Islamist fighters walk with their flag during the funeral of their fellow fighter Tareq Naser, who died during clashes on Sunday, near the village of Fafeen

Our source for this post, Mousab Alhamadee, by his own account, is a school teacher and an activist serving as an international media spokesman for the Local Coordination Committees of Syria. He purportedly works under the protection of the Free Syrian Army in the mountains near Hama. He also says he is a former translator of English language books. Earlier, he has authored a post skeptical of U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakdhar Brahimi’s peace mission to Syria, one in honor of a vegetable merchant who joined the revolution and one trying to confirm mass killings in Qubeir last June. Read his latest one further below.

The Syrian government restricts independent reporting within the country. We invite Syrians on both sides of the conflict to tell the world how they cope with street violence, human tragedies, political chaos and economic loss in their daily lives. Syria Witness reports cannot be independently verified and, for personal safety reasons, some contributors do not use their real names. Texts are edited for reasons of clarity and style, but no changes to content are made.

By Mousab Alhamadee, near Hama, October 18, 2012

For about 19 months, Syrians have heard nothing from the outside world except for that beautiful rhetoric and the smooth words from politicians – especially in America and the West as a whole – condemning the atrocities of the Syrian regime’s army and referring in very strong terms to the continued killing of innocents in this country.

Those statements have done nothing to convince the Syrian people that the regime does not enjoy the protection of America and the West.

Especially because the Libyan example – where the West did come to the aid of a revolution – is still fresh in their memory. In the case of  Libya, it didn’t take America and the West long to proceed from empty speeches to a concrete intervention in that oil-rich country. At the same time, Syrians were given no choice but to believe their foreign minister, Waleed Al- Mualem, when he said that there will be no outside intervention in their country because “there is no smell of oil coming out of Syria”.

If the political conscience of the governments of the world is moved only by oil and economic reasons, the same cannot be said of people, especially people in Islamic countries.

The man from Saudi Arabia

About four months ago, I was introduced to Abu al-Hareth, a Saudi man, who had just arrived in Syria. He was accompanying a group of some religiously conservative friends of mine. He said he had came to Syria to offer help to the poor Syrian people who are being killed silently.

It was good to hear that, but the story had no good ending.

Abu al-Hareth and my friends are now an organization. The foreigner could put his own imprints on them, and contributed to a radical change in their points view and their opinion of what they were doing.

“…the revolutionaries of Syria are increasingly turning into a gang of bearded men with extreme religious beliefs.” – Mousab Alhamadee

As the international community watched horrible massacres take place, one after another, Abu al-Hareth found among these half-educated guys gullible followers who would believe that the hypocritical West will do nothing to help Syrians get rid of their cruel regime, as the West itself is non-believing, exactly like the Syrian regime itself.

The ideology of a new regime

Abu al-Hareth – in his own regime-like mentality – was able to convince these guys that what is going on in their country is a conspiracy by non-Muslims, including the regime itself, to abuse Muslims in Syria and keep the vast majority of Sunnis under the rule of the non-believing Alawite sect that supports Bashar al-Assad and his government.

Thus, my country is now full of Abu al-Hareths, and the revolutionaries of Syria are increasingly turning into a gang of bearded men with extreme religious beliefs.

There happened a kind of recession in the consciousness of most of them. The world being passive observer, men like al-Hareth are now being welcomed in Syria. They are welcomed for their sympathy, financial help and ideology. But what ideology?

“Enough of this political idolatry. We must have our Islamic state now. It’s a jihad war, not a democratic revolution” – Ali, a friend of Mousab’s

Abu al-Hareth came to Syria to offer us a rare opportunity to achieve his dream of being a mujahid – a sacred warrior – a man who fights the enemies of Allah. When necessary, he will even die for his sacred cause and obtain his dear reward: a heavenly paradise where very beautiful heavenly women are waiting for him in palaces Allah must have built for him there. He deserves all that… and why not? He is fighting in the name of Allah, and he is defending fellow Muslims from non-believers.

‘Jihad is our only refuge’

Abu al-Hareth’s logic prevails among many revolutionaries in Syria now. My friends say they are not fighting for democracy now.

One of his new Syrian followers, Ali, shouted at me, “What is democracy?”

“It is one of the West’s big lies. We are done with that! Look at their human rights slogans! What have they done to put an end to us getting killed?,” my friend said.

“Jihad is our only refuge, when we adhere to our religion and repent to Allah. He is able to make our fellow Muslim brothers come from all over the world and help us to get rid of this idolater regime.

“Enough of this political idolatry. We must have our Islamic state now. It’s a jihad war, not a democratic revolution.”

My friend, Ali, and the rest of my old gang of friends now have a holy Saudi-funded dream to establish a Wahhabi state in Syria where Islamic law would prevail. There, everything will be Islamicized according to the will of Allah: criminal law, culture, society, fashion, literature, and the role of women.

To become a Syria Witness and tell your own inside-Syria story, contact David Arnold, coordinator of our Syria Witness project at syriawitness(at)gmail.com. For safety reasons, we strongly urge you to use a browser-based e-mail (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail) and be sure “https” appears in the URL. You can also invite Arnold to Skype at davidarnold70.

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 SYRIA WITNESS: How a Foreigner Recruited My Friends for Jihad

David Arnold

David Arnold coordinates the Syria Witness project at Middle East Voices and reports on Middle East and North Africa affairs for both Voice of America and MEV. The Syria Witness project publishes on-the-ground citizen reporting, giving Syrians the opportunity to offer to a global audience their first-person narratives of life on the streets of their war-torn country.