F. Michael Maloof, staff writer for WND and G2Bulletin, is a former senior security policy analyst in the office of the secretary of defense.More ↓Less ↑
WASHINGTON – Although U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said “we know” from what Syrian military unit – and from what hilltop – chemical weapons were fired Aug. 21 into the outskirts of Damascus, Syria, U.S. military sources tell WND otherwise.
At his recent news conference, Kerry suggested the intelligence the Obama administration had could identify precisely the origin of the sarin chemical weapons attack that killed, by one estimate, some 1,429 people, including 400 children.
However, Kerry never revealed what the content of the intelligence was, nor how it was obtained, suggesting a level of vagueness so that even Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded more details.
But they never were revealed, even during a subsequent meeting between Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama two weeks ago at the G20 meeting.
A U.S. military source told WND, however, that there was no intelligence reporting on the Syrian government firing the artillery armed with poison gas.
“We don’t have anything,” he said.
“On 21 August, there was no reporting on Bashar’s boys doing anything,” the U.S. military source said.
In referring to “Bashar’s boys,” the source was referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
“And there isn’t any up to right this minute, meaning that nobody collected any intelligence via any ‘INT’ that said he was indeed having his troops use the stuff,” the source said.
The “INT” to which the source refers is the means of intelligence collection either through HUMINT, or human intelligence; SIGINT, or signals intelligence; IMINT, imagery intelligence; ELINT, or electronic intelligence; and MASINT, a variety of electronic specialties in gathering and interpreting intelligence.
In a separate move the U.N. release its report on the Syrian sarin allegations, and found that sarin was used, but it did not assign blame.
“Unless this is reporting that is at a higher level…even the signals people report at a lower level. (They) have to, (since) commanders need the information usable at the ground level, meaning something (his emphasis) would have been reported,” the source said.
“We’ve been eyeballing Syria for over a year,” he said, “‘watching him (Bashar al-Assad) move weapons and units around, as well as has their skirmishes and rocket launches.
“So, I would say that the community politicians cobbled together an extrapolation that made the boss happy, but there’s nothing pointing to Bashar in the time frame that we’re talking about,” he said.
“There’s a possibility that the highest level collection platforms are only collecting certain things and only reporting it on the higher channels – but I doubt it.”
This source also had revealed to WND a classified document that showed that the National Ground Intelligence Center, or NGIC, had identified sarin production by al-Qaida elements associated with the Syrian opposition in Iraq and Turkey.
The document, dated August 2013, came to light despite official denials by the Obama administration that the Syrian opposition was capable of producing such poison gas.
The document reveals that sarin was confiscated earlier this year from members of the Jabhat al-Nusra Front, the most influential of the rebel Islamists fighting in Syria.
The document, disseminated in August 2013, revealed that sarin from al-Qaida in Iraq had made its way into Turkey and that while some was seized, more could have been used in an attack last March on civilians and Syrian military troops in an artillery attack in the major Syrian city of Aleppo.
That document revealed that AQI had produced a “bench-scale” form of sarin in Iraq and then transferred it to Turkey where opposition forces, including Islamist militant foreign fighters had access to it.
The source now reveals that there was a Saudi-financier named Abu Abdullah al-Shamari, as well as a Turkish chemical supplier, along with a bomb component person, operating in and out of Iraq and Turkey. The source identified the Turk at Khalid Ousta.
“There’s apparently a large stockpile of sarin in Baghdad,” he said. “Insurgents are using it to threaten the government there in order to get prisoners released.”
He added that a Syrian based in Baghdad named Ahmed Abu Ali also is a known sarin manufacturer as well as expert in bombs and improvised explosive devices.
He said a Turkey-based materials supplier in Istanbul who may be on his way to China is named Bassam al-Essi.
“All these guys,” he said, “were tied to that sarin incident caught by the Turks” last May.