The Desert Falcons: An Elite Pro-Assad Force

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

In the ongoing rebel offensive on Latakia, a new force on the regime side has come to light: namely, the Suqur al-Sahara’ (‘Desert Falcons’).

Desert Falcons insignia (left), and an anonymous member of the brigade (right).

The Arabic outlet El-Nashra explains:

‘Among these forces [that have emerged in the Syrian civil war] are the Desert Falcons that are fighting in Kasab and are considered the prong of attack and defence of the region especially at Point 45. They began operating in Homs and especially on the borders with Iraq to cut supply/aid paths between armed men in the two lands.

These forces are considered among the elite of men fighting in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, and there are fighting in its ranks members of military expertise, retired officers and members of the army, as well as volunteers from Syrian youth and age groups averaging between 25 and 40 years of age.

The Desert Falcons forces have medium capabilities and arms as well as machine-gun fire, and the army supports it with artillery when necessary, but it specializes in setting up ambushes and carrying out difficult special assignments.

They have already carried out a large number of combat missions on the Jordanian and Iraqi borders, and a group of them are currently participating in the battles in the Kasab area and its surrounding.’

Rather than a merely symbolic presence, the Desert Falcons are a real fighting force and are acknowledged by the Muqawama Suriya as an allied group in the fight to retake Kasab. Below are some more photos including martyrs for the group.

Members of the Desert Falcons with Syrian army soldiers in unspecified location.

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Manhal Ahmad Muhammad, a Desert Falcons fighter killed in the ongoing battle to retake Kasab.

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Albir Sama’an al-Umuri, a Desert Falcons fighter killed on 2 April 2014 in the Kasab area.

Brigadier General Harun, a Desert Falcons officer killed on 24 June 2013 in al-Quaryatayn, Homs province. Note that this locality is in the desert area of Homs governorate near Sadad, corroborating El-Nashra’s report on the Desert Falcons’ areas of operation.

‘The men of al-Assad: Desert Organization.’


Maher Habib As’ad: another Desert Falcons fighter killed in the battle for Kasab. 

“Who Was Hilal al-Assad?” By Mohammad D.

Hilal al-Assad

Who Was Hilal al-Assad? 
By Mohammad D.
For Syria Comment, April 5 2014

By the time Hilal al-Assad reached Zahi Azraq Military Hospital in Latakia on Sunday March 23,2014, he was already dead. Latakians were already in a state of turmoil and anxiety. Grad missiles had been raining down on the city for a week. That night, at 8 pm, two missiles hit the city-center. The first struck al-Sheikhdaher, a bustling area in the old city and the second slammed into the old post office, less than a hundred yards from an entrance to the Sea Port.  Many were killed and injured in this attack. News that Hilal al-Assad had been signed into the Military Hospital spread like wildfire. Everyone knew within hours. The streets of the city emptied.

Death notice for Halal al-Assad

Death notice for Halal al-Assad

Hilal al-Assad was the commander of al-Difa’ al-Watani in the Coastal Region and a cousin of President Bashar al-Assad.  A  single bullet hit him in the chest. He was in al-Mushrefeh near Kassab north of the city of Latakia, according to parents of an Alawi soldier fighting with him.  This fighter was on his way with his other brother to help lift the siege of pro-Assad groups surrounded in Kassab.  The younger brother of this fighter, was surrounded with his unit in Kassab.  A range of anti-Assad militias, many composed of foreigners, launched a surprise attack called al-Anfal that was followed by a second offensive named Umahat al-Mu’minin.  The attacks were launched near the Turkish border into an area that was poorly defended, by all accounts.  The surprise attack was a total success. Rebel militias conquered Kassab, an Armenian town best known for its beauty, green hills and for being a summer resort. It is also linked to a custom crossing with Turkey and a small village on the Mediterranean called al-Samra.  Today, fighting is raging throughout the region and both sides are calling up reinforcements.  The pro-Assad forces have been able to retake one highpoint, tower 45, but with no major regains since.Hilal al-Assad is the first Assad family member to be killed since Asef Shawkat was killed in a bomb attack on July/18/2012 while attending a high level meeting in Damascus. Syrian official TV announced Hilal’s death, and declared him a martyr, but no public death announcement, known as Na’wa, was printed.  This is unusual. Numerous Facebook pages were created to celebrate and memorialize him and video messages were posted on the al-Difa’ al-Watani web outlets. For them, Hillal al-Assad death in battle is seen as a great honor. But his death also reminded everyone in Latakia that death and danger was at their door, closer than anyone had thought.

Hilal’s full military funeral procession was held on Monday.  His body left the hospital to the music of a marching band and into an army white ambulance.  He was buried in the Alawite Mountains east of Latakia.  Hilal left behind a wife, two sons and three daughters.  Not that much is known about him. Most reports about him are not accurate. The reaction of his infamous, “trouble maker” son Sulayman, who is only seventeen years old, only deepened the fears of Latakians.

Who is Hilal al-Assad.

Hilal al-Assad was born in al-Qardaha in 1967.  His father Anwar was the son of Hafez al-Assad’s older brother Ibrahim (some people say that Ibrahim is a half brother from Ali Sulayman’s first wife Sa’ada. He was married to Umm Anwar).  Ibrahim died many years ago and not much is known or written about him, but his wife, Hilal’s grandmother, Umm Anwar was a very strong woman.  She became a household name as a business woman who took advantage of the rising power of her family. As Hafez al-Assad’s power grew so did her’s along with that of her family.  Her son Anwar was not an educated man. Indeed he was reputed to be slow. What is more, he suffered from Albinism.  So, when Hafez al-Assad became a minister of defense in the 1960′s, Anwar became a janitor in a school in al-Qardaha. When Hafez al-Assad became a president in 1971, Anwar became an employee in the Registery (al-Nufus) in al-Qardaha. He remained a resident of Qardaha until his death.

His son Hilal went to elementary, secondary and high school in Qardaha.  He was young when his relatives started consolidating power in Damascus. His relatives in al-Qardaha started a lucrative business in smuggling. From his high school days, Hilal joined local smugglers who brought goods from Lebanon to Syria. Hilal was one of the Original Shabiha; the first wave of smugglers (See my earlier article: “The Original Shabiha“.  He was a few years younger than the most famous: Fawwaz al-Assad.

But, Hilal was different from Fawwaz, who was bombastic and enjoyed making a spectacle of himself. Hilal did not search out the limelight. He preferred to remain in the shadows, driving his big Mercedes between Lebanon and various Syrian cities.  Many say that his grandmother, Umm Anwar, controlled the smuggling ring that Hilal ran with.  In his early days, Hilal hung out in two places: one was an Armenian photography shop and the other was with a Christian barber friend. His car seemed always to be double-parked outside these two haunts. It caused perpetual traffic jams. He rarely hung out with other goons, unlike Fawwaz, who was a goon magnet.

Hilal amassed a fortune from smuggling. But, once Syrian markets were opened in the 1990s, smuggling dried up. Hilal, like Fawwaz and the other original shabiha, who benefited from the trade restrictions of the 1980′s, had to find a new occupation. Some say that Hilal joined the military academy for a bit before enrolling in Latakia’s Tishreen University, where he studied business. Ultimately, he acquired a degree, but I have been told by a friend of his:

He never attended a class and only showed up at the university to sit for exams.  The only challenging part of his formal education was to struggle not to make mistakes copying the answers that he had passed to him.”

Hilal was able to secure a good plum position in one of the most lucrative state industries. In 1998, he was appointed head of Branch 202 in the Mu’assasat al-Iskan al-Askari.  This meant that Hilal run the Latakia branch of a  construction company owned and financed by the defense ministry. It was responsible for housing projects, building dams, and sometimes built roads. al-Iskan al-Askari was established during the rule of Hafez al-Assad and was first headed by Khalil al-Bahlul, who turned it into a construction giant in the Syrian building sector.

Hilal did not have a good reputation at work.  He is accused of holding back the salaries of the employees for months, making a profit on putting it in the newly formed private banks in the area and abroad.  When workers complained about their late wages, they had to face Military Intelligence, which Hilal would summon to deal with them.  At this era, Hilal would still stay out of the limelight for most of the time.  He would spend most of his night playing cards with the same group: a famous Alawite heart doctor and two rich Sunnis: a man from al-Jud family and another from al-Zein family.  Hilal also loved horses.  He collected them and kept them in the stables of the Sports Complex. Some say that these stables were used as Hilal’s private prison.  These allegations are yet to be confirmed, as well many tashbeeh stories about him.

When the Syrian uprising began, the government formed al-Difa’ al-Watani (National Defence Forces) in 2012.  Its head was stationed in Damascus: General Ghassan Nassour.  Hilal al-Assad was put in charge of al-Difa’ al-Watani in Latakia and its countryside.  The first major military action this militia saw was during the famous attack of August 4th 2013, when Sunni groups attacked 11 Alawite villages.  The attack ended, but the military scrimmages continued, especially now with this Anfal attack in the Kassab region. When Hilal died, al-Difa’ al-Watani had grown from being composed of only a few local “popular committees” (Lijan Sha’biyah) into a small-sized army, complet with a few tanks and many pieces of heavy artillery.

Hilal’s Personal Family:

Unknown to many: Hilal married a Sunni.  His wife, Fatima Massoud, is said to be from the Idlib region.  Others say that her father is from Tripoli, Lebanon.  With Fatima, Hilal has two boys, 17 and 9 and three daughters, the oldest is married to a Sunni from Aleppo.  Hilal’s oldest daughter has a baby girl with her husband.

Sulayman is the notorious 17 years old son of Hilal.  He is a trouble maker and stories about him fill the internet.  Some of these stories are true, while others are exaggerations by known anti-Assad agitators, who expound on the bad behavior of members of al-Assad clan.  He is almost always seen with his armed bodyguards, even on the beach, where his favorite pastime was to make hairpin turns with his all-terrain vehicle so that sand would spray those trying to relax at the shore.  Reports of him shooting at people are many, but cannot be confirmed. Sulayman poses frequently with tanks belonging to the al-Difa’ al-Watani. He posts these on his Facebook page.  His reactions after the death of his father added to the troubles of the city.  It increased the level of fear amongst all.  Reports said that Sulayman went on a rampage twice, the first was the day when his father died.  The second was few days later, when he went with some armed men to al-Slaybeh, a traditional Sunni neighborhood in the old city, and destroyed some of the furniture of al-Tabusheh famous cafe as well as that of a few other stores in the neighborhood.  He ran away when the Mukhabarat showed up.  This attack only deepened the sectarian divisions in the city.

Hilal al-Assad also had two brothers: Harun, the head of the Municipality in al-Qardaha, and Ha’el, an officer in the Republican Guards.

The Latakia Front: An Interview on the Rebel Side

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi.

The interview I have translated below comes from Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, a division of the Moroccan muhajireen group Harakat Sham al-Islam, which has played an important role in the ongoing rebel offensive on Latakia and whose founder and leader- Abu Ahmad al-Muhajir/Maghrebi [aka Ibrahim bin Shakaran, the ex-Gitmo detainee and 1990s Afghan jihad veteran] was recently killed.

In the infighting between the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham [ISIS] and other factions, Harakat Sham al-Islam officially- as an “independent” group- took an anti-fitna stance, but as one Syrian contact of mine in the group told me, the organization is closer to Jabhat al-Nusra than ISIS, even as all three share the same ideological program of establishing a Khilafa [Caliphate] over the entire world.

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Logo of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam division of Harakat Sham al-Islam

Ibrahim bin Shakaran’s dead body.

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Izz ad-Din al-Qassam division of Harakat Sham al-Islam on the Mediterranean coastline in Latakia. Photo from 26 March.

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The Muqawama Suriya on the rural peripheries of Kasab. Video footage put out on 6 April.

Rebels in Kasab organize evacuation of remaining Armenians to Turkey. Photo via “Islamic Kasab”: a rebel activist group in the town that first claimed rebel recapture today of Burj 45.

As of now, the situation remains such that rebels still control the Armenian town of Kasab as regime forces continue to fight on the peripheries of Kasab, while some rebel activists in Kasab just a few hours ago claimed the recapture of Burj [tower] 45, which was a few days ago retaken by regime forces. Meanwhile, rebels have launched rocket and mortar strikes on Latakia city.

“Many followers are asking about Burj 45. What is the situation there?

- Up to now, the battlelines are witnessing clashes between the mujahideen and Assad’s gangs. We fight them and they us.

Why are martyrs upon martyrs falling every day?

- This is in the hands of God- these battles and wars. Gunfire flies on every side. So it is inevitable that a number of casualties are reaped from us and from them. And we are but the slain of Jannah and they the slain of Hellfire.

Why and how was the amir of Harakat Sham al-Islam martyred?

- The heroic, brave mujahid sheikh Ahmad al-Maghrebi was martyred in the battle for the tower, and all attested to his courage and bravery. For alone he was carrying out the assault and firing with his bullets on all the apostates and reaping a number of dead from them. The sheikh was martyred just as we reckon him with God by the bullets of a criminal sniper after the Sheikh had massacred and wounded them.

Was Harakat Sham al-Islam leading the battle?

- Ahrar ash-Sham held the leadership of the Burj, under their commander, then he was gravely wounded, then leadership was handed over to the Maghrebi commander, so he and his soldiers took up positions on the Burj and fought heroically, with the support of Jabhat al-Nusra and Ansar ash-Sham.

Whom have the mujahideen faced in Burj 45?

- The mujahideen have faced all the National Defense Force, the Assad army, the militias of Hizb ash-Shaytan, the [Abu] Fadl al-Abbas battalions, and Iranian special forces, but also Chechen soldiers*: your brothers saw them on the Burj. Many of the dogs were masquerading in Afghan clothing and were calling out to brothers: ‘Brother, advance, we are brothers’. God fought them.

What has the battle atmosphere been like?

- The battle has been ferocious and difficult by all standards, for your brothers have faced states and professional soldiers and it’s not only Bashar’s soldiery.

Have other factions besides Sham al-Islam participated in the battle?

- Yes, all from Jabhat al-Nusra, Ansar ash-Sham and Sham al-Islam have participated, then supporting factions came eventually.

Have some factions really withdrawn and engaged in betrayal?

- The withdrawals may be betrayal or tactics, and we only think well of our brothers, for the battle was difficult, the bombing very very strong and the land expansive, but it happened that some ‘Iranians’ engaged in infiltration.

Did the sniper fire or the ‘Sahwa forces of ash-Sham’ kill Abu Ahmad al-Maghrebi?

- Abu Ahmad was killed by malicious Iranian sniper-fire, and there was no treachery or betrayal. Whoever says otherwise so his reckoning is with God.

How many of Bashar’s soldiers have been killed? How many from the mujahideen?

- Many of the brothers especially the ansar** for they have told of their pure blood seeing ash-Sham; in the same way we have cherished the muhajireen for many of them especially from Sham al-Islam and Nusra have been martyred. As for Bashar’s dogs, Iran’s and Chechnya’s militias, many of them have been killed, thanks to God.”

Your brother: Abu Zakariya al-Ansari, participating in the Anfal battle.


*- Presumably the mujahid means mercenaries sent by the Russian government to aid the Assad regime. Note also he has forgotten the role of the Muqawama Suriya. While I have yet to see evidence of Iraqi Shi’a or Hezbollah militia participation here, it should be noted that the Muqawama Suriya has met with members of Liwa Abu Fadl al-Abbas.

Ali Kayali, leader of the Muqawama Suriya, with Liwa Abu Fadl al-Abbas commanders in Latakia. Photo from January.

**- In the context of jihadi discourse, the reference to ‘ansar’ in these battles normally means native fighters. Thus, Harakat Sham al-Islam is primarily Moroccan muhajireen and was founded by such people but has a small native Syrian component that use ‘Ansari’ in their noms de guerre. This Latakia offensive, like the one last summer, is being spearheaded by foreign fighters. This applies to Ansar ash-Sham too, with their Chechen commander in this battle one Abu Musa ash-Shishani. In the video linked to, he denounces Ali Kayali as a “dog” and accuses him of killing Muslim innocents.


“Obama Approval of Manpads for Rebels Would Violate US Agreements, Policy, and Endanger Airliners,” by James McMichael

Obama Approval of Manpads for Rebels Would Violate US Agreements, Policy, and Endanger Airliners
by James McMichael []
for Syria Comment, March 26, 2014

President Obama is considering supplying Syrian rebels with Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (Manpads).  These antiaircraft missiles are small enough to be carried and fired by a single person; they can destroy jet fighters and civilian airliners alike. If President Obama gives his approval for their supply to Syrian rebels, he will violate several international antiterrorism agreements that prohibit the supply of Manpads to non-state actors. This will negate a decade of U.S. anti-terrorism diplomacy, put air travelers at risk, and destroy the growing international anti-terrorism norm against supplying Manpads to non-state actors.

Reuters reports that on February 18 a senior Obama administration official said that the administration “remains opposed to any provision of MANPADS to the Syrian opposition” and Reuters reports further that: “The United States has long opposed supplying rebels with anti-aircraft missiles due to concern they may fall into the hands of forces that may use the weapons against Western targets or commercial airlines.” On March 28, one of President Obama’s national security advisers said: “We have made clear that there are certain types of weapons, including Manpads, that could pose a proliferation risk if introduced into Syria.”

Those concerns that Manpads supplied to “moderate” rebels will find their way into the hands of terrorists are extremely well founded. Saudi Arabia purchased Croatian antitank weapons and grenade launchers that were then provided to the “moderate” Free Syrian Army. As documented with video evidence by the Brown Moses Blog, some of those weapons wound up in the hands of the extremist jihadi group Ahrar al-Sham, and McClatchy Newspapers confirmed that the FSA shared their new weapons with Ahrar al-Sham. Even worse, as documented with photographic evidence by the Brown Moses Blog, those Saudi-purchased Croatian weapons are now being used in Iraq against the Iraqi Army by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a group so savage that it has been expelled from al-Qaeda.

Manpads can be hidden in a car trunk, some even in a golf bag, and are a threat to civilian airliners all over the world. A 2011 U.S. State Department factsheet states that: “Since 1975, 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by Manpads, causing about 28 crashes and more than 800 deaths around the world.” Former CIA Director David Petraeus recently said: “As you know, that was always our worst nightmare, that a civilian airliner would be shot down by one [Manpad].” Then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told the Wall Street Journal: “There is no question when you start passing Manpads around, that becomes a threat, not just to military aircraft but to civilian aircraft.” Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said: “No threat is more serious to [civil] aviation” than Manpads.

The State Department factsheet describes a decade of U.S. diplomatic efforts to stop the supply of Manpads to “non-state actors”, which includes the Syrian rebels, and three international agreements resulting from that U.S. diplomacy and to which the U.S. is a party:

First, in 2003 the G-8 adopted a “G-8 Action Plan” titled “Enhance Transport Security and Control of Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (Manpads)” which provides:

[W]e agree to implement the following steps to prevent the acquisition of Manpads by terrorists: . . .
To ban transfers of Manpads to non-state end-users; Manpads should only be exported to foreign governments or to agents authorised by a government.

The State Department factsheet boasts that this G-8 agreement was “U.S.-initiated.”

Second, a 2003 agreement pursuant to the Wassenaar Arrangement, which regulates exports of conventional arms, provides:

Decisions to permit Manpads exports will be made by the exporting government by competent authorities at senior policy level and only to foreign governments or to agents specifically authorised to act on behalf of a government.

The State Department factsheet says that the U.S. “participates in the [Wassenaar Agreement] . . . to encourage international adherence to and effective implementation of these rigorous Manpads guidelines.”

Third, the Organization of American States adopted a 2005 resolution titled “Denying Manpads to Terrorists: Control and Security of Man-Portable Air Defense Weapons” which resolves:

To urge member states to ban all transfers of Manpads and their essential components to non-state end users because Manpads should be exported only to foreign governments or to agents authorized by a government.

Note that all three of these U.S.-sought international agreements ban supplying Manpads to any non-state users and permit supplying them only to governments. There is no exception for “good” non-state actors, and in fact the State Department fact-sheet says that the U.S. strives to keep Manpads away from terrorists “and other non-state actors.” That is wise, because one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.
Finally, consider that Assad’s military has thousands of Manpads but, even now, he has not supplied them to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Kurdish rebels in Turkey, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, ISIS in Iraq, or to terrorists bound for Europe or the United States. If President Obama makes the wrong decision, he may change that.

Sham al-Islam: Its Project and Promise in Healing the Wounded Lands of the Levant

Sham al-Islam: Its Project and Promise in Healing the Wounded Lands of the Levant
Translated by Daniel Abdullah  @Daniel_Abdullah
For Syria Comment, March 27, 2014

Here is the recent statement of the Emir of Sham al-Islam, Brahim Benchekroune (a.k.a. Abu Ahmad al-Muhajir and sometimes called Abu Ahmad al-Maghrabi) a veteran Moroccan jihadist and former Guantanamo inmate.  Sham al-Islam was formed during the August 2013 campaign into the coastal region of Syria around Salma. In a foundation statement published on Youtube on August 18, 2013 Benchekroune stated: “We consider democracy to be kufr against God Almighty and a doctrine that is in contradiction to God’s sharia,” Sham al-Islam has played a significant role in the Anfal campaign around Kassab of March 2014. The Sham al-Islam movement has a large North African contingent. [written by Joshua Landis]

[Addendum March 28] The following video was published by Sham al-Islam after this posted. It is a well produced documentary, explaining how Sham al-Islam has been planning the Anfal campaign around Kassab ever since the al-Salma campaign of August 2013. They believe that Assad is preparing an ethnic enclave along the coast in fulfillment of the French plan, devised during the Mandate period, to build an Alawite state. His military campaigns to destroy Alawite power along the coast are designed to thwart this effort, which would lead to the emergence of another minority state separating the coastal region from its Islamic and Arab heartland, much as has already occurred with the establishment of Israel and Lebanon. Abu Ahmed the Moroccan speaks to us in this video about two-thirds of the way through.

The following video depicts Sham al-Islam fighters (many foreign) near Kassab. The leader, Abu Ahmed the Moroccan, is narrating. “Today we have become men.” He adds: Our enemies are the “rus, hundus wa majous”. It rhymes: “Russians, Hindus, and Majii (Iranians, which includes Alawis).

Sham al-Islam Youtube Statement Posted March 27, 2014
The following video has been translated below by Daniel Abdullah

Thanks to Allah, who helps the people who have been wronged and made weak, who is able to prevail over the lawless and unjust, and who supports those who attempt to reform what has been distorted by the enemies of religion. May peace, grace and blessings be upon the one who was sent as mercy to the world with a book that guides toward what is right and a sword that brings victory. May the same be upon his family, his companions and all those who have followed them well – in speech, deed and in manners – all the way through to the Day of Judgement.

Our Islamic Umma has suffered from long decades of injustice and tyranny.[1] It has been led astray by incorrect interpretations, on the one hand, and by a despicable adherence to Zionist-Masonic powers of oppression, on the other. It has been ruled by the iron fist of traitorous agents [of the West], who have pledged their lives to serve the interests of the enemies of our religion and Umma. It follows that the oppressed masses who have been misled and have had to pay the price as a result of successive campaigns of ignorance, dispossession and unprecedented injustice. Only a select few managed to escape from these campaigns. They formed the first line of resistance and gladly offered their hearts and blood and their time and thoughts in defence of the honour of the Umma – each according to their position and to what Allah made them aware of. Among these pioneers are preachers, reformers, scholars and scientists. We believe that those who have worked sincerely will be compensated. They will be granted in proportion to what they have offered or will be granted the double.[2]

Among those who have worked for the religion of Allah has been a group dedicated to fight for Him, a group that has waged Jihad with both their lives and money. They have fought the enemy who roamed freely in their lands. They wasted no effort in explaining and advising. With their efforts, Allah has saved the lives, (ard) honor and financial means of many people; He has brought out what is right.[3] Consequently, people were made aware of the betrayal of their leaders and of the lowness of the schemes spun against them.

The righteous dawn has arrived, the beginnings of the Umma regaining its freedom from the shackles of tyrants and the bonds of slavery are quivering on the horizon, the contrived gap between the Jihadi front and the rest of the Umma is being bridged; all this by virtue of the uprisings of our people against the regime of injustice and tyranny. The people have broken the wall of fear and have announced the beginning of a new era on the way to ultimate victory.

In this important historical context, the movement of Sham al-Islam has arisen from the lands of the wounded Levant – currently undergoing a blessed revolution against the criminal Nusayri regime, which has debased both worldly and religious pursuits and was unjust towards Muslim possessions and lives.[4]

Our movement was established to strengthen those who are right and the knights of Jihad. It is a breath of fresh air in the sail of Jihad, meant to empower and develop Jihad. It will enable this blessed revolution such that it does not allow it to be lost to the snares of Jahiliya that strive to entrap it under the roof of international legitimacy and within the borders of Sykes-Picot.[1]

Sham al-Islam strives to eliminate all that stands between the Umma and the Jihadi Front. No matter the source: people, terminology, groups or factional politics, we will work to thwart it. Sham al-Islam calls for a commitment to unity on Allah’s righteous terms that leads to the rule of His fair Sharia and that ensures access to a happy life on earth and paradise in the afterlife.

We strive to fight off the injustice that has been inflicted on our wronged people in Syria. We are prepared to sacrifice our lives and all that we possess to achieve this goal. We are bent on unity according to Allah’s laws, and on strengthening them by a totalitarian approach that addresses all the requirements of our current stage of development, such as Jihad, preaching, and tackling public needs. In all this we intend to follow the example of the mercy sent from Allah, may peace be upon him.

We ask Allah the Almighty and Exalted to grant us honesty and dedication, to show us the ways of righteousness, and to make us a building block for the approaching Caliphate that is built upon the example of the Prophet.

[1] Jahiliya – جاهليّة refers to the “Age of Ignorance” that preceded the revelation of the Qur’an, when Arabs were pagans. In this context, Abu Hamza is, presumably, referring to democracy and the acceptance “man-made” laws, which Salafists consider, en bloc, a central antithesis to Islam.

[1] Umma – أمّة is used to denote the wider Islamic society.

[2] Here, Abu Hamza is referring to an Islamic principle of divine compensation. If a Muslim studies a situation for which there is no precedent and reaches the correct conclusion and acts upon it, he has a double reward. If, however, his conclusion is wrong – according to the religious values of absolute right and wrong – but his effort was honest, he receives a single reward.

[3] Ard – عرض is an Arabic word that refers to worldly possessions عرض الدنيا or to a man’s lineage and his family. In colloquial Arabic, it refers to his female relatives who are seen as part of the honour he is bound to defend.

[4] Nusayri – نصيري is pejorative reference to Alawites. It originates from the name of the founder of their religion, Mouhammad bin Nusayr, and is used to suggest that they follow a man made religion. For the same reason, Muslims prefer not to be called Muhammadans because they do not believe that Muhammad is the founder of Islam.

The Arabic transcription of the video follows

الحمد لله ناصر المستضعفين وقاهر الجبابرة المارقين ومعين المصلحين لما خرّبه أعداء الدين، والصلاة والسلام على المبعوث رحمة للعالمين بكتاب يهدي وسيف ينصر، وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين، ومن تبعهم قولا وعملا وخلقا بإحسان إلى يوم الدين، أما بعد:

فقد عانت أمتنا الإسلامية لعقود طويلة من الظلم والاستبداد، وتاهت بين المناهج المنحرفة، والتبعية المقيتة لقوى الطغيان الصهيوماسوني، وحُكمت بقبضة من حديد من طرف عملاء خائنين، نذروا حياتهم لخدمة أعداء الدين والأمة، وكان ذلك على حساب الشعوب المقهورة، التي ضاعت وسط الحملات المتتالية من التجهيل والتشريد والقمع المنقطع النظير. ولم يسلم من هاته الحملات سوى طائفة من الناس، شكّلوا حائط الصد الأول، ووهبوا دون كرامة الأمّة دماءهم ومهجهم، أوقاتهم وأفكارهم، كل حسب موقعه وما هداه الله إليه – دعاة ومصلحين، علماء ومفكرين. ونحسب أن كل صادق منهم كان بين الأجر والأجرين.
ومن بين هؤلاء العاملين لدين الله، انبرت عصابة من أبناء هذه الأمة للقتال في سبيل الله تعالى، وجاهدت بالمال والنفس لدفع العدوّ الصائل على أراضيها، ولم تأل جهداً في البيان والنصح، فحفظ الله بها النفس والعرض والمال، وأظهر على أيديها الحق فبان للناس خيانة حاكميهم وخساسة المخططات التي حيكت لهم.
بزغ الفجر الصادق، ولاحت على الأفق بوادر تحرر الأمة من أغلال الأنداد وقيود العبيد، وتقلصت الفجوة المدبّرة بينها وبين طليعتها المجاهدة، وانتفضت شعوبها ضد أنظمة الظلم والاستبداد، مكسّرة حاجز الخوف، معلنة مرحلة جديدة على ضرب النصر والتمكين. في هذا السياق التاريخيّ الهام، ومن أرض الشام الجريحة – التي تشهد ثورة مباركة ضد النظام النصيري المجرم، الذي أفسد الدين والدنيا، وصال على أعراض المسلمين ودمائهم، نشأت حركة شام الإسلام، لتقوية شوكة أهل الحق وفرسان الجهاد، ولتبث نفساً جديداً في التيار الجهادي – تطويراً وتمكيناً له من احتضان هذه الثورة المباركة، واستيعابها لكي لا تستنزف وتضيع وسط سبل وأنفاق جاهلية تروم إبقاءها تحت سقف الشرعيّة الدولية وحدود سايكس بيكو.
كما تسعى حركة شام الإسلام لرفع كل ما من شأنه أن يحول بين الأمة وطليعتها المجاهدة من حواجز وعقبات أياً كان باعثها، أشخاصاً أو مسميّات، جماعات أو تنظيمات وتدعو للاعتصام بحبل الله على أساس تحكيم شرع الله العادل، الذي فيه سعة الدنيا ونعيم الآخرة.
نسعى جاهدين لرفع الظلم والقهر الذي لحق بأهلنا المستضعفين في سوريا باذلين في سبيل ذلك أرواحنا ودماءنا وكل ما نملك بالاعتصام بحبل الله المتين، وتقويته بطرح شموليّ يمسّ كل متطلبات المرحلة من جهاد ودعوة وتدبير لشؤون الناس على منهاج الرحمة المهداة عليه الصلاة والسلام – سائلين المولى عز وجل الصدق والإخلاص وأن يلهمنا سبل الرشاد ويجعلنا لبنة في صرح الخلافة القادمة على منهاج النبوة. وصلى الله على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين.