In case you missed all the buzz around Seymour Hersh’s article that just broke in the New Yorker, I thought I would just pass along to you the fact that the United States government is funding al Qaeda in Lebanon. Say what?! Yup, that’s right, the US government is funding the very people who destroyed the World Trade Center. Listen, if this were coming from some quack job conspiracy theorist that would be one thing, but this is Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer prize winning journalist who was one of the first to break the Abu Graib prison scandal. And it’s not as if I am on the leading edge of this story; it was published in the March 5 issue of the New Yorker and Hersh appeared on Wolf Blitzer’s, The Situation Room (click here to see an excerpt) at the end of February.
This is the quagmire that is Iraq: We invaded a largely unhostile nation controlled by a secular Sunni Baathist dictator under the premise that he was funding and aiding the religious extremist Sunni terrorist group al Qaeda. In fact, these two Sunni sects were wildly at odds with one another; but when we invaded the country and disbanded or jailed all of the ruling Baathists, al Qaeda swarmed into Iraq to fill this power vacuum. Initially, the majority Shia population did not step into the fray, hoping that the United States military would control these fringe fighters. The Shiites made gains in the legitimate Iraqi government forming there, so they saw no need to engage militarily with al Qaeda, until the Sunni deliberately attacked a Shia mosk last summer and instigated a Shia rebellion. Now, Hersh is reporting, the US government sees Shia Islam (in the form of Moqtada al-Sadr, Hezbollah and Iran) as the greatest single threat to national security.
One vulnerable Sunni state that the current administration would like to see retain its power in the region is Lebanon. As a result of the recent Shiite uprising there, a movement that broke into violence with the unwarranted Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon last summer, the Lebanese government is funding al Qaeda jihadist groups as protection against Hezbollah. The administration is funding these groups indirectly through covert operations with the government of Lebanon. There are probably no direct cash flows, but there is an awareness in the Pentagon of these groups and the fact that they are receiving US money. Hersh compares it to Iran-Contra and his sources have informed him that it is at least one of the reasons for John Negroponte’s resignation from the CIA.
Sounds pretty interesting: wonder if it’ll catch on?