Chechen militant Muslim Shishani, the Emir of the Latakia-based Junud al-Sham group, has made a new video address in which he talks of the difficult situation in Latakia province and calls on other mujahideen elsewhere in Syria as well as outside the country to come to assist in the fight.
The video is seven minutes long.
It was released amid reports that the Syrian Arab Army has entered the rebel stronghold of Salma in Latakia assisted by Russian air strikes. (Though it seems that the video was made on January 10).
Here are a few of Muslim’s remarks:
— the situation [in Latakia province] is complex
— this is not because the enemy is very strong and we can’t do anything
— They brought their whole strength in order to knock us out of here
— and if you look at our numbers, they should have done that long ago
— But the small number of muhajideen here are doing the maximum possible
— We don’t understand it, it’s like we are cut off from the other part of Syria, no one is rushing to help us, even though there are enough mujahideen in Syria, the important thing is to distribute them properly
— We understand that there are difficult places there too [i.e. militants are struggling elsewhere in Syria]
Muslim then begins a rant addressed at those who are not coming to help fight in Latakia.
He says that on Judgement Day, people will be judged according to what they did or did not do.
He calls on the mujahideen to remember why they went out to jihad and come to “help their brothers.”
— “The brothers are overloaded to the max,” he says.
When his group had enough militants, they went to help in various situations, Muslim says.
Muslim talks about the difficulties his jamaat experienced because of the “fitna” with the IS group including difficulties in fundraising.
He said, “Мы стучались в двери ко многим, кто мог хоть как-то помочь удержать джамаат” — “we knocked on the doors of many [people] who could somehow help to maintain the jamaat.”
As a result of the financial difficulties, Muslim says he had to let many of his fighters go.
The fact that Muslim has admitted his financial difficulties and that his numbers have dwindled is significant. Reliable sources say that Muslim’s jamaat dwindled significantly — some say he has only around 30 North Caucasian militants. But this is a problem faced by other non-IS North Caucasian groups in Syria, mostly because of the rise of the IS group and its comparative recruitment and fundraising power. (Internal politics and squabbling also played a role — I have written about the reasons why Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar fell apart as a North Caucasian group elsewhere.)
Muslim also complains that people who say they want to wage jihad are not doing so because they are hearing that there is a fitna and that Muslims are killing each other or that there are not enough fighters in Syria.
“We find this difficult to understand,” Muslim says.
Muslim refers to a hadith in which Muhammad asks God to bless Sham (Syria) and Yemen.
“You are not going out [to jihad] at a time when the Ummah really needs you,” he said.
All of the jamaats are in a difficult position, Muslim adds.