A militant who fought alongside Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and is now the leader of a group affiliated with Al-Qaeda in South Yemen has struck a deal with the United States and Saudi Arabia to send 5,000 Al-Qaeda fighters into Syria according to reports out of the Middle East.
Tariq al-Fadhli, jihadist leader of the Southern Yemen insurgency and a man personally trained by Bin Laden, has successfully negotiated with U.S. and Saudi officials to send 5,000 jihadist fighters via Turkey to aid Syrian rebels in the attempted overthrow of President Bashar Al-Assad, reports AlAlam. The report was also picked up by AdenAlghad.net.
In a newspaper interview, al-Fadhli revealed that he had agreed to transfer 5,000 militants from the southern Yemen cities of Zanzibar and Jaar “to Syria in order to fight in war being waged by armed groups, including the Al Qaeda-linked groups against the Syrian regime.”
The militants, who refer to themselves as “supporters of Shariah,” will join other bands of Al-Qaeda fighters who have swarmed into Syria from Libya, Iraq and Turkey with the aid of NATO powers and Gulf states. In a July 30 report, the London Guardian admitted that Al-Qaeda fighters were commanding Syrian rebels and teaching them how to build bombs.
The Council on Foreign Relations, America’s most influential foreign policy think tank and a close ally of the U.S. State Department, recently praised the presence of Al-Qaeda fighters in Syria, while the RAND Corporation reported that the terrorist group had been responsible for suicide attacks and car bombings that have caused more than 200 deaths and 1,000 injuries.
President Barack Obama recently signed a secret order confirming that he would use taxpayer money to support Syrian rebels with “non-lethal aid”. However, the New York Times admits that the CIA is helping steer heavy weaponry to the rebels on the Turkish border paid for by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Indicating his willingness to begin a new alliance with Saudi Arabia, which helped train him during his mujahideen years, Sheikh Fadhli announced “a regional deal for the transfer of al-Qaeda fighters from Yemeni territory to Turkey to the Syrian front, which explains the sudden withdrawal of gunmen from Abyan.”
Yemeni authorities were only able to restore order in Zanzibar and Jaar this past June after battles that killed a number of Al-Qaeda fighters.
AlAlam describes al-Fadhli as “one of the elders of the tribe of Abyan and former leader of al-Qaeda.” According to the New York Times, Yemen has denounced al-Fadhli as “one the country’s most dangerous terrorists.”
However, as observers have highlighted, the Yemeni government is suspected by many to be cultivating jihadi activity by tolerating the presence of Al-Qaeda within its borders.
The Nation’s Jeremy Scahil noted earlier this year that “Since the mujahideen war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s and continuing after 9/11, Saleh has famously milked the threat of Al Qaeda and other militants to leverage counterterrorism funding and weapons from the United States and Saudi Arabia, to bolster his power within the country and to neutralize opponents.”
Al-Fadhli has attempted to distance himself from claims that the group he spearheads is affiliated with Al-Qaeda, in one You Tube video flying a U.S. flag over his compound while playing the national anthem. However, al-Fadhli fought with the Mujahideen alongside Osama Bin Laden against the Soviets in Afghanistan. At the very least, he has been a useful servant of U.S. geopolitical objectives for decades.
In 2009, leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Nasir Abdul Kareem al-Wahayshi (a.k.a. Abu Basir) released an audiotape expressing vehement support for the South Yemen insurgency led by al-Fadhli. Syrian jihad strategist Abu Musa’ab al-Suri also revealed in his book that al-Fadhli was “chosen and trained by Bin Laden to practice jihad in Yemen.”
The agreement to send militants from Yemen into Syria to aid the west’s hegemonic agenda to topple President Bashar Al-Assad again illustrates how Al-Qaeda is a geopolitical pawn habitually called upon by the military-industrial complex to achieve regime change in the Middle East and North Africa.