Abu Ali al-Shishani: From pastry chef to ‘Islamic State’ emir

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Anas Sharkas, aka Abu Ali al-Shishani. Al-Akhbar/Radwan Mortada

By: Radwan Mortada

Published Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Anas Sharkas, aka Abu Ali al-Shishani, lost it as soon as he heard the news of the arrest of his 22-year-old wife Ola al-Oqaili. Shortly after, a video was posted on YouTube of the man threatening Lebanon, its army and Shia women and children. Who is this man? How influential is he on the ground and how serious are his threats? Al-Akhbar had met Shishani two months ago in the rocky hills of Ersal nested between Lebanon and Syria.

In this video interview, Shishani told his story from Qusayr to Qalamoun and pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State. He talked about his work in Lebanon, joining the ranks of jihad and his project aimed at “establishing the caliphate in accordance with the Prophet’s approach.”

In the Qusayr battle, Anas Sharkas, also known by his nom de guerre Abu Ali al-Shishani, led fighters in a group called the Shield of Islam Battalion before it came to be known as al-Shishani Battalion. It has about 30 fighters based in a farm in the hills of Ersal near an area known as Wadi Mira. Introducing himself, Sharkas says: “My nickname is Abu Ali al-Shishani, I am Circassian, a resident of the city of Qusayr before it fell under the control of the infidels and the Shia. I am proud to be Syrian of Chechen origin.”

Recalling the beginning of the war in Syria, Shishani told Al-Akhbar: “The first action I took part in at the beginning of the Syrian crisis was in Damascus where I went out to protest against a policeman from Bashar [al-Assad’s] apostate police force who beat a member of the public and people rose up against him. At the time, events in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia were underway as part of the so-called Arab Spring but here in the Levant we call it the Islamic Caliphate, God willing.” He added, in the midst of these events “I told myself that jihad began in Syria so I left Lebanon where I worked as a pastry chef” and headed to Syria.

Did he go back to Syria to demand freedom? Shishani replied: “God forbid, what freedom! This is jihad. We are not slaves to demand our freedom. The slave whose master sells him demands freedom. We are slaves of God and our master is God. We are free from the moment we are born and we do not acknowledge this alleged infidel freedom. Freedom is commitment to the Qu’ran and the Sunnah [the way of life based on the teachings and practices of the Prophet Mohammad] in accordance with the method of our ancestors. This is the freedom that we owe to God. As for the freedom of the nude, that is not our freedom. This is one of the signs of judgement day of which the Prophet foretold.”

“After we saw our children and women in prisons humiliated and violated and after we gave our blood and dismembered limbs for the sake of God and for judgement according to the law of God, would we call for a pluralist civil state where Shia and Alawites live next to me? No, by God, this will not be. By God, we’ve come with slaughter. By God, we will not rest or sleep until every infidel in Syria is killed.” He goes on to say, “Our goal is rule by the law of God and we will not deviate from this path, we either perish without achieving it or impose rule by the law of God in the country and establish an Islamic Caliphate in accordance with the Prophet’s approach.” He called on “the oppressed Muslim Syrian people to seek the help of God alone and to be patient because God is with the patient, because the condition of victory is linked to the verse ‘If ye will aid (the cause of) God, He will aid you.’”

Shishani recently pledged allegiance to the “Islamic State” but asserted that he is neutral regarding “the conflict going on between the brothers in the north,” between the “Islamic State” and al-Nusra Front. He said: “If the ‘Islamic State’ asks for my soul, I will give it to them, if they ask for my blood, I will give it to them for nothing in return because they are people of the banner of the oneness of God. They raise the banner of God and rule in accordance with the law of God. If al-Nusra Front asks for my blood and soul, I would give it to them too. I am willing to give my body and my soul as an offering for both sides to reconcile and for us to unite under the banner of Islam. I ask God to end this strife. As for the the Free Syrian Army, “If it declares its allegiance [to God his Prophet and the believers] and dissociates [from falsehood and its people] and joins us, it will be safe from our swords.”

What about Lebanon and Hezbollah? Shishani replied: “Hezbollah? I ask God, the All-Determining and All-Mighty, to destroy it. This party took Iran as its god and came to Syria to kill its men and assail its women.” He added: “Every cloud has a silver lining. The cloud in this case is Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria because that exposed it and unmasked it publicly as fanatical about its shiism. As for the Lebanese government, if we give it the benefit of the doubt, we would say it is not suitable for leadership but if we don’t, we would say it is a Hezbollah lackey.” When asked if they intend to interfere in Lebanon, Shishani replied: “God willing and with His permission, I call on all the mujahideen to go to Lebanon to break Hezbollah because it is fighting here. They come to kill our women, children and men while their women and children are safe. If we want to win, we should fight in Lebanon, fight the community of those fighting in Syria.”

What about Palestine? “Palestine is our beloved. I ask God to bless us with jihad in Palestine. We do not mince words when it comes to our religion. The biggest enemy for us is Israel. Before this revolution and jihad for the sake of God broke out in Syria, our dream was to liberate al-Aqsa Mosque but fighting apostates takes priority now over fighting the Jews.”

How does he view the Gulf regimes? He said: “I already told you that I have no supporter but God, exalted be He. I understand the purpose of your question! “Who so judgeth not by that which God hath revealed: such are disbelievers.” Whoever they may be, even if it is my father and brother. Whoever comes out in favor of rule in accordance with the law of God – exalted be He – in favor of an Islamic Caliphate or an Islamic state, is my brother and my beloved. And whoever comes out against this idea and against this approach, I will fight him even if he were my own father.”

Follow Radwan Mortada on Twitter: @radwanmortada

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


'Successfully succeed'? Not with fools like you at their backs!

Hope they successfully succeed.

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