Jund al-Sham (Arabic: جند الشام) is the name of either of three separate extremist Islamic groupings. The first is related to Afghanistan (and is also known as the "Soldiers of the Levant) that started in 1999 and had direct links with al-Qaida and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The second is a Palestinian Sunni Salafist group of Islamist extremists active since 2004 in Lebanon and opposed to mainstream Palestinian Fatah movement, the Syrian regime and Shiite Lebanese movement Hezbollah. It is based mainly in Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon (also known as Saida), in south Lebanon, but its activities include operations in other parts of Lebanon and occasionally in Syria. The third is a Lebanese movement formed in 2012 and fighting in Syria that has declared its Islamic emirate in Syrian Qalaat al Hosn, near Homs, Syria.
It is unclear however, if these similarly named groups are interconnected or related to each other in any way.
Jund al-Sham group in Afghanistan (also known as the "Soldiers of the Levant) is a terrorist group believed to have first appeared in 1999. It was established by Syrians, Palestinians and Lebanese with links to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who went on to found later al-Qaida in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi was subsequently killed by a US airstrike.
According to European Intelligence documents and Jordanian government sources, Zarqawi set up the Jund al-Sham terrorist camp with $200,000 in startup money he received from Osama bin Laden. The camp was set in 1999 near Herat, Afghanistan, and named Al Matar Training Camp. It taught the jihadists techniques in guerrilla warfare, explosives and chemical weapons. It is believed the group left Herat after its base of operations was disrupted by the War in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime.
On March 19, 2005 Jund Ash Sham killed one British teacher outside of a theatre in Dohar near Dhaka, Bangladesh and injured 12 other people. The group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing near a British school in Qatar.
Amnesty International reports on other attacks by the group as follows:
"Heba al-Khaled, Rola al-Khaled and Nadia al-Satour were arrested on 3 September 2005, following, according to Syrian state media, a gun battle in Hama province, in the west of the country, between the Anti-Terror Squad and militants of the Jund al-Sham ("Soldiers of the Levant") armed group. Five Jund al-Sham members were reportedly killed and two security officers injured. The women were arrested when the security forces were unable to find their husbands, who are allegedly involved with Jund al-Sham. They were first detained in the town of Hama, before being transferred to the Military Intelligence Palestine Branch in Damascus. They were reportedly held as hostages to put pressure on their husbands to give themselves up, even though Heba al-Khaled and her sister Rola al-Khaled were pregnant at the time they were detained, and Nadia al-Satour reportedly had her young baby with her."
On September 12, 2006, armed militants reportedly linked to Jund al-Sham attempted to storm the US Embassy in Damascus. The four attackers were armed with hand grenades and automatic rifles, as well as a van rigged with explosives. Three of the attackers were killed and one wounded; a Syrian anti-terrorism officer was also killed in the battle.
On June 2, 2006 the Russian Supreme Court banned Jund al-Sham along with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group.  The Afghani Jund al-Sham grouping appears to have been rendered inactive and replaced by other terrorist groupings.
Palestinian Jund al-Sham is Salafi-influenced Sunni Muslim Palestinian group in the Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon and unlike the Afghani Jund al-Sham is very active. Its presence has also been reported in other parts of Lebanon and in Syria as well on various occasions. It is an anti-Fatah organization formed in 2004 and is considered a splinter group of Osbat al-Nour (in Arabic عصبة النور) led by Abdullah Shraidi.
The first alleged attack of Jund al-Sham was for the car bomb assassination of Hezbollah official Ghaleb Awwali, claiming that the assassination was part of a plan to eradicate "Shiite heresy" as it called it. Later however a man claiming to be the group's leader denied any involvement.
In July 2005, Jund Ash Sham faxed a threat to assassinate several prominent Hezbollah allies and leaders, including former spiritual leader of the movement Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, at the Shiite Fatwa Center in Tyre.
In October 2005, Jund al-Sham threatened to slaughter the German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, who was heading the UN inquiry into the assassination of Rafik Hariri. It claimed that Mehlis was connected with Israel.
Jund al-Sham may or may not have had relationship to "The Strugglers for the Unity and Freedom of al-Sham", who in December 2005 claimed responsibility for the assassination of Gibran Tueni, and made threats against Detlev Mehlis.
On May Day, 2006, Jund al-Sham clashed with Fatah in the Ain el-Hilweh camp. One Palestinian bystander, Mohammed Tayssir Awad, 20, was killed by a stray bullet. The Associated Press reported that the fighting began when Jund al-Sham gunmen tried to assassinate Mahmoud Abdul-Hamid Issa, a Fatah military official, as he walked with his bodyguards. One of the bodyguards, Abu Omra al-Aswad, was seriously wounded.
On June 3, 2007, Jund al-Sham fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a Lebanese Army checkpoint near Saida, prompting a response from the Lebanese Army leading to clashes. These clashes followed a tense three weeks in Lebanon's north, where the Lebanese Army has been battling another militant group Fatah al-Islam at a Palestinian refugee camp.
The security forces have clashed in numerous gun battles with the group since then.
The Palestinian Jund al-Sham are allegedly providing protection and refuge to the Lebanese former artist Fadl Shaker in "Tawaare' Taameer Ail el Helweh" region after Shaker fled there after clashed with other Ahmed al-Assir militants with the Lebanese Army elements near Saida.
The Lebanese Jund al-Sham more commonly Jund al-Sham Battalion (in Arabic لواء جند الشام) is an extremist Islamic group formed in 2012 by the Lebanese Islamist Khaled al-Mahmoud originating from Tripoli, Lebanon. Al-Mahmoud has declared himself an emir in Qalaat al Hosn (Krak des Chevaliers), near Homs in Syria, where his group Jund al-Sham is fighting the Syrian regime forces.
In August 2013, two elements of the movement were killed in a suicide bombing near a Syrian Army checkpoint in Homs District. Both originated from Tripoli, Lebanon. Seventeen Lebanese fighters all from Tripoli had been killed in a Syrian Army ambush in Syria on their way to join Al-Mahmoud's forces.
The Lebanese Jund al-Sham is composed mainly of Lebanese Sunni fighters from Tripoli and North Lebanon and were heavily involved in fighting in Wadi al Nassara in Homs region. The grouping also has recruited some Libyan extremist elements to fight for the group which is closely affiliated with the Syrian anti-government Jabhat al-Nusra forces.
Jund al-Sham led by Khaled al-Mahmoud is accused of organizing massacres of tens of Syrian Christians in the predominantly Christian Wadi al Nassara in Homs district in August 2013.
Al-Mahmoud had been in prison in Lebanon for lengthy periods. First he spent 5 years in prison from 2000 to 2005 for being part of "Abou Aisha" forces fighting the Lebanese Army in Jroud el Dennieh in North Lebanon. After his release, he became part of Fath ul Islam and was arrested and imprisoned for involvement bombing against a Lebanese Army convoy and spending 6 more years in prison from 2006to 2012 and was released after serving his sentence. Upon release, he went on to form Jund al-Sham to fight in Syria, mainly in Homs region.
- Profile: Jund al-Sham (BBC, Monday, 4 June 2007)
- "A Look at the Terror Group Jund Al-Sham". Washington Post. September 12, 2006.
- Western Resistance: Russia: Two Islamic Groups Outlawed
- The Times (London), March 23, 2005
- "Terror list out; Russia tags two Kuwaiti groups". Arab Times.
- Defense Update - News Analysis by David Eshel: 02/01/2005 - 02/28/2005
- Syria News
- SlabNews: «جند الشام» متخوفون من إستهدافهم...وفضل شاكر يدعوهم للتأهب (in Arabic)
- Al Hayat: عن أمير "جند الشام" اللبناني المقيم في قلعة الحصن السورية ... خالد المحمود الذي لا يُشبه والده مستأنفاً «هجراته» المتواصلة من باب التبانة (in Arabic)
- Al Akhbar: مذبحة وادي النصارى... إنجازات «جند الشام» الجديدة (in Arabic)