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3/9/21 Martin Smith on Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham Leader Abu Mohammad al-Jolani

3/9/21 Martin Smith on Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham Leader Abu Mohammad al-Jolani

Scott talks to documentary producer Martin Smith about the subject of his newest project, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham leader Abu Mohammad al-Jolani. Smith considers Jolani and his fighters to be something of a separate group from al Qaeda and ISIS who should be treated as such—but Scott challenges him with the fact that Jolani, a sworn follower of Ayman al-Zawahiri, is just as guilty of terrorism and war crimes as any al Qaeda leader. Throughout the war in Syria, many in the U.S. have tried to portray Jolani and his fighters as “moderate rebels,” whom we can support in order to overthrow the Assad regime; but Scott reminds us that if anything, Assad is the most moderate option amid a sea of bad actors, given that he has cooperated with America for years and, by regional standards, presides over a fairly stable and tolerant country. In other words, the lesson of two decades of wars in the Middle East should be that no matter how bad things seem, they can always get worse.

Martin Smith has spent 25 years as a producer for PBS’s Frontline documentary series. Follow him on Twitter @Martin28Smith.

This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: The War State, by Mike Swanson; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom;; Photo IQ; Green Mill Supercritical; Zippix Toothpicks; and Listen and Think Audio.

Shop Libertarian Institute merch or donate to the show through Patreon, PayPal or Bitcoin: 1DZBZNJrxUhQhEzgDh7k8JXHXRjYu5tZiG.

Scott Horton

Scott Horton

Scott Horton is director of the Libertarian Institute, editorial director of, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from He is the author of four books. He has conducted more than 6,000 interviews since 2003. Scott lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, Larisa Alexandrovna Horton.

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