Embassy Attack in Syria Debated
Almost immediately after the attack occurred, the finger pointing began. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood claimed that Assad's usual suspects were behind the attack while some within the Syrian regime suggested that America herself was behind the attacks. Interestingly, few give much credence to the independent capabilities of Jund al-Sham, the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group - once led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - that claimed responsibility.
Sami Moubayed writes in the Asia Times' "Syria, US shrouded in the fog of war":
One would be on safe ground to dismiss the theory of a US plot out of hand. Baynouni's accusation of Syrian complicity, though, bears closer scrutiny.
Baynouni points out that the Rawda district is a heavily guarded neighborhood because it borders the Presidential Palace and the homes of high-level officials in the Ba'ath regime, in addition to several foreign embassies. It would be very difficult for armed terrorists to penetrate a security zone like Rawda, he said, had they not been helped by Syrian security. This argument, popular among some in the Syrian opposition, is difficult to believe for a variety of reasons.
Terrorists can, and have, previously infiltrated heavily guarded compounds not only in Syria but all over the world. In Syria, during the heyday of tight security in the 1970s and 1980s, the Muslim Brotherhood carried out a series of armed attacks in similar heavily guarded neighborhoods of Damascus, assassinating prominent members of the Ba'athist regime. The most famous Brotherhood attack was on army headquarters in Omayyad Square in central Damascus, and another on the Azbakiyye neighborhood, both conducted in the 1980s.
On the other hand, is it not possible that the Syrian faction of Jund al-Sham is so heavily infiltrated by Syrian intelligence that the Syrian infiltrator(s) know of planned attacks - if not plan and/or even approve them - alerting Syrian intelligence long before hand?
Following this scenario for sake of discussion, it is illogical to believe that the four gunmen/car bombers knew they were playing on a Syrian Intel stage, only to be killed by a waiting Syrian security team before they had even infiltrated their target. To them, in such a scenario, the attack was real.
While stopping short of being convinced of Syrian regime complicity, said one counterterrorism official in a phone conversation Wednesday, "I would challenge anyone to find a successful Jund al-Sham attack."
Indeed, in 2005 a Jund al-Sham bomb placed under the car of a Lebanese pro-Hariri journalist, Ali Tu'mah, failed to kill or injure its target or anyone else.
Outside Syrian control, a Jund al-Sham attack earlier that year in Doha, Qatar, netted 16 injuries, but the only fatality was that of the Jund al-Sham suicide car bomber as he rammed his weapon into a Doha theater.
Pondering whether or not Syrian intelligence was behind the US embassy attack in Damamscus for the purpose of international consumption is pure speculation, to be sure.
But there is much to be said for the credence the idea is lent by Syria's own sponsorship of terrorism.