Did the US Really Arm and Train the ISIS Terrorists?
I've seen this meme in emails and websites of the conspiratorial internet - that the US army trained and equipped ISIS rebels at a training camp in Jordan.
The story got a boost when World Net Daily ran an article by Aaron Klein that repeated the claim, saying the information was confirmed by "informed Jordanian officials."
The officials said dozens of ISIS members were trained at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The officials said the training was not meant to be used for any future campaign in Iraq.
The Jordanian officials said all ISIS members who received U.S. training to fight in Syria were first vetted for any links to extremist groups like al-Qaida.
In February 2012, WND was first to report the U.S., Turkey and Jordan were running a training base for the Syrian rebels in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country’s northern desert region.
That report has since been corroborated by numerous other media accounts
If we vetted ISIS members, we did a very poor job. ISIS is the reincarnation of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, so in order to believe the US trained them, you have to believe that we ignored their ties to a violent extremist group.
Are there US-run training camps in Jordan for Syrian rebels? Yes, we've been training members of the Free Syrian army for years there. But other than these anonymous "Jordanian officials," who else has said we trained ISIS members?
Why, Rand Paul has said it:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Sunday that the Sunni militants taking over Iraq have quickly gained power because the United States has armed their group in Syria.
“I think we have to understand first how we got here,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We have been arming [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] ISIS in Syria.”
ISIS, an al Qaeda offshoot, has been collaborating with the Syrian rebels whom the Obama administration has been arming in their efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Paul explained.
The administration has reportedly assisted the moderate opposition in Syria, but details about the dissemination of those resources are unclear.
“That is the real contradiction to this whole policy,” Paul said. “If we were to get rid of Assad,” it would become a “jihadist wonderland in Syria.”
Asked what he would do as president on Iraq, Paul deflected and did not give a straight answer. Instead, he pointed to the Reagan doctrine, and said Congress must ultimately determine the U.S. plan after engaging in a “full-throated debate.”
“The president doesn’t have unilateral authority to begin war,” said Paul, who couldn’t say whether he would support U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.
He said he’s not ruling U.S. assistance out, but said first Shiites must show they will fight for their country.
Paul downplayed the idea that ISIS is an immediate threat to the U.S., but said it could be “at some point.”
“I don’t think ISIS in in the middle of the battle right now thinking ‘hmm, I think we’re going to send inter-continental ballistic missiles to America,’” Paul said.
Alex Jones of InfoWars says he got the information through his "military sources."
Aside from that WND article, I can find no original source that confirms the "ISIS trained by US" story. If Paul is repeating conspiracies he read in WND and on InfoWars he should know better.
It's possible that some fighters trained by the US in Jordan ended up joining ISIS, but that's not the same as the US knowingly arming and training a terrorist group, which is implied in the WND article and that Senator Paul states as fact.
Most ISIS members were probably trained in the Gulf where Qatar and Saudi Arabia sponsor many jihad groups fighting in Syria. Both of those countries are far less discriminating about who gets sophisticated weaponry than the US. As for where ISIS got the weapons it's using now, when the Iraqi army ran away from defending Mosul, hundreds of tons of US-made arms fell into their hands. It's also suspected that the Saudis have been bankrolling the purchase of advanced weapons for many extremist groups in Syria on the open market.
ISIS didn't need the US to train their members. The idea that we knowingly armed and trained an ultra-violent, pitiless terrorist group that is so barbaric that even al-Qaeda's parent group in Pakistan has disavowed them, needs a lot more proof than any offered up so far by WND or Alex Jones.