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      Radical Imam: Assad Lying About Al-Qaeda in Syria

      Salafi terror fundraiser Omar Bakri denied Al-Qaeda and other Sunni terror groups are active in Syria's uprising against Assad's regime
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 2/16/2012, 6:20 PM

      Radical Salafi cleric and terror fundraiser Omar Bakri of Syria on Thursday denied allegations that his group and al-Qaeda will join forces against the Syrian regime saying al-Qaeda isn't active in Syria to begin with.

      “The tyrannical Syrian regime is so desperate as to place the blame on al-Qaeda and Salafi Jihadist movements for what is happening in Syria and none of those are in Syria anyway. The Syrian regime is lying,” Bakri told al-Arabiya.

      The embattled regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has charged al-Qaeda and other Sunni terror groups are behind a series of high-profile and deadly bombings targeting security forces that have claimed hundreds of lives.

      Many in the region, however, charge that Assad's intelligence echelon initiated the call for terrorist groups like al-Qaeda to attack the regime as a means of justifying its bloody and ongoing year-long crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

      Bakri said that reports that the group he belongs to, called al-Ghurabaa, and al-Qaeda are interfering in Syria's domestic unrest are patently false.

      “There is no group called al-Ghurabaa to start with, and I am not entitled to speak on behalf of al-Qaeda anyway,” Bakri said.

      Bakri aslo lashed out at Hizbullah for supporting the Syrian regime against the Sunnis in Syria.

      “I am grateful to Hassan Nasrallah for the support he gave when a lawsuit was filed against me in Lebanon, yet this does not mean that I endorse his alliances or his party.”

      According to Bakri, the only winner in the Arab revolutions have been ultra-conservative Islamist groups like al-Qaeda, the Salafis, Hizb al-Tahrir, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

      “The ultimate proof is that Islamists already came to power in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya and the same will happen later in Syria," he said.

      Israeli and Western officials have predicted Assad's regime will eventually implode under mounting internal and international pressure on Syria, potentially resulting in chaos that could spill into neighboring countries.

      In addition to the ongoing protest movement, Assad's regime finds itself fighting a growing and deadly insurgency from the Free Syrian Army. Said to be at least 20,000 strong, SFA forces are primarily army defectors armed as light infantry and have operated in the north of the country with relative impunity.

      Using guerilla tactics, they have staged numerous deadly ambushes and hit-and-run attacks on security forces and compounds. However, they have sought to avoid civilian casualties and most analysts doubt they have the sophistication to carry out a bombing campaign like the one Assad's regime blames on al-Qaeda and other terror groups.

      Western and Arab League nations have also imposed an extensive raft of sanctions on Assad's regime as the number of protesters killed by his security forces skyrockets past 6,000, and have begun calling for a peace-keeping mission in Syria.

      Over the past two weeks alone, Assad's forces have sealed off and shelled the central city of Homs, killing over 100. However, key Syrian economic partners China and Russia have blocked all attempts to take decisive action against Assad in the United Nations Security Council.