Islamic Boomerang Pointed at Assad’s Head

Meet Abu Mussab al-Suri (the Syrian), named after his al Qaeda namesake in Iraq, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, and soon to be president Bashar Assad‘s worst nightmare.

First a brief introduction:

Assad was visiting Moscow Monday, January 23 when fax machines started to whir back home. They were sending out a call across Syria from the banned Syrian Muslim Brotherhood announcing the resumption of armed struggle against the regime.

Never in the more than 30 years of Assad family rule in Damascus has any underground opposition issued such a boldfaced challenge to the regime. Even the signatures were an affront: Sheikh Omar Abdel Hakim, Abdel al Ahmad Malek and Abu Nasir Tartusi – from the city of Tartus, an Assad stronghold and center of its minority Alawite religious sect.

The message contained scathing accusations. The Alawites, it said, were heretics – as bad or worse than the Americans, because the sect had turned its back on Islam while the foreign enemy had never embraced the faith in the first place.

It was time, the message added, to resume the armed struggle against the Assad clan and the president in person. “The regime is built in any case like a house of cards weakened by tyranny, corruption, the Golan sellout to Israel and the espousal of heresy and secularism.”

The signatories recall the historic massacre Bashar’s father, Hafez Assad, committed 23 years ago in the northern city of Homs to quell an armed Muslim Brotherhood rebellion. Syrian tank guns then slaughtered many thousands of Brethren. Later, in 1980, 400 political dissidents were massacred in the notorious Tadmur prison. Abu Mussab the Syrian, the fax said, was preparing to lead the new rebellion and restore the glory of Islamic law and traditions throughout Syria.

“The mosque is sill the only path to government,” the statement said. “Anyone unable to openly declare himself a pious Muslim should do so in stealth. Those who dare not openly educate their sons according to the Prophet’s Law must do so in secret.

Abu Mussab al-Suri will, with our help, rise to the challenge and fight our war.”

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s counter-terrorism sources, the unprecedented statement attests to Assad’s weak hold on power and the rising strength of the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamic groups in Baathist Syria.

Assad largely brought this trouble on himself by espousing radical Islamic terrorist elements. His country is the main transit point for terrorists crossing into Iraq to confront US and Iraqi government forces; Damascus sponsors the pro-Iranian Hizballah in Lebanon and provides sanctuary for Palestinian extremist terrorist groups. Radical Muslims are slowly but surely seeping into Syria through the porous border with Lebanon, further undermining Assad’s grip on power.

Some counter-terrorism experts say the bedrock belief on which Washington’s policy towards Syria rests – that Damascus is still largely calling the shots in Lebanon – is no longer valid. The Muslim extremists infiltrating Syria from Lebanon have more influence on the “Syrian street” than Damascus has in Lebanon.

Assad will have no choice, after he returns home from Moscow with a $70 million missile deal in is pocket, but to deal with the armed threat the Muslim Brotherhood has posed again.

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