By the Mujahid Sheikh AbdulRaheem Atoun “Abu Abdullah Al Shami”
The General Judge of Jabhat Fath Al Sham.
[Extracted from the book | Under the shades of the tree of jihad | page 177-194]
The Revolution in Syria (2011):
Allah has blessed this ummah with the spark of revolutions which progressed from Tunisia to Egypt.
It was the last days in the age of Sheikh Osama rahimahullah, where he described this major event with his eloquent words.
He explained: “For so long the Ummah has directed its face, waiting for the tidings of victory which loomed from the east, but the sun of revolution rose from the west. It sparked the revolution in Tunisia, putting the Ummah at rest and shone the faces of the populations, leaving the throats of the rulers sored and the Jews terrified to the closeness of the promise.
By overthrowing the oppressive ruler, the concepts of humiliation, submission, fear and hesitation have been perished, and the concepts of freedom, honor, courage and action have rose. The signs of change were made apparent with the strong will for freedom when Tunisia became the forerun, from which the knights of Egypt embraced the flames from the liberated Tunisians all the way to Tahrir Square as fast as the speed of lightning, and hence sparking a great revolution. And what revolution was sparked? A revolution for the entirety of Egypt.. For the Ummah.. If they hold onto the rope of their lord”
As the revolution progressed through Libya to Yemen reaching subsequently to Sham .. not in the slightest forgetting Iraq consequently.. It was made paramount that the Syrian revolution had features which distinguished it from the rest of the revolutions, this being a clear matter known by the observers and the masses in general..
This revolution whether we say it as being a peaceful or popular one, or one of Jihad, or any type within its progressive stages known by all, is verily a divine mercy for the Muslims in Sham importantly and also the Ummah generally. A mercy particular concentrated over the weak on the earth by the will of Allah, despite all the inflictions poured over the heads of the Syrian people today.
Yes, the revolution started peacefully, then the most Merciful destined its progression step by step until it became an Islamic Revolutionary Jihad. And indeed he is the best of Planners.
The Syrian revolution was one that started peacefully calling for dignity and freedom and the fall of the criminal nusairi regime that put Ahlul Sunnah through the worst of torture over forty years. It prohibited them the factors of any such decent life to the mere thought of fighting the Jews, as he is the trustworthy protector of Jewish border after he sold Joulan, and handed over Qunaitirah in a play of a comical war.
The demonstrations were a volcano shaking the feet of the oppressors from the Assad family and those behind them, and here started the divine plot where the oppressor thought that if he released a group of political and Islamist prisoners and removed the emergency state and the notorious national security court; that he would overcome the revolution and smother its sparks lit by Allah exalted is he, but how far ..
And that if he with cruelty, kills, destroys and carries out massacres the revolution would cease, but how far .. how far ..
And like this the heat of the battle intensified and the Jihadi groups started to appear immensely; through the long periods they have awaited these days and chances of such events, and from these groups was “Jabhat Al-Nusra for the people of Sham”
Establishment of Jabhat Al-Nusra:
Allah blessed Sheikh Joulani (may Allah preserve him) with his release from prison before the beginning of the revolution as we mentioned, and he remained in “the north” in Iraq with his friend who was in charge of the north at that time, and this man offered the sheikh after moments of long halted one of 2 choices, for him to be replaced by another, or to be besides Abu bakr Al Baghdadi, but sheikh refused such a post and offered to the friend brief mapping of ideas to start a project in Sham. Upon hearing the project the friend embraced the idea of such project, and requested it to be written by the sheikh so it could be sent to Al-Baghdadi and await his response.
Therefore Sheikh Joulani started writing the general features of the project which he titled: “Jabhat Al-Nusra for the people of Sham”
For incumbent reason, in the beginning it was announced with its long name “Jabhat Al-Nusra for the people of Sham from the Mujahideen of sham in the battlefields of jihad”
Al Baghdadi upon being a witness to the ideal project wished that he had someone in Iraq who would transform his dream into a project, and project eventually into work, Adnani (since he was Shami) attempted to follow the creation of Sheikh’s narrative, but was unsuccessful..
Before mentioning Al Baghdadis comments on the project written to him by sheikh Joulani, which later became “Jabhat Al-Nusra”
I will broadly mention some of the ideas of the project from which are partially public and harmless in the current climate if revealed.
Sheikh Joulani made clear his short term targets and long term ones, highlighting the necessity of benefitting from the experience in Iraq, with the mistakes that occurred, and that we must continue from the 100 that the Jihad has reached and not the 0 that sheikh Zarqawi rahimahullah started with. He pointed out that between Sham and Iraq there are significant differences that shouldn’t be overlooked; from the differences mentioned: the jihad in Iraq started due to invasion, whereas the situation in Sham begun due to a popular revolution, the fact that Iraqi tribes are stronger than the Shami tribes, and also the Muslim brotherhood in Sham being weaker than in Iraq, the Nusayris in sham covering only a minority despite them having manifested control over the authorities, security and the army. Their mentality in which they do not call to their beliefs, differentiating to the rafidhah in Iraq where they are people who call to their beliefs, not covering a minority, and other differences. This means that the Iraq scenario can undeniably never be applied to Sham, and the parallel fact that we shouldn’t copy such experience which could parallel to the same mistakes.
Sheikh also mentioned that the pace of events were quickly changing which meant the necessity of direct communication between him and the leadership in Iraq ; where this communication is daily or almost daily, or he must be given power and a general authority of making decisions according to the developments. All this was within the umbrella of Al-Qaeda but without publicly announcing it, Jabhat Al-Nusra would be the Al-Qaeda branch in Sham, via the Islamic state of Iraq ; and from it to Al-Qaeda central command.
Al Baghdadis response to this project was: “I agree to every letter written in this book .. the writer of the project didn’t leave any area for criticism .. Applying coherently that the Iraqi experience to Sham is considered suicide”
Hence Al Baghdadi agreed to the transfer of Sheikh Joulani to Sham. He entered with some finance in mere cash that Al Baghdadi provided, and a few individuals not exceeding the number of fingers on ones hands. Not going into grave detail about the cash and men, despite Al Baghdadi gravely cheated himself and the Ummah when he mentioned that he supplied the Sheikh with cash, men and his cells in Sham; as mentioned.
The sheikh here began the establishment of Jabhat Al-Nusra starting from Sham capital, Damascus. Groups from the Jabhat spread in vast provinces after Damascus, like Dara,a, Homs, Hama, Adlib, Aleppo, Raqqah, Deir Al Zour and Hasakah.
After the stage of establishment, it began to target the regimes vital institutions like the “security branches” in many provinces, most importantly in: Damascus, Aleppo, Dara,a, Adlib, Hama and Deir Al Zour.
Jabhat Al-Nusra in the context of the Shami Jihad:
The Jihad took course in the care of Allah, and the regime started to shrink due to the attacks by the Mujahideen with continuous victories. Importantly the matter that occupied the leadership of the group “the sheikh and his shura council” was working on uniting the jihadi groups in sham, foremost “Jabhat Al-Nusra and Ahrar Al Sham” since they were “Ahrar Al Sham battalions”.
It therefore sacrificed for this sake of great efforts, may Allah place it in the scales of the sincere and truthful from both sides. Facing huge obstacles in that path today we still do, and this topic requires its own book therefore I do not want to long it out, but if Allah grants me a lengthy age to a time where I see and there is multitudinous detail within this topic which I have enough time then I will write about it in sha’Allah.
The west has always tried to contain this revolution with substantial means, but Allah suppressed them .. They tried through International and Arabian delegations by giving the regime deadlines; one after the other so that the regime may advance and make a change in the scale of turmoil. These hypocrites – the west, was drawing red lines for the regime, and the regime has deliberately been crossing them, so without shyness or shame the west draws new lines, as if they’re tempting and flirting with the regime to cross them. We’d mention in this context the chemical massacre in East Ghouta, for the purpose of if not only then thee most brutal massacre. The west has also turned a blind eye to the regimes besiegement of many areas, not forgetting the starvation of those besieged within, the targeting of other areas with all internationally banned weapons – as they claim – .
All the western attempts headed by America failed, so its spite led it to placing Jabhat Al-Nusra on the terror list before it had even announced its link to Al-Qaeda. This is for everyone to comprehend that the Americans animosity towards us is because we are Sunni fighters, and not because we are Al-Qaeda, and here I’m not talking specifically about Jabhat Al-Nusra, but the general masses of the Mujahideen.
Al Adnani in sham and the beginning of the disagreements:
Al Adnani arrived in Sham before the battle of liberating Tiftinaz airport, and sheikh Joulani appointed him as governor over the “north” which consisted of (Aleppo, Adlib and Hama). He started taking pledged of allegiance in the name of “Islamic state of Iraq” and not “Jabhat Al-Nusra”, therefore huge problems occurred between him and the administrators of Aleppo, Adlib and Hama due to his incorrect interference in the matters of these provinces.
Ideally Sheikh Joulani removed him from his position as Amir of the north, and with this removal started another problem.
The sheikh appointed him the governor over the borders, Muhajireen and the military camp for newly arrived Muhajireen. But again this turned out significantly unsuccessful , so the sheikh removed him again, this made the problem worse with him, so he started to write a report to the leadership of “Islamic state in Iraq” consisting of 25 pages, which Al Baghdadi allowed sheikh Joulani to view later on.
Before this report was sent Adnani tried direct and indirect means with sheikh Joulani in order for him to be returned as governor of the north, so the sheikh said to him “I betray Allah, his messenger and the believers if you’re not fit for it and I appoint you over it. And I betray Allah, his messenger and the believers if you were fit for it and I removed you from it”
Adnani’s spite increased, where he sent his report, with most of the sections of his report being taken from individuals oppositely faced on the spectrum to those in Jabhat Al-Nusra. These individuals were from other extraneous factions, including some who were hostile against various leaders of Jabhat since they were in Saydnaya prison.
Once the report reached Al Baghdadi, he sent for sheikh Joulani. So the sheikh rushed to Iraq despite there being more than 50 army barriers and checkpoints (control)- as they call it in Iraq – obstructing the route necessitated.
Despite the severe situation (in Sham) this did not allow the absence of sheikh, subsequently he went and placed upon his shura council a hierarchy from the leaders of “Islamic state in Iraq”, this appointee being Haj Ghanim, who was the general administrator of Jabhat Al-Nusra.
Avoiding to long out what happened with the sheikh in his journey to Iraq I say: he spoke to them about the actions of Al Adnani , so Al Baghdadi affirmed the stance of the Sheikh.
Frightfully Al Baghdadi paid (Al Adnani) by making him the deputy of sheikh Joulani after those mistakes that were enlisted!!
Al Adnani also whispered in their ears that Jabhat was trying to break off the “Islamic state in Iraq” ; which had Baghdadi send a personal supervisor over Sham. That individual being “Al Anbari”.. A supervisor with even more power than sheikh Joulani!!
Enticingly trustworthy: this supervisor -in that period- didn’t deal with sheikh Joulani according to that power.
And from the most prominent tasks he had: search, explore and investigate accuracy on the issue and matter of whether Jabhat has an intention of breaking off.. These tasks all carried out obviously without Jabhat knowing.
The mentioned supervisor wandered as long as six months through the whole east and north without leaving a base or headquarter un entered, then he left with a clear conclusion which he conveyed to his leadership: “there is no intention or thought within Jabhat to break off from Dawlah” .
Al Baghdadi and those with him deliberately used the method of indirect sacking, by limiting a person, where they wouldn’t remove a person directly but they would place a supervisor over him, a deputy beneath him and a consultant on his side .. Like this, until here.. This wasn’t an issue and we could cope with but was rather a bad method.
Al Baghdadi in Sham:
Al Baghdadi still wasn’t reassured despite everything that showcased, he personally traveled from Iraq to sham and arrived in the first month of 2014.. A time where Sheikh Joulani gathered all the leaders of Jabhat from south to north and from west to east to discuss the plan of starting a military offensive on Damascus .. Yes the capital Damascus..
But Al Baghdadi didn’t attentively care regarding those matters, Some problems intensified and he stated: “I’m ready to return Jabhat back to five people, so long as it is acting in the right way”.
In reality what he meant: for the organizational project in Sham to be under him as he likes, unconcerned about Damascus or any other areas as a matter of fact, which is proved by him removing the one responsible for administrating the battle of Damascus.
Al Baghdadi removed this Amir and others, and those decisions were purely corrupt due to them not based on understanding the reality. Rather it was settling personal accounts, but the group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” remained patiently steadfast.
Sheikh Joulani and other leaders (of Jabhat) were slandered, gossiped and lied about to Al Baghdadi. Al Baghdadi brought such gossip closer to him and described him as wanting to correct the track of the group!! And when was lying, slander and gossip considered correcting the tracks of a Jihadi group?!
We sat with Al Baghdadi in a long sitting which lasted three days from 10-13/3/2013 throughout which the shura council was reformed and structured again, and some problems were solved as apparent to us, that I have no space to go into detail.
I asked Al Baghdadi at that time in the presence of about ten others: Is a direct link to khurasan (AQC) without consulting you considered breaking off from you? He answered: and is there anyone who says that?! I said: I’m not sure, unconfirmed reports reached me that Al Anbari says that and it was confirmed to me later on. So Al Baghdadi answered, with everyone present listening including Al Adnani: “take it from me and I’m the head of the Islamic state in Iraq … direct link to khurasan (AQC) isn’t considered breaking off from us, and I have no problem with Jabhat directly linking with khurasan (AQC)”
We also asked him before renewing our bayah (pledge of allegiance) to him -after the formation of the new shura council- on (13/3/2013): Do you have a bayah to Al Qaeda on your neck?, meaning our bayah to you is a bayah to the organization (Al Qaeda)? He answered by the exact wording -pointing to his neck- : I have a bayah to sheikh Osama on my neck and when he was killed taqabbalahullah; I wrote a letter renewing my bayah to sheikh Ayman Al-Dhawahiri hafidhahullah, and we listen to and obey to our leaders in Khurasan (AQC) . Based on this we gave bayah to this man.
After that sitting finished, we thought most problems were solved as we thought good of those people, it’ll be a few days.. A sitting or two.. And everything will be over, but we were surprised that nothing changed in their behavior. Instead the pace of bad actions increased and they behaved opposite to what Al Baghdadi promised in that sitting; by threatening some leaders -especially Iraqis- with assassination.
We were supposed to have another sitting in the beginning of the fourth month – 1/4/2013 – to finish the preparations, but the events which happened between 13/3 to 1/4 were many and enough to cancel that sitting, we will not go into grave detail of; but from it was threats of assassination.
We asked Al Baghdadi if he sees any problem in us sending a message to Sheikh Al Dhawahiri, He answered: write and I will send it for you. When we saw the pace of events progressing we decided to write the letter. Majority of the shura council that Al Baghdadi formed, including other leaders in the group gathered to write a complaint letter and sign it. Disreputably they wrote it and the signatures are present in the archives till today.
We didn’t send the letter through “Dawlah group and its furqan media” because we feared it may be played with and changed as they did with a previous letter sheikh Joulani sent to the shuyoukh in khurasan, after the shouyoukh insisted on it .
The detail of that is that sheikh Abu Yahya Al Libi requested from Sheikh Joulani to write a detailed report about his project in Sham, and the condition of Jihad at that time. So the sheikh sent to the leadership in Iraq acknowledging them of the matter, and before he got a response from them; he received a second letter from sheikh Abu Yahya Al Libi, with criticism for the delay of a response to his previous letter.
Then Allah willed for sheikh Abu Yahya Al Libi the be martyred in that period, where he was then succeeded by sheikh Abu Ubaidah Al Adm rahimahullah. He also repeated the same request once or twice, and the sheikh throughout this whole period was waiting for a reply from “Iraq”,
Finally he got a response merely saying: “send it through us, through Al Furqan”. The sheikh wrote his response requiring cooperation, so they took permission from him to review and edit it, and he gave them permission. They added to it something dangerous by deliberately forging a part of the letter.. They removed the long introduction in which the sheikh spoke of his project in Sham and scandalously assigned it to themselves.
After what’s mentioned, and also them keeping many letters that were directly sent to us from Khurasan, we couldn’t trust them any further so we sent the letter through other secure methods.
The explosion of the situation and the announcement of Dawlah:
When Al Baghdadi and Al Anbari found out that we sent a letter to Sheikh Al Dhawahiri hafidhahullah, they planned to block the path for both Jabhat and Sheikh Al Dhawahiri at the same time, nullifying “Islamic state in Iraq” and “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and announcing the new name “Islamic state in Iraq and Sham”
They did that despite them acknowledging it was an innocent decision which was unsuitable at the time. They tried justifying it by the importance of blocking the path for Jabhat, and in reality it was a path blocked for Jabhat forcing the situation even upon Sheikh Al Dhawahiri hafidhahullah. However this is what they seeked since their announcement of Dawlah until the first letter of Sheikh Al Dhwahiri arrived which nullified their announcement, but even then they ignored it.. Sheikh Al Dhawahiri then sent another letter with the final decision of which they doubted its authenticity despite them having full knowledge of its accurate authenticity.
Someone from them informed us of the intention of Al Baghdadi to leave (to Iraq) when the letter arrived, but Al Anbari and others prevented him from this; and convinced him to stay, so he came out announcing that he has “shara’i and manhaj issues” with the letter of sheikh Al Dhawahiri!!
Contextually we also mention that Al Baghdadi previously said: “If the response of Sheikh Al Dhawahiri comes in favor of Jabhat, then I’ll kiss the heads of the people of sham, carry my luggage and return to Iraq”. And when the response came he denied all that, committing against the people of Al Sham the worst of crimes which will require volumes to talk about.
Al Anbari commented on the letter of sheikh Al Dhwahiri with: “we’ve fallen into what we accused Jabhat with”. Meaning: disobeying the Amir, but were not same, we didn’t disobey Al Baghdadi.. Rather we raised the issue to his Amir and he (Al Baghdadi) considered it a defection, and about his disobedience to his Amir then it’s known without the need to mention it, and we wish they’d been content with just that.
The leadership of Dawlah relied on activating a number of issues, from it:
Fatwa Al Dhafar (seizure): considering everything in the hands of Jabhat as spoils, and whoever seizes it by any form of force, dispossession and looting is allowed.
They also relied on taking the view of killing for a benefit which Al Anbari rooted for them, without them understanding the sayings of the people of knowledge and the correct reasons, using the saying of scholars: “whoevers evil cannot be repelled except with killing then he is to be killed” and applying it to opposing groups, mainly “Jabhat Al-Nusra”.
They also lifted the restraints from the extremists despite them using these extremists in the first stages for their personal gains. Except that Allah punished them with the same kind of their crime; as the manhaj of the khawarij spread and prevailed amongst them it became a general feature they were prolifically known for, until they became a group from amongst the groups of the modern day khawarij. Their heads and leaders became from the big heads of the khawarij in this era. As I’ve detailed in a previous lecture “that you’ll make it evident to mankind and not keep it back” some of their actions, manners and principles.
Shaytaan played with that group, so it increased extremism upon extremism, until it almost made takfeer on everyone who opposed them making their blood and wealth permissible. So it caused in the arena a corruption what only Allah knows of, and delayed the Jihad many coherent laps.
The greatest calamity was their announcement of an incorrectly faked “caliphate”, and it is only by Allah, from the biggest deceptions of iblees to them, that after the occupancy of it they started to reveal their true colors. Al Adnani shouted with his full mouth: we will separate groups, break the ranks of the organizations and liberate the liberated.. to other than those calamities that cannot be counted or mentioned, and Al Adnanis description of Al Qaeda and its wise Amir as a prostitute; pregnant in its ninth month is only one of those calamities, and Allah is sufficient for us.
Countlessly I have gone in refuting their claim of the caliphate in the chain of lectures titled .. “Important issues in leadership, the right of the ummah”
The reality in essence is that speaking about these people (the khawarij) brings only sorrow, and in this summary there is sufficient enough in sha’Allah.