Syria

Syrian Civil War Fighters Include Ex-Guantanamo Detainees, Video Shows

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Ibrahim bin Shakaran eulogizing over Abu Hamza al-Maghrebi
Credit: Youtube screencap

Video evidence has surfaced that indicates ex-Guantanamo detainees are among the rebel forces in the Syrian civil war.

The video shows the funeral of a Moroccan man identified as Abu Hamza al-Maghrebi. According to the Miami Herald, when he was detained at Guantanamo, he was known as Mohammed al-'Alami.

Aaron Zelin, editor of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Jihadology blog, explained that "we finally have evidence with this video from a credible media outlet within the jihadi media sphere." Zelin writes that "Syria is probably the biggest jihad since the jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Obviously there've been cases of people [Guantánamo detainees] who've gone back to continue the fight. It's not surprising. But it is interesting."

Apparently, the white-bearded man in the video who delivered the eulogy was also a Moroccan previously held at Guantanamo. He is known as Ibrahim bin Shakaran. Another Jihadology blogger, Aymenn Jawad Al Tamimi, dug up a Guantanamo Bay memorandum about Shakaran on Wikileaks. Tamimi writes that Shakaran is "a well-known al-Qa'ida veteran," who "fought in the Hindu Kush and Tora Bora mountain ranges of Afghanistan" before being captured by U.S. forces. Additionally, Shakaran "is described in the video as the leader of Harakat Sham al-Islam."

The Telegraph notes that there are roughly 100,000 fighters on the rebels' side, though many are part of radical Muslim groups and are not even Syrians:

The new study by IHS Jane's, a defence consultancy, estimates there are around 10,000 jihadists—who would include foreign fighters—fighting for powerful factions linked to al-Qaeda..

Another 30,000 to 35,000 are hardline Islamists who share much of the outlook of the jihadists, but are focused purely on the Syrian war rather than a wider international struggle.

This calls into question several issues about U.S. foreign policy. The effectiveness of violating individuals' rights is problematic, since detention did not deter either al-'Alami or Shakaran. Likewise, the Obama Administration's desire to support rebels, who potentially harbor ill-will against the U.S., is counterproductive. 

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  1. Well I’m sure there’s no hard-feelings. Here, have some weapons courtesy of the Red, White and Blue!

  2. It’s just like Afghanistan, only with fewer positive outcome possibilities.

  3. No doubt plenty of the detainees are bad guys. Also no doubt that any on the margins who were detained now have direct cause to hate the U.S.

    On the flip side, even radicals might be relatively neutral about the U.S. and not neutral about other things, like the unlovable Assad government.

    1. My opinion is most of these radicals are being radical in their own back yards. Osama, the 9/11 attacks and other international attacks are much more of an aberration.

      If you drop forces in the middle of country X, Muslim Radicals will fight American the foreign infidels. That doesn’t make them international terrorists with a global reach.

      1. True enough. I’d say we don’t have a fucking clue about what motivates these people, anyway.

  4. See, another problem created by BOOOOOOSSHH!

  5. I’ve been told repeatedly that nothing America does causes people to hate us enough to take up arms against us. Therefore this article is a lie.

    1. If nothing America does is enough to cause people to take up arms against us, why are we taking up arms against people? We must have very thin skins.

    2. They hate us because of our FREEDOM.

      Nothing that the US does will change that.

  6. Well, I have to point out that these former Gitmoistas aren’t fighting the US or even a US ally or affiliate, so I’m not sure you can use them as proof that Gitmo detention made them hate the US or at least had no effect on their willingness to attack the US.

    And, yes, I think indefinite detention of anyone without trial is an abomination, and the use of Gitmo as an extra-Constitutional off-shore prison is a Very Bad Thing.

  7. The effectiveness of violating individuals’ rights is problematic, since detention did not deter either al-‘Alami or Shakaran.

    Sure did while they were detained, and then they went to fight not America but Assad.

  8. You see, you’re looking at this all wrong. The fact that they went to fight in the righteous humanitarian war against Bashir Satan al-Assad shows that they were innocent of jihadi motives all along!

    1. Would it be tinfoil hattish to suggest that the US military had talks with some of these prisoners along the lines of “we’ll let you go and arm you if you agree to fight some of our enemies?”

  9. So, the dude whose face is pixelated out? Wanna bet on his occupation/employer?

  10. I’m not sure what the point of this article is supposed to be. We’re apparently supposed to draw some conclusion from the fact that a former Guantanamo detain is in Syria, but he never explicitly states what that is, and the article is too vague to fo me to infer what he’s hinting at.

  11. “detention did not deter either al-‘Alami or Shakaran”

    True, thats why we should have executed him.

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