A series of links on Syria, foreign fighters, Tunisian foreign fighters, a Belgian trial on Iraq and Afghanistan foreign fighters with a (current) tangential? link to Syria.
The Washington Post wrote that, “Western diplomats say they have tracked a steady trickle of jihadists flowing into Syria from Iraq, andJordan’s government last week detained at least four alleged Jordanian militants accused of trying to sneak into Syria to join the revolutionaries.”
AFP/NOW Lebanon also reported on a similar incident, “A top Jordanian Salafist leader said on Tuesday eight Sunni jihadists have been arrested as they tried to cross the border into neighboring Syria to fight President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. “The Jordanian authorities have recently arrested eight jihadists as they attempted to go toSyria for jihad. They are currently in the Zarqa prison waiting for prosecutors to charge them,” Abed Shehadeh, known as Abu Mohammad Tahawi, told AFP.”
Time Magazine reported that “Abdel Ghani Jawhar, one of the leaders of the Sunni fundamentalist terror group Fatah al-Islam, died in the Syrian city of Qsair on Friday night. The founding cleric of Fatah al Islam, Sheikh Osama al Shihabi, confirmed Jawhar’s death to TIME with a quote from the Koran: “‘We are for God and to him we return.’ We as Mujahideen are used to being killed and if God wants to give those killed dignity he gives them martyrdom. This is the path of righteousness.”
A recent article from McClatchy states that, “ No foreigners were seen among Farouq’s fighters during the week a reporter spent with them, though more than a half-dozen fighters, when a reporter told them he had spent time reporting in Iraq, offered that they also had fought there during the U.S. invasion and occupation. Often, their first question was whether the reporter had visited Fallujah, the city that became synonymous with Iraq’s Sunni Muslim resistance after anti-American fighters took it over in 2003 and held U.S. forces largely at bay before a full-scale assault byU.S. forces in late 2004 recaptured it, destroying more than 80 percent of the city in the effort. Many of the Farouq fighters compared Homs to Fallujah and Syrian tactics to those employed by the United States inIraq. They noted that the Syrian military is building walls around Baba Amr, with the intent of preventing fighters from re-infiltrating the neighborhood.”
An earlier story profiles an ex-Foreign Fighter who returned toSyria, “Last week, Abu Khalid was trying, unsuccessfully, to get himself and a half dozen automatic rifles and ammunition across the border. He said there were Libyans and a Palestinian inJordanalso waiting to cross the border to join the fight.”
Tunisia Now wrote that the, “The southeastern Tunisian town of Ben Guerdane awoke yesterday morning to the news that three locals had been killed in Syria. The three young Tunisian men joined the ranks of Syrian opposition fighters in their uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, reported Tunisian daily Assabah. The three victims were Bolababh Boklech, Walid Hilal, and Mohamed el-Jeri. They all traveled toSyria to join forces with the Free Syrian Army, which opposes the al-Assad regime, and were accompanied by two other Tunisians – one of whom never made it intoSyria.”
This not the first time a Hilal from Tunisia has made an appearance in foreign fighter networks. An article from 2006 states, “Security sources told Al Mustaqbal that Hilal, the Tunisian, is wanted by Western security apparatuses because they believe that he is in charge of recruiting radical men in Europe to fight inIraqwhere he commanded an armed group. He then went toSyria and was instructed by al-Qaida to go to Ain al-Helweh refugee camp near the southern city ofSidoninLebanonand meet with a member in Osbat al-Ansar, Shehab Qaddour, better known as Abi Horaira.”
Finally, a Belgian trial is in the process of winding down against a number of individuals for their involvement in a network sending individuals to Iraq and later Afghanistan. It would appear that perhaps one of the accused has made their way to Syria to fight. “Son fils [Abdel Rahman Ayachi] est considéré comme un des dirigeants de la filière jugée à Bruxelles. Il n’était pas présent lundi à l’ouverture de son procès. “Il est en Syrie où, avec le soutien de l’Onu, il mène des activités terroristes”, a dit en forme de provocation son avocat, Me Sébastien Courtoy, en dressant un parallèle entre l’Irak et la Syrie.” Articles can be found here, here, here and here.
Of interest is the allusion to the existence of lists of foreign fighters prior to the Sinjar seizure: “Le pseudonyme d’Ali Tabich ainsi que l’un de ses numéros de téléphone figuraient sur une liste de combattants terroristes en Irak, dont la police avait eu connaissance. Par ailleurs, le prévenu s’était rendu en Syrie en juillet 2005, mais celui-ci n’avait plus donné de signe de vie entre octobre 2005 et avril 2006. La police l’avait ainsi suspecté d’avoir rejoint, durant cette période, le djihad armé en Irak.”
Thanks to Azelin among others on Twitter for their making links available on some of the stories.