‘Jihadis’ of Indian & Russian origin fighting in Syria against Assad


Militants from Russia’s North Caucasus join “jihad” in Syria

Flanked by almost 20 men with rifles, Omar Abu al-Chechen kneels on a carpet and delivers a rousing speech urging fellow Muslims to support the ‘jihad’ against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Dressed almost entirely in black, the militant from Russia’s Chechnya region declares an Islamist state is within reach. Fellow fighters from the brigade of foreign militants he leads translate his Russian words into Arabic.

His recently distributed video highlights the role militants from the volatile North Caucasus region now play in Syria’s civil war, fighting a government that has been backed by Russia and staunchly protected by President Vladimir Putin.

It also puts in focus the security risks they may pose for Russia if they return to the Russian region, which borders the area where Moscow plans to host the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.


‘Indian-origin jihadis’ fighting in Syria against Assad regime

Indian-origin jihadi fighters have been found fighting along with the rebels in the raging civil war in Syria. “This is one of the reasons why we think India should play a more pro-active role, because this expanding conflict will not leave anyone untouched,” said Bouthaini Shabaan, political adviser to Syrian PresidentBashar-al-Assad, in a conversation with TOI. She quoted UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi as saying that there were almost 38 nationalities of fighters in war-torn Syria.

Shabaan is in India as a special envoy of Assad, to convey a message from him to PM Manmohan Singh. Syria wants India to take a lead role at the forthcoming BRICS summit, and “support” Russia and China in their stand on the conflict. Both P-5 countries have vetoed UN Security Council resolutions against Syrian regime. Shabaan met foreign ministerSalman Khurshid and national security adviser (NSA) Shivshankar Menon.

MEA spokesperson said, “India reiterated deep concern on the security situation in Syria and the continued escalation in violence. We also expressed our concern about the plight of the people of Syria arising out of intense fighting and conflict. India urged the need for peaceful resolution of the crisis with participation of all parties taking into account the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians for which the Geneva Communique which includes the 6-Point Plan of Kofi Annan provides a good basis.”

Many of the Indian fighters found in Syria are coming in from the UK, she said. Shabaan said the western narrative on the Syrian conflict was incorrect, and the war within Syria was actually being fuelled by Turkey and Qatar, with some help from Saudi Arabia.