Al Nusrah Front, allies impose sharia in Aleppo

The Washington Post reports that the Al Nusrah Front, which is al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, is teaming up with other Islamists to impose sharia, or Islamic law, in Aleppo. Read the entire article. It is clear that the Al Nusrah Front is operating from a position of strength and is dominating the sharia council in the city.

The other two major groups involved in Aleppo’s sharia council are the Ahrar al-Sham, a Syrian Salafist-jihadist group, and the Tawhid Brigade, which is said to be the largest fighting group in Aleppo. The Tawhid Brigade is also part of the Free Syrian Army, which is often held up by the West as a secular military force (it is anything but, given how closely it works with the Al Nusrah Front in multiple theaters in Syria). Even the head of the Syrian Opposition Council, which backs the Free Syrian Army, opposes the US government’s designation of the Al Nusrah Front as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Additionally, note just how marginalized the real secular forces in Aleppo are. A doctor who was detained by the sharia council and subsequently released naively claims: “They [the Islamists] have power, they have guns, but they don’t have support. When there are free elections, you will see.” But as the article states, and as we’ve pointed out numerous times at The Long War Journal, the Al Nusrah Front is popular for both its battlefield prowess and for the ‘soft’ support — humanitarian aid and the sharia courts — that it provides in areas under its control or influence.

The establishment of sharia in Aleppo should come as no surprise. The Al Nusrah Front has done the same in areas along the Euphrates River Valley that are under its control. Earlier this month, the Al Nusrah Front took the lead in establishing the “Sharia Committee for the Eastern Region” and has imposed Islamic law in cities such as Raqqah and Deir al Zour.

The US government is sending more than $60 million in non-lethal aid to the Syrian Opposition Coalition, which again supports Al Nusrah and its allies, and two US senators also are proposing legislation to provide support to secular opposition to the Assad regime. But one must question whether this is even feasible. Does the US government even know how to identify the secular opposition? It clearly cannot tell that the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian Opposition Council are severely compromised.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • blert says:

    The current front man, latest ‘PM’ has quite a controversial history.
    If you read his bio, it’s apparent that Ghassan Hitto has been an Islamist for a very, long while.
    What’s interesting is just how closely Hitto’s CV looks like the Egyptian Mohammed Morsi — who holds an American PhD from USC in materials science.
    Both are sponsored by the Muslim Brotherhood.
    FYI, the MB’s dominant philosophic bent today is anti-Americanism. It was founded to put women back in their place, in Egypt, when the British were running the show. The MB morphed during the Nazi era — because Berlin decided the MB would be ideal as an anti-British organization.
    More than a few Western Desert spy novels have been written structured around the spy war in Cairo during WWII. The German friendly Egyptians were, of course, the Muslim Brotherhood. It had a monopoly on anti-British sentiments at the time.
    In the 1950s Sayyid Outb returned from Colorado and took over the house magazine. From that point onwards, the MB has always been primarily an anti-American crew.
    Qutb hated Americans, and for all practical purposes is the muslim equivalent to Antonio Gramsci, the most influential Communist theorist of the 20th Century.
    It wasn’t long after the Nassar revolution that the MB was banned. Qutb was hanged for treason in 1966. It remained banned/ repressed until the latest Egyptian revolution. Endless plots to assassinate Egyptian politicians and general officers did the trick.
    You can see why Moscow has its hair on fire. Authoritarian despots are falling like bowling pins.

  • Gaz says:

    the Free Syrian Army, which is often held up by the West as a secular military force (it is anything but, given how closely it works with the Al Nusrah Front in multiple theaters in Syria)
    I fail to see how cooperating with a non-secular group against a common foe also makes them ‘non secular’, nor why it should be particularly important. Afterall, the House of Saud has a more Islamist regime than any faction in Syria short of Al Nusra would intend to establish, but this hasn’t stopped the Pentagon and CIA from cooperating with their Saudi counterparts for 60 years.
    Despite being personally against America’s involvement in Syria, it’s hardly suprising that many Syrians (and not just the Syrian Opposition Council) support Al Nusra. It’s hard to imagine why the average Sunni Syrian would weigh up the ‘non-lethal’ aid from America vs the Al Nusra members fighting for them daily in a life or death struggle , and decide to side with Washington.


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