Jund al Sham’s log. Image from the SITE Intelligence Group.
Jund al Sham (Soldiers of the Levant), a new Salafi jihadist group in Syria, announced its formation in the Syrian city of Homs on Dec. 23, in a statement published on the group’s Facebook page, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. Jund al Sham’s media arm, Sada al Sham, also released two subsequent statements announcing the goals of the group, SITE reported.
The group’s emir is identified as Abu Suleiman al Muhajir; his nom de guerre — Muhajir, or ‘immigrant’ — indicates he may be a foreigner. His real identity is unknown.
Abu Suleiman al Muhajir’s short statement indicates that the group is focused on jihad in Syria. From the SITE translation:
After the hoards of the al-Assad gangs, and their Rafidah [Shi’ite] allies, united and attacked Muslims in Syria, it became incumbent upon the monotheists from among the Sunnis who chose the path of jihad and fighting the disbelievers in all their forms and types, to unite on supporting the truth with harmony and love among each other, while rejecting disbelief, and demanding a goal without deviation or backing out ….
However, in one of the two other statements released by Jund al Sham’s media arm, another official, Abu Abdul Rahim al Muhajir, suggests that the group is supportive of jihad in other theaters outside of Syria. Again, from the SITE translation:
These are words of support for Jund al-Sham, who rolled up their sleeves of seriousness and wanted to join the convoy of jihad that is ongoing until the Day of Judgment, which no one would miss except those who have an excuse or lost their way.
Their [Jund al Sham’s] position is clear towards everyone who raised the banner of [monotheism] and jihad, that they are with them and they support them as much as they can, and they are their brothers in the religion and the creed, while holding with them onto the strong rope of Allah and the Sunnah [traditions] of their Prophet, Allah’s peace and prayer be upon him.
They see themselves as servants for the religion of Allah, and the Muslims in general and the people of jihad in particular.
The name ‘Jund al Sham’ is not new to the Levant, which includes Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the slain emir of al Qaeda in Iraq, is said to have established a group called Jund al Sham in the late 1990s. That group was made up of Jordanians, Syrians, and Lebanese, and was trained in a camp in Herat. Zarqawi purportedly received seed money from Osama bin Laden to establish the camp.
Additionally, a group calling itself Jund al Sham operated from the notorious Ein Al Hilwah Palestinian camp in Lebanon. That group clashed frequently with Fatah, and also battled Syrian security forces and the Lebanese Army. Jund al Sham also reportedly attacked the US Embassy in Damascus in 2006. Although it is unclear if this version of Jund al Sham is linked to Zarqawi’s branch, it most likely is.
Jihadist groups are popping up left and right in Syria as President Bashir al Assad’s regime continues to crumble. The most powerful jihadist group, the Al Nusrah Front, is al Qaeda in Iraq’s affiliate in Syria.