Tuesday, 27 September 2016

America is on al-Nusra's side

Americans are on our side’: Al-Nusra commander says US arming jihadists via 3rd countries

Still from Facebook video. © Jürgen Todenhöfer
Still from Facebook video. © Jürgen Todenhöfer / Facebook

26 September, 2016

US weapons are being delivered to Jabhat Al-Nusra by governments that Washington supports, a militant commander told the German media, adding that American instructors were in Syria to teach how to use the new equipment.

Yes, the US supports the opposition [in Syria], but not directly. They support the countries that support us. But we are not yet satisfied with this support,” Jabhat al-Nusra unit commander Abu Al Ezz said in an interview with Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper from the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo.

According to the commander, the militants should be receiving more “sophisticated weapons” from their backers to succeed against the Syrian government. 

The fight is difficult. The regime is strong and gets support from Russia,” he explained.

Al Ezz said that Jabhat Al-Nusra “won battles thanks to TOW rockets. Due to these rockets, we reached a balance with the regime. Our tanks came from Libya via Turkey, joined by the [BM-21] multiple rocket launchers,” he said.

The government forces have an advantage because of aircraft and missile launchers, but “we have the American-made TOW missiles, and the situation in some areas is under control,” Al Ezz added.

When asked if the TOW missiles were initially intended for Jabhat Al-Nusra or if the group obtained them from the moderate Free Syrian Army, the jihadist clarified: “No, the missiles were given to us directly.”

He also said that when Jabhat Al-Nusra was “besieged, we had officers from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and America here… Experts in the use of satellites, rockets, reconnaissance and thermal security cameras.”

The journalist asked specifically if the US instructors were really present among the jihadists’ ranks and Al Ezz replied: “The Americans are on our side.”

He also said that Jabhat Al-Nusra has been paid for achieving specific military goals during the Syrian conflict.

We got 500 million Syrian pounds (around $2.3 million) from Saudi Arabia. To capture the Infantry School in Al Muslimiya years ago we received 1.5 million Kuwaiti dinars (around $500,000) and Saudi Arabia's $5 million,” Al Ezz said.
The money came from the “governments” of those states, not private individuals, he said.

Israel is now giving us support because Israel is at war with Syria and with Hezbollah,” Al Ezz said.

The West also “paved the way” for jihadists coming to Syria, saying that “we have many fighters from Germany, France, Britain, America, from all the Western countries,” the commander said.

Al-Nusra using ceasefire to regroup, prepare for new attacks’

In the interview, he confirmed claims made by Moscow and the Syrian government that the militants were using the Syrian ceasefire, agreed by Russia and US on September 9, to prepare for a new offensive.

We do not recognize the ceasefire. We will regroup our groups. We will carry out the next overwhelming attack against the regime in a few days. We have regrouped our forces in all provinces, including Homs, Aleppo, Idlib and Hama,” Al Ezz said.

He said that Jabhat Al-Nusa would not let trucks with humanitarian aid enter Aleppo “as long as the regime [forces] are along the Castello Road, in Al Malah and in the northern regions.”

The regime must withdraw from all the territories, and we will let the trucks in. If a truck is going in anyway, we will detain the driver,” he said.

The idea of a transitional government in Syria is also not supported by Jabhat Al-Nusra, the commander said.

We accept no one from the Assad regime or of the Free Syrian Army, which is described as moderate. Our goal is to overthrow the regime, and establish an Islamic state in accordance with the Islamic Sharia,” he said.

As for the people who represent the Syrian opposition at the Geneva talks, Al Ezz said that “these people are weak, they’ve got a lot of money. They’ve sold themselves.”

There are mercenaries in Syria, Alloush fights with Al Nusra-Front,”he said talking about Mohammed Alloush, a leader in the Jaysh al-Islam group, part of the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) in the peace talks. “The group that was housed in Turkey and which was turned into the Free Syrian Army, used to be part of Al Nusra-Front.”

The commander openly confirmed that Jabhat Al-Nusra “are part of Al Qaeda,” the terrorist network responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

Actually, we were inside one group together with the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). But the Islamic State has been used in accordance with the interests and political purposes of the big powers like America, and the group has drifted away from our principles. Most of the IS leaders are working with intelligence services, and it’s now clear for us. We, the Jabhat Al-Nusra, have our own way,” Al Ezz said.

The interview with Jabhat al-Nusra’s commander was taken at a stone quarry in Aleppo on September 17 by Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger journalist Jurgen Todenhofer on his seventh trip to war-torn Syria

Todenhöfer: Interview With Al-Nusra Commander "The Americans stand on our side"

26 September, 2016

This interview by Jürgen Todenhöfer was first published in German on September 26 2016 by the Kölner Stadtanzeiger, the major newspaper in the Cologne region. 

(The interview was copied and translated to English by Bernhard for educational and academic purposes.)

Interview with al-Nusra commander "The Americans stand on our side"
By Jürgen Todenhöfer

It was the seventh trip by my son Frederic and me to the civil war country Syria. We were there for 13 days. Words can only barely describe the extend of damage and suffering on both sides.

We conducted the interview ten days ago with a commander of the al-Qaida branch "Jabhat al-Nusra". Abu al-Ezz reported quite openly about his financiers Saudi-Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. We were able to exactly research the identity of the man and know practically everything about him.

Interview in the stone quarry in Aleppo

The interview was arranged by a rebel from Aleppo. I have had contacts to Syrian rebels for years. It was conducted outside of Aleppo in a quarry in direct sight- and shooting-distance of Jabhat al-Nusra and could only be reached safely by a member of al-Nusra.

His fighters were partially not masked, i.e. easily identifiable. Part of his statements were nearly verbally confirmed shortly thereafter by a mufti in Aleppo. Other assertions about the lack of interest of rebels towards a ceasefire and an international aid-convoy also bore out. Just like his predictions about planned military activities in several cities of Syria.

Abu al-Ezz, commander, says about Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda): "We are one part of al-Qaeda. Our principles are: Fighting vice, pureness and security. Our affairs and our way have changed. Israel, for example, is now supporting us, because Israel is at war with Syria and with Hizbullah.

America also changed its opinion about us. Originally "IS" and us were one group. But "IS" was used in the interests of big states like America, for political reasons, and was steered away from our principles. It became clear to us that most of their leaders work with secret security services. We, Jabhat al-Nusra, have our own way. In the past they with us, they were our supporters.

Our aim is the downfall of the dictatorial regime, the tyrannical regime, the regime of the apostate. Our aim is the conduct of conquests, like [the great Arab general] Khaled ibn al-Walid made them. First in the Arab world and then in Europe."

Part 2 - The Interview by Jürgen Todenhöfer with the rebel commander Abu al-Ezz

Jürgen Todenhöfer: How is the relation between you and the United States? Does the U.S. support the rebels?

Abu al-Ezz: Yes, the U.S. support the opposition, but not directly. They support the countries which support us. But we are not yet satisfied with this support. 
They should support us with highly developed weapons. We have won battles thanks to the "TOW" missiles. We reached a balance with the regime through these missiles. We received the tanks from Libya through Turkey. Also the "BMs" - multiple rocket launchers. The regime excels us only with their fighter jets, missiles and missile launchers. We captured a share of its missile launchers and a large share came from abroad. But it is through the American "TOW" that we have the situation in some regions under control.

To whom did the U.S. hand those missiles before they were brought to you? Were those missiles first given to the Free Syrian Army by the U.S. and from there to you?

No, the missiles were give directly to us. They were delivered to a certain group. When the "road" was closed and we were besieged we had officers here from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States.

What did those officers do?

Experts! Experts for the use of satellites, missiles, reconnaissance work, thermal surveillance cameras ...

Were there also American experts?

Yes, experts from several countries.

Including Americans?

Yes. The Americans are on our side, but not as it should be. For example we were told: We must capture and conquer "Battalion 47". Saudi Arabia gave us 500 million Syrian pounds. For taking the "al-Muslimiya" infantry school years ago we received from Kuwait 1.5 million Kuwaiti dinar and from Saudi Arabia 5 million U.S. dollars.

From the governments or from private persons?

From the governments.

The fight is difficult, the regime is strong and it has support from Russia ...?

We will fight until the downfall of the regime. We will fight Russia and the West because the West does not stand on our side. The West only sends us mujahedin, it facilitates the way of those fighters. Why doesn't the West support us properly? We have many fighters from Germany, France, Great Britain, America, from all western countries.

You have many fighters from Europe in Aleppo with the "al-Nusra front"?
Many, many, many!

How many?


What do you think about the ceasefire?

We do not recognize the ceasefire. We will reposition our groups. We will undertake in the next, in a few days an overwhelming attack against the regime. 
We have rearranged all our armed forces in all provinces, in Homs, Aleppo, Idlib and Hama.

You do not want those 40 trucks with aid supplies to bring those into the eastern part of Aleppo?

We have demands. As longs as the regime is positioned along Castello road, in al-Malah and in the northern areas we will not let those trucks pass. The regime must retreat from all areas in order for us to let the trucks pass. If a truck comes in despite that, we will arrest the driver.

Why did a few of your groups pull back a kilometer or 500 meters from the Castello road?

The regime used highly developed weapons against us. We received a backlash. 
That is why we silently retreated, to recover and to attack the regime anew. But this attack must lead to the downfall of the regime.

So that was a trick, a military tactic?

Yes, it was a military tactic.

Was the aim of this tactic to receive food or the reallocation of fighters?
We did not agree to the ceasefire.

Does that hold only for the al-Nusra Front or for all other groups, the rest of your allies?

The applies to all our integrated groups, who are our allies.

Islamic Front, Islamic Army?

They are all with us. We are all the al-Nusra Front. A groups is created and calls itself "Islamic Army", or "Fateh al-Sham". Each group has its own name but their believe is homogeneous. The general name is al-Nusra Front. One person has, for example, 2,000 fighters. Then het creates from these a new group and calls it "Ahrar al-Sham". Brothers, who's believe, thoughts and aims are identical to those of al-Nusra Front.

Is that your own opinion or also the opinion of higher management levels?

That is the general opinion. But if someone comes to you and makes you a 'moderate fighter' and offers you to eat and to drink, will you accept that or not?
450,000 people were killed in this war. I have been to Aleppo and Homs. Many parts are destroyed. If the war continues the whole country will be destroyed. Millions will die. ... In Germany we once had the 'Thirty Years' War' ...

We are now only 5 years at war, that is comparatively short!

Would you accept someone from the Assad-regime within a transitional government?

We accept no one from the Assad-regime or from the Free Syrian Army, which is called moderate. Our aim is the downfall of the regime and the founding of an Islamic state according to the Islamic sharia.

The people of Aloush, who traveled to Geneva for negotiations, accepted a transitional government.

There are Syrian mercenaries. Aloush fights with the al-Nusra Front. The groups Turkey houses and from which the Free Syrian Army was created have earlier been with al-Nusra Front. These people are weak people, they received a lot of money, they sold themselves. They must follow the orders of their sponsors.
The "Islamic Army and the "ISlamic Front" negotiate in Geneva

Because their leaders were produced in the West. They are counseled and paid by western secret services and the secret services of the Gulf states to fulfill the aims of those countries.

We are here at the most forward observation point of the Sheik Said area. This are is under our control. Behind those houses and al-Majbal are regime soldiers. Our armed forces are 200 meters from here.


You can read the original German version of the interview at the Kölner Stadtanzeiger

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