Jaish al-Islam

FormedSeptember 29, 2013
DisbandedGroup is active.
First AttackJuly 18, 2012: Before merging with other groups to form Jaish al-Islam, Liwa al-Islam claimed a Damascus bombing that killed Deputy Defense Minister Asef Shawkat and Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmani. [1]
UpdatedNovember 5, 2014

Narrative Summary

Jaish al-Islam is one of the many Islamist rebel organizations in Syria fighting to depose Bashar al-Assad. It is the result of the merger of about fifty Damascus-based Islamist opposition groups. Over thirty of these groups were previously united under commander Zahran Alloush’s Liwa al-Islam unit, which was already considered one of the best-armed organizations in the Damascus area. Alloush kept his leadership position in the new Jaish al-Islam. [2] The merger made the group the dominant rebel force in Damascus, surging ahead of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which had until then established itself as the main opposition power in the south. [3]

Jaish al-Islam joined six other militant organizations to found the Islamic Front in December 2013. [4]  Although it is clear that Jaish al-Islam has had a significant impact in the war, particularly in Damascus, little verifiable reporting is available on the group.

Leadership

  1. Zahran Alloush (Unknown to Present): Alloush is the head of Liwa al-Islam and the larger Jaish al-Islam. His father is a religious scholar from Saudi Arabia. He was wounded in a February 2013 regime airstrike.[5]

Ideology & Goals

Jaish al-Islam is attempting to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria. It was one of eleven groups to issue a joint declaration in 2013 that rejected the power of the Syrian National Coalition and called for Islamic rule in Syria. [6]

Name Changes

None. In English media, Jaish al-Islam is often translated as "Islam Army."

Size Estimates

Designated/Listed

Jaish al-Islam is not a designated terrorist organization.

Resources

Jaish al-Islam, like Liwa al-Islam before it, is backed financially by Saudi Arabia. [10]

External Influences

Saudi Arabia reportedly initiated the unification of the brigades making up Jaish al-Islam in an attempt to counter the influence of Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Damascus. [11] It has acted as an advocate and intermediary for the organization, urging the U.S. to supply the group with anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles while encouraging Jaish al-Islam to accept the authority of the Supreme Military Council, an affiliate of the Free Syrian Army. [12] Leader Alloush’s father is a popular Syrian cleric living in Saudi Arabia. [13] Finally, in addition to its influence in forming Jaish al-Islam, Saudi Arabia reportedly played a large role in the establishment of the Islamic Front. [14] 

Geographical Locations

Jaish al-Islam operates mostly in and around Damascus. Liwa al-Islam, the largest of its brigades, is the most powerful opposition group operating in the Ghouta agricultural belt. [15]

Targets & Tactics

Jaish al-Islam fights Bashar al-Assad’s military and its affiliated forces. The group increases its arsenal though attacks on regime forces, as demonstrated by a July 2013 video the group published, which shows two fighter jets now in its control. [16]

Major Attacks

Jaish al-Islam regularly engages in military attacks in Syria. However, those battles often go unreported by verifiable sources.

  1. July 2012: Liwa al-Islam, the predecessor to Jaish al-Islam, bombed the Syrian National Security Bureau headquarters in Damascus, killing several senior officials including the minister of defense and Assad’s brother-in-law. (Unknown).[17]

Relationships with Other Groups

Liwa al-Islam originally operated as both a member of the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front. [18] After Liwa al-Islam merged with other groups to form Jaish al-Islam, the group was one of the eleven Islamist signatories of the September 2013 declaration that called for Shariah in Syria and rejected the Syrian National Council, the Western-backed political branch of the Supreme Military Council. [19]

Jaish al-Islam joined the alliance of Islamist rebel groups, called the Islamic Front, on November 22, 2013, as a founding member. Zahran Alloush became the military commander of the umbrella organization. [20] [21]

Community Relationships

No information available.


References

  1. ^ O'Bagy, Elizabeth. "The Free Syrian Army." Middle East Security Report 9 (Mar. 2013): n. pag. Institute for the Study of War, Mar. 2013. Web. 7 Aug. 2014. <http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/The-Free-Syrian-Army-24MAR.pdf>.
  2. ^ "Guide to the Syrian Rebels." BBC News. N.p., 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 05 Aug. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-24403003>.
  3. ^ Hassan, Hassan. "The Army of Islam Is Winning in Syria." Foreign Policy. N.p., 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/10/01/the_army_of_islam_is_winning_in_syria>.
  4. ^ Lund, Aron. "The Politics of the Islamic Front, Part 1: Structure and Support." Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. N.p., 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=54183>.
  5. ^ {{"Guide to the Syrian Rebels." BBC News. N.p., 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 05 Aug. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-24403003>.}} {{"Missile Blast Wounds Syrian Rebel Commander: Activists." Reuters. N.p., 20 Feb. 2013. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://ww
  6. ^ Oweis, Khaled Yacoub. "Insight: Saudi Arabia Boosts Salafist Rivals to Al Qaeda in Syria." Reuters. N.p., 01 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/01/us-syria-crisis-jihadists-insight-idUSBRE9900RO20131001>.
  7. ^ {{"Guide to the Syrian Rebels." BBC News. N.p., 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 05 Aug. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-24403003>.}}
  8. ^ {{Black, Ian. "Syria Crisis: Saudi Arabia to Spend Millions to Train New Rebel Force." The Guardian. N.p., 08 Nov. 2013. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/07/syria-crisis-saudi-arabia-spend-millions-new-rebel-force>.}}
  9. ^ {{Oweis, Khaled Yacoub. "Insight: Saudi Arabia Boosts Salafist Rivals to Al Qaeda in Syria." Reuters. N.p., 01 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/01/us-syria-crisis-jihadists-insight-idUSBRE9900RO20131001>.}}
  10. ^ Hassan, Hassan. "The Army of Islam Is Winning in Syria." Foreign Policy. N.p., 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/10/01/the_army_of_islam_is_winning_in_syria>.
  11. ^ "Guide to the Syrian Rebels." BBC News. N.p., 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 05 Aug. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-24403003>.
  12. ^ Black, Ian. "Syria Crisis: Saudi Arabia to Spend Millions to Train New Rebel Force." The Guardian. N.p., 08 Nov. 2013. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/07/syria-crisis-saudi-arabia-spend-millions-new-rebel-force>.
  13. ^ Oweis, Khaled Yacoub. "Insight: Saudi Arabia Boosts Salafist Rivals to Al Qaeda in Syria." Reuters. N.p., 01 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/01/us-syria-crisis-jihadists-insight-idUSBRE9900RO20131001>.
  14. ^ Lund, Aron. "The Politics of the Islamic Front, Part 1: Structure and Support." Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. N.p., 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=54183>.
  15. ^ "Guide to the Syrian Rebels." BBC News. N.p., 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 05 Aug. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-24403003>.
  16. ^ Zion, Ilan. "Islamist Rebel Air Force Takes off in Syria." The Times of Israel. N.p., 3 Nov. 2013. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://www.timesofisrael.com/islamist-rebel-air-force-takes-wing/>.
  17. ^ {{"Guide to the Syrian Rebels." BBC News. N.p., 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 05 Aug. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-24403003>.}}
  18. ^ Lund, Aron. "Freedom Fighters? Cannibals? The Truth about Syria's Rebels." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 17 June 2013. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/freedom-fighters-cannibals-the-truth-about-syrias-rebels-8662618.html>.
  19. ^ Oweis, Khaled Yacoub. "Insight: Saudi Arabia Boosts Salafist Rivals to Al Qaeda in Syria." Reuters. N.p., 01 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/01/us-syria-crisis-jihadists-insight-idUSBRE9900RO20131001>.
  20. ^ Lund, Aron. "The Politics of the Islamic Front, Part 1: Structure and Support." Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. N.p., 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=54183>.
  21. ^ Lund, Aron. "The Politics of the Islamic Front, Part 3: Negotiations." Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. N.p., 16 Jan. 2014. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=54213>.

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