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Julani and Qahtani Move Away from “Jihad”, Two Messages to the West

Tahrir al-Sham aspires to establish a contemporary Islamic state and align with the west, according to al-Souria Net.
Julani and Qahtani Move Away from “Jihad”, Two Messages to the West

The leader of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham is actively seeking to shed the “terrorist” label, sending two significant messages to the West, as shared by journalist Wassim Nasr of France 24. Nasr recently visited Idleb where he met with al-Julani and Tahrir al-Sham leader Abu Maria al-Qahtani.

According to Nasr’s report, Julani stated that his group is no longer committed to the principles of global jihad, recognizing that it only brings destruction and failure to their communities. Nasr also quoted Julani, who expressed a clear understanding of his group’s strengths and weaknesses.

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In an interview with the Counterterrorism Center at West Point Academy, Nasr stated, “There is a noteworthy shift occurring. A jihadist group and its leaders are distancing themselves from anything associated with global jihad.”  

“We don’t want to fight the West” 

Julani’s statements align with those of Qahtani, a prominent leader within Tahrir al-Sham. Nasr reports that Qahtani expressed a desire to move away from perpetual warfare and emphasized that Tahrir al-Sham does not seek conflict with the West, but rather aims to combat those who pose a threat to the West from their region.

Qahtani further stated that Tahrir al-Sham employs not only force but also persuasion to dissuade young individuals from joining the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, showcasing a functioning and viable alternative. Qahtani publicly called for the dissolution of Qaeda and even reached out to the Yemeni branch, urging them to cease their activities.

The leader questioned the purpose of Qaeda’s leadership in Iran, referring to them as the “sword of justice,” expressing a desire for Tahrir al-Sham to retain its Sunni identity rather than being influenced by Iran. Nasr emphasizes that Tahrir al-Sham’s fight against Qaeda and the Islamic State is not merely to appease the Western audience but is rooted in the belief that these projects are inherently flawed.

Nasr also notes that Tahrir al-Sham views foreign fighters as a strategic asset, prepared to confront the challenges posed by them.  

“Modern Islamic State” 

According to Nasr, Tahrir al-Sham aspires to establish a contemporary Islamic state and has already established ministries. However, these offices are currently limited in size and sometimes unoccupied, indicating a strong determination to take action.

Nasr shares insights from individuals within the Salvation Government associated with Tahrir al-Sham, who expressed a desire for political support from the international community, along with skilled individuals who can contribute to building the administrative infrastructure. Their goal is not merely to rebuild but to create an entirely new system from the ground up. 

 

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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