Northern New York Newspapers
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Sun., May. 3
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Syrian threat

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Activists fighting against the Syrian regime are concerned about the involvement of Islamist terrorists, USA Today reported.

Last week, Jordan stopped a terrorist plot to attack the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan’s capital, with weapons designated for Syrian rebels.

Jordan arrested 11 men with ties to al-Qaida who were planning to attack shopping malls and Western diplomatic facilities. Jordan said the men were armed with explosives and rockets smuggled across the border from Syria.

Analysts say the arrests are evidence that extremist Islamist groups are joining the fray in Syria for their own reasons, using weapons supplied by Persian Gulf nations that were intended for Syrian rebels.

“The conflict is becoming a war-by-proxy for regional players,” said Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics. “The predicament the (Syrian) opposition now finds itself in is unifying its ranks not only against the Assad regime but also preventing radical elements from hijacking their cause.”

Some foreign donors are supporting the Syrian revolution by sending weapons — provided that the donation goes to al-Qaida fighters, one rebel leader said.

Al-Qaida is hijacking the revolution and diverting it from its original purpose, which was toppling the regime of President Bashar Assad,” said Abu Chin Orwa’a of a battalion fighting for the Free Syrian Army.

Hozan Ibrahim, an activist with the Syrian National Council, a dissident group, expressed the fear that al-Qaida and similar groups could sway the revolution from its goals of freedom and democracy. After the Assad regime is toppled, he said, Syrian rebels would have to fight al-Qaida.

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