Jihadists have released a video of a British fighter who carried out a suicide attack in a recent assault on an Aleppo prison conducted by the Al Nusrah Front and the Army of the Caliphate. Abdul Waheed Majeed, the British suicide bomber, is seen just before he rams an up-armored dump truck into the prison.
Majeed, who is thought to be the first Brit to carry out a suicide attack inside Syria, is seen in a videotape titled “The last operation Emir Saifullah al Shishani.” Saifullah, a Chechen, was a leader of the “Al-Khilafa army,” or Army of the Caliphate, which fights under the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria. Before he was killed during the fighting in Aleppo, Saifullah swore allegiance to the emir of the Al Nusrah Front after defecting from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham. [See LWJ report, Al Nusrah Front praises Chechen commander killed in Aleppo.]
A decade before traveling to Syria to wage jihad for the Al Nusrah Front, Majeed was a student of Omar Bakri Muhammad, the radical jihadist cleric who once wrote statements for Osama bin Laden and who formed al-Muhajiroun, which has been banned in England for terrorist activities. Majeed was also a member of al-Muhajiroun from 1996-2004.
Bakri called Majeed “a very dear brother,” who was active in promoting the “Muslim cause,” the Guardian reported.
“He wanted to study Islam and wanted to know what it was to be a good Muslim,” Bakri said. “He was also very interested in the issue of how we could establish an Islamic state.”
Majeed is seen at 26:30 into the video [below]. He is wearing a white dishdasha and headband, and stands next to a dump truck that is packed with explosives and armored with steel plating. Several jihadists pose for pictures with Majeed.
Someone asks Majeed to give final words, but Majeed says, in English, that he “is not a very good speaker” and “his tongue has, got like a knot in it.” He then notes that anything he says “should come from the heart.” “I can’t do it,” he says.
The video then cuts to the dump truck driving away towards the prison. Heavy gunfire breaks out between the jihadists and Syrian forces at the prison. Minutes later, a massive blast is seen at the prison as Majeed detonated his explosives. Other jiahdists are heard yelling “Allahu Akbar” after the blast.
Prior to Majeed’s attack, Abdallah Muhammad al Muhaysini, an al Qaeda-linked Saudi cleric, is seen standing next to Saifullah, and gives a speech to other fighters about the strife with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham. Al Qaeda’s General Command recently disowned ISIS for refusing to mediate its disputes with other jihadist groups.
Muhaysini addresses fighters from numerous countries, and also implores fighters from the ISIS to join the Al Nusrah Front, the Muhajireen Army, and Ahrar al Sham, a brigade in the Islamic Front that is closely tied to al Qaeda, according to a translation by Oren Adaki, a Research Associate at Foundation for Defense of Democracies:
By Allah, oh brothers in jihad, Oh, people of the Caucus! Oh, Iraqis! Oh, Bosnians! Oh, [inaudible]! Oh, Yemenis! Oh, Tunisians! Oh, Moroccans! Oh, Algerians! Oh, all of those who have come to fight in the path [cause] of Allah! Under the sounds of this artillery fire, we have come to fight in the path [cause] of Allah. Here, for the sake of this we have come, not in order for us to fight with one another. My brothers in the state [reference to ISIS] – Allah, Allah! By Allah, the noblest of our wishes is to meet Allah, almighty, feeling accomplished and not regretful. By Allah, we do not want to meet Allah with Muslim blood on our person! Presently the suicide bomber has set out. In a few minutes the ummah will hear his voice, with Allah’s permission, raging within the prisons of the rafida [Shiites]. Yes, by Allah, but the booby-traps – when they kill Muslims – what shall we say to our lord tomorrow? What shall we say to our lord tomorrow? I adjure you by Allah, oh mujahideen in the state [ISIS], to join your brothers in Al Nusrah, or your brothers in Al Ahrar [Ahrar al Sham], or Jaysh al Muhajireen, or whoever you want. But do not go on fighting Muslims! By Allah, I bear witness to you in front of Allah, almighty, I adjure by Allah Omar Al-Shishani, I adjure by Allah those faithful mujahideen brothers in the state [ISIS] – the jihad will not stop, the jihad will not stop for the sake of this fitna and for this fighting! Stop this fighting! Do not use the terms bandits and apostates! We are fighting the regime and after that we will turn to these people! Allah, Allah! With Allah’s permission we will end this day with cries of Allahu Akbar in the Aleppo prison!
Foreign jihadists fighting in Syria
Several hundred Britons are now fighting the Assad regime in Syria, and some 20 are thought to have been killed there. Wajeed is believed to be the first to have died in a suicide bombing in Syria, The Telegraph reported.
In late January, President Francois Hollande of France warned that as many as 700 Britons have gone to Syria for jihad; British authorities maintained, however, that the number was closer to 350 but admitted it is constantly rising, and that the 350 represents only those persons known to police and intelligence agencies. British authorities made 16 Syria-linked terror arrests in January alone, compared with 24 in all of 2013, The Telegraph said.
Hollande said that about 700 fighters from France are currently in Syria. Two weeks later, on Feb. 12, French counterterrorism judge Mark Trevidic warned that the number of French jihadists is increasing, as a “second generation” has cropped up, spurred by returning jihadists who have encouraged others to join them. He said the newer recruits include females traveling to Syria to marry jihadists, and observed that “[m]ajor events like the use of chemical gases have inspired many people,” according to Reuters. Trevidic also noted that the number of persons traveling through France via Turkey to Syria exceeds the number of French citizens reportedly fighting in Syria.
An estimated 15,000 jihadists from Europe, Africa, and the Arab world have joined the Al Nusrah Front and other extremist groups in Syria, the London Evening Standard stated last week. That figure is consistent with an estimate made in December by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation in London that as many as 11,000 fighters from over 70 countries, including many from Western Europe, have gone to Syria to fight.
In late January, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee that about 7,000 foreign fighters from 50 countries have traveled to Syria, and warned that among the estimated 75,000 to 110,000 rebel fighters there, 26,000 are considered to be extremists, Foreign Policy reported.
Video of “The last operation Emir Saifullah al Shishani”