[One side believes that it is under siege by an international army of foreign terrorists and their secular sympathizers, while the other side, under collective authority of the international majority, demands that Assad surrender his authority as Syrian Commander-In-Chief to the internationalists as a precondition to "peace talks," which should really be called "surrender talks." The absolutely unreasonable circumstances that have been forced upon all of the Syrian people because of the campaign of political agitation, followed by military hostilities, that has been carried-out by the international coalition invested in the overthrow of Bashar al-Asad represents great crimes against humanity of the First Order. The powerful foreign interests who have engineered this democratic-revolutionary war in Syria, as well as other regional conflicts, are responsible for the deaths in this war, as well as the terror used in inflicting those deaths. If Bashar has chosen to repel the international invasion by foreign terrorists by meeting "terror with terror," then where does the the responsibility lie? Were US authorities guilty of war crimes when they tortured terrorists to death? Were they more guilty than the terrorists' sponsors?]
AP In this Jan. 22, 2014, photo, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, right, speaks during a joint news conference with UN-Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in Montreux, Switzerland. Syria’s government and the Opposition refused to come face to face at the peace talksscheduled for Friday in Geneva to end the three year-long civil war that is unsettling the entire Middle East.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said that his delegation was prepared to walk out if efforts to secure a face-to-face meeting with opposition representatives fail.
Syrian government envoys threatened on Friday to leave a peace conference on ending the conflict should efforts to secure a face-to-face meeting with opposition representatives fail.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told U.N. and Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi that his delegation was prepared to walk out of the talks if the historic meeting doesn’t happen by Saturday, the Information Ministry said.
Mr. Brahimi held talks with government representatives, and is expected to meet opposition leaders separately later on Friday.
The main point of contention is the future of President Bashar al-Assad. The opposition says he must go, and the government insists the issue is a “red line” that is not up for discussion.
Information Minister Amran Zoubi said in a statement before the meeting with Mr. Brahimi that the regime had not agreed to the formation of an interim government, the cornerstone of a blueprint agreed at an international conference on Syria in 2012.
The opposition said it was committed to the talks, as long as a discussion of a political transition is on the agenda.
Mr. Brahimi wants the sides to meet at the UN’s offices in Geneva, Switzerland, where it is believed talks will centre on the release of prisoners and detainees and the possibility of opening besieged towns and villages to humanitarian aid deliveries.
The two sides clashed openly over the conference’s focus at a launch ceremony Wednesday in the Swiss town of Montreux.
Mr. Assad’s representatives insisted the gathering be devoted to tackling the threat of “terrorism” from extremist groups in Syria.
The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) demanded that negotiations open with discussions on the formation of an interim government and the departure of Mr. Assad.
On the eve of the face-to-face talks, SNC chief Ahmad Jarba dismissed the Assad regime as “dying” and “criminal.” Syrian officials questioning the legitimacy of the coalition.
Nevertheless, opposition delegates remained hopeful that progress could be made toward finding a solution to end the violence that has claimed more than 130,000 lives.
“We know that the road to an agreement over a political solution is a long one, but every journey starts with a first step,” Burhan Ghalioun, an opposition delegate, told DPA.
Should the initial two-day talks prove a success, opposition delegates and mediators expect the negotiations to stretch on from several weeks to six month, rotating to different European cities.
Col. Eugene Khrushchev - Former Soviet/Russian Airborne, Intelligence, PsyOps, First Secretary, Soviet and Russian Embassies, Kabul, Afghanistan, Director of Strategic Planning, Adamus Defense Group, Switzerland
Jim W. Dean – Military Order of World Wars, Association for Intelligence Officers, Director of Media Relations, Adamus Defense Group, Switzerland
Gwenyth Todd - Former Head, White House National Security Council, Middle East Desk, Chief Political Advisor, US Navy 5th Fleet
Leo Wanta – Former National Director of Intelligence under President Reagan and Inspector General, Department of Defense
Clinton Bastin, WWII Marine Corps officer, 42 year veteran of the Atomic Engery Commission and Dept. of Energy, Lead Investigator, IAEA, chief nuclear weapons designer, DOE, world renowned expert on nuclear proliferation.
Mike Harris – Financial Editor, radio host, former GOP Campaign Finance Chairman, Senior Vice President, Adamus Defense Group, Switzerland
Carol Duff - RN, BA, MSN, Veteran’s Health Issues Editor
Dr. James H. Fetzer, McKnight Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota Duluth, former Marine Corps officer
Dr. Kevin Barrett, Specialist in Islamic Studies, Educator, Radio Host, Investigative Journalist
Middle East: Editor/Chief Correspondent: Gwyneth Todd, former head, Middle East Desk, National Security Council, White House, Washington, Chief Consultant, Department of the Navy for Middle East Affairs U.S.
Lebanon/Syria: Bureau Chief:Dr. Franklin Lamb; former Assistant Counsel of the US House Judiciary Committee , Professor of International Law at Northwestern College, based in Beirut and Damascus.
Admiral Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey (Ret. Former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, Military of Pakistan)
Japan: Bureau Chief: Benjamin Fulford: Published over 30 books, including best sellers, in Japanese. Before becoming freelance, his last corporate job was as the Asia Pacific Bureau Chief for Forbes Magazine.
United Kingdom: Bureau Chief: Gilad Atzmon (author, musician), Alan Hart (ret. BBC Middle East Desk Chief), Stuart Littlewood, Michael Shrimpton (QC, Barrister, Intelligence Briefer to US/UK govts.)Harry Erivona (Barrister, Intelligence Analyst), Robbie “the Pict” (Rights Activist)
FIRST CAME PRESIDENT BUSH’S DECLARATION OF WAR AGAINST TYRANNY
“So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world….
All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.
Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country….
By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well – a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.”
With the reopening of the Hariri murder tribunal, it is only fitting that someone should examine the attack from another perspective–What if Hariri was killed because he crossed the wrong people, or because he borrowed money from “bad guys,” or because chaos in Beirut=MORE PROFIT for the already rich and powerful?
A hit by a car-bomb or by a missile would outwardly look the same, whether it was done by mob professionals or by a military strike. Whoever was responsible for the reprehensible murder of Rafik Hariri and 22 others, someone made a boatload of money in Beirut afterwards.
Whoever killed him also made extensive plans for the aftermath, intending to reap enormous profits, as well as political mileage, which were certain to be generated as a direct result of the attack. Worldwide sympathy for Lebanon and especially for the son of Hariri unlocked a bottomless well of generosity for the Lebanese people. The tidal wave of humanitarian support which was generated for young Hariri’s efforts to tame Lebanon’s problems provided cover for what was planned next.
What better cover story could have been needed for the foreign takeover of Lebanon than a massive national/international civil war rebuilding program? (Saad Hariri would later describe it as a “Marshall Plan for Lebanon.” after the devastation wrought by Israel’s latest aggression against all Lebanon in 2006.)
By late 2004, Hariri Senior’s Saudi-based companies were in deep financial trouble. His visionary project to renovate central Beirut, Solidere, was much bigger than His wallet (20 December 2004,Arab Bank to decimate shares , Hariri owned 40% of the bank’s shares, when they split the shares 8/1
The hottest piece of real estate in all of Beirut was being squabbled over, whenever Mr. Hariri’s motorcade exploded at its epicenter of the desired properties, enabling the planners to smoothly transition “ground zero” into “Martyr’s Square.”
27 April 2005, Syrian troops completely withdrew from Lebanon
This is the new Beirut Central District Master Plan–
The following photos of the downtown model really shows the grandeur of the new scheme–
Most of the project is being built on reclaimed land from the Mediterranean Sea. By contractual arrangement, all reclaimed Beirut property belongs to “Solidere.” Hariri had managed to accumulate most of the property in the “Master Plan” development project, encompassing the entire marina area.
It was all that Saad could do to hang-on against relentless Saudi pressure to sell “Saudi Oger.” Despite the total absence of international assistance to recover his footing in the middle of the latest Israeli invasion, he persevered, managing to reap substantial profits by assisting the development projects being carried out in Beirut by the Saudis and Gulf monarchies.
The ensuing Hariri/Saudi dealings left Solidere as primarily a Saudi construction/investment project, with 4 Saudi Directors of the Board (at least one of them a prince), 4 Lebanese (none of them a Hariri) and 1 from Dubai. They have since effectively tossed-out the timid plans of Rafik Hariri, replacing them with a bold new royal plan of extravagant proportions for yacht clubs, hi-rise luxury condos, memorial gardens, shopping mall, visitors center, even a giant water park, not to mention a grand prix race circuit along the developed waterfront.
Saudi/Arab banks have financed Saudi/Arab construction companies as their $trillion+ development projects supplanted the Hariri company “Solidere” (Société libanaise pour le développement et la reconstruction de Beyrouth) vision.
Preceding the Hariri murder, there was an intense, ongoing competition between Rafik’s construction and telecommunications businesses and their Saudi-owned rivals for Lebanese reconstruction and telecom development. After Hariri’s passing, royal aid to Saad’s Future movement overcame his urges to fulfill Solidere’s ambitions to develop Beirut, thus allowing the Saudis to eventually corner the Lebanese telecommunications and construction boom by absorbing a large portion of Oger.
Saudi Telecom says finalizes $2.6 bln Oger deal on Feb 9, 2008. Three days later, February 12, 2008, Hezbollah commander, Imad Mughnieh, was eliminated with a car-bomb in Damascus and Bandar bin-Sultan was allegedly arrested in Damascus, whereupon he “spilled his guts” about the scheme dreamed-up with US Amb. Jeffrey Feltman and Elliot Abrams to create civil war within Syria (it was later applied to Libya first).
Approximately one month later, on 16 April 2008, the next variant of the Feltman/Abrams plan for igniting civil war got underway in Beirut, as Lebanese Telecommunications minister Marwan Hamadeh responded right on cue to Feltman’s prodding him to take action over an independent fiber optics system built by Hizballah throughout the country. This secure communications network was immune to Israeli and international eavesdropping, meaning that it had to be eliminated before the next Israeli invasion.
The Palestinian chapter of the Feltman civil war plan was exposed in mid-April 2008, when Vanity Fair magazine released its daring expose’, “Gaza Bombshell,” revealing the detailed plan to ignite civil war in Gaza.
By May 10, 2008, Hariri was pushing to eliminate the Hezbollah network, prompting the Resistance forces to take control of the airport and sections of West Beirut. Bitter fighting between Hariri’s Future forces and Hezbollah ended with Hariri neutered and his own Future communications network shut-down.
Russian investigators Burtsev.ru have identified a secret investment consortium between Saad Hariri, Prince Turki al-Faisal, and others, called FarWest, LLTS.
“Farwest as a system of fronts for the anti-Russian alliance of US, British, Saudi, Turkish, Ukrainian, Chechen, Lithuanian, and partly, Belorussian secret services. The alliance is the instrument for the geopolitical plans of the aggressive cliques of Atlantism, Panturkism, Panislamism, and Ukrainian nationalism. Some of them wish to cease control of Russia’s natural wealth (above all, its oil and gas) and nuclear forces. Others – to carve out of Russian territory the ‘Great Turan’ or the ‘Caliphate.’ Some others dream about the ‘Great Ukraine.”
“President of Far West, LLC is one Prince Rasheed who is a relative and represents the interests of Prince Turki al-Faisal and the General Intelligence Service of Saudi Arabia. Rasheed has not been fully identified by Baumgarten’s sources. He is thought to be cadre officer of Saudi intelligence. Rasheed is 35-40 years old, speaks Russian and was in Chechnya with Hattab in 1997, apparently as liaison officer of Prince Turki….The board of directors includes: Prince Rasheed, Vladimir Filin, Ruslan Saidov, Alexei Likhvintsev, Valery Lunev, Audrius Butkevicious, Anton Surikov, and Ruslan Berenis.”
“Far West, Ltd., is said to have CIA-approved contractual dealings with Halliburton for geopolitical purposes in the Caucasus, as well as dealings in Iraq with Diligence LLC, a group with connections to Joe Allbaugh (the FEMA chief in 2001) and to the President’s younger brother Neil Bush. The head of Far West recently told a Russian outlet that ‘a well-known American corporation… is a co-founder of our agency.”
Prince Turki is the former head of Saudi intelligence, quitting just before 911.
Scene One: Saad Hariri put a piece of property up for sale in the Barbir area. According to sources close to the Saudi embassy in Beirut, the property forms part of a plot of land the Saudis want to turn into housing projects for the people of Beirut.
The sale of the land is not particularly noteworthy. Its value is merely pocket change for Hariri. The surprise lies in the names of those who stepped in to buy it.
They are the president of Riyadi (Sporting) Club, Hisham Jaroudi, the “republic’s contractor” and businessman, Jihad al-Arab (brother of the head of Hariri’s personal security detail), and the former head of Future TV, Nadim al-Munla.
All three had built or expanded their wealth under the Hariri family mantle. Ultimately, the land went to al-Arab for around US$37 million.
“One set of documents [from Zawahiri's computer captured in Afghanistan] discusses the case of Abu Ibrahim al-Masri, colorfully known as ‘the traitor.’He was operating out of Yemen and sold out to Yemeni security, but an al Qaeda sympathizer in the state security service informed his terrorist leaders. He was caught, escaped, caught again, interrogated, and confessed. A prolonged debate ensued as to his fate, and in the end, remarkably, he was set free. It was believed that ‘his shame before the rest of the organization was sufficient,’ and other terror groups were cautioned against having any dealings with him. Masri wandered about before winding up in Afghanistan, a religious teacher at a school for the children of ‘Arab Afghans’ (i.e., members of al Qaeda in Afghanistan). It was reported last month that
He was in fact an Egyptian double agent,
who had fed back key information from the terrorist stronghold.”
that is waging war against the elected government of Iraq, while serving as an active counter-intelligence front for “al-CIA-da” and other intelligence agencies.
Abu Musab, from Zarqa, Jordan, killed in Botlikh, Dagestan, Aug. 1999, according to testimony given by legendary Chechen Islamist leader, Ibn-ul-Khattab in an interview with Islamist website
“In those operations, the Vice Military Commander, Hakeem Al-Madani, was martyred as well as Sheikh Abu Musab (Arabian Peninsula).”
It is then even more fitting that that imaginary terrorist progeny of a dead terrorist leader, move half of its insurgency operations to Syria, under the command of its non-existent leader, to provide cover for foreign intelligence agency operations against another elected leader of a second Arab government.
The absolute absurdity of what comes next is almost beyond description, no matter how sarcastic the description…
In Syria, the established cover story of the non-existent terrorist group (AQII) is used to hide a corrective covert war which is allegedly being waged between various Islamist factions and the Free Syrian Army. This terrorist “split” is providing cover for Special Forces/CIA actions that are currently underway, to regain control over the Syrian resistance. All Islamists in Syria are Saudi/Qatari sponsored, supposedly working together for one goal, the overthrow of Bashar al-Asad. CIA agents are there redirecting the most radical proxies into war against the uncooperative, using the foreign terrorists to undo the damage done by Qatar’s guiding hand, within Syria
The battle in the great psywar is allegedly between the new Saudi Sunni terrorist creations, Islamist Front and Army of Muhahideen (“al-Qaeda lite”) and old Saudi Sunni terrorist creations, al-Qaeda in Iraq. Both variants on the Sunni terrorist theme operate on the same principles, enforced “Shariah” and the killing of the Shia “unbelievers.” The intra-Islamist conflict is being waged between militant groups comprised mostly of criminals and military deserters, which are controlled by undercover Western Special Forces and intelligence operatives, who push their “jihadis” to fight against the Saudi intelligence operatives in the newly created “armies,” intending to restore Pentagon/CIA control over all of the anti-Syrian and anti-Iraqi players and their networks of hardcore radicals who have associated themselves with the name “Abu-Musab.”
[This report outlines the big shuffling of the Saudi “Islamist” deck, as Riyadh’s web of agents fulfill Zawahiri’s orders to “old al-Qaeda” to return to Iraq, so that the “new al-Qaeda-lite,” Jahbat Al-Nusrah, or one of other new faces of “moderate extremism” in Syria, like “Islamic Front” or “Army of the Mujahideen” can take the lead in Syria. Bandar bragged about his ability to turn-off or turn-on the Chechen Islamists at will. Word that Chechen fighters in Syria are withdrawing their support from ISIL (Al-Qaeda In Iraq and Levant) in Syria, at a time when ISIL fighters are under siege in Fallujah indicates that Bandar has thrown the Chechen Islamist “switch,” shifting their fight against Bashar al-Assad back to the Kfir govt of Maliki, proving that Bandar also controls “Al-Qaeda In Iraq,” as well as all of the little terrorist sub-groups that have been spun-off from the Iraqi terrorist group since 2006, when alleged group founder Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi or his double was killed. Legendary Chechen terrorist leader Ibn-ul-Khattab reported that the original Jordanian al-Zarqawi was killed in 1999:
“In those operations, the Vice Military Commander, Hakeem Al-Madani, was martyred as well as Sheikh Abu Musab (Arabian Peninsula).”
Nothing is as it seems in the middle of the psywar, or as it is portrayed through the Western brainwashing medium. We have no way of knowing how many terror groups have been led by “doppelgangers” for the original militant leader. It should be no surprise that “al-Qaeda In Iraq” was led by Zarqawi’s double, when the original “al-Qaeda” was led by bin Laden’s ghost, after 2001. Staying with this theme, it is highly unlikely that the real Saddam was hanged, or the real Gaddafi gunned-down. It should therefore serve as no surprise to the observant that the most-feared and the most over-reported terrorist outfits are often run by ghosts, or intelligence agents, or by terrorist leaders who have gone through multiple reincarnations. Either the terrorist handlers are overconfident that our memories are very short, or they are being boxed-in by their own seeming success in using their limited terrorist “stable” to generate the “war on terror” narrative.]
It seemed that many actors wanted to take advantage of ISIS’ retreat to bolster the Free Syrian Army (FSA), with renewed attempts in recent days to resurrect the latter. But what is the story behind the Army of the Mujahideen? How did it advance rapidly at the expense of ISIS, which until recently was the “bogeyman” threatening to devour everyone?
Speaking to Al-Akhbar, a field source from the Syrian opposition explained that the nascent Army of the Mujahideen did not emerge overnight. He said, “Efforts to create the army began in conjunction with the formation of the Islamic Front. There seemed to be an urgent need to merge the armed groups that do not want to take the form of an Islamist army, and which insisted on the idea of the endangered FSA, together.”
The source added that the delay in forming the army in question was due to many reasons, most notably the fact that no outside power had sponsored the move, whether politically or financially. As a result, the source said, there was no outside pressure put on the various factions to force them to unite.
Formation, Components, and Spheres of Influence
The Army of the Mujahideen was formed out of the following factions: the 19th Division of the FSA, the group known as Fastaqim Kama Umirt, meaning “Be Upright As Ordered,” the Nur al-Din al-Zanki Islamic Brigades, and al-Noor Islamic Movement.
In turn, the FSA 19th Division consists of the Liwaa al-Ansar, whose influence is concentrated along the Aleppo-Damascus highway in Aleppo’s western countryside; Liwaa Amjad al-Islam; Liwaa Ansar al-Khilafa; al-Quds Brigades; Khan al-Assal Free Brigades; al-Shuyukh Brigade; and Liwaa al-Mujahireen.
Fastaqem Kama Umirt is made up of the Aleppo City Battalion; Liwaa Halab al-Shahbaa; Liwaa al-Islam, and the Abu Amara Brigades, which refused to join the Army of the Mujahideen, and subsequently split from Fastaqem Kama Umirt. The militants with Fastaqem are concentrated in the districts of Salah al-Din, Seif al-Dawla, Sheikh Said, Bab al-Nairab, Jeb al-Jalabi, Jisr al-Haj, Ansari, and Mashhad of Aleppo.
These brigades have been deploying the so-called “hell cannon,” which fires explosive gas cylinders at the Western neighborhoods adjacent to the areas they control, killing many civilians.
Meanwhile, the influence of the Nur al-Din al-Zanki Brigades covers areas in the northwestern countryside of Aleppo, such as Anjara, Hour, Mansoura, and Kafr Dael. These brigades are believed to be the strongest among the constituents of Army of the Mujahideen.
They are led by Sheikh Tawfiq Shahabuddin, who some reports alleged was the leader of the new army. However, sources inside the group denied this, and told Al-Akhbar, “There is no one leader, but a joint leadership including Sheikh Tawfiq Shahabuddin; Lt. Col. Abu Bakr commander of Liwaa al-Ansar; and Captain Mohammed Shakerdi, commander of Liwaa Amjad al-Islam.”
The source also stressed that the Army of the Mujahideen relied on local resources for funding, and did not receive any external financing.
The Situation on the Ground on the Eve of the Battles
ISIS had offices and outposts in the areas mentioned earlier, which started as preaching centers before they were turned into military garrisons. Some of the FSA-affiliated brigades in these areas had also pledged allegiance to ISIS, such as the notorious Abdo Zamzam group in the town of Bashqatin, strengthening ISIS’ presence.
After ISIS took control of a given area, it would leave a small group of militants behind, numbering no more than a few dozen, or no more than 200 in vast regions like Dana in Idlib. ISIS then put increased pressure on the towns of Atareb and Orme (west of Aleppo), following its habit to isolate and attack FSA groups one by one, as it had done in some districts of Aleppo and the towns of Aazaz and Bab.
ISIS’ attack on Atareb and Orme coincided with the Army of the Mujahideen going public. The Army of the Mujahideen’s first mission was to repel an attempt to storm the area. The army benefited from popular anger against ISIS, although the latter was previously cheered and seen as a savior from the “thieves of the revolution.”
According to Army of the Mujahideen sources, the number of people from the area who enlisted has exceeded 5,000. The sources said, “For the first time, ISIS forces faced fierce resistance from the people of the region, who rushed to expel it after they suffered from its excesses.” Since ISIS militants in the area were scattered and distributed into small groups, according to the same sources, “the residents were able to easily rout the small groups.”
Other sources familiar with the inner workings of the armed groups told Al-Akhbar that Liwaa al-Tawhid, one of the groups that make up the Islamic Front, took advantage of these developments, and began supporting Army of the Mujahideen forces away from the media. Similarly, the notorious brigades that were under siege from ISIS, such as the Free Syria Battalion led by Ahmad Afash, and the Badr Martyrs Battalion led by Khaled Hayyani, attacked ISIS forces in the town of Andan, north of Aleppo, and the Bani Zeid district within the city.
In the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo, militants from Fastaqem Kama Umirt attacked ISIS’ posts in Jisr al-Haj. The fighting spread to Kallaseh Square, while battles in the countryside quickly spread north, to Haritan and Tel Rifaat, all the way to Azaz, in an effort to expel ISIS from there.
In the eastern countryside of Idlib adjacent to the border with the Aleppo governorate, Dana, Bab al-Hawa, and the town of Atma were put under siege, the latter being ISIS’ reception point for jihadist arrivals from all over the world via Turkey. A villa compound housing ISIS foreign fighters and their families near the town or Orme al-Kubra was also placed under siege.
Faced with these developments, ISIS was forced to pull some of its troops from the front lines with the Syrian army in southeast Aleppo and Raqqa. This could give the Syrian army an opportunity to advance and take advantage of the vacuum.
Causes Behind ISIS Retreat
There are many reasons behind ISIS’ sudden retreat. In addition to the dispersion of its militants, and the Army of the Mujahideen successfully taking advantage of the popular mood, another fundamental factor has made a great impact, namely, the absence of Chechen jihadists from the battle. Indeed, the Chechen fighters are known to be a formidable strike force.
Several Chechens have split from ISIS. Saifullah al-Shishani defected with 400 of his men three months ago, followed by Sheikh Salah al-Shishani with 800 of his men. Things culminated two weeks ago with Sheikh Omar al-Shishani leaving with a large group of his fighters to Deir al-Zour, a move that sources told Al-Akhbar was meant to distance himself from ISIS’ conduct in Aleppo and its countryside.
The sources said, “From what we know about Sheikh Omar, we can affirm that he hates injustice, and is not satisfied with ISIS’ actions. However, he cannot defect. Given his fondness of the project to establish the caliphate and impose Sharia, defection would ruin this project.”
But another informed source believes Sheikh Omar al-Shishani’s move was essentially motivated by the temptation of controlling oil wells in Deir al-Zour. Giving his take on why ISIS is on the retreat, the source said, “God will not allow an unjust state to survive. The infidel state can endure if it is just. I believe ISIS has two main problems: the foolishness and arrogance of the Tunisian, Libyan, and Iraqi members; and the disloyalty of Syrian supporters.”
Al-Nusra Front: Schadenfreude
On the afternoon of January 5, reports surfaced that al-Nusra Front had seized the town of Dana, taking advantage of the disarray in ISIS’ ranks. But Al-Akhbar’s sources denied that al-Nusra had taken full control of the town, saying that an agreement was reached whereby ISIS hands over its posts to al-Nusra Front.
Either way, al-Nusra Front, which is designated by many as a terrorist group, has rushed to take advantage of the situation, calling on foreign jihadists who had defected to ISIS to rejoin its ranks. Al-Nusra has proposed itself as a mediator, when it is actually on the side of Army of the Mujahideen.
In the same vein, an opposition source told Al-Akhbar, “It is a known fact that the Chechens would rather die than hand themselves over to the FSA, while al-Nusra Front represents an acceptable party for them to surrender to, in preparation to be reabsorbed into its ranks.”
It is also worth noting that ISIS’ ultra extremist brand has helped promote among some the notion that al-Nusra is a moderate Islamist front, when this is definitely not the case. Interestingly, jihadist sources reported on January 5 that Abu Mohammed al-Golani, emir of al-Nusra Front, has proposed an initiative to ISIS whereby the two groups would unite under one banner and one leadership, in a formation to be called al-Qaeda in the Levant.
Profile: Sheikh Tawfiq Leader of Nur al-Din al-Zanki Brigades
The Nur al-Din al-Zanki Brigades are considered the strongest component of the Army of the Mujahideen. The militia’s leader is Tawfiq Shahabuddin, born in 1973 in the region of Sheikh Salman near Qubatan al-Jabal. Since he formed the brigades, he has become known as Sheikh Tawfiq.
Before the start of the Syrian crisis, the illiterate Shahabuddin worked as a camel-meat butcher. At the start of the armed insurgency in the Aleppo countryside, he sold all his properties for about $150,000, which he donated to Riad al-Assaad, to support the FSA. In return, Assaad appointed him as commander of the FSA in his home region, and in a short space of time, the armed group Shahabuddin formed was able to control Sheikh Salman.
Recruits to his group have since increased continuously. He took part in the battle to enter Aleppo, and positioned his group in the Salah al-Din district under the banner of Liwaa al-Tawhid. In early December 2012, Shahabuddin split from Liwaa al-Tawhid, and decided to operate independently.
Locally, the Nour al-Din al-Zanki Brigades are not seen as engaging in looting and theft, despite having confiscated private properties and factories belonging to residents of Aleppo. The brigades have also kidnapped people and released them for ransom.
Army of the Mujahideen: We Will Not Fight al-Nusra Front
Army of the Mujahideen sources were keen to stress that they are not an “extremist group,” while a number of media outlets sought to portray the army as a moderate faction “similar to the FSA.” But this is inconsistent with the message carried by a January 4 statement.
Signed by the political bureau of Army of the Mujahideen, “Statement Two” said: “We distance ourselves from any confrontation with our brothers in al-Nusra Front, or any other jihadi faction, whether through direct fighting or in coordination with any faction against them.”
The statement then added, “We call on the honest ones among our brothers the mujahideen in ISIS to defect and join their brothers in Syria against the Nusairi [derogatory term for Alawi] Assad regime.”
[The new kid on the Syrian bloc, "Army of the Mujahideen," is another offshoot of Abu Musab Zarqawi's "Al-Qaeda In Iraq," as was the second incarnation of the "Abdallah Azzam Brigades." Army of Mujahideen is another Sunni Iraqi terrorist outfit. This one fought a blood-feud with Zarqawi's Al-Qaeda in Iraq, before he was removed from power and eventually killed. The Iraqi Muj group was associated with the Ikhwan, Muslim Brotherhood. The feud fought was over Zarqawi's brutal murders of Sunni officials and policemen, breaking-out into the open over the murder of Anbar tribal leader Sheikh Naser Abdul Karim al-Miklif in Feb. 2006. The fact that they have relocated to Syria to continue that feud is unimpressive. All of this is just the latest slant on Bandar's war against Bashar, which is now moving into Lebanon.]
New Syria rebel alliance declares war on al-Qaeda’s ISIL
Photo: Fighters of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Tel Abyad. Syrian rebels’ uneasy co-existence with the hardline IsiL has turned to outright hostility. Photograph: Reuters
A newly formed Syrian Islamist rebel alliance has declared war on the powerful al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and joined other opposition groups in battling the extremists. For its part, Syria’s main opposition National Coalition says it backs the rebel fight against al-Qaeda.
“We, the Army of the Mujahideen, pledge to defend ourselves and our honor, wealth and lands, and to fight ISIL, which has violated the rule of God, until it announces its dissolution,” said the new alliance of eight groups, in a statement published on Facebook Friday.
As the statement was issued, it fought in fierce clashes with the ISIL in the Aleppo and Idlib provinces of northern Syria.
The Islamic Front, the largest rebel alliance, which is made up of several powerful Islamist groups, and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, another major rebel bloc, also battled ISIL on Friday, Agence France-Presse reported.
On Saturday, rebels battling jihadists in northern Syria killed or captured scores of the militants loyal to an al-Qaeda affiliate in two days of fighting, a watchdog said.
“At least 36 members and supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have been killed since Friday in Idlib and more than 100 have been captured by rebels” in Idlib and Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“The Syrian Opposition Coalition fully supports ongoing efforts by Free Syrian Army elements to liberate towns and neighborhoods from the authoritarian oppression” of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the group’s presidency said in a statement.
“The Coalition stands in full solidarity with all Syrians rising up against al-Qaeda’s extremism and calls upon the international community to recognize the importance of supporting revolutionary forces as partners in the fight against al-Qaeda’s extremism and Assad’s sponsorship and encouragement of extremist forces,” it added.
For its part, the Army of Mujahideen, a newly formed group made up of eight brigades, demanded that ISIL fighters join the ranks of other rebel groups “or hand over their weapons and leave Syria,” earlier on Saturday.
The alliance reproached ISIL for “spreading strife and insecurity… in liberated [rebel] areas, spilling the blood of fighters and wrongly accusing them of heresy, and expelling them and their families from areas they have paid heavily to free” from Assad’s forces.