On 4 August, Ajnad al-Kavkaz released* a video in Chechen with Russian subtitles featuring the jamaat’s amir Abdulhakim Shishani (read my recent interview with him here), Muslim Shishani (Amir of Junud al-Sham) and Salakhuddin Shishani** (Amir of Jaish Usro). The video is an address to the Syrian people and is a response to the recent and ongoing clashes between HTS and Ahrar al-Sham. I am writing a detailed analysis of the video for Jane’s looking at its significance and responses from various groups, so I will not give any analysis here, but for fun I just did an on the fly translation of the Russian subtitles (I would have preferred to translate the Chechen but I can still only pick out a few words…).
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Translation below followed by footnotes.
Address to the people of Sham on behalf of the Chechens
The reason behind our gathering — is a clarification of the position of the Muslims of Sham, who аre having a fitna for the purpose of spilling Muslim blood.
We are speaking on behalf of the Chechens. The reason that we came to Syria — was the help the mujahideen and the Muslims. In the ongoing fitna of internecine problems we have no intention of participating. We have many problems in our own home, many worries. A jihad is also being waged at home. We have many reasons not to participate in internecine feuds. Our position in Syria is to help the mujahideen, the Muslims and to oppose the infidels, whether that is a ribat, an operation or a training camp. In whatever we can — we are your brothers and helpers. But in what is going on between you we will not participate and to date have not participated, by the grace of Allah, and inshaallah we are not planning to participate in the future. May Allah help us not to participate in this. May Allah strengthen us in the truth. And whatever we do, we do in consultation with the Muslims, in consultation with the scholars. Praise Allah, in Sham and in the whole world there are sufficient scholars who support jihad and help the Muslims, who speak the truth. This address was made for the Muslims of Sham in order to clarify our position.
Muslim Shishani, Amir of Junud al-Sham
As Abdulhakim said, we have met today in order to talk about the fitna that happened not long ago. We would like this address to be heard by the people of Syria and we will talk a little about the situation at home too. After IS left here, and the people who stood with them left, after this some fitnas occurred. By the grace of Allah, since then the muhajirs (foreign fighters) have not entered into this fitna. But now we have heard that muhajirs have taken part in the fitna between Ahrar and HTS. And now we have met to consider this, to share our opinions, inshaalah. To date, when we traveled through the posts of local jamaats saying that we are Chechens, everyone know that we were not in any fitnas, that we did not interfere in their internal affairs, unless for reconciliation or good guidance. And after there started to be talk that muhajirs were taking part in this [internecine conflict] we started to hear blame, insults directed at us. And if something happened between people and you don’t explain everything in time, then these grievances get bigger and everything goes too far. Inshaalah we will explain our position. Having learned how the enemies were making this people suffer, what tyranny this people was subjected to, all this we had seen in Chechnya, we got to know it from there. For that reason, having understood these people, we came in order to help these people, to give powerful aid, in order to rid them of these sufferings, [so they could] freely practice their religion. We had the intention, initially and to date, not to participate in internal problems, we did not take any side. We did not do anything to try to elevate one jamaat or lower another, and we do not intend to do that in the future. Because we do not think this right. Today, it is as if we have not one aim, one religion. We are striving to affirm the one religion. And because there are various views here, opinions, various directions, we do not consider that we have to fight each other. If suddenly the scholars unanimously declare that this group is misled and needs to be stopped then inshaalah we would be ready and would work on that. But otherwise we don’t have such big knowledge. In whatever we do we consult with the scholars and ask them. And we do what the scholars indicate and praise Allah, there are scholars in Syria. And what we would say to the local people and the local jamaats: don’t drag us into this business. We can say this on behalf of the Chechens, because basically all the Chechens are here with us. We aren’t in these fitnas ,and we ask you not to drag us into them. Against a shared enemy — be that in an operation or on a ribat we will not divide the jamaats and are ready to help with what we can. This is what we came here for.
Salakhuddin Shishani, Amir of Jaish al-Usro
Greetings (Salam Marshalla) to all Muslims. Regarding what Abdulhakim and Muslim said, we are unanimous and all three of us are of the same opinion. And we are in agreement over the situation in Syria. We go as brothers. We have a shura. We consult each other on the situation here. Regarding the situation at home we have the same shura, we consult and we try to render powerful aid, inshaalah. We would like to say to everyone that we have agreement here and having consulted on this matter we have proposed our brother Abdulhakim as accountable. And if anyone has the opportunity to help in something for home or for the journey then our brother is here. May Allah grant agreement to the Muslims, and may Allah strengthen us in the Truth. We give a separate greeting to our brothers at home.
*Ajnad is the only one of the three jamaats with a social media account.
** This is the first time Salakhuddin has appeared on camera for a while. He hates having his picture taken. Since Khayrullakh Shishani, his former deputy left Jaish Usro (that is a long story with various sides, as one can imagine), he has been quiet though he has been focussing on training Syrians.