The Conversation

Friendly Reminder to Obama: It's Illegal to Arm Terrorists

I'm on record in favor of intervening in Syria, in the form of a no-fly zone. (We should have intervened early, if at all.) But I'm against arming the Syrian rebels, who are dominated by radical Islamists and jihadists. In that vein, a friendly reminder to the Obama administration about the federal law about arming terrorist groups:

18 USCS § 2339B Providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations 

(a) Prohibited activities.

   (1) Unlawful conduct. Whoever knowingly provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both, and, if the death of any person results, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life...

At least one Syrian rebel group, Jabhat al-Nusra, is already designated as a foreign terrorist organization. In addition, many of the rebel fighters are linked to Al-Qaeda, and Sunni clerics are openly calling for "jihad," and rebel groups have been linked to numerous atrocities, as have forces aligned with the odious Assad regime.

It is unlikely that weapons sent to the Syrian rebels in general can be restricted from being sent to terrorists. The weapons will go to those who can use them most effectively--or to those who seize them, regardless.

If I were the White House counsel, I'd be working late nights trying to figure out how to arm the Syrian rebels without violating federal law. And as an ordinary citizen, I'd sure like to see the resulting legal justification.


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