According to the New York Times, the US-backed (as far as we know) Free Syrian Army struggled to take control of the airport at Aleppo, Syria and laid an months-long siege to the airport that was broken this week when the FSA got some help. More US aid? No…this time not. This time from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. And who might they be? The Long War Journal tells us:
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, one of al Qaeda’s two official affiliates operating in Syria, led a recent decisive rebel assault on a Syrian military airbase in the north. The group used a suicide bomber from “the Arabian Peninsula” to detonate an armored personnel carrier on the base, which was under siege for eight months before falling two days ago. Eight other groups, including the Al Nusrah Front, the Muhajireen Army, and Free Syrian Army units also took part in the joint operation.
According to the New York Times reporting on the same event adds some context:
In Raqqa recently, a commander of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria sipped coffee after breaking the Ramadan fast, wearing a Pakistani-style outfit. The commander, Abu Omar, was Syrian, a member of a tribe in the area, but he described his movement’s goals as reaching far beyond the country’s borders.
He did not speak of attacking the United States. But he threatened Russia, and he spoke of a broad-based battle against Shiite-led Iran and its quest to dominate the region, and said Sunnis from across the world were justified in flocking to Syria to fight because of the government’s reliance on Shiite fighters from Lebanon and Iraq.
After the battle, Col. Abdul Jabbar al-Okaidi, the head of the United States-backed opposition’s Aleppo military council, appeared in a video alongside Abu Jandal, a leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [aka the Levant]. In camouflage, Colonel Okaidi offered thanks to “our brothers al-Muhajireen wal Ansar and others,” adding: “We’re here to kiss every hand pressed on the trigger.” He then ceded the floor to Abu Jandal and a mix of jihadist and Free Syrian Army leaders, who stood together, each praising his men, like members of a victorious basketball team.
And here it is:
Here’s another interesting attribute of the Free Syrian Army–they appear to be a YouTube partner and their videos are “monetized”, meaning that Google sells advertising against their videos and very likely splits the revenue with “them.” And of course, as we all know, if the Free Syrian Army reaps the benefits of the untold riches awaiting anyone posting a video on YouTube (as we are repeatedly told by Google), then Google sends them–or somebody–an IRS Form 1099 to document the YouTube partner’s revenue share.
Note that while talking with the ISIL’s Abu Jandal, the FSA colonel also thanks the “al-Muhajireen wal Ansar,” or Muhajireen (Emigrants) Army. This group is led by a Chechen commander known as Abu Omar al Chechen, and is a mix of fighters from the Caucasus and Europe as well as Syrian Islamists. It seems that the FSA colonel is indicating that the Muhajireen Army is part of the ISIL. If true, this certainly wouldn’t be an earth-shattering revelation, but it is interesting nonetheless.
So while I get that there could be some value that Google could bestow on their buddies in the intelligence community from posting jihadi videos, it’s not like YouTube is the only place where these videos would appear, just the only place that they are likely to go viral given Google’s monopoly over video online. So I think it’s really all about the money. Do we have to force Gatorade and the others to associate their brands with the process? Do we have to let Google make money from jihadi videos?