US: Al Qaeda Poised for Bio-Chemical Strikes from Syria on Five Mid-East Countries
Syria’s chemical arsenal is emerging as the weapon of choice in a Middle East war predicted to be just around the corner. This was the assessment that US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey conveyed to outgoing Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak when they met at the Pentagon Tuesday, March 5.
(A separate item in this issue discusses the appointment of Moshe Yaalon as Barak’s successor.)
These top US defense figures warned the Israeli minister that Syrian rebel militias associated or identified with al Qaeda have laid hands on sufficient chemical bombs, shells and warheads – together with missiles and other launching systems – to conduct strikes against seven targets: Assad government centers, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.
The best known Islamist militia, Jabhat al Nusra, has distinguished itself as Al Qaeda’s most able and best organized rebel fighting arm in Syria as well as Iraq and Lebanon. By now, this and other Islamist militias make up roughly two-thirds of Syrian rebel forces.
The Syrian civil war has allowed al Qaeda, for the first time in the two decades since is first attempt in 1993 to blow up New York’s Twin Towers, to get hold of a large enough chemical arsenal to attack whole countries across a broad geographical area.
Al Qaeda smuggles chemical arms to affiliates in Iraq
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military and intelligence sources report that Hagel and Dempsey made several more points of striking significance:
1. Al Qaeda’s affiliates may also be setting their sights on US strategic and military targets in the region.
2. They have transferred chemical weapons from Syria to armed Al Qaeda bands lurking just 40 kilometers from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
3. Al Qaeda is funneling poison chemicals to its armed groups on Iraq’s borders with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for strikes against those countries.
4. The trail of chemical weapons from Syria through Turkey has been picked up in Jordan, where they have reached Islamist groups fighting the monarchy. Some bands have infiltrated Amman, the capital, and await orders to go on the offensive; others have fanned out across northern Jordan and are poised to hit the US, British, French, Czech and Polish special forces deployed there.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military sources say that Israeli Prime Minister Binymain Nanyahu's secret visit to King Abdullah in Amman last week, his second in recent months, was to coordinate Israeli-Jordanian military operations if their countries suffered chemical attack.
A multiple chemical offensive of unequalled scope, lethality
5. Although both President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have warned repeatedly that the transfer of Syrian chemical weapons to Hizballah in Lebanon would not be allowed, Gen. Dempsey disclosed that a "certain amount" has already crossed the border and Hizballah is preparing to use them against Israel.
6. The Americans have learned that if the rebels start using their looted chemical weapons, they will suffer an attack in kind by the Syrian army.
7. Secretary Hagel informed the Israeli minister that the administration is in direct and continuous touch with Moscow on a shared mechanism for securing Syria’s WMD arsenals. Moscow says there is nothing to worry about because Russian intelligence has ascertained that Syria’s chemical and biological stores are secure and in safe hands. When questioned about their transfer into rebel hands and terrorists in neighboring countries, the Russians deny knowledge.
Washington now lives in fear of the various Al Qaeda elements bearing chemical arms going after multiple targets in different countries. Such an assault would break all previous terrorist records in terms of scale and casualty figures even of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.