Terrorism Profiles

Jaysh Al-Muhajirin Wal-Ansar (JMA)

Alternative Names:

Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar, Jaysh al-Muhajireen wa’l-Ansar, Army of Migrants and Supporters, Army of the Emigrants and Helpers, Muhajireen Brigade, Mujahideen Army.

Location:

Aleppo region of northern Syria.

Leadership:

Jaysh Al-Muhajirin Wal-Ansar (JMA) is lead primarily by Chechans from Russia’s North Caucasus. Recently, the group has pledged allegiance and merged with Jahbat Al-Nusra, a group which in the past JMA had close ties to. It is now believed that they follow direction from Al-Nusra.

Two prominent leaders of the group are Omar Shishani (Tarkhan Batirashvili is his real name) who is a former Georgian Armed Forces fighter, and Salahuddin al-Shishani. Shishani meaning ‘the Chechen’ in Arabic.

Membership:

JMA’s membership consists of approximately 1000 fighters, the majority of whom are foreign fighters. The group has drawn fighters from Russia, Chechnya, US, UK, Sweden and other European states.

Funding Sources:

Little is known about where JMA acquires funds for its operations.

Origins

JMA is a Chechen-led terrorist organization that operates in Syria. The group primarily consists of foreign fighters from Russia, Europe and the US. The group has been known to cooperate with other extremist organizations in Syria, in particular, Al-Nusrah and the Islamic State.

The group is believed to have formed in 2013 with the amalgamation of a few smaller organizations.

JMA has launched attacks against civilian communities, and kidnapped civilians and other foreigners in Syria.

Major Attacks:

Much of JMA’s involvement in attacks in Syria is unsubstantiated and difficult to source.

March 2013: JMA was involved in the capture of Handarat Air Defence Base in Aleppo, Syria.

Ideological Roots:

JMA follows the same ideological path as Al-Nusra and Al Qaida. The group subscribes to Jihadist Sunni Islamist beliefs. This is evident through their association with Al-Nusra and Al Qaida.

Objectives:

The primary goal of JMA is to topple Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s government. In addition, the group seeks to promote Al Qaida ideology and values within Syria.

Tactics:

JMA’s tactics include the use of large suicide VBIEDs, ground assaults, hostage taking and kidnapping, including foreign nationals and Syrian civilians loyal to Assad.

 Updated on January 8, 2015. 

References


  1. “Muhajireen Brigade.” Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. Accessed January 8, 2016. http://www.trackingterrorism.org/group/muhajireen-brigade
  2. Roggio, Bill and Thomas Joscelyn. “Foreign fighter group officially joins Al Nusrah Front.” The Long War Journal. Modified September 23, 2015. Accessed January 8, 2016. http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/09/foreign-fighter-group-officially-joins-al-nusrah-front.php
  3. “Designation of Foreign Terrorist Fighters.” US Department of State. Modified September 24, 2014. Accessed January 8, 2016. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/09/232067.htm
  4. Murad Batal al-Shishani“Syria Crisis: Omar Shishani, Chechen Jihadist Leader.” BBC Arabic. Last Modified December 3, 2013. Accessed January 8, 2016. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25151104
  5. “Currently Listed Entities.” Public Safety Canada. Last Modified October 30, 2014. Accessed Accessed January 8, 2016. http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx#2033
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