Tuesday, August 2, 2016
The White Helmets: al-Qaeda's Firefighters
The Syrian Civil Defense, commonly known as the White Helmets, are a humanitarian organization operating in rebel held areas of Syria. The Syrian Civil defense is funded by the Governments of both the US and UK. USAID has provided at least $20 million to the organization since its inception, and the UK Conflict Stability and Security Fund has also contributed funding.
The White Helmets number about 3,000 members. Most of their duties consist of dealing with the aftermath of Syrian Government artillery shelling and airstrikes on rebel held areas. The White Helmets claim to have no affiliation to any rebel or extremist group. The claim of no affiliation to rebels or extremists will be called into question over the course of this article.
The White Helmets have received many awards for their so called humanitarian work. They have been lauded by the Western media and by Western Governments. In 2016 the White Helmets were even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. The leader of the White Helmets, Raed Saleh, has accepted some of the awards in person. Raed Saleh was not allowed to enter the US to accept the InterAction humanitarian award due to accusations of ties to extremist groups.
Many analysts have denied that the White Helmets have any links to extremists whatsoever. Even when presented with photographs that seem to prove a link, they deny it. Analysts were outraged when Raed Saleh was barred from entering the US to accept the InterAction Humanitarian award. They claimed that pro-Assad Americans were slandering the Syrian Civil Defense organization with zero evidence. This article will present a trove of evidence that proves involvement with extremist groups. Much of this evidence is new, apparently not spotted by Westerners until now.
Raed Saleh, who has received awards from the US and UK, follows official Jabhat al-Nusra twitter accounts. The accusations that Raed Saleh was sympathetic to extremist groups were not unfounded after all.
Raed Saleh followed Jaish Fath al-Sham's twitter account the very day of its inception. Jaish Fath al-Sham is Jabhat al-Nusra/al-Qaeda's attempt to rebrand itself. It broke away from al-Qaeda only with permission from Ayman al-Zawahiri. JaN's leader praised Zawahiri and Osama Bin-Laden during the video announcement of the split. Even Pro-opposition analysts admit that this "split" from al-Qaeda means very little. It is telling that Raed Saleh followed Jaish Fath al-Sham's twitter account so quickly. Raed Saleh may follow questionable twitter accounts, but this is minor compared to what the White Helmets have been filmed doing on the ground in Syria.
The White Helmets are said not to take sides or have any affiliation to rebel or extremist groups, but this is not entirely true. Not only do they support the Free Syrian Army, but also al-Qaeda affiliates like Jabhat al-Nusra and Jund al-Aqsa. The White Helmets are frequently featured in Jabhat al-Nusra media releases. They were even filmed celebrating with Jabhat al-Nusra when the city of Idlib was captured in March 2015. Idlib was captured by the Jaish al-Fateh rebel coalition led by Jabhat al-Nusra. Just after Idlib city was captured, two White Helmet members were filmed in the city celebrating with Jabhat al-Nusra fighters. One of the White Helmets even grabs the Jabhat al-Nusra flag and waves it around himself in celebration. The second White Helmet member seen in the footage has been identified as Muawiah Hassan Agah, he will be discussed more later.
One White Helmet grabs the Jabhat al-Nusra flag and twirls with it in celebration.
More pictures from Idlib city's capture, the White Helmets and al-Qaeda side by side.
More photos of the White Helmets just after Idlib city was captured by Jabhat al-Nusra/Jaish al-Fateh.
One White Helmet is seen in a crowd of people waving at a passing Jabhat al-Nusra vehicle celebrating the fall of Idlib.
A White Helmet films a captured Government building in Idlib alongside Jabhat al-Nusra fighters. Notice the truck with JaN's flag in the background.
White helmets celebrate with Jabhat al-Nusra fighters outside the captured Government buildings of Idlib city.
White Helmet vehicles drive by the captured Government buildings of Idlib city in celebration. The horns are honking, and the riders are waving and giving the Islamic Tawhid salute.
The White Helmets and rebel troops were seen together in Idlib city again several days later. The White Helmets were responding to the aftermath of a Syrian Air Force airstrike on the city. One white helmet rants against the Government alongside a fighter. The gunmen in the video almost certainly belong to the radical Jaish al-Fateh coalition that captured Idlib city. This coalition is led by Jabhat al-Nusra and consists of several other Jihadist groups. JaN was the dominate force inside Idlib after the city was captured, so it is likely that these fighters belong to JaN. In any case, the fighters shown here are radicals, and the White Helmets clearly have no problem with them.
The White Helmets were again seen celebrating alongside Jabhat al-Nusra fighters after the city of Ariha was captured in May 2015. Notice the Jabhat al-Nusra flag in the background.
A White Helmet in the Ariha city square with Jabhat al-Nusra fighters and flags.
The same White Helmet then photographs several triumphant Jabhat al-Nusra fighters after capturing Ariha.
More White Helmets celebrate the fall of Ariha. The Jabhat al-Nusra flag is visible on the lamp post.
White Helmets stand on the Syrian flag in Ariha, celebrating with Jaish al-Fateh troops.
A White Helmet stands outside a captured Government building in Ariha. The Jabhat al-Nusra flag is visible flying on top of the building.
The White Helmets also celebrated Jabhat al-Nusra's capture of Jisr Shughour, Idlib in April 2015.
White Helmets with Jabhat al-Nusra fighters in Jisr Shughour. A T-55 tank and a monument in the city square are all flying the Jabhat al-Nusra flag.
Another interesting incident involving the White Helmets and Jabhat al-Nusra/al-Qaeda occurred in Northern Hama during March 2016. Several White Helmet members were filmed at what was apparently a Jabhat al-Nusra rally. Numerous Jabhat al-Nusra flags can be seen in the background while the White Helmets interact with Jabhat al-Nusra fighters.
Now, more on the White Helmet member seen at the beginning of the article celebrating the capture of Idlib city. The long haired White Helmet member seen in the Idlib city footage is Muawiah Hassan Agah. His Facebook and Twitter accounts confirm that not only is he a member of the White Helmets (as some have tried to deny) but that he also completely supports extremists and their atrocities.
Muawiah Hassan Agah in his White Helmet uniform.
Screenshots of his Facebook and twitter pages show support for both extremist groups and the White Helmets.
He even posted footage of two Syrian soldiers who were captured and later executed in Southern Aleppo. He actually photographed himself with the two soldiers after they were captured.
This is not an isolated incident. Many White Helmet members have been shown to have ties to extremist groups. Here is another White Helmet member who is evidently also involved with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Jund al-Aqsa. He is seen in Jund al-Aqsa media in the first photo, and wearing his White Helmet uniform in the second.
The White Helmets have been involved in war crimes, such as the execution of POWs. They are seen here cleaning up the body of a soldier who was executed.
The White Helmets are frequently featured in Jabhat al-Nusra media releases cleaning up the aftermath of airstrikes and artillery shelling. Notice Nusra's al-Manara network logo in the upper left hand corner of the photographs.
Another series of photos from Hama.
Another al-Manara media feature from Idlib.
Whites Helmets in Jaish al-Fateh media. JaF is an Islamist rebel coalition led by Jabhat al-Nusra.
Here the White Helmets are featured in al-Qaeda media with dead Syrian soldiers. They flash the "peace" sign as they stand on their bodies.
A local Jabhat al-Nusra media network from Sarmin, Idlib frequently features the White Helmets. The same network also shows Jabhat al-Nusra fighters in combat. This is the network that featured the White Helmet member waving Jabhat al-Nusra's flag at the beginning of this article. Most of the videos from this Network come from the town of Sarmin, with a few notable exceptions, such as after the capture of Idlib city in March 2015.
A photo series showing White Helmets and armed Jabhat al-Nusra fighters rescuing a wounded man from the aftermath of an airstrike.
There are dozens of videos from this extremist network that feature the White Helmets.
The White Helmets are not the angles western media has portrayed them as. There is sufficient evidence in this article to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the White Helmets are allied to extremist groups. The groups shown in these photographs are known for their sectarianism and strict Islamic law. Groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, Jund al-Aqsa, or any group that is part of the Jaish al-Fateh coalition will commit genocide against non-Sunnis when given the chance. If the White Helmets ally themselves to such groups, they can never be seen as true humanitarians.
From their members being featured in extremist media, caring for extremist fighters, celebrating alongside extremists, or even being dual White Helmet/Extremist fighters, the Syrian Civil Defense organization should not be seen as a viable partner to the West. Western Governments have proven that they have no idea what they are doing in Syria, even a *humanitarian* organization they provided funding for has turned out to be made of radical jihadists.
Even the leader of the White Helmets apparently has ties to extremists. The fact that Raed Saleh follows twitter accounts of terrorist organizations such as Jabhat al-Nusra shows just how deep the White Helmet's sympathies for extremists are. The US government honoring Raed Saleh or the Syrian Civil Defense organization should be seen as outrageous. The $20 million in US taxpayer funding that went to the White Helmets should be an even bigger outrage.
To anyone who was in the InterAction Humanitarian Award audience, how do you feel about the White Helmets now?