Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar

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Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar
جيش المهاجرين والأنصار
Participant in the Syrian civil war
Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar.jpg
Active Summer 2012–present
Ideology Sunni Islamism
Jihadism
Leaders Abu Omar al-Shishani[1] (Summer 2012 – Winter 2013)[2]
Salahuddin al-Shishani[2]
Headquarters Aleppo, Syria
Area of
operations
Aleppo and Latakia Governorates, Syria
Strength 1,000 fighters (March 2013)[3]
200 fighters (December 2013)[2]
Originated as Katibat al-Muhajireen
Allies Flag of Caucasian Emirate.svg Caucasus Emirate
Flag of Jabhat al-Nusra.jpg Al-Nusra Front
Flag of Jihad.svg Ahrar al-Sham
Syria Free Syrian Army
Opponents Syrian Armed Forces
Flag of the National Defense Force.svg National Defense Force
Flag of Islamic State of Iraq.svg Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Battles
and wars

Syrian civil war

Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (Arabic: جيش المهاجرين والأنصار‎ Army of Emigrants and Supporters), formerly known as the Muhajireen Brigade (Katibat al-Muhajireen), are an Islamist jihadist group made up of Chechen and other Russian speaking foreign fighters active in the Syrian civil war against the Syrian Government. The group was briefly affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[2]

Origin of the group[edit]

The group was established under the name Muhajireen Brigade in summer 2012, and was led by an ethnic Chechen, Abu Omar al-Shishani (alternatively Abu Omar al-Chechen), an Islamist fighter from Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge [4] who had fought against Russia in the Second Chechen War and the Russia-Georgia War. While Syrian jihadist groups like Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Nusra include many foreign jihadists who traveled to Syria to fight with the rebels, Jaish was established and led by, and composed of, largely non-Syrian volunteers.[1]

Composition of the group[edit]

The group is composed of diverse nationalities. The Chechen rebel news agency, Kavkaz Center, has described the Brigade as being made up of Mujahideen from the Caucasus Emirate, Russia, Ukraine, Crimea, and other CIS countries.[5] Many of them are veterans from other conflicts.[1] Members killed fighting for the group have included ethnic Azeris,[6] Tajiks, Kazakhs and Dagestanis.[7] The Syrian rebels refer to them as "Turkish brothers."[8]

The group's leadership structure consists of a military leadership, a Shari’a committee, a Shura council and a media arm, Liwa al-Mujahideen al-Ilami. The latter is the same name as a media group established by foreign mujahideen fighting in the Bosnian war.[4]

Role in the Syrian civil war[edit]

The group became involved in the Battle of Aleppo against the Syrian Army. In late September 2012 in a confrontation with the Syrian Army the Muhajireen lost ten men in two days, the unit subsequently redeployed after receiving insufficient support from other rebels.[1]

The Muhajireen went on to participate in major assaults against Syrian military bases in alliance with other Jihadist units. In October 2012 they assisted the Al-Nusra Front in a raid on the 606 Rocket Brigade, an air defense and Scud missile base in Aleppo.[9] In December 2012, they fought alongside Al-Nusra Front during the overrunning of the Sheikh Suleiman Army base in Western Aleppo. In February 2013, together with the Tawhid Brigades and the Al-Nusra Front, they stormed the base of the Syrian military's 80th Regiment near the main airport in Aleppo.[10]

In March 2013, Kavkaz Center reported that the Kataeb al-Muhajireen merged with two Syrian Jihadist groups called Jaish Muhammad and Kataeb Khattab, to form a new group called Jaish Muhajireen wa Ansar, or Army of Emigrants and Helpers.[3]

The group played a key role in the August 2013 capture of Menagh Air Base, culminating with a VBIED driven by two of their members killing and wounding many of the last remaining Syrian Armed Forces defenders.[11] A branch of the Muhajireen brigades were involved with the 2013 Latakia offensive.[12]

In August 2013, Abu Omar released a statement announcing the expulsion of one of his commanders, Emir Seifullah, and 27 of his men from the group. Abu Omar accused the men of embezzlement and of stirring up the animosity of local Syrians against the foreign fighters by indulging in takfir against other Muslims.[13]

In late November 2013, in a statement was posted by the group online, Abu Omar and the group swore a Bay'at or oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The statement went on to state that those members of the group who had sworn a prior Bay'at to the Caucasus Emirates Dokka Umarov were awaiting approval from Umarov before joining.[14] Most of the Chechen members of the group did not support Abu Omar's oath of allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and in December 2013, the group appointed another Chechen commander known as Salahuddin al-Shishani as their commander.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Abdul-Ahad, Ghaith (23 September 2012). "Syria: the foreign fighters joining the war against Bashar al-Assad". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Syria crisis: Omar Shishani, Chechen jihadist leader". BBC. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Chechen commander forms 'Army of Emigrants,' integrates Syrian groups". Long War Journal. 28 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b ""Obliged to Unite under One Banner": A Profile of Syria’s Jaysh al-Muhajireen wa’l-Ansar". Jamestown Foundation. 19 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "Increasing Numbers of Central Asian Jihadists in Syria". Central Asia-Caucasus Institute. 2 October 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "12 Azeri jihadists reported killed in Syria". Long War Journal. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "Tajik, Kazakh, and Russian fighters killed in Syria". Long War Journal. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  8. ^ "Сирија, почиње џихад" [Syria, the Jihad begins] (in Serbian). Radio Television of Serbia. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Al Nusrah Front commanded Free Syrian Army unit, 'Chechen emigrants,' in assault on Syrian air defense base". Long War Journal. 19 October 2012. 
  10. ^ "Chechen commander leads Muhajireen Brigade in Syria". Long War Journal. 20 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Rebels Gain Control of Government Air Base in Syria". New York Times. 5 August 2013. 
  12. ^ "Decoder: The Battle for Latakia Begins". Syria Deeply. 5 August 2013. 
  13. ^ Vatchagaev, Mairbek (9 August 2013). "Influence of Chechen Leader of North Caucasian Fighters in Syria Grows". Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  14. ^ "Chechen-led group swears allegiance to head of Islamic State of Iraq and Sham". Long War Journal. 27 November 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 

External links[edit]