Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Is (was?) Muhsin al-Fadhli OUR guy? And is he dead?

In the preceding post, I cobbled together everything I could find about the latest international man of mystery, Muhsin al-Fadhli. In case you missed the last episode, he is the leader of Khorasan, which may or may not be a rebranded version of the Nusra Front, which is one of the main jihadi factions fighting against Bashar Assad in Syria.

Shocking news: Even though most of us met him for the first time only yesterday, we now learn that Muhsin is dead. Sort of.
Unconfirmed reports on jihadist social media sites say that al Fadhli was killed in the bombings. Neither US officials, nor al Qaeda has verified this reporting. The fog of war often makes it difficult to quickly confirm whether an individual jihadist has been killed, wounded, or survived unscathed. Initial reports should be treated with skepticism and there is no firm evidence yet that al Fadhli has been killed.
Wow. That was quick.

Y'know what? I don't believe it. These terror leaders tend to die many times before their death. I seem to recall that al-Baghdadi died once, then got better. Look at how many deaths Zarqawi had. Look at how many times Bin Laden died. Hell, I don't feel so good myself.

For what it's worth, the latest news stories speak of al-Fadhli as though he is still alive. Here's the Boston Herald on Khorasan:
“They’re looking for a big flash,” said Mieke Eoyang of the Washington-based Third Way think tank and a former defense policy adviser to the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. “They don’t go for a few bombs here and there or shooting up a mall like in Nairobi. They want a big event.”
More on al-Fadhli:
Al-Fadhli is an effective fundraiser and organizer, having collected money to finance the attack of a French ship off the coast of Yemen in 2002. He was convicted in 2003 in a Kuwaiti court for funding terrorist activities, and was placed on Saudi Arabia authorities’ most wanted terrorist list in 2005 for a series of al-Qaeda attacks there.
Yeah, but.

In our previous installment, we heard that wealthy Kuwaitis were the ones giving money to al-Fadhli. This strikes me as rather odd behavior: Didn't we liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein? I distinctly recall that there was some sort of war in that part of the world, back in the early 1990s...

If, in 2002, certain well-heeled Kuwaitis were handing large wads of cash to this young man (then all of 22), perhaps they did so because someone in DC had approved of the deal.

Also, the Saudi Arabians (our buddies) have long been the main backers of Nusra, the organization that al-Fadhli eventually commandeered. Says so right here (in a story from 2012):
Nusra members in Syria have told McClatchy that most of their funding comes from individuals in Saudi Arabia.
The Khorasan/Nusra/al-Fadhli story is so bizarre, so rife with contradictions, that one must conclude that at least part of what we're reading is disinformation. Which part? You tell me.

Iran. As noted in the preceding post, Al-Fadhli is said to done a brief stint as the leader of an entity called "Al Qaeda in Iran." A lot of people doubt that such a thing even exists. After all, Al Qaeda is a Sunni group out to destroy Shiite institutions -- and the Iranian government is the biggest Shiite institution in the world.

If there is an "Al Qaeda in Iran," it wouldn't make sense for such an entity to have any links to the Iranian government. One would think that the two would be at odds.

(Incidentally, around the time of the Boston bombing, there was a spate of stories alleging that "Iranian" Al Qaeda operatives were planning something awful in Canada)

In 2008, Sy Hersh published a story indicating there was, in fact, something like Al Qaeda scuttling around Iran. These people were Sunnis, they were ultra-fundamentalists, they beheaded people, they were bad-asses. But guess what? They were funded by...

(wait for it...)
The Administration may have been willing to rely on dissident organizations in Iran even when there was reason to believe that the groups had operated against American interests in the past. The use of Baluchi elements, for example, is problematic, Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. clandestine officer who worked for nearly two decades in South Asia and the Middle East, told me. “The Baluchis are Sunni fundamentalists who hate the regime in Tehran, but you can also describe them as Al Qaeda,” Baer told me. “These are guys who cut off the heads of nonbelievers—in this case, it’s Shiite Iranians. The irony is that we’re once again working with Sunni fundamentalists, just as we did in Afghanistan in the nineteen-eighties.” Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is considered one of the leading planners of the September 11th attacks, are Baluchi Sunni fundamentalists.

One of the most active and violent anti-regime groups in Iran today is the Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, which describes itself as a resistance force fighting for the rights of Sunnis in Iran. “This is a vicious Salafi organization whose followers attended the same madrassas as the Taliban and Pakistani extremists,” Nasr told me. “They are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be tied to the drug culture.”
The story goes on and on like that. Some parts of that 2008 article seem awfully relevant to what we're now hearing about Khorasan.

Bottom line: If (as claimed) Muhsin al-Fadhli really was causing havoc in Iran around 2011, he may have been working with us.
This is Strategy of Tension 101: Create a crisis and then provide a solution to said crisis. Create a terrorist, then offer to combat said terrorist. Fund an army to fight a proxy war, then have an army to fight once they've exhausted their usefulness. Use anthrax to bring both the media and the population to heel, then leverage that new found fear of anthrax as part of the reason for an already planned war.

I feel like you're getting close to an epiphany, Joe.
And those extremist madrassas are funded by the Saudis, in political alliance with the extremist Sunni Wahhabis, right?
Shades of "chemical Ali". We and the Brits killed that guy 3 or 4 times, all of them "confirmed" by DNA as I recall.
Some of Bin Laden's family members did go to Iran after the US attacked Afghanistan as refugees. The Iranian government did allow them to stay in Khorasan province under house arrest until 2011 or 2012.
They went to Iraq and Syria after leaving Iran. They are similar to Al Qaeda in goals but not in bed with Daesh (ISIS) .
Accourding to ME news outlets.
None of this makes sense. But as is often said: that's most likely a feature rather than a bug.

The only thing this current round of bombing another ME country seems destined to do is: increase ISIL's recruitment potential.

This looks like another wearisome chapter in the War Without End. Osama bin Laden must be laughing his ass off!

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