"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Black flag of al-Qaeda flies over Syrian city

The black flag of al-Qaeda flies high over Raqqa’s main square 
  • Their black clad fighters patrol the streets, or set up positions behind sandbags.
  • The U.S. and Western nations pour aid and weapons into Islamist rebel hands through the CIA and Islamist Turkey and Islamist Gulf States. 

The UK Telegraph  -  In taking Raqqa two months ago al-Qaeda achieved its greatest coup in the war to date: it was the first provincial capital to fall outright to the rebels, and allowed Jabhat to assume a leadership role over a large swathe of north-eastern Syria, to the Iraqi border.

Little known a year ago but suspected of having being founded by al-Qaeda in Iraq, they have grown in stature, leading many of the rebels’ most successful recent battles. Last month they publicly declared their loyalty to al-Qaeda’s supreme leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

To many in it is a welcome development. “Jabhat are excellent for us,” said Abdullah Mohammed, a man from the nearby village of Mansoura. “They deal with us according to Islamic rules, so there are no problems. They are honest and they run everything pretty well.”

Other locals too, particularly shopkeepers, say the all-pervasive corruption of the Assad era has vanished with the regime’s men. “I like Jabhat,” said Ahmed al-Hindy, who runs an optician’s shop. “They are better than the regime, at any rate.”

Part of it is money. Jabhat al-Nusra has always been well-funded compared to other militias – most people assume due to wealthy backers in the Gulf, though few have been able to track down the lines of the money supply.

Now they have control of good sources of income and can pay salaries. From the city’s main flour mill, they supply the all-important bakeries, and they have seized some of them too. At night, long queues of women form to buy their daily ration under the watchful eyes of Jabhat guards.

They have also taken the oilfields in neighbouring Deir al-Zour province. Production is hardly booming, but they are able to sell enough on the local market to keep cash rolling in.

It is not all plain sailing, though. Even in Raqqa, no single militia is all-powerful, even Jabhat, and they depend on an alliance with Ahrar al-Sham, another radical Islamist group.

They also have to deal with a slew of other brigades with a variety of ideologies.

“This is all just for the war,” said al-Khalil, the town leader, who is happy to cooperate with Jabhat as he tries to re-establish schools and keep the water running.

A former human rights lawyer once jailed by the regime, he said he could tolerate the black flags for now. “But I think the modern Islamic project will win in the end,” he added.

The Telegraph  -  Syrian city under the black flag of AL-QAEDA

Syrian rebels take Raqqa

Islamists patrol the city streets.

Sharia Courts Established

The Islamists smashed up one of the two shops that sold alcohol. That much was pretty inevitable, the locals agreed. The other off-licence had already closed, as had the casino on the outskirts of town.

They brought in a radical cleric from Egypt to preach Friday prayers, and set up a sharia court in the city’s new sports centre with the support of other brigades. They had their fiefdom — an entire city to run only 60 miles from Nato’s border.

One family's home was invaded.  “All these guys came in with guns and wearing masks and with handcuffs,” said Nagham, 19, a civil engineering student. “They started searching everything, and shouting.

“They were saying, 'Put on more clothes than you are wearing, put on a headscarf.’ I just said I’m wearing clothes and I’m not putting on a headscarf’.”

The men took them to the sports centre. There the girls were charged with being alone with a man and interrogated.

“The guy with us was so mean,” Miss Rifaie said. “He was speaking in a horrible way, as if he was disgusted to be with us.”

For the full article go to The UK Telegraph.

The town is largely under the control of Jabhat al-Nusra, affiliated to al-Qaeda

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