MESOP SPECIAL : BY JOANNA PARASZCZUK – From Chechnya To Syria: Tracking Russian-speaking Foreign Fighters In Syria / Trouble At Shura Council: “Fitna” In Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar

Joanna Paraszczuk / 25 May 2015 – Could Chechen-led jamaat Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (JMA) be about to split? Over the past few weeks, rumors have surfaced about potentially serious problems in the faction’s ranks. The rumors — that the faction’s two leaders: it’s emir Salakhuddin Shishani and its military emir Abdul-Karim Krymsky, had been brought before a Sharia court, were at first vague and mostly spread by IS-linked individuals, including the Daghestani IS media activist Murad Atajev. (I have written in detail before about the long-running battle between JMA and IS’s North Caucasian contingent.)The story is that there has been a split between one faction (Salakhuddin, Abdul Karim Krymsky and others) and others in JMA including its Majlis Shura after JMA’s Military Emir (MA) Krymsky was removed from his post after refusing to implement an order to leave the Crimean House base by the Sharia court. There are even suggestions that JMA may split into two factions, one led by Salakhuddin (this would have implications for the Caucasus Emirate’s presence in Syria.)

There have been several developments in the past week, which may help shed light onto what is happening. Sheikh Abdul Razzak Mandi, who was one of a panel of three judges appointed to deal with the rase, made an announcement on 17 May via JMA’s site, Akhbarsham, which seems to be under the control of Salakhuddin’s faction. The Akhbarsham post says that there has been “fitna with active agitation against the Emir of the battalion.” Mandi’s announcement, which relates to Sharia law, is long and I will post it separately soon.

A response from JMA, apparently from Salakhuddin’s faction, to the rumors was posted on the Internet on 22 May. The announcement is in the narre of “Brothers from JMA,” and criticizes “Salakhuddin’s opponents” for spreading rumors while the Sharia court is in session. lt reads:

On the internet, some rumors have appeared that Emir Salakhuddin is not carrying out the decision of the Sharia court etc. We want to warn against all sorts of rumors and slander The Court is still ongoing and there is no talk yet about any decisions. Inshallah, after the Court concludes, light will be shed on that decision and in the meanwhile, refrain from any discussion and spreading unreliable information that comes from the opponents of Salakhuddin. […J We will await the Courts decision and we will accept it when it is made. After all, we live according to the Law of Allah and am satisfied with any decision of the Sharia Court.

Another announcement posted on 20 May purports to be from the Majlis Shura of JMA and gives more information about the Sharia court case (of course it is not possible to ascertain that the announcement really is from JMA and not an attempt by IS to undermine the jamaat).

To start with, the JMA military emir made some errors in terms of Sharia and refused to fulfill the judgement of the Sharia court of JMA. Namely: in the first place, to delay the process of a hearing connected with the Crimean House base, and (he) refused to give the Court a notebook with notes about Beitul Mal. Secondly, he ignored and delayed the release rooms occupied by him in the house — the room was occupied by the headquarters, — the decision was made by the

Sharia court at the request of the owner of the house. He was motivated to refuse to leave by insufficient time, this went on for a month. After this was repeated 5 times and often in an openly mocking and sarcastic form, the Sharia issued a hukm about the removal of the military emir from his post. And this case was granted to the main emir, so that he would remove the military emir of JMA from office in accordance with the Sharia hukm.

However the main Emir dragged the business on for about three weeks under various pretexts. Three times the judges met and heard the failure and twice this happened in the narrow circle of Emirs, the third time — at the request of the Emir’s second in command, Muatassim — the Majlis Shura was was gathered, where by an overwhelming majority (there was only one vote against) it was agreed for a second time to take the MA (Abdul Karim Krymsky) from his post.

But even after that, Salakhuddin refused to comply with the court order and remove the MA from his post, saying that he saw an advantage in leaving Krymsky in his post of military emir, thereby putting his decision above that of the Sharia Court.

Now we need to make a small digression: in the past, after the departure of Umar Shishani from the post of Emir of our Katiba, and on the election of a new one, the Sharia Committee of JMA established a condition — if an Emir broke Sharia three times (showing insubordination to the Sharia hukm) then he will be wamed three time asnd if he does not change his behavior, he will be removed from his post based on this condition. This same condition was set because the election Emir Salakhuddin did not have knowledge of Sharia and so he was obfiged in ALL his steps to coordinate with the Sharia Committee in order not to go beyond the Sharia.

[…] (Here the text talks about how the SC met and decided to remove Salakhuddin and Krymsky from their positions, but Salakhuddin refused and even made threats. The situation was referred to an arbitration court and three judges wem appointed.) They wem Sheikh Abdurazzak al- Mandi, Sheikh Abdullah al-Muhaisani, and they together have to choose the third Sheikh, who would have the deciding vote. Thus Abu Salah a-Shami was chosen, the leading judge in the Sharia court in Darkush [a town in northem Syria in Idlib].

So, after the Mal (detailed descriptions of which we shall provide later, if it please the Almighty Allah) a hukm was issued consisting of three points: 1. Fulfillment of the hukm of the withdrawal of the MA from his post (thereby confirming the decision of the Sharia Court of JMA); 2. Leaving the main Amir in his office; 3. Preparation of the Nizam (intemal order) in JMA’s majlis shura (by majority vote). In a small, but important digresson we report that Sheikh Mandi was originally against the removal of the MA and Amir Salahuddin from their positions and, as he later confessed – and Allah is the best witness to this – he (the Sheikh) considered himself more a defense counsel and not a judge.

Sheikh Muhaisani agreed with their removal, considering it the right decision with sufficient reasons. Sheikh Abu Salah, as he later confessed – and Allah is the best witness to this — voted for these three items in this form only for the sake of reconciliation. In addition, such a decision was taken due to the alleged lack of intemal regulations in JMA (Nizam), about the removal of the Emir. Of course we agreed with this Sharia ruling and we began to implement the Sharia hukm’s third point, the creation of a Nizam, but again there was a delay from the other side, that of the main Emir Moreover, Salakhuddin hurriedly excluded from the Majlis Shura the Naib (deputy), the Qadi, the Emir of the Vilayat Dagestan base, and the Emir of the CE base, and instead added those who were loyal to him. In view of this and many other tricks we rushed to tum to the three Sheikhs who conducted the arbitration, so that they would send a person from their side to control the execution of the Sharia hukm. This man had to make sure that all three points were carried out without fraud or delays.

To this end, Dr. Abu Abdullah was selected, the Emir of the Fajr Sham faction, and his agreement was obtained. Upon assuming his duties Abu Abdullah immediately got news from Salakhuddin that at the current moment, apparently, no one was left in the Majlis Shura but three people — him, Abdul Karim Krymsky and Muatassim. As for the others, Salakhuddin said, some had become martyrs and some had gone to other jamaats.

Later, in the presence of the Sharia Committee (SC) he said that right now there is no Majlis Shura as such, thus he was obviously trying again to not carry out the Sharia ruling, although the second point — the retaining of Salakhuddin as the main Emir, was carried out immediately. As for the first point, the removal of Abdul Karim, the MA was not only not removed but he was given a new Crimean House and he was hoisted there as Emir. […]

In order not to end up in a deadlock and result in bloodshed, the committee of judges came up with a solution, the division of JMA. Although how can this be a solution if on the one hand there is the MS, the SC and 600 mujahideen and on the other there is Salakhuddin, Abdul Karim and about 10-15 of their followers.

Salakhuddin said that he wants to consult and would give an answer in a few days, and finally once again said that he had witnesses and there was no MS. We agreed that at the meeting in a few days time he would bring his witnesses to [testify] that there is no MS. And after 2 days at the meeting there were witnesses and plenty was said by them that confirms the presence of a MS. And so the will of Allah tumed their testimony against them!

Later a representative of Salakhuddin, Sheikh Mandi, recused himself and appointed Sheikh Ibrahim Shasha in his stead, a few days before Sheikh Muhaisany asked to be replaced because of his health (recently our Sheikh went through another operation due to injury So in his stead Muhaisany appointed Sheikh Abu Azzam Muhajir, chairman of the Shana courts.