Saturday, May 23, 2015

More on the US raid against Abu Sayyaf

Updating my thoughts on the raid that killed ISIS oil finance minister Abu Sayyaf and captured his wife Umm Sayyaf.

Adam Johnson in an article for FAIR writes how the Mainstream media, blindly following the Obama Administration's claims of another "success" against ISIS failed to remind readers that the US had just put boots on the ground in Syria
Per usual, the media would retell the narrative based entirely on Pentagon and White House action movie prose. Just as with the bin Laden raid narrative—that later turned out to be mostly false—this tale involved some unbelievably compelling details: “rescuing a Yazidi slave,” “hand-to-hand combat,” “women and children as human shields,” “precise fire” (that, of course, avoided these women and children), and a body count, “40 extremists,” that would make Jack Bauer blush.
given that the last such politically loaded raid, on the bin Laden “compound” in Pakistan, turned out to be full of White House lies—to say nothing of Seymour Hersh’s recent, high-profile allegations that theentire thing was staged—you’d think a bit of skepticism would be in order. But, in a world of mass information asymmetry, the government’s word on these matters is treated as the authoritative one until proven otherwise.
This routine problem, however, is not the real journalistic crime here. The real issue is that the White House just admitted it has American ground troops engaged in combat missions in Syria—and no one seemed to notice, much less care.
While it’s true the White House has acknowledged hostage rescue missions in Syria, this is the first time it’s admitted soldiers have been deployed inside Syria for expressly military purposes.

I noticed a few things from the Daily Beast article.  One is that here there is not mention that Umm Sayyaf was an initial target of the raid like the White House and Pentagon said in their statements.
His wife, an Iraqi national, and an 18-year-old Yazidi slave were taken out of the compound, as well as computers, cell phones and other forms of potential intelligence sources, which U.S. officials already believe will be valuable.
U.S. officials suspect that Abu Sayyaf's wife, Umm Sayyaf, is also a member the group and "played an important role in ISIL’s terrorist activities, and may have been complicit in the enslavement of the young woman rescued last night."
U.S. officials are questioning Umm Sayyaf, an Iraqi national, and still have not determined what will happen to her. Among the options being considered is releasing her or turning her over to Iraqi custody.
(Abu and Umm Sayaf are nom de guerres, meaning Father and Mother of Sayyaf, but defense officials said they did not have their actual names to release.)
Another senior US official, who asked not to be identified for this article, told The Daily Beast that Abu Sayyaf was one of several ISIS figures targeted in the raid but that the others had left before the strike-force arrived, suggesting although the mission had been fully successful, US commanders were hoping to ensnare bigger ISIS leaders.
Political activists in the area say another ISIS oil emir, a Saudi national, was killed in the raid as well. They also say that Abu Sayyaf’s wife is a relative of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, although it is not clear whether by blood or marriage. 

Adam concludes by saying
What the media rarely do is stop to put things in context. It’s the slow drip of a war that’s sold to an American public in small, disconnected parts, so we don’t notice.
Put another way: If we were told in August 2014 that within a year, the US would have ground troops carrying out raids in Syria and Iraq, as well as bombing in both countries, would we have agreed?

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