Glenn Greenwald: U.S. manufactured militant threat as pretext to bomb Syria

In an extensive new report, The Intercept questions whether the much-hyped Khorasan Group actually exists

Published September 29, 2014 5:55PM (EDT)

Glenn Greenwald              (AP/Silvia Izquierdo)
Glenn Greenwald (AP/Silvia Izquierdo)

Until the Obama administration announced last week that it was launching air strikes in Syria to target the Islamic State (ISIS) and an al-Qaida affiliate called the Khorasan Group, most Americans had never heard of the latter organization.

That’s because the U.S. government invented the threat, the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain charge. In an extensive new report, the journalists document a carefully orchestrated campaign by U.S. officials to depict an imminent threat of terror attacks by Khorasan against U.S. targets. Media outlets suddenly zeroed in on Khorasan, hyping the alleged threat the group could pose, Greenwald and Hussain write.

Claims that Khorasan planned to launch attacks on the U.S. came from anonymous officials who provided thin evidence that any such plans were at risk of being carried out. But, Greenwald and Hussain contend, “American media outlets – eager, as always, to justify Americans wars – spewed all of this with very little skepticism.”

However, mere days after anonymous officials were telling journalists of the sophisticated, far-reaching plots hacked by Khorasan, officials are backtracking. A new AP story – written by a journalist who’d previously spoken with officials hyping the Khorasan threat – notes that FBI director James Comey and Pentagon spokesman Adm. James Kirby have said they don’t have “precise intelligence about where or when the cell … would attempt to strike a Western target.”

Meanwhile, sources on the ground have told NBC’s Richard Engel that they’ve “never heard of Khorasan or its leader,” while former CIA official Aki Peritz and former federal terror prosecutor Andrew McCarthy have also cast doubt on Khorasan’s existence. Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford has also stated that while government officials used “Khorasan” to describe some militants, “they don’t call themselves that.”

Lacking congressional authorization for the Syrian strikes – and hobbled by assessments that ISIS has no designs on attacking the U.S. – the Obama administration manufactured the Khorasan threat to justify its Syrian air war, Greenwald and Hussain conclude.

“But, as always with these government/media propaganda campaigns, the truth emerges only when it’s impotent,” the pair write.

Watch Hussain discuss the report with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman:

By Luke Brinker

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