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Crimean Jamaat reportedly pledges allegiance to Al Nusrah Front

A small group of mainly Crimean Tartars and other Russian-speaking militants, called the Crimean Jamaat, has reportedly pledged bayah (allegiance) to Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda's official branch in Syria. The pledge is said to have happened yesterday according to jihadists connected to Al Nusrah on Twitter. The official social media site of Al Nusrah's Sayfullah Shishani Brigade, which is largely comprised of Chechens, reported the oath as well.

"Kataib Crimean Tartars under the leadership of Emir Ramadan al Krim [Crimean] pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in Sham and joined the Al Nusrah Front," a statement on White Minaret, the Sayfullah Shishani Brigade's social media page, reads. The page also included pictures of the group, which is reportedly based in the province of Hama. It is unclear how many jihadists belong to the Crimean Jamaat.

While it is likely a small group, the Crimean Jamaat did run a training camp in rural Hama Province. Russian speaking militants, as well as local Syrians, were shown in a video highlighting the training camp earlier this year. The video also showed Russian-speaking children being trained to fire weapons, including sniper rifles.

The pledge of allegiance to Al Nusrah from the Crimean Jamaat comes just days after the predominantly Uzbek group Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad did the same. It also comes just weeks after Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar, a group comprised mainly of foreign fighters, also pledged allegiance to Al Nusrah. The ranks of Al Nusrah continue to swell with foreign fighters as it reorganizes and boosts its official footprint.

[Source: By Caleb Weiss, Threat Matrix, The Long War Journal, NJ, 03Oct15]

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