Al-Jazeera: Full Translation of the first part of the interview with Abū Muhammad al-Jūlānī

full translation of the first part of the interview by al-Jazeera. Translated by Dutch Mujāhidīn in Syria

Ahmad Mansour: “May peace be upon to you and the mercy of Allah and His blessing. I greet you and welcome you in a new episode of the program ‘without borders’ from one of the liberated territories in North Syria. Were the recent military victories took place, which were achieved by Jaysh Al-Fath by its shadow on the battlefield in and outside Syria, and Jabhat An-Nusra is considered as one of the essential pillars of Jaysh Al-Fath. Although it is described different from the others by the US, saying it is a terrorist organization.

In the same time the Syrian regime is bombing the bases of Jabhat An-Nusra and its men, the American planes and the US coalition planes are also bombing the same targets. The bases of Jabhat An-Nusra and its leaders were hit by these missiles, after the US places Jabhat An-Nusra and IS (the Islamic State) in the same scale, despite the big differences between them in thought and beliefs and even military.

Jabhat An-Nusra was founded in the month January 2012 after Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani came back from Iraq, where he traveled to mid March 2003 to fight the American troops who occupied Iraq at that time. Al-Joulani came back to Syria and published his first publication in it on 24 January (2012) in which he announced the founding of Jabhat An-Nusra. In it he said ‘it strives to return the Governance of Allah back on earth and to take revenge for the violated honor and split blood’. Jabhat An-Nusra shocked by its strong and racing operations in its beginning against the Syrian regime and its intelligence positions in the capital Damascus.

And when Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islam State in Iraq and the Levant, announced the fusing of Jabhat An-Nusra with the Islamic State, Jabhat An-Nusra announced its renewal of allegiance to Dr. Ayman Az-Zawahiri in the month of April 2013, refusing what Al-Baghdadi announced. Jabhat An-Nusra was drawn in to fight with the Islamic State, in which the Islamic State took power of many territories which were under the control of Jabhat An-Nusra, including the Syrian territories which are rich of oil resources.

In our episode today we will try to understand the goals and strategy of Jabhat An-Nusra, and the reality of their aims. With the consideration that it one the main operating military powers at the moment in the battlefields of Syria, which is striving to the fall of the regime. And our dialogue today is with the founder of Jabhat An-Nusra, Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani. Abu Muhammad we greet you welcome, I thank you for choosing the broadcast Al-Jazeera and the program Bilaa Hudood (without borders) for this dialogue. I have tens of questions which maybe are shared by tens of journalist, over all corners of the world, who have asked you for a interview, but you chose us over the others.

I want to start with the recent victories achieved by Jaysh Al-Fath of which Jabhat An-Nusra is considered one of its pillars. The liberation of Idlib, and the military camp Al-Mastouma, and very recently the state hospital in Jishr Al-Shughour. What is the military strategic importance of these victories?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “In the name of Allah, all praise is due to Allah, and blessings and peace be upon the Prophet, his family and his companions. As for what follows, first of all these territories which are consider to be liberated recently are the first defense lines for the coast areas. The whole territory between Ladikiya and Idlib was defended by the regime with large military equipment, like Qarmeen, Mastooma, the town Ar-Rihaa and Jish Al-Shoughour and many other checkpoints which fall in this category like Hanbal, and Al-Qiyasaat, and Frayqa, and so forth. These territories are considered the first defense lines for the coast areas. These territories are Sunni, and then come the territories in which the Nusairy Al-Lawites reside. They are considered first defense lines for the Nusairy territories, which the regime gives more importance than others. The battles were in the Sunni territories, and now they have moved to the (Nusairy) territories in which the regime enjoys popular support.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Now you are not further than 30km away from Al-Qirdaha, the capital of the Al-Lawites, like it is been nicknamed, the town of the Assad family; in it is the grave of Hafid Al-Assad, the father. Many Al-Lawite strongholds are now just a stones-throw away from you. What is your future battle, or what is your vision concerning the Al-Lawite territories, in the shadow of what has been said; that Jabhat An-Nusra is planning a historical massacre on the Al-Lawites in the territories Al-Ladiqiya and Al-Sahil (the coast)?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “First of all, the Nusayris or the Al-Lawites have committed very big massacres against the Sunnis. This regime, since it gained power forty years ago or so, is built in its fundamental basics upon the Al-Lawite and Nusayri origin. They are the ones who committed massacres in Hamaa, they are the ones dropping explosive barrel bombs on the inhabitants and Muslims, in all the territories, they are the ones torturing in prisons, they are the ones raping women and killing children, they are the ones who caused millions of refugees to flee all over the world, some drowned at sea, some of them are begging for livelihood, some of them live in refugee camps in the surrounding countries. They are responsible for killing approximately a million of Sunnis in Shaam.

That’s why there are very big confrontations between Sunnis and Al-Lawites. They hurt and wounded the Sunnis very very much. Of course Bashar Al-Assad does not fight himself, he fight with these people, these factions, and those that ally with them of course. There are also people amongst the Sunnis who ally with the regime of Bashar Al-Assad. Not only Al-Lawites; but they are the root of power. They are the cord of the regime; who come from these territories. These territories were save for the last four years, they were not confronted with attacks, because the first lines of fire were against the regime, and these were in the Sunni territories. But now the battle has moved in its beginning to the Al-Lawite territories.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Some (Al-Lawite) towns are not further away from your fire range than 3km?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “We have indeed surrounded them. The Al-Lawites today understand that this regime is not capable of protecting them. They’ve built his throne, the regime exploited this sect a very great deal in order to built the throne of the Assad family. But now the sorcery turned against the sorcerer, it turned in to loss. (Having said that) In reality the battle in Shaam will not end in Al-Qirdaha (the Al-Lawite capital). It will end in Damascus. The end-stop of this battle will be in Damascus. That’s why we put all of our importance in that which will help extinguish this regime. The Al-Alawites indeed help built it, but our war is not vindicatory. Even though we consider the Al-Lawites as a sect which left the Religion of Allah, by the words of the (Islamic) scholars and jurist. They are not considered as a sect which belongs to the people of Islam, they left the Religion of Allah and Islam. As for us, we today do not fight except against those who raise their weapons against us. We fight against those who fight us.”

Ahmad Mansour: “So your jurist stance in what you are doing, is defending against the attacking enemy, and not gaining victories to build a state?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Yes, we differ with others in this. We are still in the stage of defending against the attacking enemy. We today fight against those who fight us, whether they be from the Sunnis or not, and there are people from amongst the Sunnis who fight us.”

Ahmad Mansour: “So all the fronts who do not raise their weapons, you do not fight against them?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “At this moment we do not fight those who do not fight against us. There are Druze towns who do not support Bashar Al-Assad and do not fight, they are present in the liberated territories and they are not harmed.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Now that you opened the subject of the Druze towns, I was surprised in the past couple of days when I was traveling in many of the liberated territories. I traveled hundred of kilometers and saw more than ten Druze towns, I was surprised that you are the ones who protect these people. There were also Christian towns. So this was surprising to me.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “As fo the Druze, we approach them with Dawah. We sent many preachers to them, they taught them the Aqeedah (Islamic fundaments) mistakes which they made, and we saw that they refrained from these Aqeedah mistakes which they made.”

Ahmad Mansour: “But you do not occupy their towns and destroy their homes, you do not confiscate their belongings, you do not destroy their places of worship, you do not do these things at this moment?”

Abu Muhammd Al-Joulani: “No no, absolutely not. As for the places of worship, if there was something that goes against the Sharia, than we deal with it in accordance with the Sharia. If there are grave-temples which they visit, we consider this as Shirk (polytheism), the Islam considers this as Shirk with Allah the Almighty, so we withhold them from this. We said we sent people to them who correct their Islamic beliefs, they teach them the things with which they left the religion of Islam. As for transgressing against them, this absolutely did not happen. Likewise the Nusairi Al-Lawites today, after all the massacres they committed, our religion is a religion of mercy, we are not criminal killers, we fight those who fight against us. We fight and stand against oppression. Even the Al-Lawites, if we show them their mistakes and the reasons for why their Religion, and they refrained from this, and dropped their weapons, and distances themselves from the deeds of Bashar Al-Assad, if they do this than they are not only save from us, moreover we will take the responsibly of protecting them and defending them. Because they will have returned to their Religion, and distanced themselves from the tyrant Bashar Al-Assad, and become our brothers. We will protect them the same way we protect ourselves.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Are you now at this moment sending this clear message to the Al-Lawites?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Of course, if the Al-Lawites at this moment take a decision, not a general decree, but each town (or village) distances itself from Bashar Al-Assad and distances itself from his deeds against the Sunnis, and holds its men back from fighting with Bashar Al-Assad in his ranks, and refrains from the mistakes in Islamic fundaments which put them outside their Religion, and return back to the Islamic faith; by this they will become our brothers. We will defend them, like we defend ourselves. And we will forget all the wounds between us and them. Because we will consider them on deviance in the past.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Forgive me here to cut you off, can we consider this a official statement from you to all the Al-Lawite towns, with all its inhabitants, men and women, and everyone who is under your fire range?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Yes of course, and this is even something which we are already implementing at this moment on the ground. We at this moment for example have soldiers who have fought with the regime for four years, and they without a doubt killed Sunnis and so forth. Sometimes we also surround a specific area, than this soldier comes out and surrenders himself, he says he wants to surrender himself, so we let him leave to his relatives in security and reassured, he only has to distances himself from what he did. Even if he killed thousand men from us.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Before Jishr Al-Shoughour was fallen in your hands, the national hospital, and I was there I followed the battle from the beginning until it was sieged. Before it fell, a day or two, some soldiers surrendered themselves.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “He who surrenders himself before we capture him, gain power over him in a fierce battle, he may leave in security and reassured to his relatives, we will not harm him.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Can I consider this an invitation to all the soldiers who are fighting in the army of the regime?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “This is something we are already implementing and many people know this, even the soldiers of the regime know this issue. When the airport Abu Dhuhoor was besieged many people came out (and surrendered themselves), and this happened many times, not just once of twice in order to take this specific instance as evidence. It happened many times. Sometimes the regime frightens them that ‘Al-Nusra will slaughter you’ or ‘those Mujahideen will slaughter you’ and ‘Jaysh Al-Fath will kill all of you’. But the opposite happened. And there are those who were convinced by their relatives to surrender themselves to us, even after they fled from the besieged areas. I am talking about a soldiers now, who raised his weapon against us, and distances himself from the regime, and his deeds, and came and surrender himself and gave up his weapons, and left in security to his relatives. So how about sects? If it returned to the Religion of Allah the Almighty, and distanced itself from the brutal killings of the regime against the Muslims and the Sunnis, they will than become our brothers. We will protect them from that which we protect ourselves from. I am saying this because this is the fundament of our Religion, I am not saying this because we are fleeing from the accusation of oppressing minorities, and similar propaganda.”

Ahmad Mansour: “The important question now revolves around this; the western media outlets focus a lot about your stance towards other ethnicities and religions.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “We do not care about what the west says, what we care about is implementing the Sharia of Allah the Almighty. The Sharia of Allah is very vast, we do not need the west to explain to us what human and animal rights are. The west always tries to play with balances, they want Shaam to be ruled by a minority and not by a majority. A minority which they can control. That’s why they want Bashar Al-Assad to stay in power. They at least want the remnants of this regime to stay, if Bashar cannot stay in power, at the end of this road. So we refuse to let Islam be a prisoner confronted by these accusations. We have the pure Religion of Allah the Almighty, we deal with everyone around us with the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (SalAllahu Alayhi wa Selam), and we are not ashamed of anything, there is nothing which makes us uneasy. The Christians of example, there is a very big propaganda campaign about the fate of the Christians. The Christians generally stand in the ranks of the regime at this moment, and we said that we at the moment fight against those who fight us. We do not fight against the Christians in a general way; we fight against those that fight against us. But even if we reached an Islamic rule, and we wanted to implement the Sharia on Allah’s earth, than I see that the Christians have advantages in the shadow of the Islamic rule.”

Ahmad Mansour: “I want to talk about the Christians at this moment, and not in the shadow of the Islamic state which you will maybe govern in the future.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “The situation of the Christians at this moment is that we do not fight against those who do not fight against us, and the Christians are not fighting at this moment (as a whole). If we implement the Islamic rule in the region, they will be judged according to the Islamic rule we will govern. The issue of paying Jizya only applies to those who are able to pay it, and those who are not able do not have to pay it.”

Ahmad Mansour: “But now you are not requesting anything from them?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “No at the moment we are not.”

Ahmad Mansour: “And you do not take any women as slaves (war prisoners), like the media is claiming, and so forth?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “We are not at war with the Christians at the moment, we at the moment do not blame the Christians for what America is doing. And we do not blame them for what the Christians Copts in Egypt are doing for example. Around Medina, in the time of the Prophet (SalAllahu Alayhi wa Selam), there lived twelve Jewish tribes. But he did not blame Ghaybar for what Banu Quraydha did, and he did not blame Banu Quraydha for what Banu Qaynuqa’ did. Everyone is responsible for his own deeds which deserve to be punished singular from the other. The punishment should be equal to the deed.”

Ahmad Mansour: “There are Shia villages besieged by you in these territories, in Reef Idlib for example, in Al-Qu’a and Qfarya, in Aleppo indeed.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “These were military barracks of the regime, and they still are, these are villages fighting against the Muslims and Sunnis. They abduct from the Sunnis in their neighboring villages. The regime shot canons and missiles from these villages on all their surrounding territories. These are villages fighting in a complete sense, so they are besieged at the moment. They are besieged after the regime left Idlib, so yes they are under blockade.”

Ahmad Mansour: “The deadline you gave to the Al-Lawites, do you give an open deadline or closed deadline, while the battle is ongoing and you can enter their territories at any moment? Some villages even, when you reached certain territories, you knew that the inhabitants of some surrounding Al-Lawite villages fled to other villages out of fear for you.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “By Allah, the organization of Jaysh Al-Fath is based on mutual consultation (Shura). I am talking about the vision of Jabhat An-Nusra at the moment, and I do not think that there is someone who disagrees with me in Jaysh Al-Fath on this. But the basis is built on Shura. And this issue about a certain deadline is not discussed (yet). But what I said is in the context of our understanding of the Book of Allah the Almighty, this should be the context of our dealings with these groups (sects).”

Ahmad Mansour: “Is Jasyh Al-Fath which consists of seven main fighting groups, and I talked to some responsible in them, a strategic coalition between Jabhat An-Nusra and these groups or is just a tactical stage?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Jaysh Al-Fath began as an operation room in the liberation of Idlib, this gathering was blessed, so it became which is known as Jaysh Al-Fath and was based upon mutual consultation (Shura), without looking at the one who is leading this army, it is based on the basis of Shura between all the groups. It is not a coalition between Jabhat An-Nusra and all these groups, no it is a coalition between all these groups together with each other. So these groups are not at one end and Jabhat An-Nusra at the other end. Since we began this project we consult with all these groups in military work.”

Ahmad Mansour: “How do you look at these groups from a fundamentally religious perspective (Aqeedah), your allies?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “They are Muslims, even if they differ somewhat with us. There are some groups which have some mistakes, we overlook these mistakes, because of the enormous severity of the battle.”

Ahmad Mansour: “An how do you look at the general Muslims in the territories which fall under your control?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “The Muslims of course are Muslims..”

Ahmad Mansour: “You do not excommunicate (Takfir) them?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “We do not make Takfir on the Muslims, excommunicating a Muslim needs a religious decree (fatwa) by those specialized in knowledge, and then the general Muslims can copy the decrees of those in knowledge. We say that if a specific incident took place, there was an incident with a Muslim from amongst the Muslims. Then a student of knowledge, someone who is exerting his effort in gaining knowledge, would be asked to look in the case and decree like a judge if this person left Islam.”

Ahmad Mansour: “So Jabhat An-Nusra does not excommunicate a Muslim, except those who are excommunicated by the Sharia texts? And what about the accusations that you are Takfiris?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “This is like the accusation ‘the terrorist’. The same goes for ‘the Takfiri’ in this case. This is an accusation of hostility, against whomever they want to demonize. They have prepared an accusation for everyone, which they let loose on him, until they drive away the people from him. This is the basis (of these accusations).”

Ahmad Mansour: “Some groups in Jaysh Al-Fath, who are with you in the same coalition as you are in, are known to have foreign connections and get forgein backing. From where do you get your backing?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Our assistance comes from the war spoils which Allah let us take from the regime, and these territories are vast and broad, there are many liberated areas and many commerce from which we benefit in these areas. And the land of Shaam is a rich country; it does not need someone to give it charity. If the backing has conditions to it, than it is a very dangerous kind of assistance, which leads to politicizations in the future. We, and to Allah belongs all praise and virtue, refused to sit even once with intelligence services or any government department or government representatives, and did not accept anything from them.”

Ahmad Mansour: “You do not have any connection with any intelligence service or any foreign country?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “We absolutely do not have any links with any of them.”

Ahmad Mansour: “And you do not get any backing from certain Islamic countries which aid some groups?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “We do not receive any backing from any country, which ever country it may be.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Are the domestic capabilities inside Syria enough to finance a war?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “I want to explain something here, there is an illusion present in some fighting groups concerning their connections to these (foreign) assistance. First of all, there is no backing without set conditions. There are conditions set on these groups, and it is not necessary that they say ‘we set this and that as a condition’. Sometimes they are directed while they do not know. For example, there is an importance on the battlefield to wage war in Aleppo, than the backers of these groups come and say ‘we see the tragedy in Homs and what is happening there, here take this aid to open the road to Homs’. But the reality is that the battlefield needs an operation in Aleppo and not Homs. So they direct these fighting groups in this direction so that they can build a political case for a peace treaty, or something else the UN representatives want, in Aleppo. Thus these fighting groups turn away from an essential battle, and maybe it is the other way around and it is Homs which needs this, but they direct them to Aleppo. So this is a type of pressure, and not a direct condition (which they set). These people know how to negotiate with them.”

Ahmad Mansour: “So does this mean that the ones who are directing the battles in Syria are the foreign backers, because they direct the battles by their backing?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “No not to this degree, there are groups which they do not control in the least like Jabhat An-Nusra, and we gather all the other groups in a battle, when we open a certain front all these groups come and join us.”

Ahmad Mansour: “These fighting groups like you are present in Syria, but how did you establish yourselves by the domestic resources in the vast liberated territories, while they receive foreign aid even though they are like you and could use domestic resources?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “The problem is that these groups are built upon this fundament, they depend on foreign backing, and I have researched some of this assistance, and I found out that this assistance is very meager and it is not worth to sit with them for it. It comes in the form of some supplies and the like. And you and everyone saw on the television and so forth, that all these fighting groups own army tanks for example, so does this backing consist of army tanks? Army tanks are taken as war spoils. As for finance, they are not financed to build their organization on it, they finance them only for a specific battle for example. These groups have not researched this issue much and leaned upon foreign backing. We of course see a danger for these groups and the battlefield if this assistance continues like this. It is necessary that there be an independent decree. The devil uses gaining of provisions as one of his pathways.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Did any country or organization or secret service offer you backing?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “We did not open this space for such offers to begin with, everyone knows our opinion very good; we do not accept any backing, we do not even accept these people to send us a messenger. This door is completely closed as far as we’re concerned, we will not open it. We are devoted to stay free and independent in decisions and decrees, but these groups lean primarily on their foreign provisions and finance.”

Ahmad Mansour: “I have traveled a couple of days in Idlib, Aleppo, and surrounding territories, I traveled hundreds of kilometers, talked to people, and found out that the territories are wealthy, they are completely self sufficient from foreign aid. But at the same time I found out that people do not pay taxes, they do not pay anything which you could impose on them. Even electricity and water if free, in the territories in which there is electricity and water. So from where do you get your backing?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “The Prophet (SalAllahu Alayhi wa Selam) said ‘My provision is placed beneath the shadow of my spear’. Our finance comes primarily from the war spoils we take from the regime army.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Is this enough? The territories which you control are vast?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “As for supplies and the likes, it is enough by the blessings of Allah the Almighty. And there are some trades we conduct in some liberated territories, and we also develop some war spoils we take. There are different revenues, which are enough to make us self sufficient. And since a short while we have been collecting financial aid from Muslims outside Syria, but in some periods it is difficult and they are prevented from doing so.”

Ahmad Mansour: “So you accept financial aid from Muslims, but from individuals and not from countries?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Yes individual aid from Muslims indeed.”

Ahmad Mansour: “If some countries were prepared to give some aid without any conditions, would you accept it?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “We do not accept anything from countries and governments because there is no such thing as unconditional aid. Even if they claim so, the reality contradicts this, the same will happen as it did with some fighting groups, they are pressured.”

Ahmad Mansour: “But you accept the aid from Muslims?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Yes we accept from the general Muslims and this is Halal for us to do so.”

Ahmad Mansour: “And this is enough for you to continue this long battle?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “With the permission of Allah, the good is abundant and vast, all thanks belongs to Allah. And Allah does not forget anyone. And the people love Jabhat An-Nusra, they love the organization of Al-Qaedah. They empathize with us from this perspective. And we hope from all Muslims that they finance the Mujahideen, that they finance the people of Jihad in the field of Jihad, and that they send from their money to Shaam.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Does this mean that the liberated territories are self sufficient enough and financially capable to aid Jabhat An-Nusra and other armed groups to wage a prolonged war against the regime?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Of course especially if all these efforts are combined, because these recourses are divided amongst us, these groups and platoons. If these efforts were combined under one framework than they would be completely self sufficient, by the Will of Allah, from their foreign aid. And even if they received some foreign aid as a side note, there maybe wouldn’t be any problem. But that the decrees of some of these groups, or their motivation is robbed, or that they are pressured to make specific public announcements or say specific things in order to please the backers, than these groups would be robbed of their motivation. And we would pass trough stages much more difficult than those we passed in an earlier period. If these decrees are kidnapped by others, not in the hands of these fighting groups, than this will be a problem on Shaam. Foreign powers only care about their own benefits, their emotions are not moved by the children and women who are killed and the people who are made homeless. Their emotions are not moved in the least, they only care about their benefits, so they direct these groups in the direction of their benefits.”

Ahmad Mansour: “I have studied many decrees the last couple of days that many of these fighting groups who are allies with you in Jaysh Al-Fath are pressured at the moment to expel Jabhat An-Nusra from the coalition, or leave with it, in order for the foreign aid to continue.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “They are not capable of doing so, Jabhat An-Nusra is not a negligible source on the battlefield, all praises are due to Allah everyone knows that Jabhat An-Nusra is the spearhead in this war, with the cooperation with all the other factions, we will not downplay the rights of anyone. Look at the operations in Daraa, and in Al-Qalamoon, in Homs, in Hamaa, in Idlib and in Aleppo. All the factions know that Jabhat An-Nusra is not a secondary source on the battlefield, rather it is an essential source which cannot be ignored. Many people know this, and Jabhat An-Nusra cannot be sidelines at any possible moment. With the blessing of Allah we have a popular presence amongst the people, we have many public services running, and we have military operations which absolutely cannot be ignored. Furthermore we do not need anyone to accept us or not, we work for the cause of Allah the Almighty. And many truthful factions, even if some of its leaders were afflicted by psychological insecurities and turned away from some its values, many soldiers of these factions and leaders stick closely to us by the blessing of Allah.”

Ahmad Mansour: “The USA describes you as a terrorist organization since 2012, the UN blacklisted you. The American planes at this moment, together with the Syrian planes, side by side in the Syrian air, is executing bombardments on your bases. I was in a place a couple of days ago and there were heavy bombardments in it, I later found out that it were bases of Jabhat An-Nusra. On the last day I went to this place and I found out that the buildings were evaporated. There were no remnants at all of these buildings, I do not know what type of weapons they used. In found some shrapnel, I tried to pick it up but it was very heavy. Not only Jabhat An-Nusra is fighting against the regime, it is in a joint war along with other parties.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “There is of course a big international coalition active on the Syrian battlefield; against the Iranian coalition, with the Nusairys and Hizbullah, and the Syrian regime, and with regional powers, and with the international coalition and some factions that helped the international coalition, and also against the group known as the (Islamic) State. So there are big challenges for Jabhat An-Nusra. As for the international coalition, and the hypocrisy of the West, than this is known and exposed, it does not need any explanation or elaboration. This is their role in any place and at any moment. They are the ones who created these leaders and these tyrants, and they are the ones who are honored by protecting them. And the international community knows fully well that the ones who have the most impact on the Nusayri regime are Jabhat An-Nusra, so that’s why they try to weaken us by false claims like saying that there is a ‘Khorasan group’. There is no organization named the Khorasan group, all these bases were bases of Jabhat An-Nusra, and all those who were killed are from Jabhat An-Nusra, and some civilians who they also hit by these bombardments.”

Ahmad Mansour: “I found the place of the so-called Khorasan group, I went there and I asked the inhabitants, and I got to know that those who were killed were from the people of the village?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “There is nothing called the group of Khorasan, we only heard about this from the Americans. The field is exposed for everyone among the people, and there are no secret and public organizations, all the organizations are public and exposed. There is Jabhat An-Nusra, and there are people from Khorasan who waged Jihad in Afghanistan and Pakistan and came to the Syrian battlefield, yes these people are present amongst our ranks. The Americans of course claimed that they tried to attack America and that they pose a threat, and these kinds of claims, but the Americans could not prove anything about this claim, and it is not the case.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Is it possible that Syria turns into a battlefield with a battle between Jabhat An-Nusra and the West?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “As for Jabhat An-Nusra, the guidelines we received from Dr. Ayman, may Allah protect him, is that the importance of Jabhat An-Nusra in Shaam consist of extinguishing the regime and its symbols, its allies I mean like Hizbullah and others, and to cooperate with the factions who strive for a rightly guided Islamic governance which the Muslims can enjoy. And the guidelines we got is that we refrain from using Shaam as a base to attack the West and Europe, so that we not disturb the current ongoing battle. Maybe the organization of Al-Qaedah executes this, but not from Shaam. These are guidelines and the decree we received from Dr. Ayman.”

Ahmad Mansour: “So this strategy at this moment is only restricted to Shaam?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Yes Shaam and Hizbullah.”

Ahmad Mansour: “What if American bombardments continued against you and your bases?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “The good is open and it is a right for every person to defend himself, (so yes) the good is open. The guidelines we received until now is to refrain from attacking the West and America from Shaam. And we abide by the guidelines of Dr. Ayman, may Allah protect him. But if this situation continues like this I believe that there will be outcomes which will not be in the benefit of the West and not in the benefit of America.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “The good is open and it is a right for every person to defend himself, (so yes) the good is open. The guidelines we received until now is to refrain from attacking the West and America from Shaam. And we abide by the guidelines of Dr. Ayman, may Allah protect him. But if this situation continues like this I believe that there will be outcomes which will not be in the benefit of the West and not in the benefit of America.”

Ahmad Mansour: “What is your view about the American role in the Syrian war?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Its role is supporting the regime.”

Ahmad Mansour: “America is supporting the regime?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Yes America is supporting the regime and is showing hypocrisy in the media; that it is with the Syrian people and against this regime. But America is supporting the regime in every possible way. The most noticeable way they are supporting the regime is by bombing Jabhat An-Nusra which is defending the Muslims, and everyone can attest to this. So why are they targeting it? Especially when we create pressure against the regime it starts their attacks against Jabhat An-Nusra. The American role with the international coalition is a role of drugging these peoples and the people of Shaam, until it reaches a political solution of agreement, of course this agreement will be on the blood of Sunni Muslims. Whether Bashar stays in power or was removed and the regime stayed, Bashar was not the one who did the killing and slaying himself, he rather gave the orders, and the model of this regime did not change. America wants for Shaam what happened to Yemen, that once face leaves and that another face replaces him, in any case there must be a government which kneels for the American dictation. America describing every organization and government, is actually a description for everyone who leaves the international and the American dictation. So their role is one of major support for the regime, their importance is only drugging these peoples by some conferences like Geneva 1, 2 and 3, the Arabic conference, one global conference after the other, etc.”

Ahmad Mansour: “You did not participate in any of these foreign political conferences which the West organizes about the Syrian issue and its solution.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “We mentioned in the previous meeting that even the children of Syria do not accept this, everyone in Shaam agrees on this issue. Nobody talks about this except for a few politicians who live outside Syria and who do not feel the pain of the Muslims in Shaam in the first place. This is something which is clear to the young and the old. The people choose, and they know that the Mujahideen with the power of their weapons will change this situation that they are in, not the conferences of Geneva and not the meeting in Washington or with the UN, and so forth.”

Ahmad Mansour: “From the things I have witnessed when I traveled between the villages and towns from Aleppo to Idlib and other places, is that the people in the territories who consist of approximately five million Syrians, live in almost complete security except for the barrel bombs which are dropped by the regime and likewise some of the coalition airstrikes against them. Is there coordination between the planes in the Syrian airspace?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Of course, this matter is known to everyone, the no such thing as one airspace for two different airplanes, this goes for commercial airlines so how about military airplanes? There are air lines for commercial flights, a Saudi and a Turkish airline go up and they have to coordinate between each other, so how about military flights? Do you believe that an American airplanes enters an airspace while at the same time there is a fighting airplane of the Syrian regime present without them coordinating between each other? How can this be?”

Ahmad Mansour: “Do you accuse America of coordinating with the regime in the airstrikes?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “We have evidences for this. This is something obvious, it’s obvious.”

Ahmad Mansour: “What kind of evidences do you have?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “We have camera images of American airplanes and Syrian airplanes.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Some of the Mujahideen showed me some images in my travels saying these are American airplanes and right after that they showed me Syrian airplanes. And is was surprised about this issue, how is it possible for two airplanes from two governments to fly together in such harmony.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Yes and in the midst of a warzone airspace, if it was a neutral airspace maybe, but in a warzone airspace.”

Ahmad Mansour: “But you have evidences for camera images?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Yes we have camera images if you wish we could provide them to you.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Yes please if you could provide them. The countries which support the regime in Syria are eager to prevent the fall of Damascus, and in your vision at the moment you said something which maybe sounds strange to many people, that the first country eager to prevent the fall of the Syrian regime is the United States of America. What about the direct support from countries in the surrounding region of the Syrian regime, and is also eager to prevent its fall.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “You mean like Iran or Hizbullah?”

Ahmad Mansour: “Like Hizbullah, since you are involved in battles with them, and Iran.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Well, as for Hizbullah. Hizbullah knew from the beginning of the Jihad (in Syria), not from the beginning of the revolution, they knew that the brutality and criminality of this regime was capable of extinguishing these protests which occurred at the beginning. But then they saw the emergence and of Jihad, the Mujahideen and the flags of Jihad, they saw the situation took a seriousness turn at that time. They completely realize that the fate of Hizbullah is strongly and integrally and publicly connected to the fate of Bashar Al-Assad. The elimination of Bashar Al-Assad, means the elimination of Hizbullah automatically. If Bashar Al-Assad was eliminated it is only a matter of time for Hizbullah. Hizbullah has many enemies in Lebanon, and these enemies will become stronger and their voices will raise, just by the disappearance of Bashar Al-Assad. Because Bashar Al-Assad is the public backer of Hizbullah.”

Ahmad Mansour: “And not the opposite?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “No not the opposite, at the moment Hizbullah is assisting Bashar Al-Assad because of the condition the regime has reached, and it trying with everything it has, it is trying in vain with everything it got to rescue what is left of the live of Bashar Al-Assad. Because they know that the end of Bashar Al-Assad means its own end. So they entered a war, despite their knowledge about the losses which they will confront, big losses whether on the public or political level, and even on the military level, it entered an inadequate but necessary war, from their perspective. They know this very well from the beginning of the situation. And we, until this very moment, despite the battles which are ongoing in Al-Qalamoon, Jabhat An-Nusra and other factions in Shaam did not built a large offensive against them yet, we are fighting against Hizbullah at the moment with the very small numbers we have in Al-Qalamoon.”

Ahmad Mansour: “But Hassan Nasrallah talked about the battle in Al-Qalamoon, that it is a decisive battle and they have achieved victories by which he expelled the Syrian rebels?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Hizbullah is trying to frighten the Lebanese, that there is danger approaching Lebanon, but the reality is that the danger is approaching Hizbullah and not Lebanon. Lebanon has no connection to this danger. So he is trying to mobilize all these available recourses in Lebanon with the pretext that this a danger to everyone and not only on him. That’s why the battle in Al-Qalamoon is indeed decisive for him, as far as he is concerned. Because he is trying to protect his Western borders and some Shia towns.”

Ahmad Mansour: “And as far as you are concerned?

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “The battle there is a guerilla war, and by the blessings of Allah we have great trust in Allah the Almighty and after that in the brothers who are present there. If we were not busy in some battles against the Syrian regime, and if the organization known as the (Islamic) State did not set up roadblocks between us and them,..”

Ahmad Mansour: “About the organization known as the (Islamic) State, is true that they attacked you in the back in Al-Qalamoon?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Yes, there is battle going on against the regime on one side and against Hizbullah on the other..”

Ahmad Mansour: “What is the benefit for organization of the (Islamic) State, to attack you, the Mujahideen, while you are fighting against Hizbullah and the regime?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “The regime is fighting from one side, and Hizbullah is fighting from another side, and the organization of the State on another. They see that there is a meeting of benefits or something similar, they did this more than once, in Hasakah, in Deir Zor, even in Aleppo, they did this more than once. They use the attacks of the regime against us in a certain position, thus they attack from another position, and from weak points in other positions. This is a policy of theirs which they maybe abide by.”

Ahmad Mansour: “What is the strategic and military importance of the region Al-Qalamoon, which made the leader of Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah, eagerly to engage this vast region, whether it be in the media or military?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “As for Hizbullah, there are borders from their side which border Shia town there, and he considers these borders as being part of Lebanon, so he tries to secure them to the best of his capability. And as for us, it is an important center from which we can enter Damascus, it is one of the centers from which you can enter Damascus, if we would start a battle in Damascus in the future. And as for us also, the people of Al-Qalamoon are our people, some of the brothers who fight there are from the people of Al-Qalamoon. These are their towns and lands from which they were expelled last year, and they are trying to liberate it again.”

Ahmad Mansour: “When I tried to understand the vastness of the battle on the map, I found out that it spanned over more than 70km, and the mountainous territory is very harsh.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Yes, it is not as easy as the people vision.”

Ahmad Mansour: “But will you enter in other battles with Hizbullah, or are you content after withdrawing?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “The battle is ongoing, these territories are not like towns, in order to say that we lost this and that, there are mountains present, with hills and so forth. This creates maneuvers, you leave this hill and then move to that hill, these are the characteristics of guerilla warfare. Not like what is happening at the moment in Idlib, and in other territories, like Daraa and others; they have evolved to military wars. But as for Al-Qalamoon than we are still in the stage of guerilla warfare.”

Ahmad Mansour: “So the war will expand in Al-Qalamoon?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “The battle will expand, we will not be divided by this matter, we will stay focused on Damascus and on the fall of this regime, if it falls, than the situations will automatically change. And I want to stress out that the fall of Bashar Al-Assad will not take very long, the battle is in its end phase, I do not want to be too optimistic, but the battle is going really well and is entering its end by the Will of Allah.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Here I have my doubts about the battle of Damascus that it is a decisive battle.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Hizbullah is a matter of time, with the fall of Bashar Al-Assad it will automatically draw back to the south, even its presence is going to be in position of negotiation, this will happen without us entering Lebanon. This will happen by the forces which are already present in Lebanon. And I call from this seat all the forces and parties who are present in Lebanon to understand what I am saying fully well, and to direct itself towards it.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Are you calling the Syrian-Lebanese forces, which doesn’t ally with the Syrian regime, to participate in the fall of the regime?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Of course, because it is in all our benefit.”

Ahmad Mansour: “What for benefit do they have in the fall of Bashar Al-Assad?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Lebanon is living in oppression from the regime of Bashar Al-Assad for nearly forty years, and all the Lebanese know the bitterness which they taste from the authority of the regime. It is true that the regime withdrew from Lebanon in 2005 after they killed Rafic Al-Hariri, but they left the country in the hands of Hizbullah which is not less brutal and criminal than the regime of Bashar Al-Assad. So after the regime withdrew he trusted everything in the hands of its ally Hizbullah, the strongest in Lebanon. So that’s why Hizbullah made many adversaries in Lebanon, and it is impossible for Hizbullah to govern Lebanon with that which its wants. Lebanon is very complex.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Hassan Nasrallah many times said that the regime in Syria will not fall because of the assistance of Hizbullah and his support side by side. If it not were for Hizbullah, Bashar Al-Assad would have fallen a long time ago?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “This is a claim bigger than its extent in the reality, there are many militias which the regime of Bashar Al-Assad used. And he leaned a lot on the army he had, this regime is not this insignificant, we are fighting against this regime and it is a fierce enemy who has big capabilities. Hizbullah is assisting it, but not only them, they are just in the spotlights. There are tens of Iraqi battalions which came and assists the regime, there are factions from Afghanistan, etc.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Can you give an estimate of how many soldiers of Hizbullah assist the regime?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “In reality we cannot, we do not have the information to do so.”

Ahmad Mansour: “What are the important front were they could be found?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “They are strongly and publicly present in Al-Qalamoon, and in other places like in East Ghouta for example, or in the failed attack they executed in Al-Qunaitira, they and the Iranians and these other parties, they have turfs in nearly all the places but most of them are advisory and the like. They are present in nearby Shia territories like Nubl and Zahraa, and the Shia territories Al-Fu’aa and Kfarya. It is not due to the power the regime that they are able to create these gaps and inactivity, it is due to the internal differences and infighting which occurred; the regime took advantage of this and made these approaches.”

Ahmad Mansour: “But the battle in Syria, is it indeed a decisive war for Hizbullah?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Yes it is a decisive war for them, we said that their fates are strongly intertwined.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Hizbullah stand next to Al-Assad to protect itself primarily before it is protecting the Syrian regime?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “This and that both.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Does the fall of the Assad regime mean the end of Hizbullah in Lebanon?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Of course, Hizbullah knows its own situation very well. If Shaykh Abu Malik, may Allah protect him, in Al-Qalamoon and his few men are fighting and did all these damage to Hizbullah and bewildered them, and made the issue of Hassan Nasrallah an issue of ‘the fate of whole Lebanon’. How then if Jabhat An-Nusra, or Jaysh Al-Fath completely, or the different factions who fight Hizbullah, were to seriously build a battle against Hizbullah? What will be their fate?”

Ahmad Mansour: “Are you convinced that the battle against Hizbullah is coming without a doubt?”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Of course, it is a coming battle. Even if they take Al-Qalamoon at this moment, or they don’t. I have mentioned, and I will stress this again so that the viewers understand this well, is that the fate of Hizbullah is connected to the fate of the regime of Bashar Al-Assad. The elimination of Bashar Al-Assad means the elimination of Hizbullah.”

Ahmad Mansour: “I have many themes remaining; the role of Iran in the whole region, its assistance to the Syrian regime; you relation with the organization of the (Islamic) State, and the big problems whether in beliefs or military between you and them; your vision for the future of Syria, and the future of the regime, and the future of the continuous battles in Syria. I welcome you in a next episode. I have taken a lot of your energy and time, and thank you for your participation. I insisted much on you to show your face to the people, but because no one knows you until this moment I have respected this matter. And I thank you for it. I just wanted to explain to the people why you do not show your face.”

Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani: “Many people know me, but our policy is not to expose ourselves in the media.”

Ahmad Mansour: “Maybe you will fulfill our request in the next episode. I thank you. And likewise I thank the viewers for your attentive listening, follow us next week to complete our dialogue with the leader of Jabhat An-Nusra, and its founder in Syria, Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani. In closing I salute you, this was Ahmad Mansour greeting you from one of the liberated territories in North Syria. May peace be upon to you and the mercy of Allah and His blessing.”

4 comments on “Al-Jazeera: Full Translation of the first part of the interview with Abū Muhammad al-Jūlānī

  1. […] Jabhat al-Nusra Abu Mohammad al-Julani interviewed by Al-Jazeera. Translation […]

  2. […] Jabhat al-Nusra Abu Mohammad al-Julani interviewed by Al-Jazeera. Translation […]

  3. Thanks for the great work of translating this. We deserve to know.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s