Reports in that Abu Mohammed al Golani has announced an Islamic Emirate in Syria. A recorded message to be published soon.
Mullah Mohammed Omar approves the establishment of Emaret ash-Sham al-Islamiyah as a replacement for Jabhat al-Nusra.
Unconfirmed reports also say that Abu Mohammed al Golani & Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Moheisini allegedly addressed 100s of fighters yesterday in #Syria
During the 3-hr address after Iftar, Golani allegedly addressed mujahideen around the world & issued threats to U.S, Russia and Israel.
Pro-Nusra sources claim event took place with large Chechen contingent (formerly under Saifullah al-Shishani). A recording will be released.
Leaked documents reveal details of meeting between Syrian and Russian officials
London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah sent an indirect message to Israel last year in which he described Lebanon’s southern border as “the safest place in the world,” seeking to reassure Tel Aviv that his Shi’a militia have no intention of taking any action against Israel, according to leaked documents seen by Asharq Al-Awsat.
In cooperation with the Masarat Center and the Wathaiq Dimashq [Damascus Documents] website, Asharq Al-Awsat has obtained a copy of the full transcript of a meeting between Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Bogdanov on May 23, 2013, in which the Syrian side passed along Nasrallah’s reassurances to Israel.
During the meeting Bogdanov told Mekdad that he had a three-hour midnight meeting with Sheikh Mohamed Raad and Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut.
According to Bogdanov, Nasrallah told him: “You can tell the Israelis that Lebanon’s southern borders are the safest place in the world because all of our attention is focused on what is happening in Syria,” confirming that Hezbollah “does not harbor any intention of taking any action against Israel.”
According to the leaked document, Mekdad inquired about the role that joint UN–Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi was playing regarding the Syrian crisis.
“[Brahimi] said there is no solution to the crisis because both sides [the government and the opposition] have adopted the military and security solution and do not have the desire to engage in a dialogue or reach a peaceful solution because they hope to achieve success militarily,” Bogdanov said during the meeting.
As for whether Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad intends to remain in power, Mekdad said: “President Assad . . . has become a basic need,” and without him “there would not be Syria . . . and the Syrian army would turn into terrorist gangs and fragmented factions.”
“Therefore, the main goal of the conference [Geneva I] should be stemming foreign intervention,” Mekdad added.
The meeting was also attended by a number of senior officials on both sides, including senior Syrian Foreign Ministry figure Ahmad Arnous and the Syrian Ambassador to Moscow Riyad Haddad, as well as the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s department for Middle East and North Africa, Sergey Vershinin.
The leaked document quotes Vershinin as asking Mekdad: “I will meet with the Israelis during my visit, do you want me to convey any message to the Israeli side?”
Mekdad answered: “There are no messages from us to the Israelis, particularly following the attack on Jamraya [military research center near Damascus] and Damascus International Airport, which despite being destructive, failed to achieve its objectives as there were no Hezbollah weapons there.”
“Our message to them is that we will not be silent in the face of any new attack. If next time they fire a rocket [into Syria], we will respond by firing several rockets [at Israeli targets],” Mekdad said.
“We will not allow them to exploit our situation and we will provide Hezbollah with the sophisticated weapons it needs,” he added.
Source: 5 Pillarz
Dr Ilyas Mohammed writes how Bashar al-Assad has foreign battalions from Eastern Europe and the United States fighting on his side against the Syrian rebels.
Until now, the common wisdom has been that only Sunni Muslims from the West are travelling to Syria to fight against the Assad regime. Western countries, along with their security agencies and think tanks have produced countless reports documenting the threat posed by returning Jihadists.
Worryingly, little attention has been paid to westerners from other religions and ideologies travelling to Syria and fighting alongside Assad’s army.
In March 2014, media outlets in the US reported that two American Armenians (Syrian Christians) have travelled to Syria and are fighting against the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the various jihadist brigades. The report only names two individuals but a higher number of volunteers cannot be ruled out.
Aram Hamparian, the executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America said, “the Armenian community is a non-combatant community, a civilian community caught in a much larger struggle, the actions of any individual does not reflect the views of the Armenian American community or the wishes of Armenians in Syria, which are for an end to the fighting, and a return to peace”.
In a similar way to their jihadi counterparts, the two men uploaded a video on social media networks, announcing to the world their reasons for fighting alongside Assad. One man, identified as Kilajyan claims to be part of the Californian street gang called “Armenian Power”. In a comment posted on the Facebook video, Kilajyan wrote, “I do anything to protect my ppl”. Their motivation, like their Western jihadi counterparts indicates that they were morally compelled to defend their co-religionists because of the suffering endured by Syrian Christians.
Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma in a media interview said that “the general Christian community in Syria has supported the Assad regime because they fear Islamic fundamentalism, and that the Islamists would take over and then treat them as second-class citizens. The Armenians have that fear in spades, or have that fear in a much more augmented form, because of their persecution in Anatolia and because [of] the holocaust”.
Syria also seems to have attracted European neo-Nazis. In 2013, the Polish far-right group Falange travelled to Damascus to offer their support to Assad.
There are also reports dating back to last year, which suggests the Greek neo-Nazi group, Black Lily has members fighting for Assad. In media interviews they have stated that “they have a platoon fighting in Syria and that thousands of Russians, Ukrainians and Polish nationalists have declared themselves ready to defend Assad…and are part of the European Solidarity Front for Syria. The ESFS is a group that has organised protests and rallies in support of Assad from all parts of Europe”. In Berlin, neo-Nazis have been “heckling Syrian refugees”.
There is no evidence to suggest that far-right groups from the UK have travelled to Syria, or are part of the ESFS coalition. In 2011 Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party (BNP), while visiting Syria, met with officials and rallied against the FSA.
The motivations of European neo-Nazis seem to be unclear but it is plausible that they have allied themselves with Assad because of his anti-Israeli stance. Or they are using the conflict as a proxy to battle harden themselves, so that they can start a race war in Europe.
In security language this would be called blow back.
Collecting Charity for the People of Ash-Sham, whose Blood is being Shed, and to Suffice with that, is not Enough!
The Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh, requested from the citizens and residents, especially the affluent businessmen, traders and the wealthy, to urgently donate to the National Campaign of Saudi Arabia, “To Support Our Brothers In Syria”, and to deliver their donations easily and conveniently through the campaign, which is “the only authorized organization” to receive donations and aid directed to citizens in Syria. The Mufti asked Allah سبحانه وتعالى to relieve the suffering of ‘our brothers in Syria and to protect them from the oppression of the oppressors tyrants’. He praised the role played by the National Campaign of Saudi Arabia to support the Syrian people, notably the Interior Minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, for his efforts to aid the Syrian people and support their cause and seeks to alleviate their suffering and solving their problems.
On this news, we comment the following:
1. Collecting funds for the people of Ash-Sham who are living the worst kinds of criminal attacks; the slaughter of the people, the violation of the sanctity, the displacement of human beings, and the destruction of the country, in light of their desperate need for money to fill their hunger and cover their awrah, is a duty upon the Sons of the Islamic Ummah.
2. But who said that the people of Ash-Sham need only money!? Their biggest need is for those who will help them militarily, and stand in the face of Bashar’s regime, which has waged the most egregious Russian-Iranian war of extermination, with U.S. support, in which we witness in our present time, against those who worship and bow to Allah and bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
3. Then we address the sincere amongst the sensible, the Sons of Muslims Armies and other people of power in Muslim countries in the Hijaz and others and say to them: The regimes in Muslim countries spent hundreds of billions of dollars, if not more, to buy arms from Western and Eastern companies. In the year 2013 alone, Saudi Arabia spent 60 billion dollars on arms deals, putting it in the fourth place for the biggest buyers of arms worldwide. To the extent that the British company BAE recognized the virtue of Saudi Arabia, for the Salam Agreement announced on 19/02/2014, the same day the Mufti issued his call, in raising the price of its shares from the horrible decline that compensated for the decline in contracts with America. This is a drop in a bucket of what is known… so why spend all that money? What is the sense of the existence of all these weapons in warehouses? Aren’t the arms to be used for the defense of the Ummah, its holy sites and its lands?
4. Allah the Almighty has obliged the Muslim armies to support Muslims who seek their help, He سبحانه وتعالى says:
وَإِنِ اسْتَنْصَرُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ فَعَلَيْكُمُ النَّصْرُ
“But if they ask you for help in respect of the deen, it is your duty to help them”
So, O you soldiers from the followers of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, break the shackles that are imposed on you by your rulers, the agents of the West, which chain you down and prevent you from fulfilling your duty that Allah obliged upon you.
We call on the sincere sons of the Islamic Ummah, and in particular the people of power, to work with Hizb ut Tahrir to establish the Khilafah state that will apply Islam internally and carry it externally as a message of guidance and light. Khilafah is the impregnable shield of the Ummah that would not allow any transgression on the people of this Ummah or its holy places and sanctities.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اسْتَجِيبُواْ لِلّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُم لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ
“O you who believe! Respond to Allah and to the Messenger when He calls you to what will bring you to life!”
Director of the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir
Saturday, 22nd Rabii’ II 1435 AH
Issue No : 1435 AH /018
#Homs Abdel Basset Sarout Addresses the Rally Where a Banner Reads: In Life Or In Death, Islam Is Our Need!
Rally against the western backed truce between some rebels and the regime. We do not need the kuffar to decide for us. The ummah of Mohammad (saw) can decide for itself what it wants – Khilafah!
Source: Flash Critic
A Russian Islamist hacker group that calls itself “Anonymous Caucasus” has claimed a cyber attack on the Syrian Ministry of Information.
According to a Tweet from Feb. 12, the group stated that “Syrian Ministry of Information website http://www.moi.gov.sy/ TANGO DOWN!”
The Syrian government site remained inactive as of Feb. 15.
Anonymous Caucasus earlier had announced it planned to wage cyber warfare against Moscow for its hosting of the Olympic Winter games in Sochi, near the restive North Caucasus.
The group said it was opposing the games because it is being held in the “land of the Circassians,” a state in the North Caucasus where most of the population was expelled during a conflict with Russia during the 18th centruy. Its people have charged they were victims of Russian genocide.
The formal name of the hacker group is Anonymous Caucasus, Electronic Army of the Caucasus Emirate.
The group claimed in early February that it conducted hackers attacks on more than 700 Russian websites, including the official website of the Sochi Olympics.
(Source: Financial Times)
By Borzou Daragahi
Jabhat al-Nusra has become one of the most effective, dangerous and popular groups battling the Assad regime
To the west, al-Qaeda’s avowed arm in Syria is a terrorist group and a dangerous threat to Europe and North America. To many Syrian rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad, and even for some of the liberal, secular activists opposed to the regime, the fighters of Jabhat al-Nusra are invaluable allies. They are among the most powerful armed groups taking on forces loyal to Damascus.
Over the past month the Syrian rebels seeking to bring down the Assad regime have battled another al-Qaeda inspired group: the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or Isis, while tolerating al-Nusra. Although listed as a terrorist organisation and welcoming foreign jihadis to its ranks, al-Nusra’s agenda has been more focused on Syria and its actions less alienating to other rebels.
This week there were signs that al-Nusra was taking sides by joining non-jihadi fighters against Isis and chasing it out of an oil-rich region.
As shaky talks meant to hammer out Syria’s future resume in Geneva, the greatest puzzle of the civil war may be al-Nusra. It is perhaps the most effective of the armed groups opposed to Mr Assad, but one described by western officials as among the most dangerous.
Over its two years in existence, the group has pulled off increasingly complex operations, employing explosives-laden vehicles and suicide bombers with often devastating results. It has also found sources of international and local funding, and tapped into global networks to draw fresh fighters into its ranks. Despite joining the battle late, it has become a spearhead of the revolution.
“Almost all the major battles won by [the rebels] were led by Jabhat al-Nusra fighters,” says Pieter Van Ostaeyen, a Belgian historian and Arabist who closely tracks the conflict. “They were always or almost always on the front line, whether by suicide attack, car bombings or frontal attacks. The other guys just come in to clean up the mess afterwards.”
Most important, it has managed to do what few other jihadi groups have achieved: win over a large number of civilians, even some of those who vehemently disagree with its extremist ideology.
It is popular despite evidence of human rights abuses, including summary executions of alleged regime supporters and the imposition of harsh Islamic mores on women.
“Of all the groups on the hardline end of the rebellion, Jabhat al-Nusra has played the most pragmatic political game,” says Charles Lister, a Syria specialist at the Brookings Doha Centre. “That’s contributed to the situation where they’re an al-Qaeda group but also among rebel groups and among some sections of the political opposition. Most rebel groups on the ground either support or accept Jabhat al-Nusra’s role in the fight.”
A video posted on the internet on January 11 highlights their approach. A hooded figure points to a map. The narrator explains that, after the people of the eastern Damascus district of Ghouta “sought our help against the torture and detention” in a security services office, “your brothers in Jabhat al-Nusra answered the call”.
The images show several explosives-laden vehicles being prepared, two for a building and one for a nearby checkpoint. The commentator describes how two squads are recruited for the operation, as masked men crawl along the ground holding their guns in a training exercise. The combatants facing certain death read out their wills. The operation takes place at night, the hooded figure explains.
A man named Abu Addoha detonates the first vehicle, filled with a ton of explosives at the checkpoint. Abu Omar drives a truck loaded with 2.5 tons into a compound. An explosion and a bright light appear in the distance. Footage purportedly taken the next morning shows a building reduced to rubble.
It is just one of many operations that has strengthened the group’s reputation for ruthlessness and efficiency.
Jabhat al-Nusra, which means the Victory Front, was launched at the beginning of 2012 by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Iraqi who later became the leader of the cult-like Isis, the Syrian rebel group now at odds with most other armed fighters in Syria. Isis is considered to be so extreme that even al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri disavowed it.
Abu Mohammad al Golani, a charismatic and mysterious Syrian, now leads al-Nusra. Even in meetings with trusted commanders of other rebel units, Mr Golani is said to hide his face. Syrian by birth, he is thought to be in his late thirties and to have fought against US troops in Iraq.
Under his leadership, the group has grown into a broad, relatively well funded network with a presence in almost every corner of the country. It is estimated to have as many as 12,000 men, about a quarter of them foreign fighters.
Despite ties to global jihad and its relations with Mr Zawahiri, al-Nusra has pursued a vehemently nationalist Syrian agenda – although a Lebanese branch of the group has launched deadly attacks against the Lebanese Shia group Hizbollah, which has been aiding Mr Assad’s forces.
“We started with eight fighters and now can talk about entire liberated regions, destroyed airports and high-security headquarters,” a man described as Mr Golani said in an hour-long December 18 interview with Al Jazeera.
“We actually have legislative bodies that take care of a lot of things like the judiciary system and public services. They [the legislative bodies] also manage electrical power and oil facilities, and recently we started managing oilfields that we took back from the regime,” he said.
Like Mr Baghdadi, Mr Golani has built an organisation with strong name recognition and the ability to draw funds and resources from sympathetic patrons abroad, mostly in the Arabian Peninsula. His group’s expanding control of lucrative oilfields, including some at Deir Azzour in the east, gives it a funding mechanism unavailable to most rebel groups.
But unlike Mr Baghdadi, Mr Golani has built strong relations with other rebel groups. Al-Nusra frequently takes part in operations with other factions, especially the Islamic Front, a coalition that includes the powerful Ahrar al-Sham and the moderate Liwa al-Tawhid.
“We used to consider Isis and Jubhat al-Nusra the same but once they split there were big changes,” says Ahmed Abu Obeidah, a Turkish-based former rebel fighter still affiliated with Liwa al-Tawhid. “They got very strong, with better weapons, and they started to work with everyone else.”
Mr Golani has emerged as a much more astute political player than Mr Baghdadi, mostly refraining from injecting sectarian venom into official statements. He has largely kept a vow not to overtly target civilians, including members of Syria’s Allawite and Christian minorities – in part at the behest of Mr Zawahiri.
“Ever since the break with Isis, Jabhat al-Nusra has become more sensitive to environmental circumstances than Baghdadi is,” says Kirk Sowell, founder of Uticensis, a risk management firm based in Jordan. “Jabhat al-Nusra has tried to work with the Islamist wing of the opposition, especially the Islamic Front, and sort of left the secularists alone.”
Mr Golani has maintained good relations with many groups that present a big problem for western countries wanting to aid the opposition.
Al-Nusra’s affiliation with al-Qaeda alarms western governments who fear that once the war in Syria is over the jihadis, particularly those who have flocked into Syria from Europe and the US, will return home to wage jihad. James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, said in Congressional testimony last month that the group “does have aspirations for attacks on the [American] homeland”.
Analysts, however, say that Mr Golani, although critical of the US as well as the Assad regime’s patrons Iran and Russia, has never threatened to launch attacks outside the Levant.
More worrying is what al-Nusra means for Syria should the war end with the jihadi fighters able to claim some credit for its conclusion and expecting to be rewarded. The group’s radical vision is at odds with what most Syrians are likely to want in a future state.
. . .
Al-Nusra has been accused of convening Islamic courts and imposing regulations on women’s dress and movement on unwilling populations.
The group has managed to soften its image, however. When a secular Syrian family living abroad sought to deliver humanitarian aid to the country last year, it collaborated with al-Nusra despite large ideological differences. Although undoubtedly in the most radical Islamist camp, close observers say al-Nusra includes fewer radical fighters than other extreme groups.
“Al-Nusra will always be al-Qaeda but we can’t forget that most of the Nusra men in the rank and file aren’t Qaeda-spirited fighters,” says Cedric Labrousse, a French researcher monitoring the Syrian conflict. “Many are forgetting today the huge waves of Free Syrian Army men coming to Nusra for guns and money for their families.”
Unlike Mr Baghdadi, his one-time mentor but now arch-rival, Mr Golani keeps a low profile. In the December broadcast with Al Jazeera journalist Tayseen Allouni, he attempted to present a moderate image of himself.
“The west describes us as a majority of Sunnis who want to eradicate the other minorities,” he said in the interview, which was filmed from behind his shoulder, with Mr Allouni the only person in the shot. “I am not worried about the post-regime fall because Islamic law maintains well minorities’ rights. We strongly condemn those who go to extremes in declaring individuals or groups of people apostates.”
Despite al-Nusra’s extreme ideology and frequently ruthless violence, Mr Lister from the Brookings Doha Centre says Mr Golani demonstrates an evolution in the tactics and rhetoric of jihadi groups that have failed because of their inability to win sustained levels of popular support.
Even as more moderate rebels take on Isis, few believe an attack on al-Nusra could follow.
“Jabhat al-Nusra is spread more across the country, while Isis is not in many areas of Syria,” says Ahmed Khalil, a Syrian Kurdish human rights activist based in Istanbul.
“It would be really risky to declare war on Jabhat al-Nusra. I have spoken to many people inside Syria and they all support Jabhat al-Nusra and see it as a very powerful faction in the opposition, not as an enemy.”
Mr Lister says that the possibility of foreign fighters going back home and fighting cannot be counted out.
But he adds: “Ever since they emerged in Syria, they [al-Nusra] have shown zero sign of carrying out attacks beyond Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. The real fear is the fact that an al-Qaeda group has managed to attain such strong and mass popular support on the ground.”
Casualties: Rebel groups turn on each other in bloodiest month
Jabhat al-Nusra turned on its founder and former leader this week when it joined other rebel groups in an attack on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.
Al-Nusra all but declared war on Isis, an al-Qaeda splinter group, in the eastern city of Deir Azzour, chasing it out of the oil-rich region. In so doing, it brought its immediate goals even more closely in line with the west and moderate rebel groups hoping to bring down the regime without offering up Syria as a haven for transnational terrorism.
“They’re the good guys,” says a western security official in southeastern Turkey who has had dealings with al-Nusra. The official had used the group as a mediator in efforts to release western hostages held by other jihadi groups.
After heavy fighting, Isis withdrew its forces from Deir Azzour. Isis activists on Twitter said the group had pulled out of the city to prevent further bloodshed among rebel factions who are fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Isis’s supporters said the estimated 200 fighters leaving Deir Azzour would probably turn to assassinations and car bombings against the remaining rebel groups in the province – a tactic Isis has used in other opposition-held areas.
The group’s territorial influence traces a line along the Euphrates river from Fallujah in Iraq – barely 60km from Baghdad – across to Raqqa in Northern Syria.
Isis has alienated many civilians and opposition activists by imposing harsh rulings against dissent, even beheading its opponents, in areas it controls.
More than 2,300 rebels have been killed in the past month of infighting, making it the bloodiest such episode since the Syrian conflict began nearly three years ago.
Unlike other Islamist groups such as al-Nusra, which share similar austere interpretations of Islam, Isis has tried to set up an Islamic caliphate in territory it has seized in Iraq and Syria.
Other Syrian rebels want to topple the Assad regime first before deciding on a ruling system, although many also seek an Islamic government.
(Note: This article is originally from the mainstream western media house and not everything mentioned here reflects our views)