Tag Archives: Free Syrian Army

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.


Global Islamism: Prospects for 2014


Mideast-Iran-Election_Horo4-e1371313739782-965x543Thanks to the Obama administration’s uninformed and flimsy foreign policy decisions, the year 2013 has distinctively been a blessing for the independent Islamist parties and fundamentalist Islamic governments throughout the Middle East and the world. Although it is somewhat difficult to predict what will happen in 2014 regarding the Islamists movements and prominent challenges within that (along with Iran’s nuclear ambitions), several issues can be projected based on the trends and polices carried out in 2013.

Firstly, the foreign and domestic policies carried out by the Obama administration have led to several key trends.  In 2013, Islamists and fundamentalists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and other Islamists parties have gained an unprecedented level of power, organization, and coordination, particularly across the Middle East and Africa. In Syria, for example, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has emerged as among the most powerful jihadi groups. This particular Islamist group, which seeks to rule Syria and the Levant just as the Taliban did in Afghanistan (along with fighting against infidels), has become more centralized through obtaining a unified command-and-control structure, ideologically and politically. Reportedly, this Islamist party— which has been behind thousands of beheadings, in many cases proudly beheading people and showing it on videos— is advocating for the systematic genocide of Shi’ite Muslims or others who are “damaging Mohammed’s legacy” in perpetrating their beliefs. Currently, ISIL is the most powerful oppositional group in Syria, even overshadowing the Free Syrian Army and other rebels. It is argued that many of the arms sent to the Free Syrian Army were actually obtained by several Islamist groups, including ISIL. In late 2013, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights labeled the Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams as “the strongest group in Northern Syria.”

Beheading ordinary people, taking videos (such as the reported beheading of a young Christian girl in this widespread video, or others as seen in this video), targeting non-Muslims (primarily Christians), raping women, and kidnapping non-Muslims have become daily practice in several Muslim countries, carried out by either independent Islamist groups or by those who have recently gained control of the sovereignty of the state.

According to an Amnesty International report this week, Islamist militants are perpetrating “a shocking catalogue of abuses” conducted in secret jails, including torture, flogging, and killings after summary trials. Amnesty International added that, “Those abducted and detained by ISIL include children as young as eight who are held together with adults in the same cruel and inhuman conditions.” Despite all the atrocities and brutalities committed by the ISIL and other Isalmist groups, recent reports from various credible news outlets including Reuters indicate that the Obama administration has attempted to reach out to these Islamist groups, with the Islamists rejecting the administration’s overtures. Do these attempts empower and embolden these Islamist groups to further carry out their atrocities and barbarity?

A turning point and tremendous achievement for the Islamists has been the nuclear deal struck with Iran, thanks to President Obama’s efforts. The Ayatollahs, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and the Iranian leaders will receive about $7 billion worth of sanctions relief on sectors including its metal industry, the sanctions relief can be accomplished by an executive order by the Obama administration, without the need to appeal to Congress.

In return for this sanctions relief, Iran is not giving any concessions to rollback its program; Tehran is not going to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure. The Islamic Republic will not decrease the number of its centrifuges, currently about 19,000 (just a few thousands below the needed amount to created a nuclear bomb). In addition, Iranian leaders will not close any of the nation’s nuclear sites. Iran will not even halt its nuclear enrichment. In fact, the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue enriching uranium.

In addition, while the Obama administration still supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Islamist party of Al-Nahda in Tunisia and other Islamist parties that have recently gained power, with billions of American dollars, the persecution of non-Muslims has reached an unprecedented level.

If the current foreign policy moves by the Obama administration continue on, 2014 may likely mark other groundbreaking and exceptional turning points for fundamentalists and Islamists in the region and across the world. The balance of power has already considerably shifted in favor of the Islamists in the region in 2013. They have been capable of remobilizing, organizing, and fossilizing their establishment, ideology and power.

If this trend continues, Iran is more likely to declare itself as the first ideologically-Islamist nuclear-armed state. Furthermore, ISIL will obtain greater territorial, organizational, and political gains in the region, possibly fulfilling their objectives of obtaining sovereignty in Syria. This reminds us of a reiteration of history, where the Taliban and Al Qaeda created a similar centralized state, later implementing their goal by committing the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The other Islamists groups in the region will also continue gaining power, growing, becoming more centralized, organized, and coordinated through the current foreign policies that are being carried out.

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Non-Chemical Warfare Violence Continues in Syria


Over the past past 2 1/2 years, the widespread use of conventional, non-chemical weapons by both Syrian government forces and rebel groups has resulted in the loss of more than 100,000 lives. While the U.S., Russia, and Syria work out a possible timetable to remove chemical weapons from Syria’s arsenal, little progress is being made to halt the warfare that has become the violent daily existence for so many. The following images of the ongoing civil war are from just the past few weeks. [41 photos]

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A member of the ‘Ansar Dimachk’ Brigade, part of the Asood Allah Brigade which operates under the Free Syrian Army, uses an iPad during preparations to fire a homemade mortar at one of the battlefronts in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus, Syria, on September 15, 2013. (Reuters/Mohamed Abdullah)

An archway on a road leading to Syria’s ancient Christian town of Maalula, as fighting continues between government forces and rebel fighters, on September 18, 2013. The town lies around 55 kilometers (34 miles) north-east of Damascus and is strategically important for the rebels, who are trying to tighten their grip on the capital. (Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images) #

Smoke rises as a result of shelling from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, according to activists, in Ariha countryside, on September 7, 2013. Ariha, which was previously controlled by the Free Syrian Army, is witnessing ongoing clashes after it was wrested control by forces loyal to Assad due to its importance as part of a supply route from the coastal area of Latakia to Aleppo, activists said. (Reuters/Houssam Abo Dabak) #

A Syrian soldier is captured by Free Syrian Army fighters during what the FSA say is an offensive against forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad, in Qobtan village in Aleppo, on August 22, 2013. (Reuters/Saad AboBrahim) #

A Free Syrian Army fighter takes up a shooting position in Ogiwl, Aleppo, on September 8, 2013. (Reuters/Hamid Khatib) #

This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a Syrian military tank on fire during clashes with Free Syrian army fighters in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus, on September 18, 2013. (AP Photo/The Syrian Revolution Against Bashar Assad) #

A fire truck left amid heavily damaged buildings in the Syrian town of Deir Ezzor, on September 10, 2013. (Ahmad Aboud/AFP/Getty Images) #

An image grab taken from a video shows an opposition fighter firing a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) on August 26, 2013 during clashes with regime forces over the strategic area of Khanasser, situated on the only road linking Aleppo to central Syria. Rebels had in recent days captured several villages in Aleppo province, much of which is already in the hands of anti-regime fighters, before taking Khanasser, situated on the highway to Hama in central Syria, thus cutting the army’s only supply route to the northern province. (Salah Al-Ashkar/AFP/Getty Images) #

A tank is reflected in the sunglasses of a rebel fighter during a ceremony to mark an agreement to unite the of forces Liwaa al-Tawid and Liwad al- Fatah brigades on September 13, 2013 at a former military academy north of Aleppo. (JM Lopez/AFP/Getty Images) #

A rebel fighter and a child cross a damaged bridge in Syria’s eastern town of Deir Ezzor, on September 2, 2013. (Abo Shuja/AFP/Getty Images) #

Issa, 10 years old, carries a mortar shell in a weapons factory of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo, on September 7, 2013. Issa works with his father in the factory for ten hours every day except on Fridays. (Reuters/Hamid Khatib) #

A Kurdish Free Syrian Army fighter holds out a doll while his fellow fighter takes position in Ashrafieh, Aleppo, on September 18, 2013. (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman) #

In this September 11, 2013 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a journalist records a Syrian government solider as he aims his weapon, during clashes with Free Syrian Army fighters in Maaloula village, northeast of the capital Damascus. Heavy fighting between Syrian government troops and rebels flared again in the ancient, predominantly Christian village of Maaloula. Troops are trying to flush out rebel units, including two that are linked to al-Qaida, from the hilltop enclave which they broke into last week. (AP Photo/SANA) #

Syrian soldiers flashes the V-sign for victory as he poses in a Russian-made Syrian army armored personnel carrier stationed along a street leading into Maalula, Syria, scene of fighting between pro-government troops and rebel forces on September 18, 2013. The town lies around 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Damascus and is strategically important for rebels, who are trying to tighten their grip on Damascus. Maalula is one of the most renowned Christians towns in Syria, where many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. (Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images) #

Heavily damaged buildings in the Salah al-Din area of Aleppo, on September 8, 2013. The sheets and bus provide limited cover from sniper fire for those wishing to cross the street. (Abo Mhio/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Syrian opposition fighter smokes a cigarette as he sits at the top of a mountain in the vicinity of a rebel camp in Idlib province on September 18, 2013. (AP Photo) #

A Syrian military solider fires a heavy machine gun during clashes with rebels in Maaloula village, northeast of Damascus, on September 7, 2013. (AP Photo/SANA) #

Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters carry weapons as they take up positions during an offensive against forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo’s town of Khanasir, on August 26, 2013. The smoke is pouring out of the cultural center of the town after the Free Syrian Army set it on fire. (Reuters/Ammar Abdullah) #

FSA fighters drag a body, which according to the FSA, was one of soldiers loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, during an offensive to seize Khanasir, on August 26, 2013. Rebel forces took control of the strategic town in northern Syria, that sits on the government supply route connecting the northern province to the central city of Hama, killing more than 50 pro-government fighters and cutting off government forces’ only supply route out of the city of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. (Reuters/Ammar Abdullah) #

Free Syrian Army fighters sit atop a tank captured from forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad, cheering after seizing Aleppo’s town of Khanasir, on August 26, 2013. (Reuters/Ammar Abdullah) #

A girl helps her brother make his way through the rubble of a damaged house in the eastern Hama countryside, on September 13, 2013. (Reuters/Molhem Barakat) #

A dead body lies on the ground, covered with a blanket, after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, on September 18, 2013. (Reuters/Hamid Khatib) #

Teenage FSA fighters take positions in a house in Salah al-Din neighbourhood in central Aleppo, August 22, 2013. (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman) #

The war-damaged neighborhood of Al-Zibdeh, viewed through a broken window in Aleppo, on September 18, 2013. (Reuters/Aref Hretani) #

A member of the Liwaa Ahrar Suriya brigade, operating under the Free Syrian Army, takes up position in a public park that separates them from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the Sakhour area of Aleppo, on August 24, 2013. (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman) #

FSA fighters launch a rocket from a basketball court, towards Syrian government forces in Deir al-Zor, on August 29, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #

A photo taken on September 2, 2013 reportedly shows the bodies of rebel fighters lying on the ground following an army ambush in Adra, 36 kilometers northeast of Damascus. “At least 20 rebels, including non-Syrians, were killed in an army ambush” The Syrian Observatory for Human rights said, which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers on the ground. (Sam Skaine/AFP/Getty Images) #

An FSA fighter fires his weapon in the Suleiman Al-Halabi neighborhood of Aleppo, on September 14, 2013. (Reuters/Hamid Khatib) #

A Syrian girl walks on the roof of a house, as opposition fighters prepare themselves for combat in the village of Kafr Nabuda, Idlib province, on September 19, 2013. (AP Photo) #

A handout image released by the Syrian opposition’s Shaam News Network on September 19, 2013 shows Syrian rebels mourning fallen comrades in the central Syrian province of Hama. (Abdullah Al-Hamoui/AFP/Getty Images) #

The bodies of two soldiers loyal to President Bashar Assad, displayed on a back of a truck after they were removed from the battlefield, in the village of Kafr Nabuda, Idlib province, on September 19, 2013. (AP Photo) #

An FSA fighter watches surveillance camera footage inside a house near the Grand Umayyad mosque in Aleppo, on September 3, 2013. (Reuters/Molhem Barakat) #

A Syrian opposition fighter rests in a rebel camp in the Idlib Province countryside, on September 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras) #

Young Syrian-Kurdish women take part in a training session organized by the Kurdish Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) on August 28, 2013, in the northern Syrian border village of al Qamishli, to prepare them to defend their villages if they come under attack. (Benjamin Hiller/AFP/Getty Images) #

A resident digs tunnels and caves to be used as bomb shelters in Deir al-Zor, on September 14, 2013. (Reuters/Mohamad Alderi) #

A fighter of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC) aims his rifle as he squats on the windowsill of a destroyed building in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, on September 12, 2013, following fighting against rebel forces who control 75 percent of the camp. The PFLP-GC has been allied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government whose troops have been fighting rebel forces for the past two years. (Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images) #

Mustafa Abu Bekir, 23, an FSA fighter who said he lost his legs during a bombing by the Syrian Air Force, is welcomed by a relative as he is carried by a family member just after they entered Turkey from the Turkish Cilvegozu border gate, located opposite the Syrian commercial crossing point of Bab al-Hawa, in Hatay province, on September 9, 2013. (Reuters/Umit Bektas) #

A boy dives into a crater filled with water in Deir al-Zor, on September 4, 2013. The crater was caused by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to the Syrian government. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #

An FSA fighter fires a weapon as he takes a defensive position in Deir al-Zor, on September 5, 2013. (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) #

Rebel fighters inspect a stairwell during fighting against Syrian government forces, on September 19, 2013 in the Saif al-Dawla district of Aleppo. (JM Lopez/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Free Syrian Army fighter, reflected in a mirror, points his weapon through a hole, inside an abandoned house in the old city of Aleppo, on September 4, 2013. (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman) #