Abu Qatada moves on Syria
Radical militant Jordanian cleric Abu Qatada increased his influence within Jabhat al-Nusra, (al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria) by issuing a Fatwa against Abu Hussein Rahhal, one of the groups’ veteran commanders.
Rahhal was arrested earlier this year after he opposed the ever-increasing influence of Abu Qatada over Nusra’s affairs, including Abu Qatada’s role in keeping Nusra within the fold of al-Qaeda and its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Despite internal division the leadership ignored the rulings of the internal judicial committee of al-Nusra and went ahead and executed Rahhal. This can only serve to further split the leadership.
Qatada, who was deported from the UK to Jordan on 7 July 2013 and found not guilty of terrorism charges in June 2014; these dated back to and incident in1998. His main aim in Syria seems to be to prevent closer alliance between Ahrar al-Sham and al-Nusra.
Aimen Dean from 5 Dimension Consultants is an expert on regional geopolitical issues and has direct access into many of the radical groupings, said, “Social media posts over the past 12 hours have been full of condemnation for Abu Qatada’s negative role in the Syrian “Jihad” scene. Many posts have been saying that his fatwas and directions are causing internal rifts within Jabhat al-Nusra as well as external tensions with its allies”.
“The pro-Jihadists in Syria (non-ISIS) blame Abu Qatada also for persuading Nusra’s leader “Joulani” for sacking two “less hardline clerics” from Nusra’s ranks, namely Abu Slaih al-Hamawai and Abu Maria al-Qahtani. Notably both clerics urged a severing of ties with al-Qaeda and Ayman al-Zawahiri,” he continued.
Dean added, “My team and I have been analysing what is going on closely and we think Jabhat al-Nusra is abandoning the “consensus building” approach it has been following for the past 30 months and instead it developing to become a slightly lighter version of ISIS.
There is evidence that they are imposing religious taxes and carrying out their own brand of justice in areas they control. However many of these areas contain allies from other Jihadist groups, for example Ahrar al-Sham and they are being subjected to al-Nusra ways.
I suspect that we will see a split within Jabhat al-Nusra this year, or alternatively an internal coup against Joulani followed by the group’s eventual split into two or more groups.
I know that individuals within Nusra and their allies are calling for an end to Abu Qatada’s interference in Syria “Jihad” matters. I believe therefore, it is inevitable that a showdown between pro and anti Qatada supporters will take place over the next few months, a clash that will decide the fate of al-Qaeda and its ideology in Syria”.
With the potential for growing instability within the al-Qaeda affiliated rebel groups in Syria, continued ISIS action and ISIS affiliated action across an increasing global front, Iran, a supporter of the Assad regime on the ascendancy with the potential for easing sanctions in the P5+1 nuclear agreement, the one thing that is certain is that there is no end in sight for suffering in the region to ease. Surely it is time for the GCC to seek a UN mandate and bring a coordinated plan for stability in the region.