JMA Split After Losing Its North Caucasian Majority & Amid Weak Caucasus Emirate

Abu Abdullah, a JMA militant, has written an explanation of the situation surrounding deposed JMA emir Salakhuddin Shishani and military emir Abdul Karim Krymsky.

The explanation sheds a lot of light onto the dramatic events of the past few weeks and days regarding the leadership of JMA; it also provides some more information about the state of the group following the departure of its former Amir, Umar Shishani and his entourage in November-December 2013 for IS.

Nothing happens in a vacuum, and it seems that there were problems in JMA for a while.

It seems that, according to this account at least, initially after Umar Shishani left JMA for IS in November 2013, JMA remained a majority North Caucasian group, which branded itself as the Caucasus Emirate in Syria. Indeed, its leaders including Salakhuddin had bay’ah to the CE Emir, first Dokku Umarov then Ali Abu Mukhammad.

Hhowever, over time as it grew in success JMA also gained a lot of Arab militants and that tipped it from a majority North Caucasian group and that led to tensions.

In business terms, Salakhuddin had a successful start up and ended up being kicked out by his original backers and investors.

There was another reason, which is also very interesting: after being in Syria for some time, JMA North Caucasians didn’t want to be part of the Caucasus Emirate any more.

But let’s take a look at what Abu Abdullah Shishani has to say for himself. I have highlighted in bold the more interesting (to me) paragraphs that concern the Caucasus Emirate.

NB: Abu Abdullah wrote a very very long document so I am going to deal with it in two parts. This is the first part.


After much deliberation, I decided to shed some light onto the events surrounding JMA. Because a lie, if it is not refuted, gets stronger.

Over the years we have been silent about a lot of injustices and slander against JMA and our emirs, not wanting to “wash the dirty linen of Jihad in public” [lit. “to take the trash out of the izba (wooden hut) of jihad.]

Since before we never encountered the practice of deliberate lies and a dirty information campaign for the sake of power and attracting new supporters. We thought that everything would work out. But now we are convinced that our silence does not put out the fitna and that the opposite, it is encouraging some individuals to continue their intrigues.

1. <...>

Let’s start with how they ousted Salakhuddin. The formal (it was called formal, but as will become clear later, it was a quite useless reason) was the house where the 102nd base was located. It was the military HQ of the Katiba.

Muatassim “the Sharia guy” demanded that Abdul Karim (AKK) quit the base completely within 1-2 days (I don’t recall exactly). To which he replied that he did not contest the decision about moving but he could not do it quickly because he needed to find a suitable building for the HQ (in Haritan there are really very few suitable houses available).

For these words, they nabbed him and immediately charged him with not fulfilling Sharia.

Muatassim & co demanded that Salakhuddin remove AKK from his position. To which Salakhuddin demanded time to think, after all, experienced military emirs don’t grow on trees and with all his faults he was exactly that, experienced, brave, with a wide circule of connections and respected in northern Syria.

Salakhuddin, having learned from bitter experience about preovious bias toward AKK under pressure of opposition, understood that they would not stop.

He decided to take time out and consult with scholars. Then Muatasim forced events and clearly went beyond his authority (which would be highlighted by the courts) and published the order for removal of the military Amir AKK and then, using the fact that Salakhuddin left Haritan on business, convened a shura (council) and they voted to remove him from his post too.

By the way, a note on the level of integrity of some opposition activists who specifically did not invite to this council the Amir of a military base knowing that he was against this intrigue!

Instead of him they brought an opponent of Salakhuddin, an ordinary militant, who signed up for the whole Caucasian House.

And the reason for removing the Emir, which they instilled in the ordinary Mujahideen 24/7, was that Salakhuddin supposedly did not apply Sharia (and even more than that does not want Sharia !!!), because he did not subject his deputy to Sharia. It reminds me of a chain takfir where incorrect assumptions lead to incorrect conclusions.

As for the 102nd base and its landlord, don’t worry about him, he wasn’t left without a roof over his head and he isn’t even in Syria. Just his request to free up the house was used by someon as an excuse for attacking the Amir and his circle…

2. <...>

Yes, dear brothers, our brothers were deceived!

You should have inquired. Inquired about the charges that you were fed day and night that were set up against a legitimate amir.

1. that he is an inveterate liar
2. that he assigns the Katiba’s money
3. that he plundered the mujahideen’s trophies from Elegance [a place in northern Aleppo where there had been an offensive against Syrian government forces — JP]
4. he doesn’t want Sharia

Etc, etc

Has one of these allegations have been proven in court against him?! I will say even more: was any of these charges brought against him in a proper manner in court?!

Then what about those gasbags who described it all to you and promised to prove it? Who are they after that?! I will not mention them by name, as you know them and must refute them, if you still have a shred of decency!

Understand finally, you were used for a crowd and in order to have a trump card at the court: “the majority are against Salahuddin.”

<...>

It got to the point of absurdity: they walked around the bases with a pen and notebook and held an “opinion poll” — are you for or against removing the Amir?

Dissenters were immediately take note of … Where have you seen that?! Without having something to show the Amir and his deputy when it comes to substantive –military — skill, they found his errors and cases of harassment of brothers in his circle. Forgetting that there is a war on! And Amirs in this case are evaluated primarily on military effectiveness!

3. Behold the root

And so we have seen that the reason for removing Salakhuddin from his post as Amir was pulled out of [their] asses [высосан из пальца – lit. “sucked out of a finger” i.e. pulled from thin air but with a far ruder flavor!].

On the surface this is just the tip of the iceberg, colored as the “fight for justice.” Of course there are real reasons for discontent with the Amir. I will give my version.

At first, after the departure of Umar Shishani and many mujahideen to IS, the backbone of JMA during that period was Caucasian mujahideen from teh Central House, that was the Caucasus Emirate base, that was found to replace the previous one that was bombed, and brothers from Vilayat Dagestan [the Dagestan branch of the Caucasus Emirate — JP] who were based in Mleha.

There were also brothers from other bases and ansars [local Syrian fighters — JP].

Salakhuddin was chosen as Amir.

Time passed, the katiba grew and gained serious credibility in Syria, Allah gave brilliant victories in Leyramoun [in Northern Aleppo last summer — see my earlier posts from that time — JP] and other places and many Arabs came including from abroad, and there were more of them than N. Caucasians.

And so completely naturally from the point of view of human nature some of them (I will not point fingers) wanted to play a greater role in the management of JMA.

Having understood this Salakhuddin brought in Muatassim close to himself and a number of other Amirs from among the Ansars and new arrivals and basically walked toward them hoping to rally the jamaat.

However it was probably useless and just postponed what was inevitable. Thus it was already clear that there was a STRUGGLE FOR POWER AND INFLUENCE under the guise of Sharia over the “jahiliya” (as it started to be called) of Salakhuddin.

So a few months ago there was the first attempt by the opposition to limit the power of the Amir. If Salakhuddin signed papers for each more or less serious decision he had to hold a vote with them. This at root undermined the fundamental principle of undivided command in military administration and the Shura turned into a mini parliament from being a consultative body. Praise Allah Salakhuddin did not go for that. The opposition, including in the face of the “Sharia House” (I didn’t understand at what piont they openly took such a position but obviously before the 102nd base incident) for the moment fell silent, they needed additional support.

And they got it. Now a bid was made to the disaffected Amirs of the muhajireen (there are always some), to those he had not promoted or who had been promoted and removed from office. They were frequently invited to soul-saving chats, where “evidence” was gathered (or rather gossip) about the incompetencies of Salakhuddin.

<...>

On the bases, there was a brisk agitation against Salakhuddin.

<...>

Then there was the offensive in Latakia where it seems everything was OK, we worked together and Allah granted a victory, we returned to Haritan and then it all began…

4. Ordered to destroy

Let us ask ourselves: for what forces in Syria and outside it would it be beneficial if JMA ceased to exist as a serious and relatively independent Katiba conducting an independent policy, and therefore not involved in the bloody fitna? And just who benefits most by weakening the influence of the Caucasus Emirate abroad?

Too many interested players in the arena, right..?

I’m not not implying anything except the factors “against” JMA was more than those “for” and Salakhuddin had difficulty maneuvering between the different groups and interests, including within JMA. And now we look at the political and military wisdom of new leadership of JMA – they seem to have already begun to realize that not everything is so simple…

5. The human factor

Why did people, so many of whom had bay’ah to the Emir of CE, turn against Salakhuddin?

To be fair we must mention one case (it seems he’s the only one) that I know from several mujahideen that gave them a real reason to turn away from Salakhuddin — that is the ugly story of conflict with a number of brothers in his circle, who had left the Crimean House and that those who were close to Salakhuddin were not punished. However, this is not a matter for speculation, and before drawing conclusions you have to listen to both sides.

Aside from the obvious and justified dissatisfactions with the real mistakes of the Amir and his deputy, and the little things that suddenly got blown up on a cosmic scale, there is a purely mundane reason.

Many JMA mujahideen no longer wanted to be under the nizam of the Caucasus Emirate (CE) and wanted to be independent from its reps. They settled down here, got families, homes, vehicles, connections — that in itself is not bad — and they decided that it would be not too bad for them without the CE, and that is no great sin either, especially because the brothers (suddenly) took as a basis the ijtihad of those scholars who said that their bay’ah and submission is not valid outside the borders of the CE.

That’s why I am sure that the 102nd base incident was just a pretext for some people. In the same way, if there was another person from CE in Salakhuddin’s place they would have found a reason to remove him….

The Caucasus Emirate is now in a state of extreme weakness, so only the lazy are not kicking the CE. There were many lies and slander against CE Amirs on the whole and that remains unpunished, and slander breeds permissiveness as we know.

The question is whether all that could be done according to Sharia, in a civilized manner, to talk in a human manner openly and break up? Or just up and leave JMA, Salakhuddin and the Emirate, once they are bad and unsustainable. But who in our prudent time needs an extra burden in the form of the nizam of the barely-alive CE?!

The next part covers more on what is next for JMA/CE in Syria…

2 thoughts on “JMA Split After Losing Its North Caucasian Majority & Amid Weak Caucasus Emirate”

  1. Here is what i got from reading…
    a. The foot solider in CE, sees IS as legit.
    b. They defected to IS, whether by out right choice or, rolled up into IS, by means of sharia rhetorical mousetrap.
    c. CE in the Causasus, has not refuted, but has leaped forward with same rhetorical mousetrap logic to embrace IS, whether that translates in name only or there is furtile ground to exploit.

    What I got out of, “What?, was not written.”
    a. A very effective, Emir of CE has gone to seed – my guess is, has gone to advance Caliphate’s designs on Caucasus.

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