According to reports al-Qaeda flags are flying openly in some areas of Idlib and Aleppo provinces that straddle the borders with Turkey and Iraq (see article: Al-Qaeda tries to carve out a war for itself in Syria).
The flags are increasing more common in Syria, especially with the influx of new arms and cash in the region.
The Daily Telegraph witnessed the black flag used by al Qaeda flying high in several villages and on pick up trucks of rebel fighters, the article noted.
“The place (Syria) is crawling with al-Qeada said one government official who spoke on the condition his name not be used. “They are being helped by the CIA and the Americans”, he said.
Al-Qaeda’s primary goal in Syria is to oust President Assad, who they consider one of its worst enemies. Their secondary goal is to establish a foothold in the country and see the establishment of an Islamic state or caliphate in Syria.
Another goal is to draw the United States and NATO into another war in Syria, much like it did in Afghanistan. On March 11, 2005, Al-Quds Al-Arabi published extracts from Saif al-Adel’s document called: “Al Quaeda’s Strategy to the Year 2020.”
Abdel Bari Atwan summarizes this strategy as comprising five stages to rid the Ummah from all forms of oppression:
1. Provoke the United States into invading a Muslim country.
2. Incite local resistance to occupying forces.
3. Expand the conflict to neighboring countries, and engage the U.S. in a long war of attrition.
4. Convert al-Qaeda into an ideology and set of operating principles that can be loosely franchised in other countries without requiring direct command and control, and via these franchises incite attacks against countries allied with the U.S. until they withdraw from the conflict, as happened with the 2004 Madrid train bombings, but which did not have the same effect with the July 7, 2005 London bombings.
5. The U.S. economy will finally collapse under the strain of multiple engagements in numerous places, making the worldwide economic system which is dependent on the U.S. also collapse leading to global political instability, which in turn leads to a global jihad led by al-Qaeda and a Wahhabi Caliphate will then be installed across the world.
Atwan also noted, regarding the collapse of the U.S., “If this sounds far-fetched, it is sobering to consider that this virtually describes the downfall of the Soviet Union.”
Al-Qaeda’s strategy has been widely successful so far.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the U.S. tens of thousands of lives and $1 trillion dollars or more in war costs. Now the possibility exists of drawing the U.S. military into Syria?
According to one senior terrorism expert al-Qaeda has been conducting large scale suicide bombings and murdering innocent women and children in Syria with increased regularity.
This is part of a tactic being used by al-Qaeda to undermine peace efforts and increase pressure on the Syrian government which is largely being blamed now for all the violence.
Robert Tilford’s note: