hours earlier.

On Jan. 23, Dr. Abdallah Muhammad al Muhaysini, a popular Saudi cleric who has relocated to Syria, announced a new reconciliation plan to end the jihadist infighting in Syria. Over the days that followed, Muhaysini’s plan, called the “Initiative of the Ummah,” garnered widespread support from jihadist groups.

Among the groups that supported the plan were the Al Nusrah Front, which is one of two official al Qaeda branches inside Syria, and the Islamic Front, a coalition of rebel groups that includes the al Qaeda-linked Ahrar al Sham.

The Al Nusrah Front was, in fact, quick to support the initiative, issuing a statement the following day from the emir of the group, Abu Muhammad al Julani. The initiative is “in our hands, and we call upon it, bless it, and support it,” Julani said, according to a translation of his Jan. 24 statement by the SITE Intelligence Group.

The Islamic Front also endorsed Muhaysini’s plan. The Saudi cleric even Tweeted the Islamic Front’s message supporting the initiative.

But not all groups agreed to the proposition.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS), which is the source of much of the infighting, eventually rejected the initiative. The group appears to have left some wiggle room in the process.

ISIS finally issued a statement on the proposal today, Jan. 27. In its rejection, ISIS complained that Muhaysini’s initiative did not draw a firm line between the jihadist rebels seeking to impose sharia and other rebel groups. ISIS also called for a clear policy with respect to jihadist groups that receive support from foreign nations throughout the region. (Several Gulf States reportedly support factions within the Islamic Front.)

It appears, according to The Long War Journal’s review of the statement, that ISIS is at least willing to consider resolving its differences with the other groups in a common sharia court — the key element of Muhaysini’s proposal — if these issues are addressed. ISIS says it will continue to fight anyone who fights it, but the group prefers to focus on Bashar al Assad’s forces, as ISIS emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi set forth in his last message addressing this issue.

ISIS has previously rejected other efforts towards reconciliation.

Muhaysini cited al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri in his initiative

Muhaysini released his reconciliation initiative just hours after al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri issued own his message concerning the infighting on Jan. 23. Although Zawahiri did not address any specific groups by name, his words were clearly aimed at ISIS, which has disobeyed Zawahiri’s orders.

Zawahiri called on all of the Syrian jihadist groups to submit to a common “sharia arbitration committee” capable of ruling “among different factions on all the accusations leveled by any group against its” jihadist brethren. This committee should also have “a mechanism to enforce” its decisions, according to Zawahiri.

On his official Facebook page, Muhaysini posted a link to Zawahiri’s message shortly after it was released. Muhaysini praised Zawahiri’s message in that post, as well as subsequent ones.

Muhaysini also then referred to Zawahiri’s message in the video announcing his new initiative. The video, which was posted to You Tube, contains English subtitles.

“In the morning, the Mujahid Sheikh Doctor [Ayman al Zawahiri] gave a speech in which he called to the same cause to which we have been intending to call,” Muhaysini said. The Saudi cleric says he interpreted Zawahiri’s words as “good tidings.”

Muhaysini claimed in the video that the disputing parties were not that far off from reconciling their differences. “Today, I have met with all conflicting parties and I heard them to find their views close to each other in [one] way or another,” Muhaysini says. “They all agree to resort to Shariah to solve the conflict.” (Again, the rejection by ISIS at least conceivably leaves the door open for such a sharia court.)

Muhaysini set forth the details of his plan point by point. He first called for an “immediate cease of fire” throughout all of Syria. The Saudi cleric then called for the “establishment of a legitimate court formed of independent judges agreed upon by all parties.” All of the parties that sign the initiative “shall guarantee” the “implementation of the decision by the Syrian court.”

Thus, Muhaysini’s proposal mirrored Zawahiri’s message. Other influential jihadists, including senior al Qaeda operative Abu Khalid al Suri, who is a founding member of Ahrar al Sham, have in the past called for ISIS to submit to common sharia law.

Muhaysini went on to name the groups that he thinks abstained from the infighting. And if candidates from these groups are not picked to staff the sharia court, then others can be selected because Syria is “full of qualified personnel either as scholars or students among the migrants and supporters.”

The cleric said he hoped that by today, Jan. 27, ISIS and other affiliated groups would declare their intentions one way or the other with respect to the initiative. Muhaysini also called on the Al Nusrah Front to clarify its stance or “support it verbally,” which Al Nusrah’s emir did shortly thereafter.

And now ISIS has issued a statement rejecting the proposal, just before Muhaysini’s deadline was set to expire.

It is not surprising that Muhaysini’s latest initiative was consistent with what much of al Qaeda’s network seeks inside Syria. In the past, Muhaysini has praised Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, saying that they are proper role models for the Syrian jihadists. His efforts have also been praised by a senior al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) official. [See LWJ report, Popular Saudi Cleric endorses Islamic Front, calls for cooperation with al Qaeda.]

At the end of his video, Muhaysini warned that if the jihadists do not resolve their differences the infighting will lead to “great troubles” in Syria. Ayman al Zawahiri, the Al Nusrah Front, and other al Qaeda-linked factions want such a resolution. ISIS continues to hold out.

Bashar al-Assad Using Abu Musab al-Suri To Undermine FSA?

[Are backdoor deals with intelligence agencies sufficient to manipulate mad-dog militant Islamist armies?  Much fuss has been made lately in the Arab press over the claim: “Al-Qaeda” works for the Syrian Govt.  If both sides did manipulate the international and national terrorists to their own ends, then who would be responsible, and for which Islamist groups?  The dividing line between groups like al-Nusra or Al-Qaeda in Iraq (ISIL) is so thin as to be indistinguishable.  Lines between these groups and Islamist Front are equally unidentifiable.  Other invisible lines between the terrorist organizations and the individual intelligence agencies which sponsor them make it impossible to trace the terrorist paymasters, except on a case by case basis.  Ties to the “Deep State” should make them easily manipulated by those who possess enough insider information and money.   Those Saudi apologists, who argue that Assad’s release of Abu Musab al-Suri proves his connection to the Syrian Govt, allegedly connecting Assad to “al-Q.”  It seems more likely that this particular Islamist was released into the boiling cauldron of discontent in Damascus because he was a troublemaker.  He would have naturally started working to subvert the Free Syrian Army effort with a big dose of mad-dog radical Islamism.   Suri seems to have been right for the job, since he has proven himself as an agitator in the past, even chewing bin Laden and Zawahiri’s asses for dissing Mullah Omar at least once, before 2001.]

Abu Musab al-Suri

Sources in Aleppo , Syrian ‘s Net : Syrian regime released from Abu Musab al-Suri and his assistant Abu Khalid , and observers see it as a threat to Washington

December 23, 2011

Mustafa Setmariam

Aleppo Syrian Forums:

“Sources relevant in Aleppo ‘s Syrian Forum for the release of the Syrian regime for the leader of the jihadist Abu Musab al-Suri , “Mustafa Setmariam ” a close associate of al-Qaeda with the help of Abu Khaled days ago and that he was arrested in May / May of 2006 in the Pakistani city of Quetta by the ISI and handed over to the CIA and Syrian intelligence , and holds Abu Musab al-Suri , known as one of the ideologues of the armed Islamic groups in Afghanistan and the Arab world Spanish nationality ..
And put the timing of his release in these days a lot of questions and observers believe that his release may signal from the Syrian regime to stop security cooperation with the Americans and thus releasing all of Washington considered a threat to her and their interests , while observers believe others that may fall within the knowledge of the power of these groups the anti- Syrian regime take the pulse of his ties with the militants in Syria before the situation explodes armed in Syria and the Syrian regime thus unable to deal with the militants ..”

Free Radical

ForeignPolicyLogo

Bashar al-Assad appears to have let one of the world’s most prominent jihadist ideologues out of jail. He’s playing with fire.

An old face appears poised to play a new role in the jihadist movement. On Feb. 2, plugged-in online jihadists confirmed that one of the jihad’s most original and respected theoreticians, Abu Musab al-Suri, had been released from a Syrian prison.

While not a household name like Osama bin Laden, Suri enjoys a burgeoning influence on the global jihadist movement, and particularly those based in the West. The veteran Syrian jihadist, whose real name is Mustafa bin Abd al-Qadir Sitt Maryam Nasar, is best known for his 1,600-page treatise Dawat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah al-Alamiyyah (Call of Global Islamic Resistance), which articulates a strategy of decentralized jihad, rather than one that depends on clandestine organizations. If there is an architect of the jihadists’ post-9/11 line of attack, it’s Suri.

Suri’s ideas have been popularized in jihadist circles over the past few years. They have been taken up by prominent figures like the head of al Qaeda’s media department, Adam Gadahn, and Yemeni-American jihadist Anwar al-Awlaqi, as well as being featured by Samir Khan in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire Magazine.

Rumors about Suri’s status had been flying around online since Dec. 23, when Sooryoon.net, a Syrian opposition newspaper, published a story saying Suri and his assistant Abu Khalid had been released. It is surprising that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would release a man who is not only a confirmed enemy of his regime, but that of his father Hafez as well. By releasing a major jihadist figure, Assad is playing a dangerous game with the West, which is already debating whether to intervene in the bloody uprising in Syria.

Suri is a divisive figure, quick to pick a fight even with his fellow jihadists. In his biography of Suri, Norwegian scholar Brynjar Lia describes him as “a dissident, a critic, and an intellectual in an ideological current in which one would expect to find obedience rather than dissent.”

If Suri has indeed been released, al Qaeda’s current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, will not welcome him back into the fold with open arms. Suri, who quit al Qaeda in 1992, has feuded with the jihadist organization over their differing strategies regarding global jihad. Suri criticized the 9/11 attacks because he believed that Afghanistan, which was being used as a base by the Taliban, was crucial to the global Islamic resistance. “The outcome [of the 9/11 attacks] as a I see it, was to put a catastrophic end to the jihadi current,” Suri noted. “The jihadis entered the tribulations of the current maelstrom which swallowed most of its cadres over the subsequent three years.”

Suri’s involvement in the jihadist world traverses the Middle East, South Asia, and its bases among Muslim communities living in the West. In 1980, at the age of 21, he dropped out of the University of Aleppo to join up with the militant offshoot of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, which was calling for a jihad against the Syrian regime. As Hafez al-Assad’s security force cracked down on the group, Suri fled to Jordan and remained there until 1983.

Suri later moved to Spain, married a Spanish woman, and obtained Spanish citizenship. In the late 1980s, toward the end of the anti-Soviet jihad, he made his way to Peshawar and became a military instructor for one of Palestinian jihadist Abdullah Azzam’s training camps. That is where he first came into contact with bin Laden. In his work the Call of Global Islamic Resistance, Suri recounted that he worked as a military instructor as well as provided lectures on politics, strategy, and guerilla warfare at al Qaeda’s training camps until 1991.

After shuttling back and forth between Madrid and Afghanistan for several years, Suri moved to London in the mid-1990s. It is believed he moved because he was under pressure from Spanish security, which suspected that he was connected to terrorist attacks by the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) in France in 1995. In Britain, Suri became deeply involved with the “Londonistan” jihadi underground. He helped produce and wrote articles for the GIA’s magazine al-Ansar, but quit the magazine in 1996 as a result of the organization’s over-the-top and sadistic tactics.

Suri returned to Afghanistan a year later, and maintained a loose affiliation with the Taliban. He is also known for having facilitated Peter Bergen’s famous CNN interview with Bin Laden in 1997.

In 2000, Suri opened his own training camp — called al-Ghuraba (“The Strangers”) Camp, located in Kargha, near Kabul. It was not affiliated with al Qaeda’s camps, and Suri did not have a large following. He stayed there until the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, when he fled along with many other jihadists. He wrote his 1,600-page treatise in Pakistan before his arrest.

It is hard to determine Suri’s intentions or capabilities now that he has reportedly been released. After being imprisoned for the past six or seven years, his psychological state remains a mystery. And even if he wanted to, it is not clear whether Suri could muster a large base of supporters in Syria. He has not lived freely in the country since the early 1980s — his following may be larger online than in the real world.

But Suri does have a number of advantages working in his favor if he wants to once again play a role in the jihadist world. The fact that so many of the old guard — such as bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mohammed Atef, and Atiyyatullah Abu Abd al-Rahman — are dead or captured would bolster his status instantly, especially since his ideas have become more accessible and popular through translations of his work.

Additionally, his lore will grow in light of an alleged vision he had this past August, which was relayed by online jihadist Jundi Dawlat al-Islam (“Soldier of the Islamic State”), a member of the important Shamukh al-Islam Arabic Forum. “I have been informed that the Shaykh [Suri] saw in the past days a vision that he will have an important role in Bilad al-Sham (Syria), we ask Allah that it becomes true,” the jihadist wrote. Suri’s release will be seen as a vindication of that vision by his supporters, and no doubt boost his influence.

Just because he’s reportedly out of Syrian prison doesn’t mean Suri is out of danger. The Spanish government may try to extract him from Syria due to his believed involvement in 2004 Madrid train bombings. Suri may also seek refuge in Yemen, which he has written is the best location for jihad and establishing an Islamic state other than the Taliban’s Afghanistan.

The past 5 years has seen a rise, especially in the West, of Suri’s leaderless jihad strategy. But while attacks such as the 2009 Fort Hood shooting have proven traumatic, solo attacks, by and large, have had a low success rate. Upon his release, Suri may well reevaluate this strategy and offer new thoughts on how to implement it. Whatever the case, his release will only re-energize his followers and provide new motivation for individuals to join the global jihad.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

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