Al-Nusra Front not yet dead as its emir devises “Islamic Emirate of the Levant”

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An al-Nusra Front fighter takes up his fighting position in Syria. (Photo:AFP)

By: Suhaib Anjarini

Published Saturday, July 12, 2014

It has been revealed that the emir of al-Nusra Front Abu Mohammed al-Joulani is leading efforts, with direct support from Saudi cleric Sheikh Abdullah Mohaisany, to reorganize and reinvigorate his group. Leaked audio recordings have unveiled a plan by al-Nusra to establish an Islamic Emirate of the Levant. The recording, which sheds light on dramatic new aspects of the “jihadi civil war,” has since been taken down.

Two minutes and twenty seconds is all that remains of the proclamation of the Emirate of the Levant by the leader of al-Nusra Front Abu Mohammed Joulani. The audio recording has been deleted from the websites that had posted the full version, with al-Nusra sources rushing to stress that any statement that is not issued by al-Manara al-Baidaa [the White Lighthouse] institution or any other official al-Nusra Front body is not to be treated as authentic.

Jihadi pages on social media sites had seen extensive discussions regarding the authenticity of the reports stating that Mullah Omar, the leader of Taliban, had given a green light to the representative of al-Nusra Front to declare an Islamic emirate in the Levant that would be under Omar’s command. These reports were denied later by pro-Taliban sources on the Internet, before the recording attributed to Joulani was published late on Friday evening.

Al-Nusra supporters were quick to welcome the recording and the “emirate” to come. Pro-Nusra jihadi sites proclaimed, “the announcement of the emirate took place in agreement with the major Islamist factions, such as Jaish al-Muhajirin wal Ansar; al-Katiba al-Khadraa; Jund al-Aqsa; Jaish Mohammad; and Ansar al-Khilafa.” Joulani’s statements seem to have been made to a crowd of his supporters, who interrupted him repeatedly with shouts of “God is great” and chanted, “We are all al-Qaeda…we are all Osama…we are all Zawahiri…we are all Joulani.”

Prior to Joulani, Abu Firas al-Shami spoke, and said, addressing the crowd, “Without talking excessively and without making introductions, we now turn to our sheikh and emir, the conqueror Abu Mohammed al-Joulani.” Joulani, addressing the crowd, then said, “The time has come for you dears to reap these fruits. I have brought to you good tidings, by God, to uphold the law of God Almighty in this Earth.”

He continued, “The time has come, dears, for us to establish an Islamic emirate in the Levant, to implement the limits and punishments of God Almighty, and his laws in every sense of the word, without compromise, complacency, equivocation, or circumvention…To safeguard the rights of Muslims and safeguard their sanctities and collect Zakat….”

Joulani, addressing the “soldiers of al-Nusra,” then said, “You have a project, so let no one engage in one-upmanship with you. In your hand you have the key (the emirate) that has no rival in the Levant or elsewhere.”

Joulani did not forget to tackle the issue of the “caliphate,” and said, “This caliph (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) is a usurper. Even if he were to declare the caliphate a thousand times, no one must be deceived by it.” He added, “A caliphate based on destroying a jihadi project that the nation has been dreaming of since 1,400 years, and a caliphate built by those who helped the regime fight against you, is an invalid caliphate even if they declare it a thousand times.”

The emir of al-Nusra then stressed, “The Front has formidable power, and few can rival it in the Levant.” He added, “This nation will have battle lines with all those who harbor ill will toward it, from the regime to the extremists and the corrupt… After today, we shall never withdraw from any region no matter what. We will not show mercy to those who stand against the emirate project, whoever they may be.”

Joulani then took to explaining the “emirate’s strategies” to the audience, and said, “Within a week, there will be sharia courts in the liberated areas… there will be an army and an emirate. The armies will be divided into battalions and brigades. There will be an army in Aleppo, and an army in Idlib…. Your brothers in Deraa will join you, and the same goes for besieged al-Ghouta. We will develop a strategy to unite these emirates under one emirate.”

Joulani continued, “After that, there will be a huge army that will strike the Jews and defy everyone [Sic].” Joulani then revealed that this army would be led by Abu Qatada al-Albani, who seems to have been present, as the crowd began to cry “Let us see the sheikh.” Joulani resumed his speech and said, “You must obey this sheikh. Any soldier who defies him will be held accountable, from myself to the lowest ranking soldier.”

A pro-Nusra jihadi source in Aleppo spoke to Al-Akhbar and said, “The speech was made by Sheikh Joulani indeed, but not with the goal of declaring an emirate as the supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) tried to claim.”

The source explained, “The speech was made in the Aleppo countryside, during a ceremony by the Suqur al-Izz Brigades to pledge allegiance to Sheikh Joulani, attended by Sheikh Mohaisany and a number of prominent leaders of the blessed jihad.” It seems that one of the attendees recorded the speeches, and later leaked them. The source said, “Good tidings will come one after the other in the coming days. You will hear about pledges of allegiances that will restore what was broken, and bring back the banner of victory to the conquering sheikh [Joulani] God willing.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


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