Aleppo: al Nusra Front leader calls for jihadi unity ahead of decisive battle

Mufti Al Muhaysini addresses jihadi fighters across Syria, calling for "unity, organisation and rapprochement" based on the "general fundamentals of Islam." A sworn enemy of the Islamic State, the qur‘anic judge has tried to ingratiate himself with the likes of Shia Hezbollah. However, his unifying language has not convinced any jihadi groups.

Aleppo (AsiaNews) – The Mufti of the al Nusra Front and qur‘anic judge of takfiri jihadist groups in Syria Abdallah ben Mohammad Ben Suleiman Al Muhaysini, a Saudi also known as Abdallah Al Muhaysini, yesterday appealed to jihadis across the country to unite for the decisive battle of Aleppo.

In an interview with Al Masra, the official newspaper of the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda, the al Nusra Front mufti – who has been responsible for recruiting children and teenagers for armed jihadi groups – said, "In this situation and times, we need unity, organisation and rapprochement. [We must] unite on the basis of the general fundamentals of Islam and repay the aggressor."

He also spoke of the need to "put aside disagreements, forget contrasts and unite the ranks" to face the "decisive battle" for Aleppo.

At Muhaysini, who rejects any criticism of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, expressed his happiness upon hearing the news of the death of al Adnani, the right-hand man of Daesh caliph al Baghdadi. Faced with the catastrophic defeats of his armed groups in Aleppo, he chose a unifying language, but he has not convinced any Syrian jihadi groups.

The al Nusra Front mufti quoted from history to touch the hearts of his listeners, saying that "The collapse of the Ottoman Empire led to the emergence of various currents and Islamic parties. The Jihad [Holy War against Satan and the infidels] today will unite us in a single place and in a single united front for a single goal and common purpose. We shall not give the enemy any opportunity of dividing us."

At Muhaysini, known for his hatred of Shias who always boasted of condemning directly as a qur‘anic judge and without trial any Syrian Alawite prisoner of war, tried to ingratiate himself with Lebanon’s Shia-dominated Hezbollah.

He stated that he had ten Lebanese Hezbollah prisoners [in his hands] who have not been killed. He asked Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah to become again a "hero for all Muslims", i.e. what he was "after winning the July 2006 war against Israel."

To curry favour with Shias, al Muhaysini even said in an exclusive interview via Skype with the Lebanese daily al-Akhbar that "all Islamic jihadis in Syria, put together, are worth less than a single extra body hair on Imam Ali”.

The despair that transpires from al Muhaysini’s statements proves once again the terrible divisions tearing at the myriad of Sunni jihadi groups in Syria, split among various regional and international alliances with competing interests.

Abdallah ben Mohammad Ben Suleiman Al Muhaysini is a Saudi imam, born in Buraydah, Al-Qassim Region. He graduated in Comparative Fiqh (comparative Islamic theology) from the Al-Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University.

The cleric arrived in Syria in October 2013 as an "independent combatant" in order to resolve conflicts between the Daesh caliphate (Islamic state) and various jihadi fractions in Syria, in particular, between "Ahrar Al Sham" (Islamic Movement of the Free Men of the Levant', which includes Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine) and the al Nusra Front itself.

As soon as he arrived in Syria, he asked to meet Islamic State "Caliph" al Baghdadi. The latter refused to see him but delegated the task to the "governor of al Sham" Abu Ali Al Anbari (from Al Anbar in Iraq), who proposed Al Muhaysini join Daesh as a "qur‘anic judge".

Al Muhaysini refused the offer, eventually becoming Daesh’s most vocal jihadi critic. It was he who reorganised Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest), a pro-Saudi and pro-Turkish group in which he acts as a Sharia or qur‘anic judge. (PB)