U.S. “Military Aid” to Al Qaeda, ISIS-Daesh: Pentagon Uses Illicit Arms Trafficking to Channel Enormous Shipments of Light Weapons into Syria

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U.S. “Military Aid” to Al Qaeda, ISIS-Daesh: Pentagon Uses Illicit Arms Trafficking to Channel Enormous Shipments of Light Weapons into Syria

Photo: AFP

Written by Prof Michel Chossudovsky; Originally appeared in Globalresearch

According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, quoting documents released by the U.S. Government’s Federal Business Opportunities (FBO), the US –as part of its “counterterrorism campaign”– has provided Syrian rebels [aka moderate Al Qaeda] with large amounts of weapons and ammunition.

The US and its allies (including Turkey and Saudi Arabia) have relied on shipments of light weaponry produced in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and China, etc.

Operating out of the occupied Golan Heights, Israel’s IDF has provided weapons, ammunition, logistical support to Al Qaeda rebels operating in Southern Syria.

While the US relies on its Middle East allies to undertake shady transactions in a buoyant market for light weapons, a significant part of these weapons shipments is nonetheless directly commissioned by the US government.

These shipments of weapons are not conducted through internationally approved weapons transfers. While they are the result of  a Pentagon (or US government) procurement, they are not recorded as “official” military aid. They use private traders and shipping companies within the realm of a thriving illicit trade in light weapons.

Based on the examination of a single December 2015 Pentagon sponsored shipment of more than 900 tons, one can reasonably conclude that the amounts of light weapons in the hands of  ”opposition” rebels inside Syria is substantial and exceedingly large.  

Background: U.S. Weapons Supply Routes “Via Third Countries”

Although the bulk of the weapons and ammunition supplied to the Syrian rebels (including the FSA, Al Qaeda affiliated entities and ISIS-Daesh) are channelled by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the US is also involved in the routine delivery (originating from third countries) of light weapons to the rebels including anti-tank and rocket launchers.

America’s weapons shipments to Syria’s rebels are commissioned by the Pentagon (and/or a US government agency) through several intermediaries via private weapons trading and shipping companies from the Black Sea port city of Constanta. None of these weapons under this de facto (unofficial) “US military aid” program are “Made in the USA”. These light weapons purchased in Eastern Europe and the Balkans in the illicit market are relatively inexpensive.

Moreover, Washington’s decision not to send US made weaponry to the rebels is meant to uphold the camouflage. No doubt, what Washington wants is to ensure that US and/or Western made weapons are not found in the hands of terrorists. As we recall, the White House narrative at the outset of the war in 2011 was: “humanitarian aid” to the rebels, coupled with “some military gear….[but no weapons]” (BBC, October 10, 2015)

US military aid to the rebels channeled (unofficially) through the illicit market, is routine and ongoing. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the U.S.   “is providing [the weapons] to Syrian rebel groups as part of a programme that continues despite the widely respected ceasefire in that country [in 2015].”

According to Jane, the shipments of weapons on behalf of the US are entrusted to private weapons traders and shipping companies:

“The FBO has released two solicitations in recent months [early 2015] looking for shipping companies to transport explosive material from Eastern Europe to the Jordanian port of Aqaba on behalf of the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command.” (Jane.com April 2016)

U.S. “Military Aid” to Al Qaeda, ISIS-Daesh: Pentagon Uses Illicit Arms Trafficking to Channel Enormous Shipments of Light Weapons into Syria

The shipments of weapons purchased and funded by the US are carefully coordinated, with deliveries to rebels in the North and South of Syria respectively. The weapons are shipped out of the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta (December 2015):

1) First, to the Turkish Eastern Mediterranean facility of Agalar-Limani near Tasucu in support of rebels in Northern Syria, to be smuggled into Syria with the support of the Turkish authorities. (half the shipment unloaded)

2) The remainder of the shipment to the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba (for rebels in Southern Syria) via the Suez canal. From Aqaba, the weapons would be smuggled into Syria through the Southern Syria-Jordanian border.

According to Jane, the cargo of light weaponry included AK-47 rifles, PKM general-purpose machine guns, DShK heavy machine guns, RPG-7 rocket launchers, and 9K111M Faktoria anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) systems. It is worth noting that a large share of the RPG rocket launchers were slated for delivery to Northern Syria (see table below).

Also of significance, the Black Sea route to Syria has also been used to ship Ukrainian weapons to Al Qaeda and ISIS Daesh.

U.S. “Military Aid” to Al Qaeda, ISIS-Daesh: Pentagon Uses Illicit Arms Trafficking to Channel Enormous Shipments of Light Weapons into Syria

Sputnik, June 5, 2016

994 Tons of Weapons in a Single shipment, Courtesy of Uncle Sam

The following table provides information on the breakdown of the weapons shipment for December 2015 documented by Jane Defense Weekly.

Bear in mind the numbers pertain to a single shipment in December 2015, expressed in kilos (kg).

The amounts are substantial:

The 7.62 x 39 mm refers to ammunition for an AK47. Namely the shipment of 134 tons of ammunition.

The PG 7 VM (2 kg) and PV7 VT (3.3 kg) are anti-tank grenades (which suggests that more than 25,000 PG 7VM units were included in the shipment, and more than 60,000 PG 7VT.)

The total shipment to Aqaba and Agalar is of the order of 994 tons of “humanitarian” R2P light weapons for the “Moderates” in Syria. (in a single shipment out of Romania) among numerous comparable shipments by sea as well as by air. 

U.S. “Military Aid” to Al Qaeda, ISIS-Daesh: Pentagon Uses Illicit Arms Trafficking to Channel Enormous Shipments of Light Weapons into Syria

PG 7VM Anti-tank

U.S. “Military Aid” to Al Qaeda, ISIS-Daesh: Pentagon Uses Illicit Arms Trafficking to Channel Enormous Shipments of Light Weapons into Syria

Source Jane’s Defense Weekly

This trade in light weapons is transacted through private companies on contract to the US government’s Federal Business Opportunities (FBO), a commercial trading entity acting on behalf of the US Navy MSC:

Stages 1,2 and 3:

1) The Pentagon (or the relevant government agency) instructs the US Navy MSC with details and specifications of the light weapons to be purchased and shipped to Syria’s “freedom fighters” via Turkey and Jordan. The ports of delivery are specified. The final destination of the weapons is not mentioned.

2) The Navy’s MSC places the order with the FBO.

3) The FBO in turn transacts with private companies for the procurement and shipping of the weapons and “explosive materials” out of Constanta, Romania.


PENTAGON —- US NAVY MSC —- FEDERAL BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES (FBO) —-  (ILLICIT) PRIVATE TRADERS IN LIGHT WEAPONS, SHIPPING COMPANIES —- SMUGGLED INTO SYRIA THROUGH TURKEY AND JORDAN —- DELIVERED TO ISIS-DAESH, AL QAEDA, AL NUSRA, “MODERATE REBELS”, FREE SYRIAN ARMY (FSA), ET AL.


According to Jane’s report:”The FBO has released two solicitations in recent months looking for shipping companies to transport explosive material from Eastern Europe to the Jordanian port of Aqaba on behalf of the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command.”  (emphasis added)

U.S. “Military Aid” to Al Qaeda, ISIS-Daesh: Pentagon Uses Illicit Arms Trafficking to Channel Enormous Shipments of Light Weapons into Syria

A still from a video released by the Syrian rebel group Jaish al-Izzah on 16 December 2015 shows one of its fighters preparing to fire an ATGW that could be either a 9K111 Fagot or a 9K111M Faktoria, the two being externally identical. Jaish al-Izzah also uses US-made TOW ATGWs. Source: Jane Defence Weekly

Released on 3 November 2015, the first solicitation sought a contractor to ship 81 containers of cargo that included explosive material from Constanta in Romania to Aqaba.

The solicitation was subsequently updated with a detailed packing list that showed the cargo had a total weight of 994 tonnes, a little under half of which was to be unloaded at Agalar, a military pier near the Turkish town of Tasucu, the other half at Aqaba. (Jane’s op cit)

The US Navy’s Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) mission is  to “Operate the ships which sustain our warfighting forces and deliver specialized maritime services in support of national security objectives in peace and war.” (MSC mission)

U.S. “Military Aid” to Al Qaeda, ISIS-Daesh: Pentagon Uses Illicit Arms Trafficking to Channel Enormous Shipments of Light Weapons into Syria

Source: http://www.msc.navy.mil/mission/

Weapons Shipments by America’s Allies in the Middle East 

The Jane Defence Weekly report pertains to shipments initiated by the Pentagon through a third country. It does not address the broader and much larger flow of military equipment and weaponry to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, commissioned by America’s allies in the Middle East (e.g Turkey, Saudi Arabia). These light weapons are also purchased from third countries  ( i.e. Eastern Europe, Balkans) through private traders:

[In 2012] representatives of the Free Syrian Army made contact with weapons dealers in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region, hoping to procure weapons that would then be smuggled across the Turkish-Syrian border. The Syrian rebels also reached out to [al Qaeda] militia groups in Libya for assistance. The Libyan groups have proven to be a particularly important source of weapons for the Syrian insurgents. …

Efforts by Libyan brokers to supply the rebels have coincided with, and perhaps been tied to, efforts by Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan to arm the rebels. …   Global initiative against Transnational Crimes (2013 Study)

According to Deutsche Welle, exports of weapons from third countries (eg. Romania) to Syria are also dispatched by air via Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and the UAE:  ”…the munitions, including Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles, machine guns, grenades as well as anti-tank guns, are initially off-loaded in Saudi airbases and ports before smugglers dispatch them to Syrian militants.”(quoted by Press TV, August 8, 2016, emphasis added)

“International norms governing the control of exports of military technology and equipment are brazenly flouted, the report said, and a considerable amount of munitions exported from Bulgaria to the aforementioned countries only bear the sign “unknown consignment.”

Such weapons have previously ended up in the hands of such terrorist groups as Daesh, which Saudi Arabia is widely believed to be supporting.

Earlier reports had already exposed that arms were purportedly being trucked into Syria under Turkish military escort, and transferred to militant leaders at prearranged rendezvous.” (Press TV, August 8, 2016)

Concluding Remarks

The United States and its allies use arms trafficking –i.e. the unregulated illicit trade in light weapons through private traders including organized crime–, to channel large amounts of weapons and ammunition to the terrorists inside Syria. These shady transactions initiated in Washington are in derogation of international law and the treaties under UN auspices pertaining to the trade in small and light weaponry.

Pentagon procurement is directed –through various intermediaries– towards the illicit purchase of light weapons: In all probability, the budgets allocated by the Pentagon to financing these  purchases of weapons channeled towards Syria are not accounted for and/or categorized by the US Department of Defense as bona fide “US military aid”. Meanwhile the UN has remained mum on the State sponsorship of the illegal purchase and smuggling of weapons into Syria.

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  • Ted

    Where is the FSB? If one of these ships has to transit the Black Sea routes why not grab one? Make a show of it? Invite along Euro news crews when you do? Perfect timing would be right after a Daesh attack inside Europe? If these shipments violate international law or UN treaties release the ships cargo once its rightful owner shows up? At the very least storm the ship claim there was a mayday from its crew and the Russian coast guard finds 949 tons of arms?

    • john mason

      Good idea Ted but you can’t apprehend a boat in international waters, unfortunately.

      • Ace

        Every other international “law” seems to be violated with impunity. One might reasonably ask which “laws” are extra special laws and which are not.

        Not directing comment at you….

      • Ted

        No that would be piracy. However answering their distress call that would be legal. Once you find the weapons, who would argue over if there was or was not a distress call?

  • John

    Okay, the US has now been officially nailed. I am just going to go with two thoughts, although there is a lot to ponder.

    1) So, Janes is verifying that Russia has not been lying, about terrorists being supplied by the US military. That is not going to end well for some occupying a seat at the Pentagon. My question is, why is Janes coming out on this now? I think there has been some sort of sea change in the international power structure, that has forced them to do it. It could be as simple as nobody has the US’s back anymore.

    2) How is this going to play out on the international diplomatic scene? These are things that tear a country’s credibility to shreads. Nobody needs cooperation and credibility like the US. Yet, here it is being ripped to pieces. I don’t know what the short term effects could be but, long term this is devastating.

    My two cents on the direction of things. A good evening to all.

    • Jens Holm

      Well, to me it has been well known for years and only written for inside propaganda for russians and belowed friends. Dont think it will change much in the world.

      Its obvios those oppositions only had bow and arrow long time ago without it.

      We also know they have and had other sources and that include syrian and iraqian militarys running away from mountains of weapons.

      Of course details are interesting, some a lot, but to me its just constructed to move oppinion and make fx no brain bombardments to a nice thing and Assads with clean hands and might be 4 of them.

      • John

        Hello Jens. I don’t quite understand what you are saying.

        • Jens Holm

          To me newssites are meeting others having other oppinions and trueing to compare, whats the best – And make decissions on a higher level.

          When You only meet the same group – lets call it an Al Jazeera narrowminded group – You only get, what You already know and dont grow as a society, a group, a country as well as a religion.

          So free presses are the strong sites for growth. You van see it at the BNP`s in west. The one where debates are free also have the highest.

          And You can see copying by sunni and one way talk makes low growthrates. There is no ivention and countries with no free speech and Sunni even blame us for everything.

          Therefore Al Jazeera must be open for everybody including all muslim countries – and its not – like many others in Your region.

      • john mason

        Your comment is more suitable on a Al Jazeera site. Absolute rubbish and typical Yankee denial even when the facts are obvious to everyone else. Go and troll on a troll related site.

        • Ted

          I am not so sure “Yankee denial” is a thing! First off we yanks know very little! Second ….

        • Jens Holm

          Well, You dont get what newspapers are for. They are everybody meet different oppinions about everything, so You by that better can get Your own.

          Thats the main part of democrasy, You by that can vote parlament members in, which support Your oppinions and they make big and small groups for the different oppinions.

          The parlament then debate and vote after listening to each other.

          By that You and the country better should make progress as well as correct mistakes.

          You dont know my type at all. You are used to and raised as a hooligans. It has to obey anything comming from a radio and a radio has no ears.

          You call me a troll. Check facts if You have learned or are allo´wed to at all.

          I also see the usual attitude, that everything is everybody elses fault. None is Yours. Thats what You are propagandized fróm birth. Even today having internet, you are letting You being manipulating as hell.

          Everything is fine, where You are. No changes needed exept from killing al the one which is not with You like You use to…

          And Leadership by despotic leaders only change when they die or are removed by force. Shoes are not enough.

          calling me a troll and Yankee. Far out.

          I live in a Nato country, but are not for, we are in Syria as well as in Iraq. Im for a fence all around the region with 2 doors. One=food in. 2=oil out to fair prices.

          The only sensible people from the region has left the country, but woman seems not allowed between all the swinging dicks and honor for 59 flags and killing each other.

          If You want peace give the weapons to children and woman, and let them shoot anyone they want.

          • john mason

            You need a brain transplant, preferably with a decent standard IQ.
            Absolute waffle.

    • john mason

      Good analysis their, John. Janes article is supported by other well documented and sourced information. Can’t speak for the US media but it appears that they are very biased and propaganda motivated to protect those in office.
      No need for Russia to distort the truth let alone lying. The Syrian state is being attacked for the last 5-6 years and Russia got involved for whatever reason it did. Maintaining Syrian sovereignty is universally significant, if it loses then who will be next? War on terror is also important and those countries that support terror will eventually fall to them. Russia is protecting itself and at the same time, protecting Universal Rights to Sovereignty as determined by the UN Charter.

      • John

        Hello John Mason. I am in agreement with your thoughts on this. I did not have an axe to grind in the beginning. I know the military because I did my 4 in it and know how it rolls. In 2014 I started to look into Ukraine and saw exactly what you mentioned; the US media is generally a lap dog. A couple years later, it appears the çonspiracy crazies’ were not so crazy after all. The good news is, even the US/Occidental media is nolonger willing to go all the way anymore covering moves. It has gone way to far.

        I wish you a great week. :)

        • john mason

          You have a good week also. I was in the military for a considerable time in aviation and have had experience with US, European and Russian forces. Witnessed the continuous haphazard derogatory slander directed at Russia. Now Russia is not perfect but compared to the others, they are angelic. Their word is sacred and their attitude to sovereignty, statehood is paramount.

    • Justin Ryan

      I think i know what the sea change is that you are talking about! On Wednesday, Julian Assange is to come out with proof of the state department (and Hillary Clinton) supply of weapons to ISIS and Al-Nusra.
      This may be the sea change you are referring too.

      • Tom kauser

        The proof is going to ASSANGE you

    • Tom kauser

      Two cents is a good place to start. Two cents is about what any weapons are worth anymore (color revolutions and all)and Janes fears that the trend toward more powerful weapons being interduced into combat is the lowest common denominator when seeking profit?
      Long gone are the days when you charged top dollar for dummy rounds and Toyota’s?
      Dealing with the devil means villa’s and landrovers.

      • John

        Hello Tom Kauser. Interesting take on it. Thank you. Have a good week.

  • How long before American troops are hit and lose their lives trying to prop up al-Qaeda?

    • Nexusfast123

      The US military is no more than a mercenary army for the bankers and corporations. Zero honour in that.

      • Jens Holm

        Hope You dont get moneys for that.

  • Tom kauser

    Benghazi