An Uzbek commander known as Abu Hussein leads a group of his countrymen fighting in the ranks of the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.
Little is known about Abu Hussein, the emir of the Seyfuddin Uzbek Jamaat. His jamaat, or group, is “fighting under the auspices of Jabhat al-Nusrah [Al Nusrah Front] and which took part in the offensives against regime forces in Shaykh Najjar, Aleppo,” according to From Chechnya to Syria, a website that tracks fighters from the Russian Caucasus and beyond who are fighting in Syria.
Over the past few months, Shaykh Najjar, an industrial city just outside of Aleppo, has been the scene of heavy fighting between jihadist groups and the Syrian military. Abdallah Muhammad al Muhaysini, a popular Saudi cleric and a rising star in the jihadist world who backs the Al Nusrah Front, was recently seen in a video in which he lauded fighters from the Islamic Caucasus Emirate who fought at Shaykh Najjar. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda-linked Saudi cleric in Syria praises fighters from Islamic Caucasus Emirate.]
Abu Hussein’s Seyfuddin Uzbek Jamaat is thought to have “scores of fighters from Uzbekistan and neighboring countries in Central Asia,” a US intelligence official who tracks jihadist groups in Syria told The Long War Journal.
The Seyfuddin Uzbek Jamaat is aided by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, or IMU, an al Qaeda-allied group that is active in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Central Asia.
The IMU recruits and trains fighters from Central Asia and helps them travel to Syria to support al Qaeda’s jihad, the intelligence official said.
The IMU is known to support the jihad in Syria. In November 2013, the IMU released several statements on its Facebook page praising the martyrdom of the commander of the Liwa al Tawhid (Al Tawhid Brigade), a Salafist group that allies with al Qaeda in Syria. In the statement, the IMU lauded “all of our brothers” in the theaters of jihad, including Syria.
“We are in one battle, for those who we fight in Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan are unjust tyrants like Bashar al-Assad. We do not make the borders between us and you; instead, the hearts are open with love, affection and support for all of our brothers in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, Somalia, and passionate, defiant Palestine,” the IMU stated, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
Other terrorist groups from Central and South Asia, including the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, are also known to have established fighting groups and set up training cells inside Syria.