Syria: Q&A With Chechen Jihadis From Jabhat al-Nusra “We Are Al Qa’eda”

Chechen fighters from the jamaat of Sayfullakh Shishani, the jihadi killed this month during the storming of the Aleppo Central Prison, have opened a page on Russian social networking site VKontakte to answer readers’ questions.

Those answers shed light on the attitudes, motivations, and beliefs of the Chechen fighters.

Sayfullakh’s jamaat (an Arabic term used by Chechen jihadis since the First Chechen War for a military or fighting group) joined Jabhat al-Nusra in December after fighting alongside the Islamist faction in the autumn. The group had initially been part of Umar Shishani’s Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar but left after Umar publicly expelled Sayfullakh in August, accusing him of fitna.

Umar later formally pledged allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Answers on the new page indicate the split between the two groups of Chechen fighters is a matter of circumstance rather than ideology, even though the fighters offer some ideological explanations for why they — and not ISIS — are really “Al Qa’eda”.


[User named Muslim Abdullaev, responding to a question about why they are closer to the “democrats” of the Free Syrian Army rather than ISIS]

We have never been friends with the democrats, don’t slander us. On the contrary, ISIS has broken away from Al Qa’eda. So how can they talk about a union??

[About the attacks on ISIS in Deir Ezzor]

Right from the start, ISIS first attacked Jabhat al-Nusra in all parts of Syria. But despite this, Amir Jolani (the head of Jabhat al-Nusra) turned a blind eye so as not to stir up even more fitna. Despite the appeals in the Sharia Court, ISIS continues to attack Muslims.

And people attacked ISIS first because ISIS without trial without explanation abducted Muslims and executed them and then their bodies were found dumped in deserted places.

That’s what we mujahideen see here with our own eyes and in contrast to the ISIS guys we don’t like for personal reasons….

Those who are far away and don’t know the real situation, their support doesn’t matter. (Al Qa’eda head) Ayman Zawahiri formally renounced ISIS….

We are also not saying that they (ISIS) are infidels and Kharajites. We are part of Al Qa’eda, and ISIS on the contrary calls Al Qa’eda misguided….

By Allah, (ISIS) attacked us first, and the brothers who they attacked hit back because its the duty of a Muslim to defend his blood, honor, and property.

And we (Jabhat al-Nusra) all this time, encourage them to a Sharia court.

They refuse, brother….

(JAN leader Al-Jolani) has sworn an oath to Zawahiri. He can’t have an oath to Abu Bakr (al-Baghadi, the leader of ISIS) because Baghdadi came from Al Qa’eda and Jolani is true to his Amir.

[In response to a remark that Baghdadi never made an oath to Al Qa’eda]

We know, but the Amir before him had an oath and that jamaat was a part of Al Qa’eda. Abu Bakr (Baghdadi) split that jamaat off from Al Qa’eda, so talking now about a union from their side is hypocrisy.

See From Ruslan The Family Man To Sayfullakh the Shahid – Chechen Jihadist’s Story In Pictures
A Brief Guide To Chechen & North Caucasian Factions In Syria

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