US Treasury targets Syria-based al Qaeda facilitator for Iraq
debkafile‘s counter-terror sources report that Saad Uwayyid Ubayd Mujil al Shammari aka Abu Khalaf – named by Washington as the senior leader of al Qaeda’s Syria-based support network – has been permitted by Damascus Syrian intelligence to step up the flow of suicide bombers into Iraq to 20-30 a month.
Abu Khalaf is a threat to “the safety of Coalition forces and the stability of Iraq,” said Stuart Levey, US Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial intelligence.
Our sources add that in the early diplomatic exchanges between Washington and Damascus during February and March 2009, Syrian president Bashar Assad ordered his intelligence, which regulates terrorist smuggling, to reduce the flow of foreign al Qaeda terrorists into Iraq. But when he saw US presidential envoys visiting Damascus on a regular footing and the start of a thaw in relations, the Syrian ruler felt he could safely lift restraints on the al Qaeda infiltrations to Iraq organized by Abu Khalaf.
In April, therefore, the number of US military deaths in Iraq shot up to 18 in April – double the March figure.
On May 1, after several months of calm, two US marines and a seaman died in a firefight in Anbar province, W. Iraq with a group of al Qaeda suicide killers sent into Iraq from Syria.
The US command in Iraq tried to keep the episode quiet. However, debkafile‘s sources disclose that it was painful evidence that al Qaeda, enabled by the Syrian regime, had gone back to smuggling suicide bombers, weapons and explosives through its old route from eastern Syria along the Euphrates River into Anbar.
The terrorists use the dense vegetation on the river banks to move by water and land safe from ground and aerial surveillance. Special US Marine forces patrol the river by boat to intercept al Qaeda gangs as they slip through to Anbar. On May 1, one of those patrols was ambushed.
The US command in Iraq warned president Barack Obama, defense secretary Robert Gates and secretary of state Hillary Clinton that the continued flow of suicide jihadis from Syria could jeopardize the June 30 deadline for the first US troops to leave Iraq.
In response, on May 8, the president renewed US sanctions against Syria for “providing support to terrorists.” debkafile‘s Middle East and military sources strongly doubt that Assad will heed the message and put a stop to the activities of Abu Khalaf, who since last year has also been recruiting North Africans for al Qaeda’s Iraq networks. Tehran and Damascus believe that stepping up the military pressure on the United States in Iraq will foist their negotiating terms on the Obama administration instead of letting Washington call the shots.