|The al-Qaeda-linked "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant"|
Free Syrian Army (FSA) Lt.-Col. Abu Ahmad was by the side of Kamal Hamami -- aka Abu Baseer al-Ladkani -- when the FSA Supreme Military Council member was gunned down by militants linked to al-Qaeda in Latakia’s rural area Thursday dusk time.
Speaking live last night from an FSA outpost near the Turkey-Syria border, Abu Ahmad gave this witness account of the killing in a long-distance interview with Aljazeera TV news channel:
Q. Lt.-Col. Abu Ahmad, since you were accompanying Kamal Hamami, put us in the picture of the circumstances surrounding his killing.
A. The late Abu Baseer had deployed his al-Izz bin Abdessalam Brigade in the midmost of Naba’ al-Murr (in Latakia province’s north).
I was alongside Commander Abu Baseer, God bless his soul, on his frequent inspection visits to his brigade.
Yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, we chose to return there to break our (Ramadan) fast together with members of al-Izz bin Abdessalam Brigade.
While heading there, we were stopped at a checkpoint sign reading the (al-Qaeda-linked) “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.”
The man in charge of the checkpoint said, “No entry.”
Abu Baseer told him, “Why are you denying us access? We are sons of this area, of Syria and of this township.”
The man in charge said, “These are the orders of the (Islamic State’s) Emir.”
Abu Baseer: “We would like to meet this Emir. Where is your Emir?”
Abu Baseer is a leading figure in Syria’s coastal region. He doesn’t need an introduction. All (opposition) brigades deployed in Syria’s coastal area since the start of the revolution know him.
We waited for the Emir to make his way from the easternmost part of Latakia’s rural area to its westernmost, where the checkpoint is situated.
The whole thing was premeditated.
Q. You said, “Premeditated”?
A. Yes, because they had us wait for their Emir, who goes by the name of Abu Ayman (al-Baghdadi), for over one-and-a-half-hours.
During the one-and-a-half-hour wait we were conversing with the fighters manning the checkpoint.
One of them was Moroccan.
Abu Baseer told him, “Since you hail from Morocco and are now in Syria, the checkpoint sign should read Syrian Arab Republic. This is Syrian territory and no one else’s.
“If you want to be on our side and help us, you are welcome. But to come here with alien ideas you wish to impose on this land is something we cannot let happen -- not while we are here.”
Abu Ayman launched into provocative remarks as soon as he arrived.
Our retinue wanted to intervene, but Abu Baseer, God bless his soul, ordered them to put away and lock up their arms in the car. He then turned to Abu Ayman and said, “I wouldn’t point my weapon at a fellow Muslim.”
Abu Ayman didn’t seem to be all ears. He gave no heed to the remark. He simply told Abu Baseer, “We won’t allow the FSA to operate here.”
Abu Ayman then turned to us and said we were all Takfiris.
“I am killing Abu Baseer,” he blurted out as he shot him dead.
Three members of our escort were also wounded.
Q. Was Abu Baseer’s a targeted killing or was the plan to assassinate any FSA commander and thus send a message to the whole FSA command?
A. The specific target in this instance was Abu Baseer, yes.
Abu Ayman told me in the face, “We shall wipe out all the FSA leaders. None of them will be spared.” That’s what he said.
In truth, we don’t want these aliens in our midst. We don’t need them. We don’t want fighters from outside Syria.
If properly armed, the Syrian people are able to liberate their country without outside help. Had the international community given us the required weapons and ammunitions, we would have brought down the regime long ago.
Q. The FSA says the assassination was a “declaration of war.” The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has specifically shut out the FSA from all over the Latakia region – and perhaps from throughout northern Syria. How does this affect you and the Syrian revolution?
A. What operations did these people ever mount in Syria’s coastal region? Abu Baseer was among the first officers and revolutionaries to establish a presence there. He liberated the Jabal al-Kurd and the Turkmen Mountains.
These people came into the liberated areas but nowhere else. Did you ever see them in Qusayr, Tel Kalakh, Deraa or Homs? They only turn up in liberated areas, bringing with them alien ideologies that they want to impose on the Syrian people.
Q. What do you intend doing after Abu Baseer’s assassination?
A. We want these people out. We don’t want them in the Syrian people’s areas.
If they wish to fight for the objectives of the Syrian people’s revolution, fine. But if they came to serve their own agendas and be a thorn in our flesh and a torn in the side of the revolution, then we won’t give them any chance whatsoever.