TEL AVIV β Russia delivered to the Obama administration a list of the names of al-Qaida members among the Syrian rebels, who are receiving arms shipments coordinated by the U.S., according to informed Middle Eastern security officials.
The list, the officials added, demonstrates the U.S. is failing to vet the rebels being supported by the West for ties to al-Qaida and other jihad groups.
The information comes amid scores of news media reports that the Obama administration is aiding the rebels, including by coordinating Arab arms shipments.
The arming of Syrian rebels is considered highly controversial. A major issue is the inclusion of jihadists, including al-Qaida, among the ranks of the Free Syrian Army and other Syrian opposition groups.
Just last week, WND broke the story that the U.S. in recent weeks aided in the transfer of shoulder-launched, anti-aircraft missiles, or man-portable air-defense systems, to the Syrian rebels, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials.
The Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND said the latest U.S.-facilitated weapons transfers signify the most advanced deliveries yet to the Syrian rebels.
Confirming WNDβs exclusive reporting for over a year, the New York Times reported in March that since early 2012, the CIA has been helping Arab governments and Turkey obtain and ship weapons to the Syrian rebels.
While the Times report claims most of the weapons shipments facilitated by the CIA began after the latest presidential election, Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND have said U.S.-aided weapons shipments go back more than a year, escalating before the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi.
In fact, the Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND since last year describe the U.S. mission in Benghazi and nearby CIA annex attacked last September as an intelligence and planning center for U.S. aid to the rebels in the Middle East, particularly those fighting the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The aid, the sources stated, included weapons shipments and was being coordinated with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Earlier this month, Reuters further reported Obama allegedly signed a secret order in 2012 authorizing U.S. agencies such as the CIA to provide support to rebel forces in Syria.
The support includes helping to run a secret military communications command center in Turkey to aid rebel groups. The Reuters article also said U.S. citizens are training rebels and possibly giving them equipment, at least since the summer.
The New York Times and Reuters both report the U.S. is working to vet the rebels for inclusion of al-Qaida, but it is not immediately known how successful the vetting has been and whether the rebels directly armed by the U.S. will share their weapons with jihadists within their ranks.