This post is a translation of the article published by Knack (www.knack.be in the printed edition. The article was published last week in a lengthy edition of the magazine providing an overview of Belgian news highlights in 2013.
June 19: ‘Abd ar-Rahmān Ayāshī from Sint-Jans-Molenbeek dies in the Syrian War
Bassām Ayāshī (Syrian-French Shaykh, Imām of the abolished Centre Islamique Belge and father of ‘Abd ar-Rahmān: My son died near Idlib, when he and his troops attacked a convoy supplying government troops. He was in Syria before the war broke out.
In 2012 he was convicted here [Belgium] to 8 years in prison for recruiting fighters for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Did he tell you he was going to participate in the Syrian war?
Ayāshī I was in prison in Italy when the Syrian war started. He wrote me a letter, asking me what to do. I replied him to do his duty, his was the choice on how to do so. When the resistance against Bashār al-Assad’s regime was still peaceful, he worked as an IT-specialist, posting pictures (and more) online made by civilian journalists. But when the war started, he joined the armed forces to liberate the land of al-Assad. He was the leader of a few hundreds of men, associated with the FSA.
When he died, you said we should congratulate rather than condole you. This sounds unbelievable from a father losing his son
Ayāshī I am not any different, I am like every father. If I see his photo, I burst out in tears. Even when he was just staying in Syria I missed him. But he went his way and I thank Allāh for that. He struggled to save others and got killed doing so.
Didn’t you tell him to be careful?
Ayāshī I told my son not to take any unnecessary risks, but I knew they were in constant danger. He already survived a few times and his best friend, the Algerian-French Raphael Gendron, who I regarded as my own son, was already killed in Syria.
The battle is unfair. To even hurt Assad’s army, the rebels have to attack and take risks. The Syrian government has unconditional backup from Iran, the Lebanese based Hezbollah and Russia.
The West does nothing. The only ammunition Assad’s opponents have, is this from conquered regime warehouses. But these get empty. Chances are that, in lack of other means, the amount of suicide attacks will increase. By ignoring the opposition, the West is forfeiting it’s chance to topple a dictator. It hereby increases the possibility extremists will take over.
Your son called upon Belgian youth not to come fight in Syria.
Ayāshī They don’t need Belgian fighters there. These boys aren’t trained, don’t know the country nor the language. There are enough fighting. What we need is rice, medication, material for child care. ‘Abd ar-Rahmān was a son of the land. He defended his land against the worst kind of dictator bombing his own people. Assad doesn’t kill mere terrorists or armed resistance forces. He kills civilians, children and women. If you are a Syrian civilian, you have no choice but to fight that.
You are a son of the land as well
Ayāshī Yes, but I am old. I reached the Turkish-Syrian border a few times, but I cannot pass it anymore. I am marked a terrorist. Together with my lawyers I am trying to break that. I want to be there, to be uniting the troops against Assad. Otherwise I could be of use in hospitals and refugee camps ….