This week I had the chance to read the article “Al Qaeda Is Gaining Strength in Syria”  a good piece about how the situation in Aleppo and the break of the siege helped to strength Islamist groups and raised their support among civilians.

However, I would like to point something somewhat disruptive in this article.

The article pictures Ahrar al Sham as having ties with Al Qaeda and even tries to explain, in a desperate attempt as it seems, some links between Abu Khalid al-Suri, a senior member of Ahrar al Sham killed in 2014 with al Qaeda. Abu Khalid was a veteran of jihad in Afghanistan, where he establishing media groups and training centers for mujahideen.

Despite claims of links with al Qaeda and collaboration with Osama bin Laden, who Abu Khalid used to praise frequently, Abu Khalid stated in 1999, after a period of disputation, that he was not a member of al Qaeda.

The text does not present any strong proof or fundamental base that puts Ahrar al Sham in an actual positon of submission to al Qaeda, obviously for the lack of proves, as it is a complete imaginative possibility. Clearly, what influenced this line of thought is the fact that Ahrar al Sham works closely with Jabhat Fath al Sham ex Jabhat al Nusra, formed al Qaeda franchise in Syria before splitting and breaking all ties with al Qaeda in July.

Both groups lead Jaysh Fath, a coalition against Assad Regime, and are considered the strongest among the Rebels and Islamist groups, their alliance is very important for the jihad in Syria. Nowadays, some considers that a big operation cannot go well if there is not an approval by Ahrar al Sham and Jabhat Fath al Sham together.

It is also expected a unification between Rebel groups in Syria and this unification includes both, Jabhat Fath al Sham and Ahrar al Sham. A unification between these two factions especially, would mean a huge improvement in the situation of the revolution.

Now, nobody should mistake alliance with links or ties.

It is understandable the confusion linking Ahrar al Sham to Jabhat Fath al Sham, as the groups work together. However, affirming that Ahrar al Sham is an al Qaeda branch is not only a huge mistake but also a silly affirmative based on nothing.  It is a desperate attempt to incriminate Ahrar al Sham and consequently the whole Jaysh al Fath, and finding a justification to keep hostility with JaF coalition, as the media is lacking of excuses after the breakaway between Jabhat al Nusra and al Qaeda.

Yes, Ahrar is indeed an Islamist group and like any other, it seeks the implementation of theocracy and Sharia Law as the Legal Base for ruling its society. Nevertheless, it is important to note that being an Islamist group and supporting Sharia Law does not necessary mean links with al Qaeda.

The fact is that: Does not matter how hard you try, Ahrar is not an al Qaeda affiliated and it is more than clear in the group’s policy. By being an Islamist group, it indeed brings some similarities as the ideology of Islamist groups are always the same differing though, in manhaj (methodology) so it is not surprising to find similarities between Ahrar, Jabhat fath a Sham, al Qaeda or even the Islamic State at some points, repeating, all seek implementation of a Theocracy and Sharia Law.

Now, these similarities does not make them all part of the same groups, and actually in many times, it brings disputes and disagreements.  It does not prevent groups from being “friends” or “allies” of one another though, divergences between thoughts are normal but this does not mean hostility, after all their own ideology (Islam) is about unification and not about hate and infights. So even the groups do not fully agree with one another, there is no reason to avoid their own brothers. IS is an exception here, the hostility groups have toward them is unique.

Examples of this kind of relationship can be find in any country. There are different branches of Democracy, for example, some are far right, others are liberals, and there are the ones who want to implement the Christian principles. Despite the different projects, they do not treat each other with hostility, as they are all democrat after all.

Why would it be different with Islamists?

 

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Published by Pashtun Cat