A video purporting to show jihadists condemning a possible western intervention in Syria has been making the rounds on social networks. However, we have determined that this video, which was relayed by several media outlets and generated much commentary online, is actually a fake.
The footage shows a group of fighters displaying a banner that says “We reject military intervention in Syria and we view it as a renewed attack against the Muslim nation”. The banner also features dozens of logos of rebel brigades that are active in Ghouta, near Damascus, where chemical attacks took place on August 21.
One of the fighters reads out a “press release” condemning Westerners in the name of the “al Mourabitin Ala Ard al-Sham” brigades.
“We reject Western military intervention in Syria and we view it as a new attack against the Muslim nation. We, members of the brigades that are waging jihad, […] consider that any military intervention from the Western unbelievers is targeted against our people […]. We also disagree with all those in the opposition that support this intervention, whether from the inside or the outside. Remember the crimes committed by the United States, Europe, and Russia, as well as their allies in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali, and Chechnya. […] All those who support their endeavour are traitors to Allah […]. Those countries, and especially the UnitedStates, are the ones who gave that criminal Bashar the green light to use chemical weapons, in order to be able to justify this attack […]. We will resist [this attack] with all our might […].”
Some Internet commenters began to doubt the authenticity of this video as soon as it came out.
“I have no doubt that this video is a fake. It’s the work of the regime’s minions who are trying to confuse people.”
In fact, the video was posted by the Tahrir Party, an internationalist Islamic extremist group based in Malaysia that advocates for the creation of a caliphate in the Muslim world. The brigades mentioned in the video do not actually seem to be aware that they were cited, nor do they support their message.
For example, this is what Abu Hadi, an officer in the al-Habib al-Mustafa brigade mentioned in the video, told us:
This video makes no sense. Important regional religious chiefs were cited in their declaration, but they’re not actually aware of any of this. In fact, the leaders of the Umm al-Qura brigade [cited in the video] learned the news from me yesterday during a meeting. They were of course very surprised.
The internationalist Tahrir movement does not carry any weight in Syria, either politically or militarily. They don’t even have any fighters here. This was basically a marketing ploy for their movement.
We contacted the communications officer for the Tahrir Party who maintains that militants from the brigades mentioned in the video had approved the press release, but admited that the leaders of these brigades had not been consulted…
This video was filmed without our knowledge. One of the militants that appears in the video, Abou Ayman, is indeed a former member of our brigade. But we kicked him out two months ago for insubordination. If we supported this initiative, we would have posted the video to our Facebook page.
For months now, we have been advocating for a buffer zone and a no-fly zone in Syria, so how could we possibly now be against Western airstrikes against the regime? We aren’t naïve either – we realize these countries will not intervene unless it’s in their strategic interest. But it seems that, in this case, our interests align. So if these strikes do take place, we will try our best to take advantage of the opportunity on the ground.
Abu Jihad Al-Ghuti, a Syrian activist working with several opposition groups in Ghouta, believes this is a simply marketing ploy by the Tahrir Party.