The US Department of State has designated Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar as “Foreign Terrorist Fighters”.
Here’s what the description says:
Formed in February 2013, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (JAMWA) is a Chechen-led terrorist organization based in Syria that consists primarily of foreign fighters. Cooperating with other violent extremist organizations in Syria, including al-Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), JAMWA has launched deadly assaults against civilian communities, and kidnapped civilians and other foreigners in Syria.
There are some factual errors here that, frankly, are rather sloppy.
First of all, JMA’s re-naming from Kataib al-Muhajireen was announced in March 2013, not February.
In December 2013, JMA split, with the group remaining under the JMA name bearing little resemblance to the group has it had been under Umar Shishani.
JMA cooperated with ISIS/IS only from summer 2013 through Umar’s eventual pledge to Baghdadi in December that year. The current version of JMA is opposed to ISIS and has expressed that in official statements. There is intense, bitter rivalry between JMA and ISIS, though the faction has refused to fight ISIS).
There are no recorded incidences of JMA kidnapping foreigners or attacking civilian communities. JMA has concentrated on fighting the Assad government in Aleppo, mostly north-western Aleppo.
The time to designate JMA as a “foreign terror group” would surely have been last summer, when it fought with ISIS under the leadership of Umar Shishani. Not now, when the group has been weakened considerably (Assad’s forces have attacked JMA bases on multiple occasions) and the group has retrenched from its positions in Aleppo.
The effect of the designation will be this:
As a result of the designations, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which these individuals or groups have any interest is blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them or to their benefit.
Which in the case of JMA means literally nothing, unless the US is concerned that JMA will commit terror attacks on US soil. While Russia has a definite reason to be concerned about JMA, and blowback from it and other Russian-speaking factions in Syria, does the US have a reason to fear blowback from Chechen groups?