Swedish extremist cleric arming militants in Syria

Swedish extremist cleric arming militants in Syria
Fri Nov 1, 2013 17:38:29

A Swedish extremist cleric has been running an operation from Turkey to supply weapons to foreign backed militants in Syria to topple President Bashar al-Assad, Swedish Radio reported Thursday.

Haytham Rahmeh, who has a Syrian background, left his position at the main Stockholm mosque in March 2012 and allegedly moved to Turkey where weapons mainly from Libya and Bosnia are transferred to militants across the border.

The report cited unnamed sources and Britain-based researcher Raphael Lefevre, who studies arms supplies to the militant groups.

"He was very open about his intents to try to bring weapons to Syrian militants," Lefevre, who had interviewed Rahmeh, was quoted as saying.

Saudi Arabia, other Persian Gulf Arab states and Turkey are funding the operation, the report said.

Swedish authorities were not investigating Rahmeh, it added.

"There is no United Nations arms embargo and there is a great demand for weapons and ammunition," Hugh Griffiths of the Stockholm International Peace Research Insitute (SIPRI) told the radio.

"Where there is great demand, there is supply, what we see right now is a free for all."

The role of "private actors" in transferring arms to the militants has increased "because the quantity of arms being vetted by intelligence services and permitted through the borders of Jordan and Turkey has decreased because of concerns surrounding some of the opposition groups," Griffiths said.

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since March 2011.

A very large number of the militants operating inside Syria are reportedly foreign nationals. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies, especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.


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