President Barack Obama is simultaneously saying he intends to take military action against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad to punish it for using chemical weapons, but that he will not put U.S. troops on the ground in Syria.
Is such a plan more likely to advance the interests of the American people or those of the Assad regime's most vehement foe -- al-Qaida? Will it increase or decrease future acts of evil?
On Feb. 11, 2012, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released a videotape in which he urged Muslims to support the rebellion against the Assad regime. He likened what is taking place in Syria and Egypt today to what took place in the 12th century. when, first, the Muslim warrior Nur ad-Din took control of Damascus, and then the Muslim warrior Salah ad-Din took control of Cairo and, uniting Egypt and Syria against the crusaders in Jerusalem, recaptured that city in 1187.
"Remember your ancestors' bravery in protecting Islam's honor and the Muslims' sanctity," Zawahiri said in his videotape. "Oh, Arab lions, Oh, Kurdish lions, Oh, Circassian heroes, Oh, brave Turkmen, unite under the flag of 'There is no god but Allah,' with which Salah ad-Din led you to the victory, conquering and liberation of Bayt al-Maqdis [the area around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem]. You will not be victorious unless you are under this flag. And remember that Salah Ad-Din's liberation of al-Quds [Jerusalem] began with Nur Ad-Din's liberation of Damascus and Salah Ad-Din's liberation of Cairo."
Has al-Qaida made any progress toward achieving Zawahiri's fanatical vision since he made this February 2012 videotape?
On Dec. 11, 2012, the State Department named the al-Nusra Front, a combatant in the Syrian rebellion, as an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group.
"Since November 2011, al-Nusra Front has claimed nearly 600 attacks -- ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations--in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib and Dayr al-Zawr," then-State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said at the time.
"During these attacks numerous innocent Syrians have been killed," said Nuland.
In April, as reported by CNN, al Nusra Front publicly pledged its allegiance to Zawahiri.
On July 10, the Intelligence and Security Committee of the British Parliament released its annual report, revealing that British intelligence agencies and the British Joint Terrorism Analysis Center "assess that al-Qaida elements and individual jihadists in Syria currently represent the most worrying emerging terrorist threat to the U.K. and the West.