As the battle for Aleppo gathers momentum and the encircled terrorist factions respond violently to the strangulation of their supply lines and diminishment of their territory in eastern Aleppo, CNN goes to extraordinary lengths to obfuscate US connections to these terror gangs, romanticise the role of terror in Syria and even more astonishingly “normalise” suicide bombers and promote the re-branded Al Nusra as the new “moderates”.
Al Nusra Front (aka Al Qaeda in Syria) under new nomenclature suddenly become ‘freedom fighters’ (sounds familiar) and the new ‘reasonable option’ in the US mainstream media and the US voting public barely seem to notice?
On August 2nd 2016, as the Syrian Arab Army made serious advances on the ground against the NATO and GCC-backed terrorist factions occupying the eastern sectors of Aleppo, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Jabhat Al Nusra made the announcement that it was changing the name of the group. Naturally, CNN ran with this story almost immediately.
This re-branding also coincides with the agreement between Russia and the US to finally combine forces in combating Al Qaeda/Al Nusra fighting inside Syria. Here we can see the true function of CNN in the conflict theatre – to help sculpt the US government narrative – and to carefully nudgethe public perception along those lines.
CNN’s crack journalist, Clarissa Ward, who has visited terrorist held areas inside Syria 14 timessince the NATO dirty war on Syria began 5 years ago, even donning the full veil and chador, or niqab, presumably to “respect” the ‘moderate rebel’ jihadi extremist demands, has played the staring role in the CNN team producing these sensational reports.
Clarissa Ward who professes Syria is a place “close to her heart” wrote that Al Nusra had taken the decision to split from Al Qaeda and re-brand as Jabhat Fatah al Sham.
Mostafa Mahamed, one of the group’s leaders, says that prior to the split al-Nusra “was an official branch of al Qaeda. We reported to their central command and we worked within their framework, we adhered to their policies.With the formation of JFS, or Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham, we are completely independent. That means we don’t report to anyone, we don’t receive our directives from any external entity. ~ CNN Report
CNN then go on to draw on comments from Charles Lister, known propagandist and executive producer of the “moderate rebel” promotional literature. Scholar at the the Washington based and Qatari funded Middle East Institute., Charles Lister of course celebrates this name change, claiming it is a natural progression for the group to protect it from Russian and Syrian Airforce strikes.
Qatar itself is also heavily invested in “regime change” in Syria. Besides funding the terrorist factions directly, Qatar is also involved in the more subtle building of a shadow state inside Syria via the myriad of NATO and EU funded NGOs who serve as a fifth column for the governments hostile to Syria and enable these governments to work on infiltrating local services and councils. This operation has been discussed in a previous 21st Century Wire article ~ #AleppoIsBurning Campaign Created by NATO to Facilitate a “No Bomb Zone”
So, this group that receives weapons, equipment and “directives” from NATO, in particular the US, has rebranded to prevent Russia targeting them as an internationally designated terrorist group? According to Charles Lister, there are perfectly logical explanations for this re-brand that defy suchspurious speculation:
Al Qaeda as an international organization has been changing,” says Lister. “It is becoming more of an idea than an organization. It is looking to decentralize jihad, to give more autonomy to individual affiliates with the aim of making jihadi rule more likely. “Jabhat al-Nusra has demonstrated the value of that,” he says, distancing itself from some of the more bloodthirsty Islamist groups. “It has an explicit ban on tough punishments: It doesn’t chop hand off for thievery, it doesn’t execute for murder. ~ CNN Report
Has nobody watching or reading CNN realised how twisted this statement is?
Al Nusra does not “chop hands off for thievery, it doesnt execute for murder“. There is some logic to this however… when the murderers absolve themselves of their own crimes it makes sense that they will abolish the execution policy when they are the primary perpetrators of the crime inside Syria. They don’t chop hands off, what is the point when a head can be chopped off instead?
Why punish murder when they are massacring the Syrian people on a daily basis?
The Al Nusra Invasion of Maaloula Whitewashed by CNN
Maaloula. Photo: Vanessa Beeley
Yesterday Vanessa Beeley [the author] met with Father Talal Taalab, a Christian priest from the historic Christian village of Maaloula perched 15oo metres high on the mountainside of the Rif Dimashq governorate, 56 km north-east of Damascus and close to the border with Lebanon. This beautiful Christian village has been in existence for more than 7000 years and has proudly preserved its culture and heritage including the Aramaic language.
In the 1920s, according to Father Taalab, Turkey introduced Muslim Brotherhood factions into Maaloula “planting strangers in our land”
The Christian communities welcomed these “strangers” and provided them with housing and land, even building a mosque for them inside Maaloula.
From 2011 onwards, Father Taalab sensed a growing threat from members of this Muslim community, he noticed that many of them were joining the flourishing groups of insurgents and extremists. Even those living inside Maaloula were being enticed into joining the ranks of those terrorists who wished only to cleanse the area of those who did not adhere to their extreme view of Islam and intolerance towards “apsotates” and infidels.
On the 4th September 2013, these terrorists that CNN are trying to present as reformed criminals, suicide bombed the southern SAA checkpoint that was the only defence for the crypto-occupied Christian residents. A Jordanian suicide bomber drove a truck up to the checkpoint that was blocking the southern entrance to the village and detonated it, giving the signal for the attack to begin.
During this attack, 8 Syrian Army soldiers were murdered by the insurgents and two tanks were disabled. The terrorists then went on to capture the Safir Hotel which gave them a vantage point from which they could snipe the village residents. Father Taalab describes how many of the Muslim Brotherhood residents who had been their neighbours for years, turned on their Christian hosts and began chanting in support of the Al Nusra insurgents while they were attacking Christian homes and looting or torching their churches.
On the 7th September 2013, Black saturday in the Maalouli calendar, Al Nusra extremists entered a house in Maaloula. They rounded up three young men, [left to right] Sarkis, Mikhael and Anton. Their photos are pinned to the wall of Father Taalab’s office.
Al Nusra demanded that each man convert to Islam, each man in turn refused to renounce their faith and were shot in the head one by one. The second and third were forced to watch their lifelong friends and brothers murdered before being shot themselves for their refusal to abandon their beliefs.
The Al Nusra operatives then went on to shoot an 80 year old man, Lawandeus, who was Anton’s father. Lawandeus was blind and deaf but this did not prevent Al Nusra’s attempted murder of this defenceless elder citizen whose son’s blood was already staining the floor.
On entering the house, these Al Nusra NATO agents had also shot Anton’s sister, Antoinette, in the back. Presuming she was dead they then proceeded to shoot her brother and his two comrades in the head while Antoinette, half conscious, a bullet in her spine, was forced to witness the cold-blooded murders. Her brother Anton was a shoemaker, the only son of their parents and someone who served his church and the community faithfully and compassionately.
Mikhael was the town baker and Sarkis was an engineering student with a promising future, cut short by the Al Nusra bloodletters whose purpose was to ethnically cleanse the Christian community from its ancestral home.
On the same day, Al Nusra kidnapped six young men from the village including Father Taalab’s brother and two other family members. Father Taalab maintains that Al Nusra deliberately targeted the families of the village clergy which further supports the claim that Al Nusra were intent upon the ethnic cleansing of this ancient community.
These six young men are still missing. For the first six months, Father Taalab was in contact with them via phone. After that initial six months nothing has been heard from them. The pain of this “not knowing” was visible in Father Taalab eyes and expression as he talked of efforts ongoing to try and locate the boys and to return them to their families in Maaloula.
Father Talal Taalab. Photo: Vanessa Beeley
We are hopeful that all our belongings will be returned to us including the icons and artefacts but most importantly the human souls that were torn from our midst and from their mothers’ side. ~ Father Taalab
We would expect a media outlet as prominent as CNN to report on these atrocities in detail but when we look at their accounts of Al Nusra’s invasion and occupation of Maaloula we find that they have, to a large extent, whitewashed the extremism and murderous intent.
In fact, according to CNN, “Maaloua was spared the atrocities endured elsewhere across Syria” In a May 2016 report, CNN barely mentions the Al Nusra savagery, with only a fleeting reference to the 2013 crimes: “The convent was badly damaged in 2013 and 12 nuns were taken hostage and held by Islamist fighters for months before being released unharmed”
This glib reformulation of the truth acts as a criminal gatekeeper as to the true evil of Al Nusra and the barbarity of their acts against the Maalouli people. CNN is fundamentally entering into the arena of terror apologism and perhaps even endorsement of their heinous crimes against an unprotected and unprepared Christian minority community that had peacefully co-existed with its eventual attackers for almost a full century.
CNN also marginalise the desecration of ancient cultural heritage sites, the burning of medieval Icons, the torching of sacred places of worship, the shooting of the crosses, the theft of the ancient statues and artefacts. These NATO terrorsts cut a violent and bloody swathe through this steadfast civilisation that had evolved over seven thousand years into a humble and hospitable community that opened its doors to all faiths and sects.
Remember, according to Charles Lister, these murderers are “moderates: “it [Al Nusra] doesn’t chop hand off for thievery, it doesn’t execute for murder.”
This short video was taken on the 29th July 2016, almost three years after these horrific crimes were committed by the CNN poster boys for “moderate” terrorism inside Syria. It shows the US Peace Council delegation entering Maaloula. As you can hear from the comments, the scars of the Al Nusra butchery still remain in the bullet holes that pepper the walls and buildings and deep in the hearts of this simple community that has suffered inestimable loss and endured a savagery they never imagined could exist among them.
Are CNN Embedded with Al Qaeda inside Syria?
Now we have established evidence of just one of the many areas of Syria where Al Nusra have committed atrocities against the Syrian people we should return and examine more closely, the role of CNN as US State media purveyor of the “moderate rebel” myth and normaliser of terrorist acts “moderately” conducted daily and justified by any means possible.
Clarissa Ward stated that she has visited Syria 14 times since the NATO dirty operation to secure “regime change” began to tear Syria apart over five years ago. Ward has extensively embedded herself in the Al Nusra/Al Qaeda held areas of Aleppo and along the corridor that leads from the Turkish border to the terrorist occupied city. As explained previously, Al Nusra and other NATO backed gangs such as Nour al Din Jenki occupy the eastern sectors of Aleppo city with ISISintermingling in the northern regions.
Nour al Din Jenki, another US supported terrorist faction were responsible for the recent horrific beheading of a young Palestinian child, the footage of which has shocked audiences across the world but which the US State Department still balks at condemning. The life of a child, beaten, tortured and finally publically decapitated seems less important than the protection of their assets inside Syria.
In March 2016 Ward and CNN with the assistance of Bilal Abdul Kareem of On the Ground News [OGN] executed a plan to film deep inside the “rebel” territories of [eastern] Aleppo, Idlib city and Maarat al Numan. It must be clarified that the areas infiltrated by this media team are in fact stongholds of terrorism, ISIS, Al Nusra/Al Qaeda and Ahrar al Sham the other half of the erstwhile Jaish al Fatah [Army of Conquest] alliance that Al Nusra has now publicly disassociated from with its convenient name change.
Bilal Abdul Kareem interviewing Muhaysini. Photo: Screenshot
Bilal Abdul Kareem is no stranger to these terrorist areas, he has been the long-time petinterviewer of Sheikh Abdullah Muhaysini, head of Jaish al Fatah and Riyadh educated and funded child suicide bomber trainer, executioner, judge of apostates and all round mass murderer who has very recently been calling upon terrorist suicide bombers in and around Aleppo to massacre Syrian Arab Army soliders and allies to gain their virgin prizes in Jannah [Paradise]:
Ward wears the niqab on this mission succumbing to the most extreme demands of fundamental Wahhabi Islam being imposed by ISIS, Ahrar al Sham and Al Nusra in Idlib, eastern Aleppo and Maarat al Numan.
Ward crossed into Syria illegally via the Turkish border without permission from the Syrian government and fraternized with the same terrorists that are massacring and sadistically brutalizing the Syrian people in these regions.
Had Ward entered legally, she would have had the protection of the Syrian Government and Armed forces. She would not have had to wear the Niqab as the majority of Government held areas that house the majority of the Syrian people from all religious sects and walks of life do not enforce any sort of dress code.
Had Ward officially and respectfully asked if she could interview the “armed opposition” she would have been told by Dr Bashar Al Jaafari [Syrian Representative to the UN] that:
“If you wish to talk to the armed opposition, I suggest you go to Saudi Arabia”
What is Ward’s role in this war? It is certainly not to bring the truth to the outside world.
Ward collectively re-brands these NATO funded mass murderers, activists and rebels.
Ward sits with these terrorist criminals and sympathises with their plight as they are bombed by the Syrian and Russian airforce trying to drive this cancer from a sovereign nation that has been invaded by a NATO proxy army comprising rapists, child abusers, smugglers, drug addicts and escaped convicts.
Ward romanticizes these felons and killers, she allies herself and CNN with their “cause” although an explanation of that cause is not forthcoming other than, naturally, the deposing of President Assad, his “brutal regime” and the destruction of the Syrian National Army.
Almost every family in Syria has a relative in the Syrian Army, Ward is advocating their murder and denying the universal grief and sorrow felt by every single Syrian man, woman and child that has lost their father, son, brother or uncle at the hands of the criminals that Ward portrays as heroic “rebels”.
What Ward fails to mention is that yes, the good people, the Syrian people are suffering enormously but from terrorist occupation. In Syrian reality, the Syrian Arab Army is their liberator not their prison warden as so often described by Ward and the CNN team.
Ward does not mention Kafarya and Foua, the Ahrar al Sham besieged Shia Muslim villages in Idlib. Kafarya and Foua are being starved to death. Kafarya and Foua are being gradually and viciously ethnically cleansed by those Ward describes as “activists”.
This protracted war crime in Kafarya and Foua, endorsed and facilitated by the UN and NATOdoes not even warrant a mention from Ward and her CNN/OGN entourage.
The following video made again by Bilal Abdul Kareem of OGN demonstrates quite clearly that these terrorist factions and their supporters are not starving, they are not besieged, they are only hungry for bigger and better weapons with which they can continue their bloodletting inside Syria on behalf of the Gulf States, Turkey, Israel and NATO.
In one interview, Clarissa Ward calculatingly says:
“Syria grabbed my heart and never let go”
Does Clarissa Ward ever mention the heart eating exploitsof the CNN poster boys and their allies? No of course not. That would muddy the filthy vermin infested water that CNN are trying to sell us as beneficial for the Syrian people who are in reality poisoned by CNN’s toxic propaganda and support of the terrorist entities that are destroying entire communities, uprooting many others and torturing or violating those that remain behind.
CNN Normalizes Al Nusra Suicide Bombers – “Inside the Mind of a Suicide Bomber”
Two nights ago, CNN aired a chilling and shocking programme where they actively normalised the use of suicide bombers as a natural act of war.
In a ten minute interview with CNN, who yet again give a platform to these pro-terrorist talking heads, Norwegian filmaker Paul Refsdal explains how he had to provide a CV and two references in order to be able to film and interview Al Nusra suicide bombers inside Syria.
In this hallucinatory interview, CNN allow Refsdal to reduce the massacres carried out by these suicide bombers down to the “absurd” and to justify the use of suicide bombers as a legitimate act of war against the Syrian Arab Army.
It is interesting to note that duirng the US Peace Council delegation meeting with President Bashar al Assad on the 28th July 2016, Assad mentioned that according to his government data, the majority of ISIS leaders fighting in Syria, originate from Norway. Perhaps Paul Refsdal is a potential candidate. Surely we should at least be asking who provided his references.
There is barely a whisper of condemnation for these mass murderers and ideologically deluded criminals. Once more CNN serves as the platform to lionize terrorism and to elevate it to normalcy in the minds of viewers and readers.
This is a very dangerous path to walk down and one from which return is not easy. Where are CNN leading us and why?
Should we expect CNN to now suddenly approve of the Palestinian resistance tactics and their use of suicide bombers in response to the disproportionate force deployed against them by the Israeli Occupation Forces? That is the logical conclusion surely?
Al Nusra/Al Qaeda name-change given a platform by CNN
CNN went one step beyond most other media channels who reported on the timely re-branding by Al Nusra/Al Qaeda. CNN televised the announcement by Mohammed Joulani, flanked by two unsavoury members of the terrorist group. Once again CNN gave the platform to an internationally designated terrorist group and endorsed their attempt to distance themselves from the damaging Al Qaeda brand.
This cynical ploy to alter public perception and open the door to future protection of and collaboration with this NATO terrorist asset must be highlighted. The consequences of this operation being successful are too dreadful to conceive or entertain particularly for the already bloodied and ravaged Syrian nation and its wounded people.
CNN Working in Lock-step with the US State Department
CNN is not the only State operative to be working hard at distancing Al Nusra from Al Qaeda and creating smoke screens to disassociate the US government from its terrorist connections in Syria.
John Kirby of the US State Department manages to twist his response to a question regarding the Al Nusra re-branding into an unintelligible concoction of double-speak, ultimately avoiding the question altogether as only the US State Department can.
Where is the categorical response that should have been forthcoming – “under any name they are a gang of mass murderers illegally on Syrian soil and as such are legitimate targets for the Syrian National Army and their allies”. Hell might freeze over long before we hear that from the US State Department or any of their related agencies in the media or predatory humanitarian complex.
The Deadly Implications of the Al Qaeda name change game
Wikipedia has already edited its entry for Mohammed Joulani, Emir of Jabhat al Nusra to incorporate the product re-branding:
Ahmed Hussein al-Shar’a (Arabic: أحمد حسين الشرع), known by the nom de guerreAbu Mohammad al-Julani (Arabic: أبو محمد الجولاني), is the emir of the Syrian militant group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, he also led its predecessor organisation Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. Al-Julani was listed by the US State Department as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” on 16 May 2013
The name change has significance and this should not be overlooked.
It is interesting that CNN translates “Sham” to Levant which includes Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Turkey and Cyprus. The British would also add Libya and Egypt to the Levant.
The world “Sham” should actually only include Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan.
The Islamic definition of “Fateh” is conquest which means quite simply the introduction of the rule of Allah according to the armies of “Fateh”that are predominantly driven by the extremist ideologies of Wahhabism and Al Qaeda so ISIS, Al Nusra, Ahrar al Sham etc. Conquest in this context means the displacement and destruction of all those who do not adhere to this extremist ideology. ~ Abdo Hadad, Maaloula
The CNN expansion of the territory to include the whole of the Levant as opposed to the Sham is perhaps an indication of where this latest turn of events may lead.
Are we about to see the normalization of Al Qaeda and their deployment into Idlib to present the “moderate” face of extremism to the outside world. An extremism that intends to impose its Islamic state upon a specific area of Syria that is already heavily occupied by its forces, controlled by Turkey acting as middle man for Saudi Arabia and NATO.
Aleppo is slipping from NATO’s grasp and will be a huge loss. Is Idlib the new target and is Jabhat Fateh al Sham the new “moderate” Al Qaeda primed to occupy this belt of territory bordering Turkey which will give Erdogan an even greater role inside Syria without having to deploy his own armed forces.
Once again, CNN provide the clues by publishing Charles Lister’s view on the Al Qaeda re-brand:
“Their long term aim is to establish an Islamic emirate in Syria”
Author Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.