Washington’s Retreat Gives Al Qaeda Free Rein in 11 Targeted Countries
The White House took a fateful decision when it rejected separate requests from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Egyptian Defense Minister and presidential contender Gen. Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi for urgent supplies of advanced weapons and surveillance systems for throwing back al Qaeda incursions. President Barack Obama turned each of them down for different reasons. But the end-result was the same. His refusal, combined with his hesitation to arm the pro-US Syrian rebels in South Syria with the hardware for fighting the Syrian army and the two Al Qaeda-linked militias – the Nusra front and al Qaeda-Iraq – gives the jihadist organization free rein across many thousands of kilometers of Middle East territory.
They are taking full advantage of this freedom to advance their reign of terra across a wide swathe of territory from the Gulf of Aden to the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean. Eleven countries are virtually defenseless against this Islamist peril: Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Sinai, Libya, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Eritrea and Somalia.
DEBKA Weekly’s counterterrorism sources report hundreds of al Qaeda fighters sighed on the move from Iraq to Yemen only this week. Smaller bands traveled out of Syria and Iraq, mostly through Jordan, on their way to Sinai and on to Egypt.
Al Qaeda fighters are fanning out to four locations
This week alone, gangs of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) fighters made their way to four new Middle East destinations:
1. Yemen, where Saudi, European and American jihadists belonging to ISIS headed for two places – the Habban region in the east and Hadhramaut in the south.
2. Another two groups were spotted in Sinai. For the first time some of them infiltrated Egypt’s Nile heartland. Until now, al Qaeda’s networks stayed in the towns along the Suez Canal.
3. Paid informers of Egyptian security authorities among Sinai Bedouin tribesmen have alerted them to fleets of smuggling boats collecting Islamist terrorists from Iraq or Syria from the Jordanian shore near the Saudi border and dropping them off on the eastern coast of Sinai.
4. From Iraq and Syria, they are also traveling to Tobruk on Libya’s eastern Mediterranean coast and Benghazi, both black market weapons centers.
President Obama also rejected the Iraqi prime minister’s pressing request for the US to send drones to bomb al Qaeda concentrations in the Anbar province of Western Iraq and their supply and transport routes. He explained that America was engaged in drastically cutting back the deployment of these drones everywhere. Even when al-Maliki reported that top Iraqi officers were defecting to al Qaeda, including the much-decorated army Brig. Gen. Mustafa Al-Mashhadani, Obama was not moved to change his mind.
Cairo asks Moscow to expedite sophisticate arms supply
An Egyptian military official divulged Tuesday, March 18, to sources connected to the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that Field Marshall Al-Sisi had intensified his contacts with the Russian Defense Ministry in order to expedite the arms deal he recently concluded for the sale of advanced aircraft, monitoring equipment and other sophisticated weapons for fighting the terrorists spreading out of Sinai. The Egyptian official explained: “The urgent move to close the deal for necessary weapons came after reports that the White House was again delaying delivery of an arms deal for 10 Apache helicopters for putting down the Islamist insurgency in Sinai.”