jeudi 17 avril 2014

Foreign Fighters, Rebel Side, in Syria. 1/Jordanians

Since the beginning of the insurgency, Jordanian activists have reached Syria1. Initially, they planned to overthrow Bashar al-Assad to install a Sunni Islamic state in a strictly religious dimension war. This approach has intensified with the character of increasingly sectarian conflict. Among Jordanians, or Salafi jihadists, who left for Syria, there are some veterans of Afghanistan or Iraq, and some sources speak of several thousand men in all. We know that Zarqawi, a Jordanian, had led al- Qaida in Iraq until his death in June 2006. His spiritual mentor, Abu Muhammad al- Maqdisi, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, is the leader of jihadism in Jordan. Jihadists seem to be gaining ground around the cities of Maan and Zarqa, the latter being also the hometown of Zarqawi. In October 2012, the authorities dismantle a cell that is about to commit anti-Western attacks in Amman with explosives and weapons from Syria. It must be said at the outset, they have tended to overlook the transit Jordanian fighters towards this country. Mohammed al-Shalabi, a Jordanian jihadist leader, says 700 to 800 fighters left in Syria, a number that is difficult to verify. Other reports speak of 500 men.

Against we know that Mahmoud Abdul Al, the son of Abu Muhammad al-Talawi an influential jihadist sheikhs Jordan, blew himself up in Deraa in October 2012. Al-Tahawi itself encourages Jordanians to join jihad under the banner of al- Nosra. Other Sunni clerics Jordan did the same since, as the leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al -Zawahiri. At the beginning of hostilities, Jordanians across the border in the provinces of Daraa and Rif Dishmashq. They are also found in the west and east of Syria, Aleppo, Homs and Deir es-Zor. The Jordanian government lets first do it, no doubt with the intention of getting rid inexpensively of its jihadists. But when the conflict drags on, the authorities lock the border and put the hola on arms trafficking returning to Jordan. Accordingly, the Jordanians are now a detour via Turkey and Syria penetrate from the north. Most volunteers are integrated into the front al- Nosra and experienced fighters seem even lead some brigades of the organization. Two Jordanians of Palestinian descent from Zarqa helped in the establishment of the Shura Council of al- Nosra alongside Abu Muhammad al- Juhani, the head of the organization. Both activists Iyad Toubasi and Mustafa Abdul Latif, were part of al-Qaeda command in Iraq. They are present in Syria since the conflict began. The first is also married to the sister of Zarqawi . Abu Gelebeb, his « nom de guerre » is the emir of al-Nosra for the provinces of Deraa and Damascus . Wounded in December 2012, he was treated in Turkey before re-joining the fight. Latif is taking following of the southern front of al-Nosra . Close to Zarqawi, he organized the arrival of the Syrians who came to Iraq to fight against the Americans.

Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi-Source :

In December 2013 , the Jordanians are the largest contingent of foreign volunteers who came to fight in Syria alongside the rebels , with more than 2,000 men2. Abu Sayyaf, leader of the Jordanian jihadists, says 1,200 Jordanians are still in Syria; 200 have been killed since the beginning of their participation. In addition to historical militants, a younger generation now comes mostly originally from native towns Zarqa, Salt, Irbid and Maan. Jordanians are mostly in radical brigades, especially al-Nosra. They would be rather opposed to the views of EIIL regarding the treatment of minorities and practices of war3.

It is estimated that there are 5000 Jordan Salafi jihadists, for some 15,000 salafis in total. Rather discrete until 2011, the war in Syria gave them the opportunity to express themselves : facing a "near enemy" , they advocate the creation of a "fortress" in Syria (Diyar al- Tamkeen) to extend their business by capitalizing on the experience gained on site. Salafi jihadist group is various, with several influential leaders, such as Abu Muhammad al- Maqdisi and Abu Muhammad al- Tahawi. Jordanians are among the largest contributors of foreign volunteers with probably between 700 and 1,000 men currently on the ground in February 2014. For Salafi jihadists in Jordan, the war in Syria refocuses confrontation not against the West but against the leaders of the near abroad deemed ungodly, a fight that may eventually be imported into Jordan. The authorities are deceived and arrested 150 to 170 people until January 2014, which, in December, Raed Hijazi, a character who had links with al-Qaeda. In addition, the conflict became increasingly sectarian, between Sunnis and Shiites, and Jordanian fighters may need to intervene on other battlefields of this jihad. A victory in Syria could radicalize even more Jordanian Salafi jihadists against the Jordanian power4.

Abu Muhammad al-Tahawi-Source :

Early April 2014, Jordanian authorities arrested nine members of the Salafist jihadist trend, including a former Guantanamo detainee, Osama Abu Kabir. Kabir was captured in Afghanistan in November 2001 and was transferred to Guantanamo in June 2002 Transferred in Jordan in November 2007 and released, he continued his terrorist activities. Arrested again in 2009 after the dismantling of a cell preparing attacks against Israel, sentenced to 15 years in prison, yet he was free since. One of the others arrested have links with al-Nosra. Kabir is a veteran of Afghanistan, where he went to fight the Americans with Muhammad Bin Aslam Khan, a senior member of al- Qaeda linked to the preparation of international terrorist attacks. The latter is an explosives expert and have links with the Jemaah Islamiyah organization linked to al- Qaeda in Southeast Asia5.

Osama Abu Kabir-Source :

Recently, the New York Times told the story of Abu Abdullah, a resident of Zarqa who went to fight in Syria alongside insurgents and probably along al-Nosra front for three months. His wife urged him to return, which he did reluctantly. Estimates vary from 800 to 1,200 volunteers who have left for Syria since 2011, according to Jordanian authorities, a number probably underestimated, since the study of ICSR in December 2013 put the bar up to nearly 2,100 Jordanians. At least a hundred have already perished on the battlefield6. Volunteers do not leave just because of an economic or political reasons : some obviously do it by genuine conviction, for the establishment of an Islamic state, through their engagement in al-Nosra or ISIS. Abu Abdullah, for example, left after seeing the terrible images on TV and by fear of the spreading of Iranian influence in the region. A smuggler makes him cross the border at night with 16 other Jordanians, they have pouches stuffed with drugs, and outweigh their clothes or almost. Aged over 30 years, he turns out not very good in military training and finds himself assigned to logistics, purchasing food for combatants and refugee families. Mohammed Abu Rahaim, another resident of Zarqa, teaching on Islamic culture, has two sons who went to fight in al- Nosra, one was killed. Their mother is part of a family of Syrian refugees who fled the repression of the regime against the Muslim Brotherhood , in the early 1980's7.

1Suha Philip Ma’ayeh, « Jordanian Jihadists Active in Syria », CTC Sentinel, Volume 6 Issue 10, octobre 2013, p.10-13.
2Aaron Y. Zelin, Sami David, « Up to 11,000 foreign fighters in Syria; steep rise among Western Europeans », The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, 17 décembre 2013.
3Mona Alami, « The Jordanian Connection », NOW., 19 décembre 2013.
4Mona Alami, « The New Generation of Jordanian Jihadi Fighters », Sada/Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 18 février 2014.

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