LONDON -- The Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad has pursued a
policy of exporting Islamic unrest to neighboring Iraq.
Islamic sources in contact with opposition groups in Syria said the
Assad regime has encouraged Islamic insurgents to relocate in Iraq and fight
the U.S.-led coalition in that country. The sources said Assad has assured
these insurgents safe passage to and from Iraq in an effort to prevent
Islamic unrest in his country.
Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed, a Syrian native and Islamic exile in London,
said Assad's policy has been successful, Middle East Newsline reported. Mohammed, founder of the Al
Qaida-inspired Al Muhajiroun, pointed out that Islamic insurgents have not
attacked the Syrian regime in about 20 years.
In June, Syria reported an
Islamic attack in Damascus, but Western intelligence agencies have raised
"That is because they [Islamic insurgents] are busy elsewhere,
particularly in Iraq," Mohammed said in an interview to the Washington-based
Mohammed said the armed Islamic opposition in Syria has become linked
to Al Qaida. He said these insurgents no longer threaten the Assad regime
while the Muslim Brotherhood has ended its opposition activities.
Other Islamic sources in London familiar with Syria said the Assad
regime pressed Islamic opposition elements to travel to other Muslim states
such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Jordan and Sudan. The sources said that over
the last 18 months, the Assad regime has provided logistical support for the
Islamists to volunteer in Iraq for operations against the United States.
Mohammed, who was expelled from Saudi Arabia in the mid-1990s, said the
tactics of the Assad regime have led to the undermining of the Islamic
opposition in Syria. He said the leading Islamic opposition group, the
Muslim Brotherhood, has changed course and now seeks to become part of the
"There is still some opposition, but the Brotherhood itself can no
longer be regarded as a true opposition force," Mohammed said. "They have
now entered into dialogue and discussion with the regime. They are becoming
a state party."