The Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Nusra Front) terrorist abducted Mohammad al-Ghabi, the commander of the U.S.-backed Jaish al-Tahrir opposition force this weekend. Al-Ghabi, his aides and at least 40 of the group’s fighters were allegedly seized by the group in a coordinated attack in northern Syria.
The abduction, revealed Sunday by a spokesperson for the U.S.-backed Jaish al-Tahrir, meant that U.S.-supplied weapons and other equipment, has fallen into the hands of the Syrian Al Qaeda force.
However, what appears to be a simple kidnapping is not that simple at all. Jaish al-Tahrir operates in the Hama and Aleppo areas and has only 4,000 trained fighters. The group is composed of five units, some of which received BGM-71 TOW missiles from the United States, according to Hasan Mustafas and the RFS Media Office.
After five years of a deadly civil war that has completely destroyed the country, the United States coalesced the group in February in an attempt to bring together the so-called “moderates” in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) alliance. The move was a last-ditch effort to stave off the metastases of the Da’esh (ISIS) terror group which has continued to gobble up territory in Syria — despite White House claims to the contrary.
But although the groups are ideologically different, Jaish al-Tahrir and Jabhat al-Nusra have often fought side by side to oppose Da’esh (ISIS) and/or fighters backing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
It is the parallel objectives of the two groups that has often made European nations so uneasy about arming the opposition groups, because the eventual destination of those arms is unpredictable. Or predictable.
Al Nusra seized the bases and weapons of one of the U.S. beneficiaries back in March, according to Reuters. The FSA 13th Division group was receiving foreign military aid in the form of U.S.-made anti-tank missiles and other weapons — all of which went to Al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra.
This weekend, Al-Ghabi, his aides and dozens of Jaish fighters were grabbed in a raid on a house in Kafr Nubl in Idlib Province. The group said he was “injured and kidnapped and taken to an unknown location,” according to Reuters, and their U.S.-made weapons were taken, too.
Jaish al-Tahrir has asked its cooperating FSA groups to pressure Jabhat al-Nusra into releasing Al-Ghabi. They have asked for a ‘sulha’ via a judicial court — an Arabic term meaning a mediated negotiation to work out their differences and reach a resolution.
Al Nusra, however, sees the United States as the “enemy” and appears to be growing closer, ideologically, to Da’esh. The group has accused Jaish al-Tahrir of participating in a U.S. training program to fight ISIS — something that is not new to anyone in the region, but which now suddenly is an excuse for an attack.
The reason may have to do with last month’s arrival of a new delegation of international Al Qaeda leaders, sent by terror chief Ayman al-Zawahiri to scope out a location for relocating the terrorist group’s headquarters from Afghanistan to Syria.
The former Egyptian eye surgeon, who helped found the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, succeeded Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden a few weeks after his death, in June 2011.Hana Levi Julian