Was he a mole? Really?
First issue- We have no way of knowing if he actually ever worked in the Syrian embassy? This entire narrative could be completely contrived to give the US government deniability as this man likely forged passports for destabilizers and terrorists.
You want to know how American citizens came to be in Syria fighting with ISIS? Look no further then the US government, this admitted passport forger and their covert ops & operatives
Bassam Barabandi, a diplomat in the Syrian embassy here, (allegedly) was leaving Ramadan prayers at a mosque late one night two years ago when he ran into an opponent of the Syrian regime. Mr. Barabandi knew the man slightly and offered him a ride home.Really? I am not buying the random run in and the subsequent chance conversation- Considering the two happen to be 'praying' at the same mosque?
The chance conversation that followed transformed the diplomat's life. It also altered the fortunes of scores of Syrians working to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad."I need to ask you something," the regime opponent, Mohammed Alaa Ghanem, said as they trundled through Washington in a rusty Audi 2000. "There are these activists, and they need passports."
Mr. Barabandi thought for a few seconds, then said he would help.A few seconds was all it took? Wow!
War forces people to think about which side they are on and how much they are prepared to do for it.And how much profit can be made from making the right choices?
Mr. Barabandi, a career Syrian diplomat,(allegedly) became an opposition mole, working on behalf of moderate elements battling the Assad regime. With limited U.S. support, (bullshit!) these groups have been struggling to hold on amid a battering from Syrian regime forces and Islamist militants competing for the same territory. The White House now is promising to provide support, mainly to help counter the militants, known as Islamic State.Does the timing of this news item seem just a bit too convenient?
In his embassy post (what embassy, what post? Syria had two of them in the US) over the course of a year, (what year?) Mr. Barabandi issued travel documents for nearly 100 Syrian activists, according to interviews with him and more than a dozen opposition leaders. Through his efforts, activists were able to flee and campaign against the same regime he officially represented.
Mr. Barabandi kept the arrangement secret even from his family. Associates used cryptic messages to arrange rendezvous points. Unmarked envelopes were exchanged on street corners or thrust through car windows.Envelopes containing what?
|Well if this is him... he isn't afraid for his life or anything like that?|
Yet, the WSJ does not provide us with anything remotely related to proof of his actual employment? Why?
This story stinks!
Mr. Barabandi couldn't be certain whom he could trust in the opposition. Even those who received passports weren't told how they had been obtained.
Opposition figures in the U.S. and Europe say Mr. Barabandi has been a lifeline.What opposition figures in the US and Europe? This sounds very connected to intelligence as opposed to some random, coincidental happenstance sort of stuff
Besides antiregime activists, he obtained passports for ordinary Syrians blacklisted by the Assad regime, according to interviews and Syrian government documents. He also secretly passed information about the regime to the Syrian opposition and U.S. lawmakers, helping identify targets for sanctions later imposed.
Mr. Barabandi, 44 years old, grew up in Damascus in a middle-class Sunni Muslim family. A grandfather and granduncle served in parliament. In recent years, many of his relatives supported the Assad regime, while others dissented and fled or were jailed.
Antiregime activist Mohammed Alaa Ghanem's priority was to help some lawyers leave northern Syria for Turkey, where they could draft laws to govern rebel-controlled parts of Syria. Stephen Voss for The Wall Street Journal
After studying at the American University in Beirut, Mr. Barabandi, at his parents' suggestion, sought and won a job in the Syrian diplomatic service. He was sent to Syria's embassy in Washington in 2008, a few months before the election of a president, Barack Obama, who spoke of reaching out to U.S. adversaries. Mr. Barabandi made friends in Congress and at think tanks.( giant warning sign. Which think tanks? Rand? Heritage Foundation? Etc?
When the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings reached Syria, he thought the government might cut a deal with the protesters. Then he watched a televised speech by Mr. Assad. "He didn't talk about compromise. He just described the revolutionaries as terrorists…It was a bloody message," Mr. Barabandi said in an interview. "We understood that there's no hope."
A harsh crackdown that spring, igniting Syria's civil war, left Syrians at the embassy in Washington divided. Mr. Assad had the support of Christians and Alawites, his own sect. Mr. Barabandi and other Sunnis were disappointed.
When protesters appeared outside the embassy, Mr. Barabandi was tapped to act as a go-between. It was a role he struggled with, knowing those outside associated him with the Assad regime's growing brutality.So, in 2011 he was tapped to act as a go between? And of course he is selling the official state sanctioned conspiracy theory!
Over coffee and cigarettes, he started telling friends he wasn't sure whether he should stay at his post or consider defecting, recalled Mouaz Moustafa, head of the antiregime Syrian Emergency Task Force, and Basel Saiedy, a Maryland dentist who grew up with Mr. Barabandi in Syria.
One day in May 2011, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the embassy. Syria's ambassador to the U.S., Imad Mustafa, told Mr. Barabandi to invite some inside. Mr. Barabandi tried in subtle ways to signal to them that he didn't support the regime's tough handling of dissent.So, if he was actually in the Syrian embassy, which is questionable, he was already playing for the NATO team way back when the destabilization begain
"His eyes were trying to tell us, 'Hey, guys, we aren't all the same,' " said Talal Sunbulli, president of the Syrian American Council, an antiregime group.
The ambassador came in and made a full-throated defense of Mr. Assad. The meeting became a shouting match. The ambassador asked attendees for their names. Some hesitated.
The most outspoken, a physician named Abdelmajid Jondy, complained of his family's treatment in Syria and railed against Mr. Assad. He provided details about his family, from Syria's southern Deraa area. On his way out, he told Mr. Barabandi he should feel "ashamed for working for a regime like this."
The ambassador sent details of the exchange to Damascus, Mr. Barabandi said. A few weeks later, Dr. Jondy's brother in Deraa was killed by government security forces, according to Dr. Jondy and another family member. Dr. Jondy said he believes the regime went after his brother as punishment for his own opposition role. The Syrian government didn't respond to requests for comment.No way to verify any of the above claims- As I've already stated this story reads as too convenient and too contrived to be anything more then cover for the US issuing passports to their destabilizers and killers
"That was the real turning point for me," Mr. Barabandi said. "It was more emotional now, more personal." He decided to become more active in helping the opposition.How was this personal?
The question was how. He feared that relatives in Damascus could be targeted if he defected. He decided to stay at the embassy while trying to get them out.So this man was making all the right connections and meeting all the 'right' people as soon as the destabilization campaign had begun in earnest, more then three years ago, and we are just getting his fanciful tale now?
He started to work with Andrew Tabler, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank. Meeting at a restaurant in the Dupont Circle neighborhood in August 2011, Mr. Barabandi said the Syrian ambassador was investigating Assad opponents in Washington, according to Mr. Tabler, who alerted his contacts in the U.S. government.
Alan Makovsky, an adviser to Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, once thought Mr. Barabandi to be just a regime apparatchik but now saw him differently. The two began getting together on Sundays, meeting at a Foggy Bottom sandwich shop to avoid being spotted at the Capitol
At one meeting, Mr. Barabandi slipped Mr. Makovsky documents about a Syrian company close to the regime—information Mr. Makovsky passed to the Obama administration. The company eventually ended up on a sanctions list.And what did Mr Makovsky slip Mr Barabandi in return? Cash? How much?
At the end of 2011, the Syrian ambassador left the U.S. Six months later, the U.S. expelled the chargé d'affaires, after a massacre of civilians in Syria. As diplomats at the embassy moved up in rank, Mr. Barabandi in July 2012 became counselor. That put him in charge of the section that handled passports.
The first request for travel documents came via Mr. Moustafa. Mr. Barabandi agonized for two weeks over whether to help. Then he issued a passport and gave it to Mr. Moustafa, who flew it to a Turkish city to deliver the first one.
One of the most prominent antiregime activist to get a passport from Mr. Barabandi with Mr. Moustafa's help was Khaled Abu Salah, who walked from the Syrian city of Homs to Turkey to escape the regime in July 2012. He thought the "only thing the government was going to give him was a death certificate," his wife recalled.
In late summer 2012, Mr. Barabandi went all-in. That was when he ran into the antiregime activist Mr. Ghanem as the two left a Washington mosque.
Mr Barabandi is "all in" in 2012 and yet the WSJ wants us to believe he simply happened to run into an antiregime activist as they both left this mosque?
Mr. Ghanem was walking toward the Dupont Circle metro station at close to midnight when Mr. Barabandi offered him a ride home.
They drove around for more than an hour talking. When Mr. Ghanem got up the nerve to ask for help getting passports, Mr. Barabandi paused, then said: "I would be happy to oblige."Does that make sense to you? Doesn't make any to me. We have the man who is all in and has been all in since early 2011, meeting with an antiregime activist, serendipitously driving around for an hour talking before anti-regime activist finally 'got up the nerve' to ask for covert assistance? What a crock of shit!
Mr. Ghanem's priority was to help some lawyers leave northern Syria for Turkey, where they could draft laws to govern rebel-controlled parts of Syria.
They sent their expired Syrian passports by DHL to Mr. Ghanem's office. He then texted Mr. Barabandi. Not wanting to say "passports," lest someone see the message, he used the Arabic term "amanah," meaning an entrusted item, to signal that expired passports had arrived.
Mr. Barabandi drove to near Mr. Ghanem's office. Mr. Ghanem walked to the street and passed through the car window an unmarked envelope containing the expired passports. Days later, Mr. Barabandi returned and handed back the envelope, now containing renewed passports. Mr. Ghanem sent them to Turkey, from which they were smuggled into Syria, Mr. Ghanem said.
Renewing expired passports wasn't so difficult. Mr. Barabandi just had to affix a sticker, sign his name and make changes on the computer. But issuing new passports required prior authorization from Damascus.
Mr. Barabandi tricked the system. He pretended he had made an error, such as a birth-date mix-up, on a newly approved passport, and asked the Syrian government for another authorization allowing his computer to print out a passport. When the replacement authorization came, he used it to produce a passport for a dissident, while giving the first passport to the original applicant. As far as Damascus knew, only one passport had been issued.
One new passport was for Danny al-Baaj, a Syrian diplomat in Geneva. (Hardly!) His job there was to press members of the United Nations' Human Rights Council to water down resolutions against the regime. Instead, he was pressing them to sharpen their criticism.
- Then the regime summoned him home, a sign it had discovered his double game. He defected in Geneva. Syria canceled his passport.
In January 2013, Mr. Barabandi got him a new one.
A month after that, an unexpected threat to the passport scheme arose. Some of Secretary of State John Kerry's advisers suggested closing Syria's embassy as a way to isolate the Assad regime.Mr Barabandi has all these intelligence connections.... Connections to think tanks etc., and we are supposed to believe he filled out an application for asylum and put it in the mail? Seriously?
Mr. Ghanem's organization asked that it be left open, according to Robert Ford, then U.S. ambassador to Syria. The activists didn't reveal their reason, which of course was so Mr. Barabandi could continue his passport work. The State Department left the embassy open.
In May 2013 came another peril. Syrian security detained an activist whose cellphone contained Skype communications in which Mr. Barabandi discussed his passport operation, said Messrs. Barabandi and Moustafa.
Officials in Damascus asked the embassy to send a list of people who had received new passports or renewals under Mr. Barabandi's watch. A list was sent, but it omitted the names of antiregime activists he had helped.
Mr. Barabandi now knew his time as a Syrian diplomat was running out. On June 17, 2013, he sat down at his office computer, filled out an application for U.S. asylum, and put it in the mail.
Did Egypt shut this radio station in Cairo down when Morsi was in power? Or when Sissi was in power?
Then, for a short time, he went back to his routine—which included receiving, out on the street, another batch of expired Syrian passports to be renewed.
In one of his last official acts, he renewed travel documents for Rami Jarrah, who operated an anti-Assad news agency and radio station from Cairo that had run afoul of Egyptian authorities. Egypt shut it down. With a passport, Mr. Jarrah was able to go to Turkey and re-establish his station.
Quite a tale fabricated around this man- He got paid off to work with killers, intelligence groups, think tanks etc.,
On the last Friday of July 2013, Mr. Barabandi left the embassy for good. Mr. Ghanem's activist group told the State Department it no longer opposed shutting Syria's embassy, which the U.S. later did.
Since then, the moderate rebels in Syria, outgunned and under siege in their Aleppo stronghold, have lost ground both to the Assad regime and to Islamic State militants. Last week, Mr. Barabandi watched Mr. Obama's televised speech pledging to weaken and eventually destroy Islamic State. Mr. Barabandi worried that the focus on combating the Islamists meant the president was losing sight of what the ex-diplomat called "Assad's massacres."
Mr. Barabandi and his wife have been interviewed by U.S. officials reviewing their application for asylum. They now are waiting to hear a decision. If the U.S. says no, Mr. Barabandi said, maybe he will try Canada.