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Vanessa Beeley
21st Century Wire

As the battle for Aleppo gathers momentum and the encircled terrorist factions respond violently to the strangulation of their supply lines and diminishment of their territory in eastern Aleppo, CNN  goes to extraordinary lengths to obfuscate US connections to these terror gangs, romanticise the role of terror in Syria and even more astonishingly “normalise” suicide bombers and promote the re-branded Al Nusra as the new “moderates”. 

Al Nusra Front (aka Al Qaeda in Syria) under new nomenclature suddenly become ‘freedom fighters’ (sounds familiar) and the new ‘reasonable option’ in the US mainstream media and the US voting public barely seem to notice?

On August 2nd 2016, as the Syrian Arab Army made serious advances on the ground against the NATO and GCC-backed terrorist factions occupying the eastern sectors of Aleppo, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Jabhat Al Nusra made the announcement that it was changing the name of the group.  Naturally, CNN ran with this story almost immediately.

This re-branding also coincides with the agreement between Russia and the US to finally combine forces in combating Al Qaeda/Al Nusra fighting inside Syria. Here we can see the true function of CNN in the conflict theatre – to help sculpt the US government narrative – and to carefully nudgethe public perception along those lines.

CNN’s crack journalist, Clarissa Ward, who has visited terrorist held areas inside Syria 14 timessince the NATO dirty war on Syria began 5 years ago, even donning the full veil and chador, or niqab, presumably to “respect” the ‘moderate rebel’ jihadi extremist demands, has played the staring role in the CNN team producing these sensational reports.

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Clarissa Ward. Photo collage created from CNN reports

Clarissa Ward who professes Syria is a place “close to her heart” wrote that Al Nusra had taken the decision to split from Al Qaeda and re-brand as Jabhat Fatah al Sham.

Mostafa Mahamed, one of the group’s leaders, says that prior to the split al-Nusra “was an official branch of al Qaeda. We reported to their central command and we worked within their framework, we adhered to their policies.With the formation of JFS, or Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham, we are completely independent. That means we don’t report to anyone, we don’t receive our directives from any external entity.” ~ CNN Report

CNN then go on to draw on comments from Charles Lister, known propagandist and executive producer of the “moderate rebel” promotional literature. Scholar at the the Washington based and Qatari funded Middle East Institute, Charles Lister of course celebrates this name change, claiming it is a natural progression for the group to protect it from Russian and Syrian Airforce strikes.

Qatar itself is also heavily invested in “regime change” in Syria.  Besides funding the terrorist factions directly, Qatar is also involved in the more subtle building of a shadow state inside Syria via the myriad of NATO and EU funded NGOs who serve as a fifth column for the governments hostile to Syria and enable these governments to work on infiltrating local services and councils. This operation has been discussed in a previous 21st Century Wire article, #AleppoIsBurning Campaign Created by NATO to Facilitate a “No Bomb Zone.”

So, this group that receives weapons, equipment and “directives” from NATO member states, in particular the US, has rebranded to prevent Russia targeting them as an internationally designated terrorist group? According to Charles Lister, there are perfectly logical explanations for this re-brand that defy such spurious speculation:

“Al Qaeda as an international organization has been changing,” says Lister. “It is becoming more of an idea than an organization. It is looking to decentralize jihad, to give more autonomy to individual affiliates with the aim of making jihadi rule more likely. “Jabhat al-Nusra has demonstrated the value of that,” he says, distancing itself from some of the more bloodthirsty Islamist groups. “It has an explicit ban on tough punishments: It doesn’t chop hand off for thievery, it doesn’t execute for murder.” ~ CNN Report

Has nobody watching or reading CNN realised how twisted this statement is?

Al Nusra does not “chop hands off for thievery, it doesnt execute for murder“. There is some logic to this however… when the murderers absolve themselves of their own crimes it makes sense that they will abolish the execution policy when they are the primary perpetrators of the crime inside Syria. They don’t chop hands off, what is the point when a head can be chopped off instead?

Why punish murder when they are massacring the Syrian people on a daily basis?

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Maaloula. Photo: Vanessa Beeley.

The Al Nusra Invasion of Maaloula Whitewashed by CNN

Yesterday Vanessa Beeley [the author] met with Father Talal Taalab, a Christian priest from the historic Christian village of Maaloula perched 15oo metres high on the mountainside of the Rif Dimashq governorate, 56 km north-east of Damascus and close to the border with Lebanon.

This beautiful Syrian Christian village has been in existence for more than 7000 years and has proudly preserved its culture and heritage including the Aramaic language. The following video was filmed on the 29th July 2016 inside the Mar Takla monastery, Maaloula.  The Lords prayer is being recited in Aramaic.

In the 1920s, according to Father Taalab,  Turkey introduced Muslim Brotherhood factions into Maaloula “planting strangers in our land.

The Christian communities welcomed these “strangers” and provided them with housing and land, even building a mosque for them inside Maaloula.

From 2011 onwards, Father Taalab sensed a growing threat from members of this Muslim community, he noticed that many of them were joining the flourishing groups of insurgents and extremists.  Even those living inside Maaloula were being enticed into joining the ranks of those terrorists who wished only to cleanse the area of those who did not adhere to their extreme view of Islam and intolerance towards “apostates” and infidels.

On the 4th September 2013, these terrorists that CNN are trying to present as reformed criminals, suicide bombed the southern SAA checkpoint that was the only defence for the crypto-occupied Christian residents.  A Jordanian suicide bomber drove a truck up to the checkpoint that was blocking the southern entrance to the village and detonated it, giving the signal for the attack to begin.

During this attack, 8 Syrian Army soldiers were murdered by the insurgents and two tanks were disabled.  The terrorists then went on to capture the Safir Hotel which gave them a vantage point from which they could snipe the village residents. Father Taalab describes how many of the Muslim Brotherhood residents who had been their neighbours for years, turned on their Christian hosts and began chanting in support of the Al Nusra insurgents while they were attacking Christian homes and looting or torching their churches.

On the 7th September 2013, Black Saturday in the Maalouli calendar, Al Nusra extremists entered a house in Maaloula.  They rounded up three young men, Sarkis, Mikhael and Anton [see below, from left to right]. Their photos are pinned to the wall of Father Taalab’s office.

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Al Nusra demanded that each man convert to Islam, each man in turn refused to renounce their faith and were shot in the head one by one. The second and third were forced to watch their lifelong friends and brothers murdered before being shot themselves for their refusal to abandon their beliefs.

The Al Nusra operatives then went on to shoot an 80 year old man, Lawandeus, who was Anton’s father.  Lawandeus was blind and deaf but this did not prevent Al Nusra’s attempted murder of this defenceless elder citizen whose son’s blood was already staining the floor.

On entering the house, these Al Nusra NATO-GCC agents had also shot Anton’s sister, Antoinette, in the back.  Presuming she was dead they then proceeded to shoot her brother and his two comrades in the head while Antoinette, half conscious, a bullet in her spine, was forced to witness the cold-blooded murders.  Her brother Anton was a shoemaker, the only son of their parents and someone who served his church and the community faithfully and compassionately.

Mikhael was the town baker and Sarkis was an engineering student with a promising future, cut short by the Al Nusra blood-letters whose purpose was to ethnically cleanse the Christian community from its ancestral home.

On the same day, Al Nusra kidnapped six young men from the village including Father Taalab’s brother and two other family members. Father Taalab maintains that Al Nusra deliberately targeted the families of the village clergy which further supports the claim that Al Nusra were intent upon the ethnic cleansing of this ancient community.

These six young men are still missing.  For the first six months, Father Taalab was in contact with them via phone. After that initial six months nothing has been heard from them.  The pain of this “not knowing” was visible in Father Taalab eyes and expression as he talked of efforts ongoing to try and locate the boys and to return them to their families in Maaloula.

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Father Talal Taalab. Photo: Vanessa Beeley

“We are hopeful that all our belongings will be returned to us including the icons and artefacts but most importantly the human souls that were torn from our midst and from their mothers’ side.”  ~ Father Taalab

We would expect a media outlet as prominent as CNN to report on these atrocities in detail but when we look at their accounts of Al Nusra’s invasion and occupation of Maaloula we find that they have, to a large extent, whitewashed the extremism and murderous intent.

In fact, according to CNN, “Maaloua was spared the atrocities endured elsewhere across Syria.” In a May 2016 report, CNN barely mentions the Al Nusra savagery, with only a fleeting reference to the 2013 crimes: “The convent was badly damaged in 2013 and 12 nuns were taken hostage and held by Islamist fighters for months before being released unharmed.”

This glib reformulation of the truth acts as a criminal gatekeeper as to the true evil of Al Nusra and the barbarity of their acts against the Maalouli people.  CNN is fundamentally entering into the arena of terror apologism and perhaps even endorsement of their heinous crimes against an unprotected and unprepared Christian minority community that had peacefully co-existed with its eventual attackers for almost a full century.

CNN also marginalise the desecration of ancient cultural heritage sites, the burning of medieval Icons, the torching of sacred places of worship, the shooting of the crosses, the theft of the ancient statues and artefacts. These NATO-GCC terrorists cut a violent and bloody swathe through this steadfast civilisation that had evolved over seven thousand years into a humble and hospitable community that opened its doors to all faiths and sects.

Below is a slideshow of some of the photos taken during the visit to Maaloula on the 29th of July 2016, clearly showing the extent of the destruction carried out by the NATO-GCC terrorists as they marauded through the town and its sacred heritage sites.

Remember, according to Charles Lister, these murderers are “moderates”:  “it [Al Nusra] doesn’t chop hand off for thievery, it doesn’t execute for murder.”

This short video was taken on the 29th July 2016, almost three years after these horrific crimes were committed by the CNN poster boys for “moderate” terrorism inside Syria.  It shows the US Peace Council delegation entering Maaloula. As you can hear from the comments, the scars of the Al Nusra butchery still remain in the bullet holes that pepper the walls and buildings and deep in the hearts of this simple community that has suffered inestimable loss and endured a savagery they never imagined could exist among them.

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Are CNN Embedded with Al Qaeda inside Syria?

Now we have established evidence of just one of the many areas of Syria where Al Nusra have committed atrocities against the Syrian people we should return and examine more closely, the role of CNN as US State media purveyor of the “moderate rebel” myth and normaliser of terrorist acts “moderately” conducted daily and justified by any means possible.

Clarissa Ward stated that she has visited Syria 14 times since the NATO-GCC dirty operation to secure “regime change” began to tear Syria apart over five years ago. In these CNN reports, Ward appears to have extensively embedded herself in the Al Nusra/Al Qaeda held areas of Aleppo and along the corridor that leads from the Turkish border to the terrorist occupied city.  As explained previously, Al Nusra and other NATO-GCC backed gangs such as Nour al Din Jenki occupy the eastern sectors of Aleppo city with ISIS intermingling in the northern regions.

‘Nour al Din Jenki’, another US supported terrorist faction were responsible for the recent horrific beheading of a young 11 year old Palestinian child, the footage of which has shocked audiences across the world but which the US State Department still balks at condemning.  The life of a child, beaten, tortured and finally publicly decapitated seems less important than the protection of their assets inside Syria.

In March 2016 Ward and CNN with the assistance of Bilal Abdul Kareem of ‘On the Ground News’ (OGN) executed a plan to film deep inside the “rebel” territories of [eastern] Aleppo, Idlib city and Maarat al Numan.  It must be clarified that the areas infiltrated by this media team are in fact stongholds of terrorism, ISIS, Al Nusra/Al Qaeda and Ahrar al Sham the other half of the erstwhile Jaish al Fatah [Army of Conquest] alliance that Al Nusra has now publicly disassociated from with its convenient name change.

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Bilal Abdul Kareem interviewing Muhaysini. Photo: Screenshot

Bilal Abdul Kareem is no stranger to these terrorist areas, he has been the long-time petinterviewer of Sheikh Abdullah Muhaysini, head of Jaish al Fatah and Riyadh-educated and funded child suicide-bomber trainer, executioner, judge of apostates and all round mass murderer who has very recently been calling upon terrorist suicide bombers in and around Aleppo to massacre Syrian Arab Army soldiers and allies to gain their virgin prizes in Jannah [Paradise]:

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