Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the restructured al-Qaeda branch in Syria, put out a statement today on the intra-insurgent clashes that began on 28 April in the besieged enclave of East Ghuta, the suburbs east of Damascus, between Jaysh al-Islam on one side and HTS and Faylaq al-Rahman on the other. An old al-Qaeda hand, Maysar al-Jiburi (Abu Mariya al-Qahtani), has already commented on this. Now HTS’s General Shari’a Council has released a statement “concerning the ongoing events in Eastern Ghuta”. The statement, translated by al-Maqalaat, is posted below.
All praises are due to the Lord of the worlds, and peace and blessings be upon the best of messengers, and on all of his relatives and companions.
As for what comes forth,
Our jihad in Syria must not become a competition between ideological movements from a certain school of thought. For the assault on Syria seeks to eradicate the Sunni people and replace them with the Nusayris and Rawafid. This calls us to gather the strength of the Muslims and not gamble with them by responding to deviant views and thoughts from some seniors of a group or jurists who hold reckless emotional disputes. We must not make the arena an external school of thought of exclusion or some of the scholars of deviation and turmoil. The school which judges over the opponent with death, only because of his opposing views, resembling the method of the Khawarij of [Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi completely.
Syria today needs the jurisprudence of the likes of Shaykh al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyya]—May Allah have mercy on him—who debated the Sufis and Asharis and opposed them in a manner known to everyone. But when the enemy attacked the abode of Islam he fought under the banner of those from whom he witnessed Sufism and Asharism or innovation and sins. Rather, when the people of Syria and Egypt faced the Tartars, he described them as the victorious party. And this is the characteristic of the victorious party in every age because you see them focus the efforts of the Muslims and gathers them in the battle of the people of Islam and on the front on which Islam is protected. They do not scatter the efforts of the people of Islam of the same rank which benefits the enemy, may Allah disgrace him.
We take off from this perspective, as the besieged Ghouta had witnessed bloody scenes in the past year from which everyone returned in loss as they lost the Sunni youths. But they gained harsh lessons which confirmed that we should not let this bitter experience happen again, which does not please anyone except the criminal regime and its allies. We have turned that page and opened a new page as the factions which fought against each other not long ago entered in a combined effort against the regime army. And they have assisted each other more than once. As for the problems, some of them were solved and others were about to be solved. In this context Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham removed all its checkpoints which could hinder the movement of assistance on the fronts.
However, we were surprised a couple of days ago by the actions of the group called Jaysh al-Islam, which shows disrespect for the interest of the Muslims in besieged Ghouta. It likewise showed the hatred, corruption, hidden intentions, slyness, and treachery of some seniors within this faction, as they treacherously backstabbed and attacked a number of mujahid factions, for which they prepared and planned beforehand, especially focusing on Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham. They openly declared in their assault against it that they wanted to eradicate it, while deceiving the others in their media about their assault, trying to neutralize them until their turn comes in a future phase. After discovering the effects of the shock of their previous assault as they lacked determination. And they increased in their transgression to the point that they transgressed against the secure Muslims in their houses.
They have betrayed the mujahideen at a time when they were concerned with raiding the criminal regime. And instead of thinking of their sin of inaction to join their brothers in their latest battle or assisting them or participating with them after they have invested their utmost efforts, they grabbed the opportunity to storm them treacherously and strike them with onslaught. What makes the crime even uglier is that they attacked a territory besieged for years from all directions by the regime and its Rawafid militias, and it comes in the shadow of a new round of negotiations and international understandings to bury the revolution and the jihad. It is not farfetched that this fight came to represent an actual translation of the international understandings or the Russian proposal recently to fight the mujahideen.
The faction of transgression and treachery has committed a number of heinous acts in which they did not pay any value to the honour of those whom they killed even if they are Muslims. Rather they did not even uphold the manners of warfare obligated to follow when fighting the disbelievers. And from these scandals, which resemble the utilized methods of the Khawarij of al-Baghdadi—which this factions calls upon fighting while they resemble their manners—are:
- Lying, deceit, treachery and hiding your true intentions and beliefs (taqiya). They claimed that Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham started with the transgression by detaining one of their convoys, and everyone knows they lied about this, as the preparations for such an assault is not done in just a couple of hours. They likewise said that they did not transgress against other factions besides Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham but the reality denies this, as everyone knows.
- Treachery and cowardliness as they backstabbed the mujahideen from Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and others and attacked them unexpectedly and this is the weapon of cowards.
- Random shelling without paying any value to the honour of houses and their Muslim residents and their women and children, whether they are from the relatives of the mujahideen or the relatives of the general Muslims which are besieged by the criminal regime for years. And then come those who claim to be “The army of Islam” while they pour his shells and bullets over those besieged people of Islam.
- Dispersing demonstrators that call for an end to the transgression against the mujahideen and the rest of the Muslims with the power of bullets.
- Field executions of prisoners especially the mujahid brothers more than others.
- Cutting supply roads from the fronts which are nearby the territories of clashes with the regime.
The infighting in Ghouta today is between two parties. The first is a transgressing aggressor, a criminal wrongdoer, and sinful. This party, due its actions, is sinful theologically and committed one of the great sins by their transgression and aggression against the mujahideen. And it is necessary to repel his transgression and aggression against the mujahideen and Muslims with every means which repel his aggression and opens the doors which he closed and regained the rights which he took. And it is forbidden for its soldiers to fight with them as long as their weapons are aimed against the mujahideen. And the other party is the victim who did not start any infighting, he has the right to defend himself and his belongings. And this act is a type of jihad on the Path of Allah. And the death from this party are considered to be martyrs without judging. As for the dead from the first party, then we fear that the warning is applicable on him which is narrated by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) in Sahih Muslim. A man came to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said: O Messenger of Allah, what do you think if a man comes wanting to take my property? He said: “Do not give him your property.” He said: What if he fights me? He said: “Fight him.” He said: What if he kills me? He said: “Then you will be a martyr.” He said: What if I kill him? He said: “He will be in Hell.”
This transgression against our people in Ghouta and our mujahideen does not benefit anyone except the regime, and it does only increase the suffering of besieged Ghouta and its oppressed weak people. Moreover, it will help topple the territory into the hands of the regime once again.
The public environment knows who committed the transgression and aggression, this public environment still holds on to its pure nature which isn’t polluted by the misconceptions of those who spread turmoil or the desires of those who hold grudges. And the public came out in demonstrations with clear goals and called upon ending the transgression of the aggression and the necessity to stop the infighting and to turn to the fronts. The matter which drained the credit of this transgressing group for the people of Ghouta, before transgressing against its own group and draining the credit of trust by some who still closed their eyes for the reality. Thinking that his silence would not get exposed among the public about whom he kept repeating we should defend them and whom he considered to be the compass of this revolution and jihad. But when it pointed towards the crimes of this faction by inciting demonstrations, he kept quiet and closed his lips. And others went to patch and justify, which means that what some considered to be speaking out the truth one day is nothing more than desires of the soul to assault the opponent.
Some hastened to judge over a complete jihadi group with the judgment of Khawarijsm, and others considered Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham to be a transgressing group over actions which do not consist of one tenth of what the faction of treachery and transgression did in Ghouta. So why did they hasting in such judgments while they are delaying them now? Is this not the policy of measuring with two standards from those who should be eager to extinguish turmoil and seek reconciliation? And we are not infallible and a person is susceptible for mistakes and slips, but we seek to correct and restore the defection with the grace of Allah.
We thank our people in Ghouta in general who stood against the transgression, and we thank the people of honour and grace from the people of knowledge, and the numerous active institutions, and the assemblies and bodies of knowledge who took a noble stance, and we ask Allah to reward them even if they opposed us in other issues. And we promise them that we will stay loyal to our revolution and jihad to reach a free and descent life for this generous people, in the shade of the Islamic law.
Oh soldiers of the faction Jaysh al-Islam, we greet everyone who refused to carry his weapons and deviate it to kill his brothers and transgress against them unjustly. As for the remaining, who were involved, we advise you, because we are afraid for you and not from you, the Muslim stays in the folds of his religion as long the does not spill sacred blood. And we emphasize that there is no difference between you and us and that your leaders are the ones who forced us to fight against you in self-defence protecting the souls of our brothers. Do not forget how much our bloods mixed with each other while fighting the enemies of the religion. Our difference is with those who use the policy of methodological incitement from your leaders. Compare the situation of your previous leader as there was no infighting—even though there were disagreements present—and the interest of the arena enjoyed the priority and the nozzles of the weapons were aimed the enemies of the religion. With that of the situation at the moment as many landmarks and directives changed and incitement and harassment against the mujahideen become the first of priorities.
Every one of you should self-reflect and ask: will killing my brothers be of any benefit for the Muslims in Ghouta or increase their suffering? And is marching towards the fronts against the Nusayriyyah the first priority or the killing between Muslims? And did anyone of you come out to be fuel for such a battle or to gain martyrdom on the path of Allah in battles of honour against the enemy who transgresses against the land and sanctities? And remember that you are a reason for the blood that is spilled from both sides, and that it will come from the credit of the Sunnis and their besieged human resources and not from the credit of the Nusayri regime. Today you are witnessing with your own eyes that we have regained the lead initiative in the battle while we are forced to wage it and we began to return what was taken from us treacherously in the beginning.
And we say to our brothers in Ghouta from the general Muslims and from the general soldiers who were victim of the aggression of this transgressing faction, you are from us and we are from you. Protect your fronts in “the place of assembly” and be patient and steadfast. Do not be anxious or disappear for it is test which will soon pass with the permission of Allah. Do not neglect the front of Ghouta and do not let anyone ruin this front or achieve the dreams and projects of expansion or surrender through him. And from this shared responsibility between us and you and the trust which is placed on our necks and your necks we say to you that we will not forsake you and that we will be with you in what you go through and we will help you with every strength we have with the permission of Allah.
And we advise us and you to be patient and endure and to fear Allah in every situation and that you treat the prisoners and detained with that which is ordered on you by your religion from goodness, far away from any resembles to these people in their actions, without taking revenge or retaliation, despite our extreme suffering over our executed brothers—may Allah accept them—in this heinous manner. For we are a people who fight as a worship not because we desire spilling blood and violate noble manners. And we uphold the method of the Sunna in dealing with our disputers and opponents. Overcome your wounds and know that the end result is for the believers and may Allah help us and you in what is good.
And Allah praises are due to the Lord of the worlds.