Sunday, November 2, 2008

Is al-Qaeda losing safe haven in Syria?

Early last week, U.S. special forces from Iraq allegedly carried out a four-helicopter raid on a farm inside Syrian territory. The target was an al-Qaeda commander identified as Abu Ghadiya. It is believed that he died in the firefight along with as many as eight others.

Abu Ghadiya has been identified as an al-Qaeda commander in charge of smuggling money, weapons, terrorists and other resources to al-Qaeda in Iraq. Abu Ghadiya was also an aide to the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq before he was killed in 2006.

Although Syrian officials denounced the raid, Times on Line reports that the special forces operation had taken place with the cooperation of the Syrian intelligence services. Apparently, the Americans and Syrians communicate regularly through a back channel that runs through Syria’s air force intelligence.

Syria’s secular regime fears extremists like Abu Ghadiya for they see them as agents of Islamic fundamentalism, who would like nothing better than to install an Islamic fundamentalist government in Damascus. So, for that government it was expedient to have the Americans eliminate Ghadiya.

Some diplomats in Damascus believe the Syrian regime would like to stage cross-border incursions of their own into northern Lebanon in pursuit of Fatah al-Islam—a group affiliated with al-Qaeda. And they would like the United States to turn a blind eye when they do so.

Right after 9/11, Syrian intelligence allegedly cooperated extensively with Washington. So, I guess we should not be too surprised at the Americans and Syrians teaming up against al-Qaeda terror groups.

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