Are 2,000 Gulf fighters in Syria a terrorist threat to . . . the Gulf?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

A Saudi preacher has given a press briefing on young men from the Gulf fighting against the al-Assad regime.

Although the Hizbullah fighters from Lebanon are often mentioned in the US press as an example of foreign interference, there is little mention of this Gulf contingent.

Musa al-Ghanami, a Saudi preacher, said that about half of the foreign forces are Saudis.

The next biggest contingent is Kuwaitis.

They mainly fight in 4 organizations: Daesh (ISIS, ISIL); the Support Front or the Nusra Front of al-Qaeda; the Helpers of Religion Front, and to a lesser extent the Freemen of Syria (Ahrar al-Sham).

That is, their biggest concentration is in the most extreme of these rebel groups, especially the two al-Qaeda offshoots.

Al-Ghanami considers these earnest young men a security danger to their home countries and called them out of control and “crazy.”

He dismissed the “Army of Conquest” that defeated the Syrian army at Idlib in the north as a myth. He says it is just an operations center coordinating various groups.

Moreover, he said, the leading element in the Army of Conquest is the Support Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate.

Cole: Both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have already suffered Daesh terrorism, against Shiite mosques, possibly by Syria returnees. The potential for more such terrorism by Syria veterans is enormous. As with the Reagan-Saudi jihad against the Afghan Left in the 1980s, the elites in Riyadh and Washington seem to be discounting the disruption that will ensue from extremism in the Syrian civil war. Although the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia do not support Daesh, there have been allegations that they are entirely willing to support a coalition like the Army of Conquest that has al-Qaeda as a central element. Is that wise?


Related video:

The LipTV from October: “Saudi Clerics Call For Jihad Against Russia in Syria”

9 Responses

  1. It is primarily because of the rhetoric and actions of a fairly large percentage of misguided Muslims throughout history that the Muslims have generally lost sight of the spiritual significance of Jihad.

    See “The Spiritual Significance of Jihad” by an eminent Muslim scholar, SEYYED Hossein Nasr, at link to

  2. The Saudi’s are openly using mercenaries in Yemen (come on does anyone believe the fighters from Sudan are anything but mercenaries?)

    One has to suspect that many Dash fighters are also just mercenaries hired by Gulf countries. There have certainly been many claims out of Syria, Iraq and Iran of mercenaries fighting for Dash in Syria and Iraq. Yes those sources have an incentive to say that – but on the other hand, who has better knowledge of the situation on the ground than Syria, Iraq and Iran? Turkey? the Saudi’s? But wait, don’t they also have glaring incentives to say they are not mercenaries?

  3. Has any journalist ever asked Obama to justify being on the same fighting side as Al-queda & ISIS?

  4. No it’s not wise. Glad somebody in Saudi Arabia has the good sense to call out and warn about the threat. Wonder what the Saudi authorities make of this preacher and press conference.

    Not sure about the Kuwaitis, but the Saudis are willing to risk it as the attacks were still concentrated on a disliked minority and not really affecting the mainstream majority’s lives despite a slight embarrassment of sovereignty being violated. Apparently blowback does not figure in their and the US rationale.

  5. It seems the US is a very slow learner: In an August 2015 interview, “former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn confirms to Mehdi Hasan that not only had he studied the DIA memo predicting the West’s backing of an Islamic State in Syria when it came across his desk in 2012, but even asserts that the White House’s sponsoring of radical jihadists (that would emerge as ISIL and Nusra) against the Syrian regime was ‘a willful decision.’…Hasan himself expresses surprise at Flynn’s frankness…While holding up a paper copy of the 2012 DIA report declassified through FOIA [Freedom of Information Act], Hasan reads aloud key passages such as, ‘there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria, and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.’ Rather than downplay the importance of the document and these startling passages, as did the State Department soon after its release, Flynn does the opposite: he confirms that while acting DIA chief he ‘paid very close attention’ to this report in particular and later adds that ‘the intelligence was very clear.’” “[T]he declassified DIA report is now confirmed to be a central and vital source that sheds light on the origins of ISIS, and must inform a candid national debate on American policy in Syria and Iraq.” link to

  6. It becomes ever more clear that the US does in fact support all of the rebel groups as long as they attack Assad, and only opposes their attacks on the Kurds, because the Kurds prevent a unified Iraq and Iran. It is also clear that the US govt has no concern at all for future instability in the region, and in fact has perpetual civil war as its goal, paid for by zionist political contributions.

  7. How can you write that Isis was never supported by the us? How come the superpower never used it’s regulatory tools to stop the isis oil trade via turkey? Do you really think you could make anyone believe that the US did not anticipate the defection of vast parts of its “assets” supplied and trained in turkey to isis al nusra al sham? Do you consider it plausible that the US intelligence services consider a supply of 500 tows via saudi arabia to those a save strategy if one did not intent to supply terrorists? Can you tell me how an air campaign of more than a year that joined 62 countries could achive literally zero and let isis al sham and nusra advance even further, driving happily in huge convoys? Does the US refusing to give air support to its proclaimed proteges combat forces not raise any doubt in you? Do you believe the USAF would drop weapons in the “wrong spot” by accident?

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