AL-QAEDA LADIES’ CHOIR STRUTS ITS STUFF IN REBEL SYRIA
Friday, May 11, 2012
Back in mid-February, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned that al-Qaeda had “infiltrated” the Syrian opposition. At roughly the same time, videos began emerging on the internet that clearly revealed just what an understatement–to put it mildly–Clapper’s observation represented. The videos show Syrian rebel brigades proudly posing with the al-Qaeda flag and protestors holding it high. (See “Al-Qaeda in Rebel Syria”here.) This was not a matter of “infiltration,” with the word’s connotations of stealth and cunning, but rather of an openly publicized affiliation.
In the meanwhile, an even more revealing video has come to light. It shows demonstrators in a public square in Syria holding up the al-Qaeda flag and chanting “Allahu Akbar!” What is particularly notable about this video, however, is that the demonstrators are women. The women are fully veiled from head to foot, with black niqabs or facial veils covering all but their eyes. In addition to displaying al-Qaeda’s distinctive black flag, some of them wave the green-white-and-black flag of the Syrian rebellion. Others wear scarves featuring the colors of the rebellion.
Both a sign in the midst of the demonstrators and a piece of paper held up to the camera at the end of the clip identify the location as Hraytan, a suburb of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. Aleppo was the target of al-Qaeda style suicide bombings in both February and March. The written message held up to the camera at the end of the clip gives the date of the Hraytan demonstration as last January 21.
Asked about the video, the French Syria specialist Frédéric Pichon identified the location as Hraytan based on the aforementioned elements. Pichon noted that while the setting indeed looks like a Syrian city, “the style [of the demonstration and the female demonstrators] is much more Saudi – which is to say, Wahhabi.” Wahhabism is the purist, ultra-conservative form of Islam that predominates in Saudi Arabia. Pichon added that after forty years of secular Baathist rule, facial veils of the sort seen in the video are not typical of Syria.
This article was posted: Friday, May 11, 2012 at 8:57 am