Iraqis join the Syrian jihadi rebels
Foreign Policy/Stars & Stripes:
Waiting for the tram in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep, Abu Omar is on his way to the mall. No groceries today — his shopping list includes a Turkish-made tablet computer and a small GPS navigation device loaded with digital maps of the Middle East.This is another testament to the failure of Obama policy in Iraq and Syria. His inept negotiating ability led to our premature withdrawal from Iraq which has allowed that country to slip back into sectarian chaos. It is a situation where groups like al Qaeda and the jihadis thrive. Obama's failure to act sooner to support Syrian rebels who were not Islamic religious bigots has seen that country slipped deeper into chaos.
"It's nothing special," says Abu Omar, an Iraqi national, as he puts the goods in his rucksack. "But this stuff might come in handy after I make it to Syria."
Abu Omar, a handsome young man with long black hair, is not the only one making the trek to Syria. Hundreds of Iraqi prisoners — mostly suspected or convicted jihadists — were freed in July after al-Qaida-linked militants staged a deadly jailbreak at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. At the time, Iraqi and Western authorities feared that some of those men would travel to Syria, helping to fuel the rise of extremist groups there. Those fears have now become a reality.
Abu Omar is one of the al-Qaida members who escaped during the Abu Ghraib prison break. He says six of his former cellmates have also made it to Syria. "Many more are on their way," he says in a strong Iraqi Arabic accent. "Everybody wants to go for jihad to Syria."
Abu Omar sees the Syrian war as much more than a struggle against a brutal dictator. For him, it's a war against unbelievers, and its ultimate aim is the establishment of an Islamic government that transcends the borders of the modern Middle East. "Syria and Iraq are the same struggle to us," he explains. "Both governments in Iraq and Syria are run by unbelievers, so we will fight both. Syria is currently very weak and close to falling into the hands of the mujahideen [jihadists]."