Monday, May 18, 2015

The US raid in Syria

I do not know yet whether Umm Sayyaf was a target before the raid or that is just what they said after raid happened--Remember that Syria spoke first (h/t Moon of Alabama)

John Bellinger wrote about some of the legal aspects of the raid and the detention of Umm Sayyaf at Lawfare
Presumably, the domestic law authority both for the raid, and for the detention, is the 2001 AUMF, upon which the Obama Administration has been relying since last September for military operations against ISIS, despite the near unanimous agreement of observers that it is legal stretch to do so (given that the 2001 AUMF is directed at the “nations, organizations, or persons” responsible for the 9-11 attacks). It’s especially ironic that the Administration would continue to rely on the 2001 AUMF for detention for ISIS members, given that President Obama has repeatedly said that he wants to “repeal” the 2001 AUMF.
State Department said in its daily briefing on Monday that yes Umm Sayyaf is being detained under 2001 and 2002 AUMF authorities
MR RATHKE: -- for detention, the President has authority under the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, and the international legal basis for this detention is the consent of the Government of Iraq in the context of the ongoing military operations in Iraq and Syria against ISIL.

Main Article

The weekend after Seymour Hersh's exposé about the lies told by the White House about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and as a reminder that we are at war in Iraq and Syria, and we have more than 3,000 boots on the ground, US special operations forces conducted a raid against ISIS's oil and finance "minister" known as Abu Sayyaf in al-Amr Syria.  According to the White House National Security Council and The Pentagon statements about the raid, but left out of most newspaper accounts is that Abu Sayyaf's wife, known as Umm, was an intended target of the raid, and not a bonus after-thought as described in most accounts.

White House NSC (emphasis mine)
Last night, at the President’s direction, U.S. personnel based out of Iraq conducted an operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria to capture an ISIL senior leader known as Abu Sayyaf and his wife Umm Sayyaf. During the course of the operation, Abu Sayyaf was killed when he engaged U.S. forces.
Pentagon (emphasis mine)
WASHINGTON, May 16, 2015 – Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced in a statement today that U.S. special operations forces yesterday conducted an operation in Syria to capture a senior leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorist organization.
“Last night, at the direction of the Commander in Chief, I ordered U.S. special operations forces to conduct an operation in al-Amr in eastern Syria to capture an ISIL senior leader known as Abu Sayyaf and his wife Umm Sayyaf,” Carter said.
Abu Sayyaf was involved in ISIL's military operations and also helped direct the terrorist organization's illicit oil, gas and financial operations, the defense secretary said.
“Abu Sayyaf was killed during the course of the operation when he engaged U.S. forces,” he said.
“U.S. forces captured Umm Sayyaf, who we suspect is a member of ISIL, played an important role in ISIL's terrorist activities, and may have been complicit in what appears to have been the enslavement of a young Yezidi woman rescued last night,” Carter said.
New York Times (emphasis mine)
American Special Operations forces mounted a rare raid into eastern Syria early Saturday, killing a leader of the Islamic State and about a dozen militant fighters, as well as capturing his wife
nowhere does it mention that she was an intended target of the raid (emphasis mine)
Bruce O. Riedel, a former C.I.A. analyst now at the Brookings Institution, said the operation looked like “a collection mission, the goal to capture someone or two someones who can explain how ISIS works.” With Abu Sayyaf now dead, he said, “perhaps the wife can do that.”
McClatchy (selected)
Captured alive in the operation was the man’s wife, who officials identified as Umm Sayyaf. She was taken back to Iraq for questioning.
It was unclear what would become of Umm Sayyaf. In its statements, the Obama administration said it believed she was a member of the Islamic State
whether Umm Sayyaf could be charged with a crime was uncertain.
The United States will follow “its usual practice” and provide the International Committee of the Red Cross” access to Umm Sayyaf, Meehan said.
Read more here:
Emptywheel writes about Ron Wyden's "guess where John Brennan lied" and brings up Moon of Alabama's article asking about Syria's cooperation in the raid which is denied by everyone in every story.

Jeremy Scahill adds that this is part of the increase in ground troops in Syria

Additionally while searching for articles about the raid I found another Abu Sayyaf (Jama'ah Abu Sayyaf terror group) from the Philippines and another raid conducted this weekend

Straits Times
TUBURAN, Philippines (AFP) - Government forces in the southern Philippines said Saturday they were hunting a suspected Malaysian bomb-maker who may be helping the Abu Sayyaf extremists.
The suspect, identified as Mohammad Najib, is believed to have fled after troops overran one of their bomb-making camps on the southern island of Basilan on Thursday, said Colonel Joselito Rolando Bautista, the island's military commander.
Three militants and one soldier were killed when soldiers overran the camp of the Abu Sayyaf group, an armed band founded in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network.
Phil Star
MOHAMMED AJUL, Basilan — Government forces retook two villages from the control of the Abu Sayyaf group and a Malaysian bomb maker who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) after days of operations.
Barangay Tuburan Proper and Barangay Languyan, however, resemble ghost towns as more than 700 families have evacuated to other areas.
Houses were locked except for few civilians who dared to stay despite the presence of troops here Saturday.
The local police station, which was occupied by the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Ustadz Abbas Alam and Malaysian bombing suspect Mohammad Najib alias Anas, was also recovered earlier by the combined the Army's Scout Rangers and Special Forces at Barangay Tuburan.
The troops also cleared the adjacent village of Sitio Project Site where Alam and his Malaysian militant cohort converted his house into quarters for rebels and a makeshift bomb factory.
The clearing operation followed the offensive Thursday that left three militants killed and several others wounded.
The clearing was completed Saturday morning after it was rigged with several improved explosive devices, or IEDs, by militant groups who had slowed down the offensive since Thursday, Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, commander of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said.
The campaign left government forces with one soldier killed and eight others wounded.
Guerrero, who personally visited the troops and assessed the operation on ground, said soldiers recovered 50 pieces of pipe bomb casings fashioned with 4 x 12 inches of steel pipes, three liquefied gas tanks, an four-liter IED, radio transceivers, wires and other bomb equipment.
Also recovered were several "shahada" flags, known internationally as black flags similar to banners used by the ISIS.
Also I found that

Slate U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have stolen millions thru bribery, rigged contracts
Troops were selling the U.S. military’s fuel to Afghan locals on the side, and pocketing the proceeds.
Former Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen, who served as the principal watchdog for wrongdoing in Iraq from 2004 to 2013, said he suspected “the fraud … among U.S. military personnel and contractors was much higher” than what he and his colleagues were able to prosecute. John F. Sopko, his contemporary counterpart in Afghanistan, said his agency has probably uncovered less than half of the fraud committed by members of the military in Afghanistan.
 As of February, he said he had 327 active investigations still under way, involving 31 members of the military. “You don’t appreciate how much money is being stolen in Afghanistan until you go over there,” said Sopko, who says price-fixing and other forms of financial corruption are rampant in Afghanistan.

April 23, 2015 New York Times U.S. Weighs Training Iraqis to Call in American Airstrikes in ISIS Fight
A senior Obama administration official said Thursday that the United States was looking for ways to speed up United States bombing attacks on Islamic State militants, including a plan to train Iraqi troops to spot targets for American airstrikes.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq complained during his visit to Washington last week that it had been taking too long for the United States to carry out airstrikes on behalf of Iraqi forces. But a major constraint to shortening the time to conduct such strikes is that the White House has not authorized troops to accompany Iraqi forces on the battlefield and call in American and allied bombing attacks.
Knowing what you know now, would you have invaded Iraq? Rand Paul and many others have another question for Hillary Clinton--knowing what you know now, would you have overthrown Gaddafi in Libya?

Read more here:

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