This video was brought to my attention by @almakna. (The veracity of the contents have not been confirmed, but if true, it contains a lot of interesting insights). It is an interview from the Tunisian TV show ‘La Baas’ featuring someone who claims to have been a Jihadi fighting alongside the Free Syrian Army against Assad. It is interesting in itself, but most notably because the interviewee, who sounds Tunisian, claims that the Free Syrian Army recieved money from four Bahraini MPs who are members of Bahrain’s Salafist political society – Al Asalah. He proceeds to name two of them. One is Shaykh Adil al-Ma’wda, the former head of Al Asalah. He also mentions Shaykh Abdulmajid al-Murad, though perhaps he means Sheikh Abdul Haleem al-Murad, an MP also from Al Asalah. Remember that photos emerged in 2012 of Abdul Haleem al-Murad (@Murad_bh), Adil al-Ma’wda and Hammad al-Muhannadi (another member of Al Asalah) dining with Syrian rebels in Syria. Gulf News also reported that former MP Faisal Al Ghareer attended. Abdul Haleem al-Murad also tweeted in 2012 that the trip was in support of ‘Suqoor al-Sham’ (falcons of the Sham – an Islamist group based in Jabal al-Zaway according to Time). For more details on this story, read Justin Gengler’s blogpost on the topic.
At the time, the Bahrain authorities response was weak. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed they had no knowledge of the MPs trip to Syria, and urged citizens not to travel to conflict zones. However, given the MPs’ frequent denunciation of foreign interference in Bahrain, the irony of their actions is obviously acute. Interestingly, the Bahrain government have announced tough new laws on those helping foreign terrorist groups. The Gulf Daily News reports:
In an effort to prevent such acts, Interior Minister Lieutenant-General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa ordered security authorities to intensify searches and investigations to arrest those who have travelled to fight either by incitement, agreement or assistance. A travel ban will be imposed and the suspects will be referred to Public Prosecution.
The GDN implies by this that those who have already committed such acts will be arrested. I do wonder then what the statute of limitations is? Will any charges be leveled at the MPs, or will the Bahraini government just claim that the rebels in Syria do not constitute a terrorist group as determined by the Bahraini government? Maybe the only real terrorist groups are Hezbollah, Youth Movement of February 14th Coalition, the Resistance Brigade, and the Al Ashtar Brigade – i.e. those groups that can be linked to Shia movements in the region. Or maybe Bahrain will follow Saudi, and provide rather luxurious Jihadi rehabilitation centres for those fighting against Assad, but continue to put in prison though ‘terrorists’ whose jihad is politically less acceptable to the Bahrain authorities. Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see how/if the Bahraini authorities respond to this latest video, and whether Al Asalah will stick by the story they gave in 2012:
“What happened is that some members of our society, driven by the urgent calls of religion and pan-Arabism, gave donations to the Syrian people. The donations were in the name of the Bahraini people, and not Al Asala,” the society said.
In addition to this information, the interviewee also provides some other interesting claims;
- that MPs met with a man called Abu Isa, the head of Suqoor al-Sham
-the MPs promised to give Abu Isa’s fighters 1000 dollars a month in addition to weapons
-The interviewee also states that former Kuwaiti MP Waleed al-Tabtabai has sent weapons on money to rebels. He does this through an Islamic charity set up in Kuwait for this purpose