Free Syrian Army commander celebrates victory with al Qaeda affiliate

In this New York Times article on the influx of foreign fighters into Syria (more than 6,000 foreign fighters are now estimated to be fighting with jihadist groups) is a report of a Free Syrian Army commander celebrating the capture of the Minnigh airport in Aleppo with a leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al Qaeda affiliate. The ISIL is known to have led the charge to take control of the airport after FSA units failed to capture it during an eight-month siege. The video of the celebration is reproduced above.

After the battle, Col. Abdul Jabbar al-Okaidi, the head of the United States-backed opposition’s Aleppo military council, appeared in a video alongside Abu Jandal, a leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

In camouflage, Colonel Okaidi offered thanks to “our brothers al-Muhajireen wal Ansar and others,” adding: “We’re here to kiss every hand pressed on the trigger.” He then ceded the floor to Abu Jandal and a mix of jihadist and Free Syrian Army leaders, who stood together, each praising his men, like members of a victorious basketball team.

We have reported numerous times that the Free Syrian Army actively colludes with al Qaeda’s branches, the ISIL and the Al Nusrah Front for the People in the Levant. The report of the joint celebration in Aleppo is just further evidence that the Free Syrian Army conducts activities with al Qaeda in Syria. Inexplicably, the US is continuing with a plan to arm the FSA.

The NYT article also contains another tidbit. Note that while talking with the ISIL’s Abu Jandal, the FSA colonel also thanks the “al-Muhajireen wal Ansar,” or Muhajireen (Emigrants) Army. This group is led by a Chechen commander known as Omar al Chechen, and is a mix of fighters from the Caucasus and Europe as well as Syrian Islamists. It seems that the FSA colonel is indicating that the Muhajireen Army is part of the ISIL. If true, this certainly wouldn’t be an earth-shattering revelation, but it is interesting nonetheless.

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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  • mike merlo says:

    How quaint. Mephistopheles & Incubus ‘sharing a moment.’

  • Nic says:

    “Inexplicably, the US is continuing with a plan to arm the FSA.” Send your opinions to:

  • Adil says:

    Does it still matters to Syrians if help comes from Al-Qaedah or Israeil? its life or death for their families. Morons in west questioning why they not choosing death.

  • Daood abu Jacoob says:

    I’m pretty sure the Chechen group stands apart from ISIL and rejects Takfirism. It seems this site is really looking for a reason to cast the Muhajireen in a bad light, even though they have been very active in attempting to punish rogue elements (such as the Dagestani emir who allegedly attacked Catholics).
    I’m not sure what the motivation is behind this, as my personal experince has led me to believe the Mujahireen to be quite fair in their treatment of people (even the non Sunni population).
    Perhaps you could clarify why you think they are subbordinate to ISIL, it seems they attempt to work with the FSA and have avoided internal strife. Their backing of Dokku Umarov seems another sign they are standing apart from any AQ group.
    Historically AQ and the Kavkaz Emirate pretend the other does not exist, having many ideological differences, they simply do not air them publicly.
    Maybe you know something I don’t..


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