The New York Times is reporting that CIA officers are operating inside Turkey using a network that includes the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to funnel arms to the opposition. According to the Times report, the arms are paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar:
(June 22, 2012) A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers. The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said. The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said. The Obama administration has said it is not providing arms to the rebels, but it has also acknowledged that Syria’s neighbors would do so. The clandestine intelligence-gathering effort is the most detailed known instance of the limited American support for the military campaign against the Syrian government. It is also part of Washington’s attempt to increase the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who has recently escalated his government’s deadly crackdown on civilians and the militias battling his rule. With Russia blocking more aggressive steps against the Assad government, the United States and its allies have instead turned to diplomacy and aiding allied efforts to arm the rebels to force Mr. Assad from power. By helping to vet rebel groups, American intelligence operatives in Turkey hope to learn more about a growing, changing opposition network inside of Syria and to establish new ties. ‘C.I.A. officers are there and they are trying to make new sources and recruit people,’ said one Arab intelligence official who is briefed regularly by American counterparts. American officials and retired C.I.A. officials said the administration was also weighing additional assistance to rebels, like providing satellite imagery and other detailed intelligence on Syrian troop locations and movements. The administration is also considering whether to help the opposition set up a rudimentary intelligence service. But no decisions have been made on those measures or even more aggressive steps, like sending C.I.A. officers into Syria itself, they said.
Read the rest here.
In May, a Lebanese newspaper traced the dominant role of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in the opposition to the Assad regime. Also in May, writer and analyst John Rosenthal’s summarized the cooperation between the Obama Administration and the Syrian opposition focusing on the role of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.
Previous posts have noted that the SNC includes at least two known members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood- Louay Safi, a leader in the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Najib Ghadbian, a board member of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID). The relationship between the SNC and Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi should also be noted.
In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported on moves by the U.S. Government to reach closer relations with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.
For a comprehensive account of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in 2006, go here.
For a comprehensive account of Islamist activities in Syria in 2006, go here.