Support Builds for Gabbard-Paul ‘Stop Arming Terrorists Act’

April 25, 2017
No. 1

The No Arms For Terrorists Bulletin is a publication of the No Arms For Terrorists (NA4T) campaign as part of our mission to support the principles and purposes behind the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act (SATA)” H.R. 608 and S. 532, sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). The No Arms For Terrorists campaign is supported by Christian Solidarity International (CSI-USA), with assistance from​ Global Strategic Communications Group​.

This edition of the No Arms For Terrorists Bulletin looks at the support building for SATA from different perspectives on what the United States should do about the conflict in Syria and turmoil in the Middle East generally. Whether or not American military action is called for, and whatever the role of Congress should be, there is growing consensus that the US policy “toolkit” should not include providing weapons to jihadist outfits like the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh), al-Qaeda and its various offshoots, and groups allied with them.

Ensuring that our American tax dollars are not being used to support terrorists is the simple purpose of SATA. As House sponsor Rep. Gabbard stated in her remarks on introducing the bill:

“Under U.S. law it is illegal for any American to provide money or assistance to al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham, and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.”

Similarly, Sen. Paul declared in his introductory statement:

“One of the unintended consequences of nation-building and open-ended intervention is American funds and weapons benefiting those who hate us. This legislation will strengthen our foreign policy, enhance our national security, and safeguard our resources.”

No one doubts the complexity of the security challenges facing the United States in the Middle East and worldwide. However, No Arms For Terrorists believes that under no circumstances is giving money and weapons to groups the U.S. government knows to be terrorists and their collaborators ​is a legitimate option.

No Arms For Terrorists welcomes your help and participation. Please visit us at www.NA4T.org and contact us at NoArms4Terrorists@gmail.com. Write the two Senators for your state and your Representative in support of SATA’s prohibiting use of your tax dollars to arm terrorists. To support this campaign, please donate to CSI-USA.

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No Arms For Terrorists

In this edition of the No Arms For Terrorists Bulletin:

  1. Letter from CSI-USA CEO John Eibner to US President Trump, No Arms For Terrorists, Good Friday, April 14, 2017. (CSI is an international Christian human rights organization, campaigning for religious liberty and human dignity, and assisting victims of religious persecution, victimized children and victims of catastrophe.) Excerpts: ‘Dear Mr. President: Since your predecessor set in motion his Syrian regime-change policy in the summer of 2011, nearly half a million Syrians have died, 6.3 million have been displaced – including “religiously-cleansed” Christians and other minorities – five million have been driven abroad, and millions more have been reduced to utter destitution. Two components of this American effort to overthrow the Syrian government have had a catastrophic impact on the people of Syria: the imposition of what President Obama rightly called “unprecedented” economic sanctions, and the arming of anti-democratic Sunni jihadists as proxies. President Obama’s draconian sanctions regime is one of the primary causes of mass death, impoverishment and migration in Syria.  Its impact on children is particularly horrendous. . . . I would encourage you, Mr. President, to act just as swiftly this Easter Season, on behalf of the millions of Syrian victims of economic sanctions and U.S.-backed jihadist armies, as you did in response to the ghastly use of poison gas earlier this month. To effectively address these issues, military action is not  But the following non-violent measures are a must: 1)   The immediate suspension of all failed economic sanctions that have for six years blighted the lives of the hard-pressed people of Syria, as repeatedly and urgently requested by Syrian Christian church leaders. 2)   Rapid endorsement of the now vitally-important Stop Arming Terrorists Act, sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Rand Paul, which would prohibit the U.S. government from militarily supporting the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and those that collaborate with them. These non-violent, constitutional, cost-effective steps will allow you to achieve positive humanitarian change in Syria while still upholding your increasingly challenged pre-inauguration pledge to end the outgoing administration’s dangerous and counterproductive regime-change policies, focus American resources on rolling back radical Islamist terror, and work with those countries committed to putting an end to jihadism. For six years the Syrian people – Christians, Muslims, Alawites, Druze, free-thinkers, and others – have been undergoing a cruel and bloody crucifixion. Like Pontius Pilate 2000 years ago, you, Mr. President, now have the power to adhere to either an imperial policy driven by the spirit of death, or the way of the life-enhancing resurrected Lord.
  2. Time for the US to stop arming its enemies, American Thinker, by Rachel Ehrenfeld, April 15, 2017. (Ehrenfeld is Founder and President of the American Center for Democracy, and the Economic Warfare Institute.) Excerpts: ‘No one expects the Trump administration to reverse the disastrous effects of the Obama-supported Muslim Brotherhood’s hijacking of the “Arab Spring” in the Middle East that increased the regional contest for supremacy in the Islamic world.  The rivalry has intensified between the Sunni camp led by Saudi Arabia and the Shiite camp led by Iran – each with its pet terrorist organizations. It’s hard to overstate how much damage was done by the Obama administration’s misjudgment that Sunni jihadists and Shia Iran were somehow friendly to us and could be useful tools of American policy.  But using jihadi groups claiming to be less violent than al-Qaeda and ISIS resulted in the Benghazi massacre of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, and the destabilization of Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria, and elsewhere. The “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” (SATA) (H.R. 608), which was sponsored by Representative Tulsi Gabbard(D-Hawaii), would help curtail U.S. assistance to Sunni and Shia jihadists, who would gladly use it against Americans, not only against each other. . . . . In addition to the SATA, Congress should restrict U.S. government financial and other material support to Iran-supported Shia groups, notably Hezb’allah in Lebanon.  While the so-called “military wing” of Hezb’allah has been designated by the U.S. as terrorist, its “political wing” is free to operate in Lebanon.  Members of the Hezb’allah-led bloc in the Lebanese Parliament served until recently and wield influence in academic and financial institutions. . . . The SATA, which already has bipartisan co-sponsorship from Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Peter Welsh (D-Vt.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), Thomas Garrett (R-Va.), Paul Gosar (R-Va.), and Scott Perry (R-Penn.). It should be supported by all.’
  3. Redefining the battle against terrorists: Identifying the enemy will prevent them from getting U.S. arms,” The Washington Times, by Admiral James A. Lyons (Ret.), September 16, 2015. (Lyons is a former four star admiral who served as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.) Excerpts: ‘The Stop Arming Terrorists Act (SATA, H.R. 608) was introduced with bipartisan backing by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Hawaii Democrat, a combat veteran of the Iraq War, and in the Senate (S. 532) by Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican. SATA would prohibit the use of federal funds to arm or support al Qaeda, ISIS “or any individual or group that is affiliated with, associated with, cooperating with, or adherent” to them. It also would bar sending funds to the government of any country that the director of national intelligence determines has provided assistance to such groups within the last year. SATA is almost the mirror image of the new AUMF. It seeks to defund and stop our allies from arming the very groups our military personnel are risking their lives fighting against. It shouldn’t take an act of Congress to stop our tax dollars from going to arm people we know are terrorists. Sadly, it’s far from clear that cutting off such aid can be assured without a legal prohibition. Press coverage of the war in Syria over the past six years has been replete with reports of groups supported by the Obama administration — either directly via covert programs or via our allies — that either fight alongside al Qaeda or decide to defect, taking their U.S.-provided arms with them. The Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio and the BBC reported that in March 2015 the U.S.-backed group Fursan al-Haq, equipped by the CIA with anti-tank missiles, participated in an al Qaeda-led campaign in Idlib. However, there is no clear affiliation today. After the city fell to the jihadis, Christians were driven out amid a terror campaign of abductions and church destructions. Many of the Druze residents were massacred. Idlib remains under al Qaeda control today, assisted by Fursan al-Haq, now rebranded part of the Free Idlib Army under the protection of Turkey’s jihadi president (and America’s dubious NATO ally) Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Has the weapons pipeline been cut off? Even if it has, turning it back on may just be a matter of another change of name and flag. There is no such thing as a moderate jihadi terrorist. Arming one group of terrorists to fight another group of terrorists can only have one outcome: more terrorism. It’s time to slam the door on a wrongheaded and self-defeating policy.
  4. Strongman regimes the better of two bad options in Middle EastThe Hill, by Taras Kuzio, April 13, 2017. (Kuzio is an expert on nationalism and European integration at the Centre for Political and Regional Studies, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta and a non-resident fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR), School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University.) Excerpts: ‘Terrorist groups in Syria have kidnapped, tortured and massacred non-Sunni religious groups, including Shiites, Alawites, Christians, Yazidis, Kurds and Armenians. The Taliban and ISIL have deprived women of rights and made non-Sunni women prisoners or their personal sex slaves. Where the Taliban and ISIL have come to power in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, they have imposed sharia-based Sunni supremacist regimes and committed massive crimes against humanity. One such crime was recently uncovered at a sinkhole in Khasfa, Iraq, 30 kilometers south of Mosul. There, ISIL murdered 7,000 people — Iraqi security personnel, political opponents and religious minorities. The U.S. policy in Syria has encountered the same pitfall as its policy in Afghanistan in the 1980s with the anti-Soviet mujahedeen — who evolved into the Taliban and ISIL terrorist groups. In both instances, weapons given to “pro-Western moderates” ended up in the hands of extremists and were then used against the U.S. and Europe. As Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) declared when announcing his support for the Stop Arming Terrorists Act — H.R. 608 and S. 532 — legislation: “One of the unintended consequences of nation-building and open-ended intervention is American funds and weapons benefiting those who hate us.” In Syria, every non-Kurdish opposition group has coordinated with the jihadists at some point in the six-year-old conflict, which the United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria estimate has killed nearly half a million people. This is why the Stop Arming Terrorists Act is so timely and is receiving bipartisan support in Congress. The draft legislation “prohibits the use of federal agency funds to provide covered assistance to Al Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIL and individuals and groups that are affiliated with, associated with, cooperating with such groups and with governments who have provided covered assistance to these groups.” The Stop Arming Terrorist Act will provide the conceptual tools for U.S. policymakers to end support to so-called “pro-Western moderates” who, in reality, are fictions of our wishful thinking. The adoption of this legislation will also provide the means for U.S. and European policymakers to reset away from the earlier failed policies of democracy-promotion, regime change and nation-building in the Middle East.’
  5. How the U.S. Can End the Syrian Civil War,” The American Spectator, by Robert Zapesochny, April 19, 2017.  ‘Bashar al-Assad would not be in power today, without the combined help of the Russian Air Force, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and Hezbollah. Even with Russia and Iran, President Assad has only been able to secure control of 34 percent of the country’s territory and 65 percent of the population. To make things worse, much of the weaponry sent to rebel groups was captured by ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN), which is al-Qaida’s branch in Syria. In 2014, JAN acquired antitank missiles, because two CIA-supported militias surrendered to them. Beyond theft, JAN has worked with American-backed anti-Assad groups for years. This was why the leader of the American-backed Syrian National Coalition opposed the State Department when it designated JAN a terrorist organization in 2012. In 2013, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) worked with JAN to seize the Christian city of Ma’alula. While President Trump was right to call Assad an “animal,” there are no good guys in this fight. JAN kidnapped 12 nuns and shelled a Greek Catholic monastery of St. Sergius. ISIS destroyed Mar Elian Monastery in Palmyra. In 2015, JAN, and their ally, the CIA-supported Fursan al-Haq, seized the city of Idlib. Christians were forced to flee their homes to escape Islamic rule. In 2016, an American-backed rebel group, Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, beheaded a child in Aleppo. This wasn’t the first time JAN killed children. In 2013, JAN, ISIS, and the FSA launched a coordinated assault in Latakia. They killed 190 Alawites, including 18 children. Beyond working with JAN and ISIS, American-supplied groups have used these American weapons to fight each other. For example, in 2016, the CIA-supplied militia Fursan al-Haq clashed with the Pentagon-supplied Syrian Democratic Forces about 20 miles from Aleppo. The Syrian opposition has no shortage of weapons from the United States and from its Sunni allies. In 2017, JAN and the FSA launched an offensive in Damascus, for the first time in four years. The United States cannot end this conflict by sending more weapons into Syria. What Syria needs is an honest broker to end this conflict. The United States Congress could help by passing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. This piece of legislation would signal to the Russians that America’s first priority is to defeat ISIS and JAN.’