mercredi 23 avril 2014

Foreign Fighters, Rebel Side, in Syria. 3/British

The British are a quota of foreign volunteers in Syria among the largest in Western Europe : more than 300 people in January 2014, probably over 400 in April1. Since the beginning of the war in Syria, the British authorities have arrested three men suspected of participating in networks of recruitment and referral of volunteers for jihadist groups2. The British case recalls unpleasant memories, including that of Bosnia. Attention is drawn to the British volunteers at the time of the kidnapping of a British journalist and another Dutch, July 19, 2012, which are eventually released by a group of rebels who helped them enter Syria. However, among their captors, is a dozen of British, including a doctor of the National Health Service, Shajul Islam, from Bengali origin, intercepted on his return to the country via Egypt on 9 October. Other arrests took place in January 2013, including that of Shajul brother, and a man who converted a MAC-10 firing white to an operational weapon. Najul Islam, that is his name, would have provided the financial support of the journey of his brother and his accomplice, who was arrested with him, and had also conveyed in Syria night vision equipment , telescopic sights and other sensitive materials. In another case, Nassim Terreri and Walid Blidi, two Londoners of Algerian origin, are killed in Darkoush, a few kilometers from the Turkish border, March 26, 2012. Both belonged to the British brigade Hisham Haboub, from the Free Syrian Army : they are killed when they opened fire on a convoy system that responded to their fire ; another British of the same group being also injured in the battle.

The British are in fact found on many battlefields of jihad from Afghanistan. The so-called "Londonistan" community had also produced radical preachers capable of influencing the British youth, to push elements to join al-Qaeda and to commit the attacks of 7 July 2005 in London. Since the Arab Spring, however, it is the Arab exile communities, through their links with their countries of origin, which have become important, as in the case of Libya and Tunisia, or even Egypt shows. It is estimated that at least 13,000 Syrian exiles in the UK, part of which provides funds, organized convoys, also feeds the pool of volunteers. But as we have seen, the British strictly speaking are also coming in Syria. There are at least 30. Sudanese community in west London talking about 21 men already trained on site, and there would have been departures from the Moroccan and Somali communities. Syrians as a preacher of East London, Abu Basir al- Tartusi, which was not the most radical, are also left to fight in Syria. There are also among them Mustafa Setmariam Nassar, a veteran jihadist theologian from Afghanistan arrived in London in the 90's, which had supported radical groups in Algeria before returning to Afghanistan and being arrested by the Americans in 2005 in Quetta, delivered to the Syrian authorities, who have released him in February 2012. Surur bin Muhammad Zain al- Abidin Nayif in connection with two Saudi dissidents, Saad al- Faqih and Muhammad al- Massari, helps fund insurgents. Salafi theologian, he returned to Qatar in 2004 and then organizes the financial flows to some rebel groups.

A droite, Abou Basir al-Tartousi.-Source :

Type portrait of British volunteer is the following : a native of Southeast Asian young man between 20 and 30 years , fairly well educated, and who has links with individuals or groups with international relations. Motivations are more a solidarity ummah (defending « Syrian brothers ») and are facilitated by easy access to Syria via Turkey and the absence of a speech that would prevent young Muslims targeted to leave for jihad. However, Syrian fighters recommend volunteers to not make their own way in Syria, but first to contact networks or armed groups to facilitate transit3.

November 20th, 2013, Mohammed el-Araj, west London, is the second British to be recognized dead in battle in Syria by authorities4. Dead in mid-August 2013, he spent 18 months in prison for protesting violently in front of the Israeli embassy in London in 2009. He lives in Ladbroke Grove, West London, and he was born in a British Airways flight, then raised in the United Kingdom. He was training to be a mechanical engineer before his arrest. According ICRH, el-Araj was linked to al-Nosra and ISIS and have fought in one of its groups, or an associated group, in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib. His family is of Palestinian origin. One of his friends have also died in Syria.

Mohammed el-Araj.-Source :

February 6, 1914, Abdul Waheed Majid died in the explosion of a suicide bomber vehicle in Syria, during the failed assault on the Aleppo Central Prison, under the banner of al- Nosra and under the name of Abu Suleiman al Britani5. This is not the first. However, it was linked to al Muhajiroun group, Crawley . He was in contact with members of these radical circles since the late 1990s and early 2000s. This death is worrisome because the man has waited almost 15 years of activism and engagement before leaving to the Syrian battlefield , and he was known from intelligence agencies6. At least 10 British citizens have already died on the field of battle Syrian. Two Britons still in Syria, Hassan Mahdi, a former student of a Catholic private school, and Muhammad Hamidur Rahman, an employee of a small business, talk with supporters on a social network based in Latvia, Ask.fm7.

Below, video of the attack on Aleppo Central Prison by insurgents, February 6 2014. At 16:00 you can see the British suicide bomber who will take a truck full of explosives on the door of the prison to pave the way for attackers.

According to ICSR, in January 2014, at least 50 British left in Syria have returned to their country. Among the volunteers, many young men of Pakistani, Moroccan, Tunisian and Libyan origins. While most departures are individual, networks organized around mosques can contribute to funding and local contacts. Sharia4UK, the network, led by Anjem Choudary, in particular, made propaganda for recruitment. Born in 1967, from Pakistani origin, Choudary studied medicine at the University of Southampton. Eventually he became a lawyer, then rallied Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, the founder of al- Muhajiroon prohibited by the British authorities, and founded al- Ghurabaa also prohibited, before launching Sharia4UK, banned in 2010. In May 2012, he comes to the Netherlands to control the start of Sharia4Belgium, which recruits for jihad in Syria. Bakri was born in Aleppo in 1958, joined the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and radicalized in Lebanon. Arrived in England in 1986, he founded a branch of Hizb al-Tahrir, an extremist Lebanese organization that wants to establish an Islamic caliphate. In 2005, fearing arrest for his radical position on September 11, 2001, he took refuge in Lebanon. In an interview Nov. 27, 2013, he asserts that Choudari is its emir for the United Kingdom8.

Anjem Choudary.-Source :

British who have left to do jihad in Syria are also involved in propaganda for their cause via video. In the end of March 2014 , it is the case for one of them, from ISIS. The man, who has a London accent, claims to have already managed to get 3 or 4 British in Syria via Turkey. The video is shot west of Hama, and one sees such a technical with a quadruple ZPU 14.5 mm machine guns. Another Briton also spoke about jihad, and another at the same time posted on Twitter a slogan inspired from the famous "Keep Calm" and modified with a "and support I.S.I.S". Another British jihadist, Abu Dujana, 19 years old, encourages teenagers in the UK to come to wage jihad on social networks such as Ask.fm9.

Source :

In April 2014, a footballer, who wanted to play for the British club Arsenal, of Portuguese nationality, is recognized on these propaganda videos. Abu Isa Andaluzi had come to London to play in the prestigious club after growing up with a famous footballer. This man would actually be Celso Rodrigues Da Costa, who lived in Leyton, east London, with his two brothers. He probably participated in training sessions where Arsenal oversees recruitment. British intelligence believe that at least two other Portuguese living in London went to Syria, one would be in Aleppo. A group of British from west of the capital recently posted photos where you see them alongside Yilmaz, a former member of the Dutch army questioned by the media in his country of origin, and which now forms the Syrian insurgents in a military-style training . Da Costa encourages, in his video, the Muslims of Ukraine and Crimea coming to wage jihad in Syria ; even more surprising, he even addresses women10.

Abou Isa Andulazi.-Source :

Deghayes Abdullah, 18, came from East Sussex, and died in April 2014 in Syria. He joined his two brothers, one of whom was shot in the stomach at the same time that he was killed, despite the movement of his father in Turkey to prevent him to go in this country. The injured brother, Amer, was the first to go, for humanitarian action at first, but quickly took part in the fighting. Abdullah, however, is the nephew, like his brothers, of Omar Deghayes, a former Guantanamo detainee, arrested in Pakistan in 2002 by the Americans and prisoner until 2007, and who now lives in Tripoli, Libya. Before dying for the Syrian jihad, Abdullah selling sporting goods in an Adidas shop in Brighton. As Peter Neumann, from the ICSR, is saying, the profile of Abdullah Dehayes is different from other British jihadists, because he speaks Arabic and has family ties with the Middle East and North Africa, while most British in Syria come from southeast Asia and do not speak Arabic11.

1Foreign fighters from Western countries in the ranks of the rebel organizations affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the global jihad in Syria, Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 3 février 2014.
2Raffaello Pantucci, « British Fighters Joining the War in Syria », CTC Sentinel, Volume 6 Issue 2, février 2013, p.11-15.
3Shiraz Maher, « ICSR Insight: British Foreign Fighters in Syria », The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, 15 octobre 2013.
8Foreign fighters from Western countries in the ranks of the rebel organizations affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the global jihad in Syria, Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 3 février 2014.

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