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Syria Spotlight: Some North Caucasian Militants Swear Allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Syria Spotlight: Some North Caucasian Militants Swear Allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
November 21
14:01 2013

Chechnya-based pro-jihad website FiSyria reports on Thursday that members of Islamist faction, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar have sworn allegiance to Abu Bakr al–Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham.

According to FiSyria, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar fighters who are from the North Caucasus region have not sworn allegiance to al-Baghdadi, because they have made a prior oath to Dokka Umarov, the leader of the North Caucasian Islamist militant group Imarat Kavkaz (Caucasus Emirate).

FiSyria reports that the North Caucasian members of Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar are currently waiting for Dokka Umarov to agree to the oath.

It is not clear whether the leader of Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, the ethnic Chechen Abu Umar al-Shishani, is also waiting for the assent of Dokka Umarov or whether he has already pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi. In addition to his role as the emir of Jaish, Abu Umar has also operated as the leader of ISIS’s northern branch.

The move comes after Ayman al-Zawahri announced in an audio message that he had decided to disband ISIS, while preserving the Islamic State of Iraq and endorsing Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra. Zawahiri’s decision came amid confusion among the ranks of Islamist groups in Syria, amid disagreements between al-Baghdadi andJabhat al-Nusra leader Mohammad al-Golani in April

Baghdadi requested that Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra pledge allegiance to him, calling on the group’s leader, Abu Mohammad al-Golani, to join him.

However, in response Golani issued a statement saying that he had not been consulted about the apparent “merger” between Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, and had only heard about it via the media. Golani refused to pledge an oath to Baghdadi’s authority, instead announcing that he was re-pledging his allegiance to Zawahiri.

As a result of the disagreements, many Jabhat al-Nusra fighters left to join ISIS.

The decision by the ranks and leaders of Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar to pledge allegiance to al-Baghdadi and to ISIS will strengthen ISIS, particularly if Dokka Umarov agrees to allow those of his own followers already fighting in Syria to also make the pledge to al-Baghdadi.

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About Author

Joanna Paraszczuk

Joanna Paraszczuk

Joanna Paraszczuk is EA WorldView's Managing Editor. An Israeli journalist, she covered Iran and the Arab World for The Jerusalem Post. Previously, she lived and worked in Russia and Ukraine. Joanna speaks fluent Hebrew and Russian and reads Persian and Arabic.

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