DOHA, Qatar - Since mid-2011, conflict has raged between factions
of Syrian rebels and Lebanese forces. This is nothing we haven't
heard before. But, it's important to recognize that it does have an
effect on us, as U.S. citizens, because we have aided Lebanon
throughout the ordeal.
Specifically, we have provided more
than $100 million in funding through the International Military
Education and Training initiative and the Foreign Military Financing
Those programs serve to provide equipment and
training to support the internal security, border protection and
counter terrorism efforts of foreign nations, enabling them to
better combat insurgent activity in their respective regions.
Additionally, we have provided agricultural and infrastructure
engineering support through the U.S. Agency for International
Development, enabling them to improve mountain agriculture and
irrigation systems, fully inspect dam systems, and to better sustain
the Lebanese populace.
Despite the aid of the U.S., Syrian
rebels have become more organized and more aggressive. This may
possibly be a result of the influence exerted by the militants of
the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS (the ISIS and ISIL
acronyms refer to the same group).
The coordination we've
seen has resulted in the deadliest attack in three months. It
reflects a shift in tactics from the splinter-cell and lone-wolf
approaches, to massive, organized ground assaults. This, they have
realized, is what will gain them control of geographical areas. And,
as a result, Lebanese civilians and Syrian refugees continue to
suffer the consequences of these actions.
So, the question
is: how does this impact a regular Joe deployed to the Middle East?
The answer is James Foley.
Recent headlines have been awash
with the ISIS/ISIL beheading of U.S. journalist, James Foley. This
action, they claim, was a result of their demands not being met –
specifically, the removal of all U.S. ground forces from Iraq and
the immediate cessation of U.S. air strikes.
captured Foley in 2012, near the border of Lebanon and Syria. As
these small, asymmetrical groups began to adopt the organized,
larger-scale tactics of ISIS/ISIL, we can assume their collaboration
grew, as evidenced by who controlled Foley at the time of his death.
This matters, as there are several Americans living and working
in the turbulent areas of the Middle East. Joint Task Force Lebanon,
a humanitarian mission, currently has Americans on the ground in
Lebanon. And, with ISIS/ISIL calling all Muslims to kidnap U.S.,
British and Israeli citizens to be used as bargaining chips, we must
all be very aware of our surroundings.
However, this extra
caution should not be limited to those in these regions; media
outlets have directly linked Foley's murder to a British jihadi
group. That means U.S. civilians, contractors, families and military
personnel should take this matter seriously, both at home and
It is our responsibility to raise awareness of these
issues for all who may be at risk. We believe it is important that
you understand the intentions of groups like ISIS/ISIL, the Taliban,
the Muslim Brotherhood, and the other small militia cells who
support them. Soldiers, tourists and journalists are specifically
being targeted for kidnap, ransom, exchange and execution.
Safety is a matter of vigilance. This is a call for all of us to
remain aware, remain educated and to be ready for anything.
By ASG Qatar Public Affairs Office / U.S. Army
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