by Gordon M. Hahn
According to a post on the Russian-language website ‘Furat’ of the North Caucasus mujahedin fighting under the Islamic State’s (IS) banner in Iraq and Syria, “the West” was supplying jihadi groups like Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria. The claim is included in an account of why these particular North Caucasians left one of the jihadi groups in Syria to join IS. They are probably tied to Umar al-Shishani (born Tarhan Batirashvili), who is now the amir of IS’s northern front and possibly its overall military amir. They claim that when they arrived in Syria and were searching for a “jamaat” (group) to join they asked why the groups had not declared their goal to be the creation of the global caliphate. They claim they were told that the groups did want to do so “fearing that they would be deprived of the assistance the West was providing them.” They were also told that the mujahedin did not want to draw a new enemy to themselves (http://furat.info/?p=219).
The mujahedin writing this are likely formerly members of Jabhat al-Nusrah or a jamaat allied with it, most likely Jeish al-Muhajirin wal-Ansar (Army of Emigres and Helpers) or JMA, about which I have written extensively,
The veracity of the claim is impossible to confirm. It could be true or false and an attempt to tar IS’s competitors with the sin of dealing with the ‘infidel’, and/or it could true or false and an attempt to discredit certain Western actors and create dissent within the West or between Russia and the West. Regardless, the claim is of interest.
Gordon M. Hahn is an Analyst and Advisory Board Member of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois; Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch; and Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor, MonTREP, Monterey, California. Dr Hahn is author of three well-received books, Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), which was named an outstanding title of 2007 by Choice magazine, and The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He also has authored hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and other publications on Russian, Eurasian and international politics and wrote, edited and published the Islam, Islamism, and Politics in Eurasia Report at CSIS from 2010-2013. Dr. Hahn has been a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2011-2013) and a Visiting Scholar at both the Hoover Institution and the Kennan Institute.