Friday, September 19, 2014

Press Secretary Gives Details of Syrian Training Effort

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2014 – The training effort for Syrian moderates will stress three things: defending their communities, going after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists, and taking on the Assad regime, the Pentagon press secretary said today.

The process -- from vetting those eligible to finishing the military training -- will take a long time, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said at a news conference.

“It’s going to take a period of months to work our way through that process -- probably three to five months is the best estimate -- before the vetting process is complete, and we know we've got a body of willing, capable partners to work within the Syrian moderate opposition,” Kirby said. “Then there will be probably a period of eight to 12 months of actual training and fielding.”

That’s how long it will take before capable opposition fighters return to Syria to take on ISIL, Kirby said. But now that the Defense Department has the authorization and the funds that go with it, that work will start immediately, he added.

Training camp in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia will host the training camp in an already established facility, the admiral said. “We’re grateful for that,” he said. “Now, we're going to move forward on getting that train and equip mission up.”

Kirby stressed that the coalition forming to take on ISIL is growing, with more than 40 nations involved. “Each of them are contributing what they can, given their own capacities and limitations and the desires of their populations,” he said.

Some partners -- like France -- are willing to participate in military action. French President Francois Hollande announced this morning that French fighter aircraft launched airstrikes against ISIL.

Other nations will contribute to humanitarian or resupply efforts, Kirby said. “Some are contributing monetary donations of aid,” he added. “Everybody is doing something different. And that’s OK. We’re not going to dictate terms to these nations as they sign up to do things.”

Some of the nations are “evolving” their participation, the press secretary told reporters. Some early contributors now are willing to contribute more, he said. “The French are a great example of that,” he added, and I think we’re going to continue to see that happen.”

International Terrorism Defendant Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin and United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara announced that Adel Abdel Bary, aka “Adel Mohammed Abdul Almagid Abdel Bary,” aka “Abbas,” aka “Abu Dia,” aka “Adel” (“Bary”), pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to international terrorism charges in connection with Bary’s work on behalf of al Qaeda and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.  Bary was extradited to the United States from the United Kingdom on Oct. 6, 2012.  Bary pleaded guilty to a three-count superseding information charging him with conspiring to kill U.S. nationals, conspiring to make a threat to kill, injure, intimidate, and damage and destroy property by means of an explosive, and making such a threat.  Following the defendant’s plea of guilty, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan asked for further information regarding the basis of the plea agreement which the parties will provide within a week.
According to the indictment on which Bary’s extradition was based, the superseding information to which he pled, other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, and statements made at today’s guilty plea:

In 1997 and 1998, Bary led the London cell of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (“EIJ”) organization.  EIJ, which was led for years by co-defendant Ayman al Zawahiri, was dedicated to the forceful overthrow of the Egyptian Government and to violent opposition of the United States, in part, for its support of the Government in Egypt.  By February 1998, EIJ had effectively merged with al Qaeda and EIJ joined with al Qaeda in targeting American civilians.  To that end, in February 1998, indicted co-defendant Usama Bin Laden and Zawahiri endorsed a purported fatwah under the banner of the “International Islamic Front for Jihad on the Jews and Crusaders.”  This fatwah stated that Muslims should kill Americans – including civilians – anywhere in the world where they can be found.  Then again, on Aug. 4, 1998, EIJ published a statement threatening to retaliate against America for its claimed involvement in the apprehension of EIJ members.  A copy of this statement was found in an office used by Bary and his London-based co-conspirators.

While in London, Bary pledged his commitment to pursue the goals of EIJ and to follow the orders of the leadership of the group.  Many of the leading members of EIJ became influential members of al Qaeda, including indicted co-defendants Ayman al Zawahiri and indicted co-defendant Muhammad Atef, both of whom later sat on the majlis al shura (or consultation council) of al Qaeda.  Zawahiri is now the declared leader of al Qaeda.

On Aug. 7, 1998, three days after EIJ published its threat to retaliate against America, al Qaeda operatives bombed the United States Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing 224 people.  Bary transmitted, via international telephone calls to the media, the contents of al Qaeda’s claims of responsibility for the Aug. 7, 1998, bombings.  These claims of responsibility included threats of future terrorist attacks by al Qaeda and its allies, and were sent from London, England, to media organizations in France, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates on Aug. 8, 1998 – the day after the embassy bombings.

In August 1998, both before and after the bombings, Bary additionally arranged for messages to be transmitted from members of the media to his co-conspirators, including Bin Laden and Zawahiri, and conveyed messages from his co-conspirators, including Bin Laden and Zawahiri, to members of the media.  Bary also used an office in London, which he shared with co-conspirators, to store documents, including the claims of responsibility described above, as well as for other conduct related to the conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals.

*                *                *
In connection with his role in transmitting al Qaeda’s claims of responsibility for the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Bary pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to make a threat to kill, injure, intimidate, and damage and destroy property by means of an explosive, which carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison, and one count of making such a threat, which carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison.  In connection with his role in the conspiracy—led by Bin Laden and Zawahiri—to attack American targets around the world, Bary pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to kill U.S. nationals, which carries a maximum term of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Two co-defendants, Khalid al Fawwaz, aka “Khaled Abdul Rahman Hamad al Fawwaz,” aka “Abu Omar,” aka “Hamad,” and Anas al Liby, aka “Nazih al Raghie,” aka “Anas al Sebai,” are scheduled to commence trial on Nov. 3, 2014, before Judge Kaplan.  The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the outstanding efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York City Police Department, the United States Marshals Service, and the Metropolitan Police Department of London, England (New Scotland Yard).  U.S. Attorney Bharara also thanked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and National Security Division for their ongoing assistance.                                                    

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean S. Buckley, Adam Fee, Nicholas J. Lewin, and Stephen J. Ritchin are in charge of the prosecution.

Hagel Welcomes Congressional Action on Aid to Syrian Opposition

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed his gratitude to Congress last night for its “swift action” to give the Defense Department the authority to begin training and equipping the moderate Syrian opposition.

In a statement released after the Senate sent the bill to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature, Hagel said the train-and-equip program is a key element of the president's comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

“While it will take time to strengthen the moderate Syrian opposition forces, they and the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish forces are central to confronting ISIL,” the secretary said. “The U.S. military will work closely with regional partners, including Saudi Arabia, to recruit and vet the opposition forces, and we will continue to build and sustain a broad coalition to implement our strategy.”

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Latest Airstrikes Target ISIL Assets, Ammunition

From a U.S. Central Command News Release

TAMPA, Fla., Sept. 18, 2014 – U.S. military forces continued to attack Islamic State of Syria and the Levant terrorists in Iraq, using bomber and fighter aircraft to conduct airstrikes yesterday and today, U.S. Central Command officials reported.

One airstrike near an ISIL training camp southeast of Mosul destroyed an ISIL armed vehicle, two ISIL-occupied buildings and a large ISIL ground unit. Another airstrike southeast of Baghdad damaged an ISIL ammunition stockpile, officials added, noting that all aircraft exited the strike areas safely.

Centcom has conducted a total of 176 airstrikes across Iraq, officials said.