mercredi 30 avril 2014

Foreign Fighters, Rebel Side, in Syria. 5/Australians

In November 2013, six fighters in Syria have potentially been identified as Australians, but with doubts about several of them1. Three cases, however, are plausible : Roger Abbas Yusuf Topprakaya and a suicide bomber known as Abu Asma al-Australi. Roger Abbas, who was killed in October 2012, came from Melbourne and was of Lebanese origin : it was also a kickboxing champion. He came initially for humanitarian aid, but he visibly fought then with the al-Nosra front. Yusuf Topprakaya, who was killed in December 2012, was from the Turkish community and was monitored by Australian authorities since 2010. He arrived at the Turkish border in mid- 2012, he expects to enter Syria and joined a local unit of the Farouk Brigades near the town of Maarat al-Numan. He was noted for his skill in shooting and bomb making, before being killed by a sniper. In mid-September 2013, finally, Abu Asma al Australi throws a truck filled with 12 tons of explosives against a school that serves as billeting for soldiers of the Syrian regime in the city of al-Mreiya in the province of Deir es-Zor. The kamikaze attack would have allow al-Nosra to take airbase in the city. The martyr, from Brisbane and the Lebanese community, was also monitored by Australian authorities before departure.

Other cases are less documented. In August 2012, a Sydney sheik, Mustapha al- Mazjoub, was killed in Syria. From Saudi descent, it should be noted that his brother was the only Australian member of the Syrian National Council. He died in combat. In November 2012 , a man named Marwan al- Kassab, regarded as an Australian, died in an explosion in northern Lebanon while manufacturing bombs for Syrian rebels. In April 2013, Sammy Salma, from Melbourne, who had traveled with Abbas, was also killed. In all, an estimated 80 Australians have left in Syria and 20, perhaps, fought with al- Nosra. Most are from the Lebanese community, 70% of them were previously known to the authorities and they came to Syria via Turkey, a little less by Lebanon. Syria is not the first case out of an Australian contingent. Between 1998 and 2003, 20 people had joined Afghanistan and the LeT camps in Pakistan. Between 2002 and 2012, 16 Australians were arrested in Lebanon, or convicted in absentia for jihadist activities, mainly related to Ansbat al-Ansar and Fatah al-Islam. After the invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia in 2006, from 10 to 40 Australians have also joined the Shabaab in Somalia. Australians have also gone in Yemen in 2010. Conflict in Syria, however, marks a change of scale. One reason is of course the importance of the Lebanese community : the conflict in Syria has more impact to its members than those in Somalia or Yemen. Then, access to Syria via Turkey is much easier than in previous conflicts. Finally, the increasingly sectarian character of the conflict and the inability of the Western community to curb it clearly have been a breath of fresh air for groups like al-Nosra or ISIS .

Roger Abbas.-Source :

Yusuf Topprakaya.-Source :

Au centre, le Sheikh de Sydney, Mustapha al-Mazjoub.-Source :

The fight is also implemented in Australia. Since early 2012, 17 incidents were identified as being related to the Syrian conflict, mainly Sunni attacks against persons, property or shops of Shiites or Alawites. They occur mostly in Sydney and Melbourne and involve people from Syrian, Turkish and Lebanese communities. Australia has experienced several preparations of terrorist attacks thwarted before execution, against the Sydney Olympics in 2000, one from LeT in 2003, and two autonomous cells dismantled in Sydney and Melbourne in 2005, which included individuals trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A planned attack against the Army Barracks in 2009 Hollsworthy again stopped in time, involved men who participated in the financing network and recruitment for the Shabaab. Note however that sectarian incidents declined in 2013.

In December 2013 , two men were arrested in Sydney. Police say one of two men, Hadmi Alqudsi, was a recruiter for al-Nosra and probably for ISIS ( he would have sent at least six people in Syria). The second man arrested was about to leave. For Andrew Zammit, the specialist of the question, this means that the routing networks in Australia are getting more organized2. December 8, moreover, the authorities announced that they have confiscated 20 passports for fear of departures to Syria, bringing the total so far to 90 in all. In January 2014 , after the outbreak of fighting against ISIS, Yusuf Ali, an Australian, and his wife were killed in Aleppo. Tyler Casey came into Syria between June and August with the help of Alqudsi arrested in December 2013 in Sydney. He fought in the al-Nosra front. Born in the United States, Yusuf has gone then to Australia with his parents and was raised as a Christian. When his parents separated when he was 13, he has gone in the United States with his mother. He returns to Australia at 17 and converts to Islam. In November 2011 , he married Amira Ali in Sydney, which is dead with him in Syria. Yusuf is the 7th Australian we are sure that he has been killed on site3.

Yusuf Ali.-Source :

Below, the preacher Musa Cerantonio, which supports al-Nosra here in early 2013, has since taken up the cause for ISIS.

The dispute between ISIS and al-Nosra, which started in April 2013, which degenerated into armed confrontation between ISIS and other rebel groups from January 2014, is not without effect on the landscape of Australian volunteers. In February, Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, publicly disavow ISIS and confirms its support for al-Nosra, as fighting has already started last month. Abu Sulayman, former preacher of Sydney linked to al-Nosra, comes on March, 17th, to announce that he mediates between the two camps, and then makes public commitment, through videos and speeches, to defend Zawahiri and al-Nosra against ISIS. But al- Nosra supporters are not alone in Australia : Cerantonio Musa, another former preacher of Melbourne, took up the cause for EIIL. The last Australians killed in Syria rather belong to EIIL, but the information is too sparse to say that this group would have taken precedence over others in the recruitment from Australia4. The Meir Amit Israeli center considers, in February 2014, that several dozen to a hundred Australians are in Syria ; according to intelligence, they might even be several hundreds of Australians, including a hundred just for al-Nosra. The Lebanese community is still a center for recruitment, including through family ties with northern Lebanon and Tripoli area that would facilitate border crossing with Syria5. April 24, 2014, there is a total of 10 Australians that we are sure they perished in Syria6.

1Andrew Zammit, « Tracking Australian Foreign Fighters in Syria », CTC Sentinel, Volume 6 Issue 11-12, novembre 2013, p.5-9.
4Andrew Zammit, « Syria: a fractured opposition and Australian consequences », The Strategist/The Australian Strategic Policy Institute Blog, 24 avril 2014.
5Foreign fighters from Western countries in the ranks of the rebel organizations affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the global jihad in Syria, The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 3 février 2014.

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