IMU praises slain Syrian Islamist brigade commander

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan posted condolences on its official Facebook site for Abdul Qadr al Saleh, the commander of the Liwa al Tawhid, or the Al Tawhid Brigade, who was killed in a Syrian Air Force strike in Aleppo on Nov. 18. From the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained and translated the IMU statements:

In three postings on its Facebook page on November 18, the IMU called al Saleh a “martyr,” and in one message, expressed solidarity with Syrian fighters and others. It wrote: “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.”

Additionally, the IMU said the following about the death of al Saleh:

Your martyr is our martyr, your wounded is our wounded, and your victory is our victory and a victory for the Ummah [Muslim community] and the religion. Allah had chosen your leader as a martyr, and we consider the leader, may Allah accept him, to have completed his mission, organized the ranks, led the battles, and made the forces of the Nusayris and apostasy drink from the cups of death and they met death at his hands, and they are not equal, for your dead are in heaven and theirs are in hell.

It is quite rare for an established group like the IMU to offer such high praise for a leader of a unit that is not considered to be global jihadist network. So the IMU’s condolences for al Saleh speaks volumes about how the Al Tawhid Brigade is viewed by jihadist groups outside Syria.

While the Al Tawhid Brigade isn’t an official part of al Qaeda’s network in Syria, it is a Salafi jihadist military unit that often fights alongside al Qaeda’s official branches: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, and the Muhajireen Army (a subgroup of the ISIS). The Al Tawhid Brigade is part of the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front, a group of Islamist rebel units often considered “moderate” as they are not official members of al Qaeda’s network. The Al Tawhid Brigade is said to be backed by Qatar.

In September, the leader of the group’s branch in Aleppo announced that the Al Tawhid Brigade has joined with the Al Nusrah Front and other Islamist and Free Syrian Army groups to reject the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition and call for the establishment of sharia, or Islamic law, throughout Syria.

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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  • Tom McI says:

    Comment that Saleh is a martyr is not at all unusual as your text implies. All Jihadists or Muslims fighting a Holy war who die in combar are described as martyrs. KIA would be a more accurate translation.

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    Perhaps it’s a way of them saying that we support all islamic terrorist groups in Syria, whether aligned to Al Qaeda or not. Interestingly it comes from the IMU rather than an arab islamic terrorist group operating in Syria.

  • Gaz says:

    Liwa al Tawhid is not even remotely a salafist jihadist group, it had all sorts of connections to various middle eastern states that SJs regard as their enemy. It is a big tent group composed of rural sunni peasants and defected sunni soldiers, and to the extent it even had an ideology it would be categorised as Islamist.
    However Saleh did have a tremendous amount of respect from all opposition forces from secular activists to Jihadists. The only similar figure I can think of is ahmed issa sheik of Suqour al sheik.

  • Joe says:

    Previous vid in Syria, you guys showed a guy wearing a Pawkul hat. I thought this to be strictly Afghan, particularly Northern Afghan where IMU is typically.


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