Danish Salafist leader said to have been killed in Syria
Shiraz Tariq, left, Abu Khattab.
A report in today's Copenhagen Post describing a new letter-writing campaign launched by Danish Salafists to Muslims in Danish prisons noted that the campaign coincides with the reported death of Danish Salafist leader Shiraz Tariq in Syria. Tariq, also known as Abu Musa, is the leader of Kaldet til Islam ("Called to Islam"), the group conducting the campaign.
Reports of Tariq's death arose after a martyrdom video about him surfaced over the past week. A post on the video sharing website LiveLeak alleged that Tariq had been killed in Syria's Latakia province on the morning of Sept. 25; it also said that the "whereabouts and condition of his pupil Abu Khattab" were unknown. Khattab is also a member of Kaldet til Islam.
On Aug. 15, Khattab was featured in the first Danish-language jihadist video from Syria posted on the Internet, according to the Copenhagen Post. In the video, he appealed to Danish Muslims to come to Syria for jihad, calling it the "forgotten implication." Khattab is known in Salafist circles in Denmark. [See Threat Matrix report, Denmark looking at support networks for Syrian jihadists.]
The recently released martyrdom video for Tariq claims that he died while fighting alongside the Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, or Emigrants Army, which is made up of more than 2,000 foreign fighters and thousands of Syrians. The Emigrants Army is linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, one of two al Qaeda affiliates operating in Syria.
According to the LiveLeak post, Tariq is said to have been in Syria for some time, along with several other Danish jihadists, for whom he served as a leader. An Aug. 30 article in the Danish paper Politiken described the 34-year-old Tariq as "the spider" in the Danish Salafist environment, a committed jihadist who for years had pulled the strings in the background. He had been questioned in several terrorism cases and arrested once. His family came from the Sialkot region of Pakistan, according to Politiken.
Danish authorities have estimated that 65 Danes have gone to Syria for jihad, but the actual number may higher, as Islamist forces continue to extend their reach in the increasingly chaotic country. Authorities believe that so far six Danish jihadists have died in Syria. In May, jihadist forums released a video announcing the death of Danish jihadist Kenneth Sørensen, who had fought with the Muhajireen Brigade (Emigrants Army). [See LWJ report, Danish jihadist killed while fighting for Muhajireen Brigade in Syria.]
Just a few days after Tariq's reported death, Politiken noted that Danish authorities are looking for another jihadist in Syria, a 23-year-old from Bellahoj identified only as "A.S." One of the problems faced by Danish authorities is the fact that Danish law does not currently prevent persons from traveling to Syria to fight; only those who participate in the abuse or killing of civilians or join a terrorist organization can be prosecuted.
Neither of al Qaeda's two Syrian affiliates, the Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, appear on the European Union's list of designated terrorist organizations; nor has the ISIL-linked foreign fighter group, the Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, or Emigrants Army, been listed as a banned organization.