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1) Bands of War in Syria. A band is composed one leader AND the men following him. The leader shall provide guns to his warriors.
A band of war is not Army-like. We shall identify the most active and agressive gangs by: the face of their leader AND the logo of the band. One of the biggest gangs is that of Abu Issa.
Another one is that of Jamal Maarouf, AKA Abu Khalid. He's the face the Syria Martyrs Brigades, a coalition of various bands of war. I call this band The Shields, in reference to its logo.
2) The Free Syrian Army (FSA)
the creation of the FSA.
The head of the Military Council in Idlib is Col. Afif Suleiman. Here we see him with one of his regiments, the "Northern Shield":
The Free Syrian Army is building the shadow State apparatus, the apparatus that could provide the structure of the new Syrian State, after the revolutionary war. This structure is not rigid yet, it is incipient, in process of formation. It is forming alliances with bands of warriors, by producing administrative units (Military Councils) that try to coordinate together gangs and the military elements that defected from the Assad regime.
Abu Issa of The Falcons, for instance, is part of the Idlib Military Council (FSA) headed by Suleiman. On the other hand, the band leader formed a coalition of his own. In September 12, a YouTube video appeared in which Abu Issa announces the birth of the Jabhat Tahrir Syria (the Syrian Liberation Front).
We acknowledge the others, just as they acknowledge us," he said to Time magazine. "The military councils can be a part of it, he said. Abu Issa's new Front regroups several formidable outfits, including the Farouk Brigades of Homs.
What is also interesting is that the Free Syrian Army appears to be in competition with other forces aiming to build the new state of Syria: the Syrian National Council [now rebooted into the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces], largely sponsored by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Obama regime, in... Istanbul.
The Muslim Brotherhood arm on the ground of Syria appears (I'm not sure yet) an al-Qaeda front, although it is being said that the Muslim Brotherhood is hedging their bets and backing a few FSA councils too.
c) Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is the face of a leader AND a network of groups sharing the SAME network of media production and distribution.
When a band joins al-Qaeda, it becomes a Front (Jabhat), and carries the black flag of al-Qaeda media production and distribution al-Manara al-Baida (The White Minaret).
Al-Qaeda sponsors a global jihad movement toward the caliphate. Its leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, called for the jihad to be waged in Syria via: "Onward, Oh Lions of al Sham" [al Sham= Syria]
"I appeal to every Muslim and every free, honorable one in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, to rise to help his brothers in SYRIA with all what he can, with his life, money, wonders, opinion, and information."
Al-nusrah is the main al-Qaeda Front in Idlib.
On 24 January 2012, al Nusrah claimed an attack against a military target in Syria (Idlib), near the Turkish border. Since then, writes the International Crisis Group in this document, al Nusra "regularly takes responsibility for suicide attacks in civilian neighbourhoods; is viewed by al-Qaeda as the favoured Salafi-jihadi group; and employs an online media dissemination strategy akin to that of al-Qaeda affiliates and offshoots" (p. 10). Al-Nusra's statements and videos are all issued by the White Minaret. And those videos are posted on Shamikh al islam.
Logo de Shamikh al islam
To this day, al Nusrah remains the sole active jihadi group in Syria to receive the direct endorsement of pro-al-Qaeda online forum administrators and prominent Salafi-jihadi figures, to have its propaganda material accredited by al Qaedas media distribution network and advertised on Shamikh al Islam, the leading pro-al-Qaeda forum. Most material on the Shamikh forum is produced by al Qaeda affiliates and bears the label of the al Fajr Media Centre, the online outfit responsible for distributing al Qaeda material.