The US Charity Sending Weapons Funds To Syrian Rebels

At the beginning of the month, the Syrian Support Group (SSG), a a Washington-based nonprofit organization which is seeking charitable status, was granted a license by the US Treasury to begin fund-raising on behalf of the Syrian rebels. The group’s website makes it plain that any funds they send “may and will” be used to “purchase much-needed arms, ammunition and other military supplies”. The group is at pains to point out that any donations, corporate or personal, will be tax-deductible – surely only in America would arms money be considered charitable giving – and has this to say about the chances those arms will be in the hands of Islamist extremists:

[SSG] will only provide financial support to military councils who have adopted the Free Syrian Army’s Proclamation of Principles (the ”œProclamation”). The Proclamation outlines the FSA’s commitment to a democratic Syria for all Syrians regardless of sect or ethnicity, the Rule of Law, and its rejection of extremism, terrorism and revenge killings.

The “Proclamation” (PDF) is an unlikely document which professes that the Free Syrian Army is entirely secular and committed to freedom for all religions, as well as being opposed to revenge attacks of all kinds – claims which would appear to be heavily undermined by eye-witness reporting on FSA units. In any case, there will be many who will ask why FSA commanders couldn’t just sign on to the Proclamation to get gun money, and ignore it in practise either now or later. The SSG appears to answer that we’ll just have to trust them and the rebels.

The SSG has a Washington D.C. address, but it’s apparently a “virtual office”. The SSG is really run out of executive member Louay Sakkay’s Ontario basement. Even so, it has some consummate insiders on the team. It’s lobbyist and “director of government relations”, Brian Sayers, was until June of this year a Political Officer for NATO based in Kosovo and had previously worked for the Condi Rice era State Dept. The sudden shift from NATO to such a pressure group may raise some eyebrows, but probably not on the Beltway. It’s legal counsel, Mazen Asbahi, is a politically-connected Chicago lawyer who briefly served as the director of Muslim and Arab American outreach for the Obama campaign until he was forced to resign over conservative allegations of ties to groups funding Islamis extremists. Given his presence, if money is found going to Salafists, expect Republicans to complain that of course one of Obama’s associates was involved. They might have a harder time explaining the involvement of Dr. Maher Nana, a family doctor from Palm Beach who incorporated the group in the US. He is a signatory for the SSG on a declaration of shared intent and agreement between various Syrian opposition groups and groups fronting the resistance movement of Cuban exiles in Florida – resistance groups with deep ties to the Florida Republican Party apparatus.

In all, while their ties to political apparatchiks may be entirely innocouos – just the way the game is played in D.C. – there will remain a suspicion that this group, which has risen from nowhere to be a potentially major source of arms funding between the U.S. and the Syrian rebels, and which has called for a “no fly zone”, is simply a deniable proxy for a bipartisan push to draw the U.S. nearer to war with the Syrian regime.

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I got some info on this circumstance today from a professor I know who comes from North Africa & is up on these things… he said:

    Last year when the Syrian Transitional Council was formed, its head Burhan Ghalyoun offered the resistance brigades that were forming then that he would “pay them wages” if they profess commitment to secularism and reject “Islamism and extremism.” He never found any takers. Syrians were not looking for lousy wages or a job, they were looking to protect their families and the Islamists on the ground were offering efficient and practical models. Ghalyoun and the FTC couldn’t ride the revolution and steer it away from the Islamists, as their Western paymasters wanted, so now they have a charity in DC and a website. The headline here is misleading. They send money to those who are willing to take their money, none of the known Mujahideen groups, and then that money could IN THEORY be used to buy arms and ammunitions, but they don’t send weapons. As the English say, they’re a tempest in a teapot…
    This photo is circulating on Syrian pages to illustrate how degenerate and un-Islamic the STC are. The circles in red highlight the booze. This is how disconnected these guys are from people and of course you have to add their connections to the West and their Zionist sympathies…

    To which I added and he basically agreed: thanks much for the backstory – part of the thing here is the rather blatant hypocrisy in the US where funnelling resources, and taking payments, from militants around the world. With the MEK on one hand, and the West Bank settlers on the other, everything is permissible, while feds attack anyone with grand juries for example, letting visa’d visitors to the US crash on their couch (or anything Islamic, semi-marxist or etc). Howard Dean et al are getting paid to shill for MEK. Peter King helped facilitate a lot of resources for the Irish Republican Army in his day, but possibly no one in Congress has done more to spread paranoia against Muslims, etc. // he responded: “Feel free to share the comments, and I totally agree how money infests the system and foreign policy, in blatantly criminal or hypocritical ways.”

  • It certainly is. I’m amazed at the vulgarity of our foreign policy post 9/11. The rulers don’t bother to create a facade, they just bark their orders to the rest of the world and expect others to obey. The UN is now as much a tool as NATO has become After the shameless destruction of Libya, Obama tried to sell the destruction of Syria. He couldn’t get his UN groove going so he’d had to do it half way. That leaves enough room for lots of destruction and death and, perhaps, a victory. It will be the happy birthday of death because the game is up with Russia, China, and now India opposing the carnage. And to think, Romney would be even worse.

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  • …completely made up, the vulgarity should be easy to assuage.

    Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.” ~ Steve Jobs

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