Sometime over the weekend of July 25th to 27th, a new group was formed inside Syria. Jamaat Ahadun Ahad, as they are known, is still a relatively unknown and mysterious group with only snippets of information available via twitter sources. A handle known as Abu Fulan al-Muhajir (@Fulan2weet), who appears to be both a foreigner to Syria (implied by the "al-Muhajir") and a member of the group said this with his most recent tweet:
According to al-Muhajir's other posts--which will be posted below--the group is comprised of many former "independent and anonymous muhajireen". The Arabic word "muhajireen" translates to emigrants in English, which means that the new group appears to be made up of foreign fighters.
To make matters more interesting, the group's emir is allegedly a Chechen named Al Bara Shishani. This is yet another Chechen fighting inside Syria with a leadership position. Ali Abu Muhammad al-Dagestani, the new emir of the Caucasus Emirate, the al-Qaeda linked group operating in the North Caucasus region, has reportedly asked Caucasian fighters in Syria to remain independent, but at the same time threw his weight behind Jabhat al-Nusra. While it cannot be confirmed as of yet whether or not Jamaat Ahadun has any ties to the Emirate, the role of a Chechen commander makes one wonder.
According to al-Muhajir below, those involved in Jamaat Ahadun were also involved in the 2014 Latakia Offensive in Latakia Province and that they are the remnants of those who stayed behind in Kessab. In the Latakia offensive, Jabhat al-Nusra, Junud ash-Sham (led by another Chechen named Muslim Abu Walid al-Shishani), Ansar Sham (yet another group led by a Chechen), the Islamic Front, and Harakat Sham al-Islam (a mainly Moroccan group) all took part.
Sham al-Islam, Jaysh al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (the Caucasus Emirate's branch in Syria), and two other groups recently merged together to form Jabhat Ansar ad-Din. While it is not known if JMA (Jaysh al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar) was involved in the 2014 offensive in Latakia, they were definitely involved in the 2013 Offensive along with Sham al-Islam. This new jamaat could have most certainly gained contacts within either of those groups in one or both of the offensives. This could open up potential flow(s) of fighters and/or allies to join in on their battles in Latakia.
Below is the merger of Sham al-Islam, JMA and two other groups:
This can not be any more axiomatic about the new jamaat that was formed presumably in Latakia province. With the leader being Chechen, this only further highlights just how instrumental and important they are in the fighting in Syria, but also how widespread they are becoming.
Chechens in Syria:
Also in my post, I highlight and note several Chechens and Chechen led groups: The main Chechen factions inside Syria are Jaysh al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, Sayfullah al-Shishani's jamaat, ISIS Chechens, and Junud ash-Sham. The ISIS Chechens are loyal to a man named Abu Omar al-Shishani, who serves as the ISIS military commander for Northern Syria. Before holding this post, he, along with Sayfullah al-Shishani, formed the group Jaysh al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (Army of the Emigrants and Helpers--will be referred to as JMA). After a falling out between the two, Omar and his followers went to ISIS and Sayfullah and his followers went to Jabhat al-Nusra; Sayfullah died assaulting the Aleppo Central Prison in 2013. JMA is now led by Salahuddin al-Shishani and his deputy Abdul Karim Krymsky (a Crimean Tatar); the group refers to themselves as the Caucasus Emirate's contribution to the war in Syria or the “Imarat Kavkaz in Syria”.
Junud ash-Sham, an independent group who fights alongside JMA and al-Nusra, is led by Muslim Abu Walid al-Shishani. Muslim had close ties and friendship with Sayfullah before the latter's death in 2013. These are the main Chechens and Chechen groups fighting inside Syria; however, these are by no means the only Chechens or Chechen groups in Syria. For instance, Ansar Sham, a group aligned to the Islamic Front, is headed by a man named Abu Musa al-Shishani (who just so happens to be close to Muslim al-Shishani).
Speaking of Muslim Abu Walid al-Shishani, it could be possible his group could either merge or work alongside this new group. While Muslim usually fights alongside Jabhat al-Nusra, he has largely tried to stay neutral in the jihadist infighting--something this new group wants to do. Although, Muslim's social media popularity goes against what Jamaat Ahadun wants to accomplish in being anonymous. However, he does fit the profile of (a) being based in Latakia, (b) not wanting to get involved in the so-called fitna (infighting), (c) being involved in the Latakia offensives and (d) trying to remain independent. At the very least, Muslim could begin to operate alongside Ahadun Ahad. If this becomes true, this then raises the question of what other groups will Ahadun Ahad fight alongside with?
The formation of Jamaat Ahadun Ahad should serve as a reminder of just how critical of a role foreign fighters, especially Chechen's, are playing inside Syria. While not much is known about this new grouping, it should be interesting to find out more in the coming weeks. It will also be interesting to see what they accomplish inside Latakia and which groups they might work with.
The Jamaat Ahadun Ahad has now created an official twitter account. They have yet to tweet anything worth noting, but they can be found at @jamaatahadun. What is worth mentioning, however, is who they follow. Out of the thirteen accounts, this is who they follow:
It appears they follow Ansar al-Islam, Jund al-Aqsa, Jabhat Ansar ad-Din (the aforementioned group JMA is in), at least two or three Jabhat al-Nusra pages, at least two Islamic Front pages, and at least two accounts appearing to be affiliated with the Islamic State. It should be noted that following these pages do not necessarily reflect which groups they support, but it could possibly signal who they are willing to work with down the road.
Jamaat Ahadun Ahad has now released a new video showing off more pictures, some of which were previously unreleased. Along with the pictures is some footage of what appears to be the group in combat.
You can watch the video here: