‘Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra in Syria may have significant amounts of sarin’

The US military have reportedly proved that sarin gas production is going on among some Sunni salafists in Iraq, and via Turkey, can reach Syrian rebels, former Pentagon official Michael Maloof told RT, citing classified sources.

RT: France, the US and UK are saying the UN report clearly points to the Assad government’s involvement in the August attack . But how can they be so sure, especially as the document states that improvised rockets may have been used, possibly pointing to rebel involvement?

Michael Maloof: I have a report from a source who has direct connections with classified information and he basically told me that [the] US military did an assessment based upon 50 indicators and clandestine interviews that the sourcing of sarin originated out of Iraq and into Turkey before some of it was confiscated in May in Turkey. He believes that since that report was disseminated in August in 2013, that there has actually been a more significant amount of sarin production both in Iraq and in Turkey going to the opposition, principally Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra.

That was their specific target, to see to what extent Al-Qaeda was actually involved in production, in research and dissemination. He says what was confiscated was bench level or small specimens at the time, but that the production now they believe is much more robust and that the non-proliferation, genie, as he says, is no longer exclusive. So there’s quite an increasing concern that this is still ongoing, that production is occurring among some Sunni salafists in Iraq and continues to be transported into Turkey.

RT: Can you tell us more about that classified document you’ve seen, which shows that the US knew that Al-Qaeda linked rebels in Syria had sarin gas? 

MM: The document itself was published in August 2013 by the National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC). It’s part of the intelligence community. The fact that some of it was actually captured in May along the border in Turkey and it was actually Al-Qaeda, and since it was disseminated my sources are telling me that production has probably increased significantly and sarin gas is being produced quite widely now.  That it’s actually ongoing and there’s actually a Saudi financier whose name I’m trying to obtain right now.

This raises a whole host of questions, and even though Mr Kerry says we know what the origin of the August 21 shot was into the outskirts of Damascus that killed hundreds of people including children, he tells me that they have been scouring Syria for more than a year looking at all the Syrian military activities and that they have no information on any artillery having been fired that day at that time into that location. So this raises all kinds of further questions as to what this information is which Kerry possesses, but refuses to share with the world.

RT: Why is the US not taking any action against the Syrian rebels then? After all, they believe that Al-Qaeda, their sworn enemy has chemical weapons. 

MM: Clearly the administration does not want to get more deeply involved in a Middle East conflict.  It’s probably a political and policy call on the Obama administration’s part. Again, this is speculation on my part, but I think it would go absolutely against the grain of trying to assist the rebels and I think the administration’s goal really is regime change. You have an opposition and foreign fighters that have now integrated into the opposition being involved in this. This absolutely goes contrary to what their policy direction is and results in tremendous confusion.

Fighters of the jihadist group Al-Nusra Front (AFP Photo)
Fighters of the jihadist group Al-Nusra Front (AFP Photo)

We’ve had separate reports already that Al-Qaeda elements are rather significant in numbers and have permeated into the opposition. So the ability to distinguish who gets what and where becomes much more problematic for this administration. I think that the administration is trying to oust Assad, but the fact that you have those foreign fighters there, for them to admit it would absolutely undermine their entire policy approach.

‘US cannot afford another war with questionable results’

RT: The US says they want to see the Geneva peace talks take place – yet they’ve just offered more support to the opposition. How is that going to bring the peace process closer?

MM: You’ve got to distinguish the opposition. The opposition has refused to meet as long as the Assad government is going to be represented at Geneva 2. But I think with Russian President Putin’s direction and leadership in all this, I think the United States is compelled to have that meeting and to try and resolve this. It certainly isn’t going to please the opposition but the United States has basically boxed itself into a corner on this policy approach, because the next question is what happens in response to any bombing or regime change.

Regime change would clearly be done through military action and by force, so what the repercussions of that will be is something the administration doesn’t want to confront, and I think it’s something the opposition feels very disappointed about and it could be very demoralizing for them as a consequence.

The United States cannot afford to get involved in another military conflict with questionable results, and certainly in terms of time, where it’s all going to lead to. So I think it would be in the interests of the United States and Russia to get Geneva 2 underway and get something resolved. I think the leadership of Mr. Putin and certainly Foreign Minister Lavrov have come up with a solution and I think that that’s something that has to be pursued. Whether you get the opposition to come along is highly questionable, but I think at this stage the big boys are calling the shots on this, not the opposition.

You must keep in mind that the opposition itself is very fragmented. You have over a thousand elements in there that don’t talk to one another, it’s not a unified effort, and this actually consolidates Assad’s position, particularly with the help of Iran and Russia at this point.

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