British reporter Anthony Loyd recounts in The Times (UK) today his reaction when he saw his former Syrian "rebel" kidnapper Hakim Abu Jamal, aka Abdel Hakim al-Yaseen and Hakim Anza, celebrating a victory in northern Syria two weeks ago as part of a supposedly CIA-vetted "moderate" rebel group.
Anthony Loyd and Jack Hill at the home of Hakim Abu Jamal before they were kidnapped in 2014JACK HILL/THE TIMES
Loyd reports (The Times article is behind a paywall; link is to same article in The Australian):
It was with some surprise watching a video of a victorious band of western-backed rebels that I noticed the face of America’s newest ally in the war against Isis in Syria.
He shot me in the middle of a crowd of onlookers, after a savage preliminary beating, denouncing me as “a CIA spy”. Now, it seems, he works with them.
The grainy footage of the video - posted last month on Facebook - showed Hakim Abu Jamal waving his Kalashnikov in the air to proclaim a small victory, courtesy of US air power, on a dusty street in the border town of al-Rai.
I remember him well from across the years. Now, Hakim, forage cap on his head, was standing in the middle of a group of ten other Syrian rebel fighters all belonging to a CIA-vetted group.
The group was backed by Turkish artillery and US airstrikes to oust Isis fighters from a key stretch of road before the capture of the town of Jarabulus last month. Hakim Abu Jamal, who also goes by the names Abdel Hakim al-Yaseen and Hakim Anza, was among the hundreds of other Syrian rebels who crossed from Turkey into Syria two weeks ago to purge ISIS.
And it seems that U.S. authorities aren't eager to respond to questions about their newly minted "moderate" rebels:
Last month, however, video surfaced of Hakim Anza proving that he was not only free, but was also serving in a CIA-vetted Syrian rebel group, First Regiment (al-Fawj al-Awwal), which was receiving US weaponry, including Tow missiles, as well as air strikes in support of their operations. In between times he appears to be based in southern Turkey, where he takes orders from the Hawar Kilis Operations room.
Four US hostages were murdered in Syria in 2014. Two British hostages were also beheaded there. The memories of Britain and America must be short, for on Friday sources in the Free Syrian Army and US confirmed Hakim Anza’s membership of the CIA-backed group, in which he is sub-commander.
Centcom, the US Central Command, did not respond to Timesrequests over three days this week to explain how such a well-known hostage taker with family connections to extremists could have passed US vetting procedures.
However, a Pentagon official, who preferred not to be named, described repeated US air support for a recent mission conducted by vetted Syrian rebel groups, where Hakim Anza was filmed with his men on August 17. He has apparently transformed effortlessly from criminal pariah to a worthy foot soldier allied to Operation Inherent Resolve, the 60-nation coalition, motto “One Mission, Many Nations”, in the Middle East to fight ISIS.
Remarkably, the New York Timesreported four years ago from Hakim's camp, where he was observed engaging in war crimes, namely, sending a Syrian regime prisoner to a Syrian Army checkpoint under the ruse of a prisoner exchange, but wiring the vehicle to remotely explode once it arrived at the checkpoint. In a video accompanying the NYT article, Hakim appears dejected when informed the bomb did not detonate.
This is hardly the first time that U.S.-backed "rebels" have been responsible for kidnapping Western journalists.
As I reported here at PJ Media more than a year ago, several U.S. reporters taken captive by U.S.-backed "moderate" rebel groups have ended up in the hands of Al-Qaeda, and even ISIS.
That would include American journalist James Foley, beheaded by the Islamic State in its first such grisly video, who reportedly came into ISIS custody when the Free Syrian Army (FSA)-aligned Dawud Brigade that kidnapped and held Foley pledged allegiance to ISIS and delivered him to ISIS as a token of their submission.
In October 2014, American journalist Theo Padnos — who was captured by the U.S.-backed FSA and then given over to — told the story of his two-year captivity in the New York Times Magazine.
At one point, Padnos says he escaped from his Al-Qaeda captors and found himself back in the hands of the FSA, who then, again, promptly turned him back over to the terror group.
An NBC News crew taken captive in Syria in December 2012, and who later repeatedly claimed they had been held by an Assad regime militia, later admitted – following a New York Times investigation – that they were in fact held by an FSA criminal network.
Also, there is evidence that NBC News executives knew from the time of the crew’s capture that they were held by U.S. allies, but allowed the blame to fall on Assad since that didn’t conflict with the Obama administration’s position at the time.
For more than two years I've reported extensively on the extensive vetting failures related to the U.S. support of the so-called "moderate" Syrian rebels:
And yet the Obama administration continues on a reckless course of backing these rebels well knowing that any actual moderates have become few and far between in Syria, and that some of these CIA-"vetted" groups have been directly involved in the abduction and killing of U.S. citizens.
And a larger question looms: as the mountain of evidence continues to grow about the extremism of U.S.-backed rebel groups, at what point does the U.S. become complicit in their crimes?