Tarkhan’s Jamaat (aka Katiba Abd Ar-Rahman) are fighting in Hama alongside Muslim Shishani.
A photo of the group’s de facto leader (Tarkhan Gaziev’s deputy/military amir) Umar Shishani with Muslim in Hama was included in a statement published by Muhammad Jazira on 25 January in which Muslim clarified that he was not fighting in Afrin alongside Turkey (as a rather silly internet rumor, started by a bizarre story in a Turkish media website had claimed).
As I have written elsewhere, Tarkhan himself is not in Syria but his men have been involved in fighting there for some years now, since 2013. Tarkhan is still considered as amir of the katiba. I have photos of Umar, who fought in Chechnya from 2007 through 2012, alongside Abu Bakr Shishani (Muslim Shishani’s former military amir) and the amir of Ajnad al-Kavkaz, Abdul Hakim Shishani, whom I interviewed here.
Umar with Muslim:
Just for completeness, I have translated below Muslim’s statement, which for him is very short 🙂 He basically just reiterates his position (which is the stated position of other North Caucasian foreign fighter groups in Syria) of being in Syria to help the Syrian (i.e. Sunni) people against their enemies. For Muslim, this is purely a conflict of Sunnis versus the “rafidites” (a derogatory term for Shi’ites*).He considers the Kurds and Turks as Sunnis, and so his view is that all should unite against the “rafidites” rather than becoming embroiled in their own politics. This viewpoint — that there is a war between Sunnis and “rafidites” and other enemies and that Muslims (i.e. Sunnis in his view) should unite to fight them — runs through statements made by other North Caucasian jihadi groups, notably Ajnad al-Kavkaz.
It’s worth noting that Muslim has expressed annoyance/disappointment about the internal politics between Syrian groups affecting their ability to unite against and fight their common “rafidite” enemy almost since he came to Syria — it really is a common theme (and one that is not really surprising given the amount of inter and intragroup conflict and fitna…). Here, he extends his annoyance over what he sees as Sunni infighting to include the Kurds and Turkey (he is not interested in the details of that conflict, because they don’t fit within his worldview). This is also a defense against accusations that Muslim is involved in fitna between external groups, something that Ajnad al-Kavkaz have also taken great pains to avoid and to be seen as avoiding (Ajnad have even avoided fighting in order to avoid being embroiled in conflict between Syrian groups). Muslim’s declaration that Junud al-Sham “loves and respects the Kurdish people” is linked both to his view that the Kurds are Sunnis (and so are on the side of the Muslims against the “rafidites”) and a defense against any accusation that Muslim is supporting the Turks against the Kurds, and thus becoming involved in a political (and military) struggle that is outside of the framework of his declared role in assisting the Syrian people.
Beyond this, though, there is another level — that of staying out of “nationalistic” conflicts. Nationalism — including the Kurdish push for a state–is contrary to the Salafist-jihadist worldview of a universal struggle by a universal Muslim ummah against its enemies. By defining the Kurds as Sunnis, Muslim places them within this struggle (even if they are not taking part in it). Hence his call to them for Sunni unity against the “rafidites.” He sees Kurdish nationalism as a tool of the enemies of Islam, who are seeking to weaken and destroy Sunni unity.
Certain Turkish-language sites have spread information that we are allegedly participating in the fight against the Kurds alongside Turkey. I want to say that this is untrue.
First, if the Turkish people were somehow threatened, then we would definitely rush to their aid, as historically they have supported us in difficult times. But Praise Allah, they have enough strength and resources to defend their interests.
Second, we also love and respect the Kurdish people, who are basically Sunnis and whose courage has gone down in history. And we know how civilians suffer from these wars and we feel [for them] that they have to take these burdens on themselves. And we are very sorry that there are problems between these two brother nations.
And we consider that war will not solve these problems. Of course, as with all nations, there are among the Kurds those people whom the enemies of Islam strengthen and use for their own interests; people who do not have much feeling for their own people and even less for other Muslims.
But if we support the righteous brothers among them, then they themselves will stop these tyrants and will take everything into their own hands, and it will be easier for us to negotiate with them. Otherwise we could set an entire people against itself.
And third, you all know very well what is happening today in Syria. The Rafidites are capturing Muslim lands and our brothers in Sham need our help today as never before. And to throw them over in this difficult hour would be a betrayal on our part.
If we conduct the correct politics, then the Turks and the Kurds and the people of Sham and all of us must fight side by side against these Shi’ites, against these rafidites, who have only one interest — to annihilate us, the Sunnis, one by one. Unfortunately, this is what is happening today.
May Allah unite in truth and strengthen our ranks! May Allah assist us in this! And may Allah grant us victory over the enemies!
P.S. Muslim is in Hama 25.01.2018
Некоторые сайты на турецком языке распространили информацию, что мы якобы участвуем в войне против курдов на стороне Турции. Хочу сказать, что это неправда.
Во-первых, если бы народу Турции что-либо угрожало, мы бы обязательно поспешили им на помощь, так как исторически они являлись нашей опорой в трудные времена. Но хвала Аллаху, у них хватает и сил, и средств, чтобы защитить свои интересы.
Во-вторых, мы также любим и уважаем курдский народ, который в основе является сунитским и вошёл в историю своим мужеством. И мы знаем, как от этих войн страдает мирный народ, и переживаем, что и им приходится испытывать эти тяжести на себе. И очень сожалеем, что между этими нашими братскими народами существуют проблемы.
И мы считаем, что войной эти проблемы не решить. Конечно, как и во всех народах, есть и среди курдов те люди, которых враги Ислама укрепляют и используют в каких-то своих интересах; люди, которые мало переживают и за свой народ, и тем более за остальных мусульман.
Но если бы мы поддержали среди них праведных братьев, то они сами бы остановили этих залимов и взяли бы всё в свои руки, и нам было бы легко договариваться с ними. Иначе мы можем весь народ настроить против себя.
А в-третих, вы все хорошо знаете, что сегодня происходит в Сирии. Рафидиты захватывают земли мусульман, и наши братья в Шаме сегодня нуждаются в нашей помощи как никогда. И бросить их в этот трудный час было бы предательством с нашей стороны.
Если бы мы вели правильную политику, то и турки, и курды, и народ Шама, и все мы должны были бы воевать бок о бок против этих шиитов, против этих рафидитов, у которых только один интерес — уничтожить нас, сунитов, всех поодиночке. К сожалению, сегодня так и происходит.
Пусть Аллах объединит нас на истине и укрепит наши ряды! Пусть Аллах поможет нам в этом! И пусть Аллах дарует нам победу над врагами!
P.S. Амир Муслим в провинции Хама. 8.05.1439/25.01.2018