How ISIS Returned to Syria

This is the final chapter in a groundbreaking investigation by Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter Roy Gutman that documents Bashar al-Assad’s sinister contributions to the creation of the so-called Islamic State. It demonstrates the dictator’s complicity in the horrors that ISIS has imposed inside Syria while plotting and inspiring terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States. These are all facts that President-elect Donald Trump should take into account when he talks glibly about working with Russia and Assad to fight against ISIS.

As we saw in the previous two chapters, Assad first tried to ingratiate himself with Western leaders by portraying the national uprising against him in 2011 as a terrorist-led revolt. When that failed, he released jailed Islamic extremists who’d fought against U.S. troops in Iraq, then staged phony attacks on government facilities, which he blamed on terrorists. Far from fighting ISIS, Assad looked the other way when it set up a state-within-a-state with its capital in Raqqa, and then left it to the U.S. and others to try to take the battle to the Islamic extremists.

In the spring of 2012, hundreds of militant Islamists crossed into eastern Syria from Iraq under the eyes of the Assad regime’s extensive security apparatus. As they arrived, Syrian intelligence services received two sets of instructions.

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