One of the terrorists who carried out the deadly London Bridge attack in England this month fought in an affiliate of Senator John McCain’s beloved Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Libya, supporting the U.S.-backed effort to topple Muammar Gaddafi. His name is Rachid Redouane and, after fighting in the Libyan revolution with the Tripoli-based group Liwa al Ummah, he joined a militia that deployed jihadist fighters to Syria.
The unit fought alongside Al-Qaeda extremists in Syria, according to a British newspaper story that says Redouane’s plea for asylum in the United Kingdom was rejected in 2009 though he continued living in the country. The Liwa al Ummah was formed by a deputy of Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the former emir of the Al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, according to a think tank that studies British foreign policy. In 2012, the Liwa al Ummah in Syria merged with the FSA, which was formed in August 2011 by Turkish-based army deserters aiming to bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Liwa al Ummah was considered an FSA unit in Syria and sometimes it teamed up with Al Qaeda’s official Syrian branch, Al-Nusra.
Redouane’s connection to the FSA is yet another damaging piece of evidence showing that opposition forces in Syria are run by Islamic terrorists. This has not deterred McCain’s ardent support for the Syrian rebels, especially the FSA. The Arizona Republican, also chair of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, has worked closely with a “Syria expert” who was the political director of a Syrian Islamist organization that helped define and steer policy in the Obama White House as well as Congress. Judicial Watch has reported on this for years and back in 2013 published a piece on the so-called expert, Elizabeth O’Bagy, who somehow convinced the president, secretary of state and some federal lawmakers that Syrian rebels are mostly moderates and not terrorists who deserve U.S. support.
McCain was so smitten by O’Bagy that he read a chunk of her Wall Street Journal opinion piece—touting the FSA as a moderate opposition force—during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. In it O’Bagy makes a case for U.S. military intervention in Syria by asserting that concerns about Al-Qaeda terrorists running the rebel operations are unfounded. After all, the United States doesn’t want to support the very jihadists that want to murder its citizens. Here is a portion of the excerpt that McCain read at the hearing: “Contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al Qaeda die-hards. The jihadists pouring into Syria from countries like Iraq and Lebanon are not flocking to the front lines. Instead they are concentrating their efforts on consolidating control in the northern, rebel-held areas of the country. “Moderate opposition forces—a collection of groups known as the Free Syrian Army—continue to lead the fight against the Syrian regime. While traveling with some of these Free Syrian Army battalions, I’ve watched them defend Alawi and Christian villages from government forces and extremist groups. They’ve demonstrated a willingness to submit to civilian authority, working closely with local administrative councils. And they have struggled to ensure that their fight against Assad will pave the way for a flourishing civil society.”
A year later Judicial Watch reported on an embarrassing outburst that McCain, who is hell-bent on arming jihadist opposition forces in Syria, had during a meeting with Syrian Christian leaders touring Capitol Hill. The delegation of Syrian clergy went to Washington to raise awareness among lawmakers of the growing crisis among the region’s minority Christian community. Christians make up about 10% of the Syrian population and they are being targeted and ruthlessly murdered by radical elements of the rebel forces, according to the visiting church officials. Churches have been destroyed or burned, children killed, nuns abducted and countless others abducted by Islamic fighters, the Syrian delegation revealed during the D.C. jaunt.
McCain, refused to hear the negative stories about the rebels he’s working to arm and stormed out of a closed-door meeting with the Syrian clergy officials. Held in the Senate Arms Services Committee meeting room, the reunion also included senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. McCain marched into the committee room yelling, according to a high-level source that attended the meeting, and quickly stormed out. “He was incredibly rude,” the source told Judicial Watch “because he didn’t think the Syrian church leaders should even be allowed in the room.”
While this veteran senator continues supporting the FSA, a number of domestic and international media outlets have confirmed that terrorists—mainly Al Qaeda—are running opposition forces in Syria. For instance the New York Times published a piece that reveals Islamist rebels—including the most extreme groups in the notorious Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda-aligned force—are running the show in Syria. “The Islamist character of the opposition reflects the main constituency of the rebellion,” the story says. “Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.” A British newspaper confirmed that in Syria “jihadists” are “now the largest and best armed faction in the opposition.” The report goes on to say that the “more moderate elements have become progressively weaker through a lack of supplies and defection of members.”