Two Americans killed by the so-called Islamic State while cycling around the world are being remembered as dangerously naive free spirits without a lick of common sense.
Lauren Geoghegan and her boyfriend Jay Austin, both 29 years old, were cycling through Tajikistan with a group of foreigners when a car rammed into the group. The duo from Washington, D.C., was 369 days into their trip, reports WBUR.
Five men got out and attacked the tourists with knives. One Dutch and one Swiss national were also killed along with the American couple.
Tajik authorities blamed the attack on an Islamic separatist group, but ISIS took responsibility in a video showing the five alleged attackers.
Geoghegan and Austin set out from the U.S. in July 2017 and chronicled their adventures on a blog called SimplyCycling.
Austin explained their decision to leave, writing: “I’ve grown tired of spending the best hours of my day in front of a glowing rectangle, of coloring the best years of my life in swaths of grey and beige.”
“Maybe it sounds crazy to others, but to me, it sounds exactly like who they were,” said Tiffany del Rio, a friend of the couple.
The trip was an example of Geoghegan’s “openness to new people and places, and her quest for a better understanding of the world,” Robert and Elvira Geoghegan, Lauren’s parents, said in a statement to CBS.
The couple’s adventures took them through Africa, Europe, and eventually Central Asia.
The video below shows the fatal encounter with Islamic State.
Their blog showcased many acts of kindness, like the time they said a stranger pulled their vehicle over to offer the couple ice cream bars or when young girls offered them flowers.
Kazakhstan has been great. Awesome camping on the big, quiet steppe. We sleep late and don't really hit the road until noon. Here's Lauren at maybe 12:03, just a few minutes into our day's riding, right after a kind Kazakh man stopped his truck, said hello and asked us a few questions (my Russian is pretty feeble but I nailed this particular conversation), then handed us two ice cream bars and drove off with a wave. 🍦👋 (Being a vegan, I gave mine to Lauren. She could not finish both.)
It led Austin to write:
“You’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. ‘People,’ the narrative goes, ‘are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil.’ I don’t buy it.”
Unfortunately for him, his naive outlook on the reality of life got him and his girlfriend killed.
Their last photos show a wide open world, filled with strangers and smiles — the opposite of how they died.
A memorial to the cyclists has been set up at the U.S. embassy in Tajikistan.
This was the first known attack of its kind against Western tourists in Tajikistan, a remote ex-Soviet state located north of Afghanistan in the towering mountains where Islamist militants fought an insurgency against a Moscow-backed government in the 1990s.
Security forces killed four suspected attackers on Monday and detained one. In a statement, the interior ministry said it had detained four more suspects and blamed the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan for the attack.
But, what can you expect when the former President armed the Islamic State to begin with? First at Benghazi to begin the terrorist army, then by clandestinely supplying them with arms in Syria.
So if you ever thought Obama armed Islamic terror groups, your suspicions were correct.
U.S. military equipment and ammunition, sent to Syria as part of a failed Obama administration plan to find and arm fictional “moderate forces” to defeat Islamic State were instead simply handed over to an Al Qaeda group, according to the man who said he himself brokered the deal.
“I communicated with Al Qaeda’s branch, Al Nusra, to protect and safely escort me and my soldiers for two hours from North Aleppo to West Aleppo,” Maj. Anas Ibrahim Obaid, better known on the battlefield as Abu Zayd, told Fox News from his home in the western Aleppo area. “In exchange, I gave them five pickup trucks and ammunition.”
Those trucks and ammo were issued to him by the Obama regime in 2015, part of a $500 million Department of Defense effort to “train and equip” a new “ideologically moderate” force to battle ISIS. The program, one of at least two designed to funnel arms to mythical moderate Syrian rebels, proved to be a spectacular failure for the Obama administration, or an amazing success, depending on how you view the former president.
Zayd, who said he defected from the Syrian Army to the opposition in 2012, described a program that was rife with inconsistencies and incompetencies, which ironically is consistent with everything about the Obama regime.
He claimed the main prerequisite for inclusion in the program was proof of association with a group that had fought ISIS, the Islamic State. That was followed by a few basic questions, like, “With which faction did you fight?” and “What do you think about ISIS?”
After undergoing training in Turkey, the first batch of utterly incompetent 54 trained fighters crossed back to Syria in July 2015 – only to be almost instantly ambushed by Al Nusra militants. Several of the men were kidnapped, and their U.S.-issued weapons were stolen.
Zayd said he was part of a second group to be sent into Syria — this time without proper firepower.
The U.S. trainers “wanted us to go into Syria without weapons because of the ambush, and said we could get the weapons inside instead. This was crazy,” Zayd recalled. “We refused.”
The weapons issue was worked out, and the rebels eventually started their journey back to Syria on Sept. 19. But Turkish border guards found something else in their bags: Syrian regime flags, rather than the flags of the opposition group the fighters were being sent to support.
Zayd said fighters charged back to their base in Turkey, demanding answers. Obama’s U.S trainers took responsibility for the “flag mistake,” Zayd claims, and the following day the rebels continued back to Syria.
But morale was already a problem, Zayd said, and fighters who were being paid a $250 monthly salary by Obama’s Defense Department began defecting. His group of 72 shrank to just 25, he said.
Zayd called the Al Qaeda-affiliated leaders and made the arrangement to hand over the five U.S-issued trucks and scores of ammunition, in exchange for free passage and an armed escort home.
“The Americans were so angry when they found out, they cut my salary,” Zayd said nonchalantly. “But this was our only option through their territory to get home without getting killed.”
Zayd said Obama’s Pentagon halted the troubled program about a month after his deal with Al Nusra was exposed. “I got many messages the Americans do not want to deal with me anymore. But they can’t get their weapons back,” he boasted.
Over Skype from his living room, Zayd showed off an assortment of M-16 and M-24 sniper rifles, as well as ammo, mortar rounds and machine guns. He claimed most in his arsenal were U.S.-issued, with more in a nearby warehouse.
Sources close to Zayd said his American-funded goods routinely surface on the black market, and constitute something of a lucrative business. Zayd today remains a commander for the Free Syrian Army.
A second Obama regime program, “Timber Sycamore,” was started by the CIA in late 2012 with the similar aim of arming rebels.
This particular operation was active along the Turkish border to Syria’s north, and a Jordanian crossing in the south, referred to as the “Southern Front.”
But Syrian opposition figures say this program was also infiltrated, with arms falling into the hands of ISIS or Al Nusra.
In July 2017, citing its ineffectiveness and on recommendation from then-CIA director Mike Pompeo, President Trump ended the faltering Syrian rebel supply program. While the cost of the program and the amount of arms and aid provided remains mostly classified, it is estimated that more that $1 billion was spent on the effort.
The CIA declined to comment on this story. A spokesperson for the Defense Department acknowledged that they “clearly faced challenges” with the now-discontinued train-and-equip effort.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
August 16th, 2018