Tag Archives: Daraa

Al Qaeda Opens Syrian Jihad School

Al Qaeda affiliated Jabhat Al Nusra opens school for jihad in southern Syria, for children aged 10 to 15.


Syrian jihad school

Syrian jihad school

Jabhat Al Nusra, an Islamist group affiliated with Al Qaeda, maintains an infrastructure of governance as one of the central opposition forces. Aside from managing religious courts based on Islamic sharia law, the group has opened new schooling programs emphasizing Islam and jihad.

In the southern Syrian town of Daraa, a school established by the organization teaches roughly 30 students ranging in age from 10 to 15 to believe in Allah, follow Islam, and aspire to jihad holy war.

Video footage from the school shows students learning by rote passages from the Koran, reading “our path is the path of jihad.”

The use of child soldiers by rebel forces, including the more “moderate” Free Syrian Army (FSA), has been documented, and shows how the lessons learned in the school may quickly be turned into action.

On the walls of the classroom hang posters featuring verses from the Koran, including one praising jihadist “martyrs,” explaining that they aren’t “dead” but rather “living” with Allah.

One of the teachers explains that the students learn how to use weapons and are prepared to become jihadists. Video can be seen here:

The Islamist nature of the Syrian opposition forces has been a point of contention, with Russia recently claiming the West understands Syrian President Bashar Assad is “better” than the rebels.

The Russian comment came after Islamic Front battalions, which call for an Islamic state, took over warehouses held by the more secular FSA in early December, leading the US and Britain to suspend military funding to rebel factions.

Geneva II peace talks, aiming to end the 3 year conflict that has claimed over 100,000 lives and created over 2 million refugees, are set for January 22.


#Islam: Sex, media, jihad


Hanin Ghaddar


With news reports about sex jihad, truth is secondary

Giulio Rosati painting

It’s always exciting to talk about sex. Combined with Islamism, sex could become the most discussed and read about topic in the media. That’s why Jihad Al Nikah (sex jihad) has become the obsession of everyone writing or working on Syria. It is an exotic topic for Western media outlets and audiences alike. Meanwhile, Arab media uses it to indulge the viewers in suppressed fantasies.


Truth is secondary here. It doesn’t matter anymore if Jihad al Nikah is an actual phenomenon. Either way, it takes over everything else that matters. The same can be said about all the other shocking information coming from Syria, including the savagery of beheadings, the heart-eating man, the burning of churches, and the barbarism of the rebellion.


These realities, although factual and truthful, are often exaggerated. They also overwhelm everything else about Syria and the revolution. They take over all other layers and make genuine calls for freedom and reform insignificant. Al-Qaeda may be a sexy topic, but sex jihad is even more so.


The regime’s obsession with sex and rape has always been a political and cultural tool used for oppression. It did not start with the revolution. Assad’s prisons were the sites of horrible sexual abuse and torture of prisoners, both men and women, for many years.


But the Syrian regime knows how to play this game quite well, much better than the opposition at least. From extremism to minorities, Assad knows how to play his cards. He has presented his regime to the international community as the sole protector of the Christians in Syria, highlighting al-Qaeda burning churches and its attacks on Christian villages. Of course, ISIS’s sectarian rhetoric makes Assad’s task an easy one, but that does not mean that the rebels seek to eliminate the Christian presence in Syria.


The Syrian regime’s thugs raped and tortured many women and children, according to a number of human rights organizations. Its allies in Lebanon and Iran have also been using and abusing Mutaa marriage for political reasons for many years now. (Mutaa marriage has never been regarded as an immoral practice by the regime because it is practiced by its allies. It has become a social and political necessity.)


But sex jihad is a different story, yet the double standards are barely noticeable. Just one story about a 16 year-old-girl saying on regime media that she practices sex jihad was enough for every media outlet to make it a major headline.


Rawan Kaddah was her name, and she claimed on Syrian state TV that her father forced her to practice sex jihad. Of course, the story was reported even as many doubts are emerging about its accuracy. (According to Kaddah’s family, their daughter was kidnapped by the Syrian security forces after returning back from school last November in her southwestern hometown in Daraa.)


Most indicators suggest that the story was fabricated by the regime, and there is little information on the practice of sex jihad in Syria among the rebels in general. And so, the proportion of this story’s coverage in the media despite the little information available is indeed surreal.


Again, the double standards work both ways. Media often looks for buzz, not truth. And, this subject gets more hits, so who cares, right?


It seems everybody is in denial. Many say that the Syrian revolution is ugly, so we shouldn’t get involved. Many also say that the Syrian rebels are all extremists and barbarians, and that’s why Assad is a better option. They even say that the Syrian opposition is all Sunni, which is why the regime is more secular. And, in the midst of all this misleading information come reports about sex jihad, which gives everyone an excuse to accept Assad’s story. Not because of information and proof, but because it is an easier and guilt-free process.


Of course, the Syrian rebellion is not ideal, and there is an ugly layer to it, but that does not mean that the Syrian regime is more secular or preferable than the rebels. Raping women in prison and torturing children is not more civilized than the heart-eating man. Forcing a girl to go on TV and say that she has practiced sex jihad is not more humane than beheading opponents on the battlefield. And, brutally killing children in Sunni villages and towns does not make Assad less sectarian than his opponents. Indeed, sectarianism was created by the regime’s favoritism from the very beginning: esteeming Alawites and Christians over Sunnis, and more recently massacring Sunnis while protecting Christians and other minority groups.


Assad is clearly neither secular nor civilized, nor is he the protector of minorities. And sex jihad is just another game he uses to feed into the stereotypes of the West and the stigma that summarized the revolution as a ragtag group of extremists.


The problem is that the Syrian opposition has lost the media game. The scarcity of information and inconsistent media campaigns on the rebels’ part hands the regime easy victories. And every time the media gets distracted by stories about sex jihad and beheadings, the rebellion against Assad takes another hit. Sadly, it means that the Syrian revolution may be a very long one indeed.


Hanin Ghaddar is the managing editor of NOW. She tweets @haningdr 

Syrian and Jordanian armies reportedly clash on border

Witnesses describe exchange as most significant skirmish since start of Syrian revolution

By /Jordanian civilians living near the border with Syria reported heavy clashes between the Jordanian and Syrian armies late Saturday night, during which the Syrian army allegedly crossed the border and used attack helicopters.

Residents of Ramtha, located 2 miles from the Syrian border, told the Islamist Jordanian daily As-Sabeel that they flocked to their rooftops to view the heavy exchange of fire near the Ramtha border crossing around midnight Sunday morning. No report of military clashes appeared in the Jordanian mainstream media.

One Syrian shell landed near a mosque in Ramtha, Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera reported on Sunday, causing Jordanian tanks stationed at the border to return fire towards Syria. Al-Jazeera reported a state of panic among Jordanian residents of the border area, some of whom left their homes after the shelling shattered their windows.

Syrian opposition activists told Al-Jazeera that heavy clashes are raging between forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and the Free Syrian Army in the southern Syrian city of Daraa. As-Sabeel speculated that the shelling — described as the most significant border incident since the start of the Syrian revolution in March 2011 — was the result of massive defections from the Syrian Army, which the government was attempting to curb.

Residents of southern Syria have fled southward across the Jordanian border to escape the violent uprising that has plagued the country for 21 months. Nearly 500,000 Syrians have already found refuge in neighboring Jordan.

A Jordanian soldier was killed at the border on October 22 while trying to prevent militants from infiltrating into Syria. In August, a Jordanian soldier was injured while assisting Syrian refugees fleeing the regime to enter Jordan.