With the approval from the House of Representatives on Wednesday, and the Senate on September 18, 2014, for the Obama Administration plan to arm Syrian rebels attention has now focused on who are the Syrian rebels. One of the key names mentioned, for the first time by a US official, by James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, is the Khorasan Group. A name that goes directly to the fears of arming Syrian rebels.
As previously discussed, Islamic State (ISIS) was a fringe terrorist organization that gained a resurgence due to the Syrian civil war. In part, that resurgence is due to confiscation of arms and resources from the US. Those arms were meant for moderate anti-Assad forces in Syria, but have since been used in ISIS attempt to sweep through Iraq.
As stated by Secretary of State John Kerry, to Senator Bob Corker, on the question of what Arab nation will put boots on the ground as part of President Obama’s coalition to fight ISIS,
“At this moment, no country has been ask to put boots on the ground, or no country is talking of it, and we don’t think it’s a good idea right now. There is no discussion of that at this moment.”- @ 2:49 in the video above
Yet as stated by Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to the House Intelligence Committee on September 18, 2014,
“Half-hearted or tentative efforts, or airstrikes alone, can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foes’ credibility. We may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American boots on the ground.”
Thus with the lack of any foreign nation willing to apply necessary ground forces to the effort to defeat ISIS, including the US, President Obama turned to the Syrian rebels to provide the ground troops needed. Still, the main fear that has withheld arming these groups, since the proposal in 2013, has been that control over who receives the arms could not be guaranteed. The thought is that arming another, potential worse, threat will only cause the situation to continue under a new black hat.
That’s where Khorasan Group comes in. Khorasan is made up of veteran fighters from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe. Reports as recent as July 2014 have shown that Khorasan Group has been key in torture and interrogations on behalf of other militant groups that have occupied Northern Pakistan- just southeast of Kabul, Afghanistan.
As reported by Bob Orr of CBS News, Khorasan
“… is focused on trying to build bombs capable of being sneaked onto airliners, and finding the Western jihadists in Syria who could try and carry them.”
This makes them a more immediate threat to the US, as has been reported. Yet military action as proposed so far ignores their presence. The very real concern is that attempts to arm moderate anti-Assad Syrian rebels will inevitably arm Khorasan or similar groups.
Considering the lack of detailed planning, the refusal and objection of all coalition members to provide essential ground troops, and the proven record of arms and supplies targeted for moderate Syrian rebels instead reaching anti-Assad forces that are equally anti-western nations (especially the US), the overview by Jon Stewart may best describe the situation,
“…the Obama Administration would like us to do the right thing in as chaotic and confused a way as possible.”