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Jund al-Sham is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...
) is a terrorist group believed to have first appeared in Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...
in 1999, the group was established by Syrians, Palestinians and Lebanese with links to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi ; October 30, 1966 – June 7, 2006), born Ahmad Fadeel al-Nazal al-Khalayleh was a Jordanian militant Islamist who ran a paramilitary training camp in Afghanistan...
, who went on to found al-Qaida in Iraq and was subsequently killed by a US airstrike. According to European Intelligence documents and Jordanian government sources, Zarqawi set up the camp with $200,000 in startup money he received from Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...
The camp near Herat was named Al Matar Training Camp and taught the jihadists techniques in guerrilla warfare, explosives and chemical weapons. It is believed the group left after its base of operations was disrupted by the War in Afghanistan
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...
to oust the Taliban regime. Its first attack came in the summer of 2004 when a car bomb in Beirut exploded, killing a Hezbollah
agent. The Syrian security forces have clashed in numerous gun battles with the group since then.
Several groups claim the name Jund al-Sham including a Lebanese militant group in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh
Ain al-Hilweh is the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon with over 70,000 refugees, located on the outskirts of the port of Sidon. Because Lebanese Armed Forces are not allowed to enter the camp Ain al-Hilweh has been called a "zone of unlaw" by the Lebanese media...
. It is not known however if the two groups are connected.
The group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing near a British school in Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...
, and/or the name of a Salafi
A Salafi come from Sunni Islam is a follower of an Islamic movement, Salafiyyah, that is supposed to take the Salaf who lived during the patristic period of early Islam as model examples...
-influenced group in the Ein el-Hilweh camp refugee camp near the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon. Its presence has also been reported in Syria. It has been listed as a terrorist organisation by Russia It may or may not have any relationship to the "The Strugglers for the Unity and Freedom of al-Sham
The Strugglers for the Unity and Freedom of al-Sham is a terrorist group who in December 2005 claimed to be responsible for the assassination of Gebran Tueni and made threats against Detlev Mehlis.It may or may not have any relationship to Jund al-Sham....
", who in December 2005 claimed responsibility for the assassination of Gibran Tueni, and made threats against Detlev Mehlis
Detlev Mehlis is currently the Senior Public Prosecutor in the Office of the Attorney General in Berlin. He has 30 years of prosecutorial experience and has led numerous investigations into serious, complex transnational crimes...
Amnesty International reports on other attacks as follows:
"Heba al-Khaled, Rola al-Khaled and Nadia al-Satour were arrested on 3 September 2005, following, according to Syrian state media, a gun battle in Hama province, in the west of the country, between the Anti-Terror Squad and militants of the Jund al-Sham ("Soldiers of the Levant") armed group. Five Jund al-Sham members were reportedly killed and two security officers injured. The women were arrested when the security forces were unable to find their husbands, who are allegedly involved with Jund al-Sham. They were first detained in the town of Hama, before being transferred to the Military Intelligence Palestine Branch in Damascus. They were reportedly held as hostages to put pressure on their husbands to give themselves up, even though Heba al-Khaled and her sister Rola al-Khaled were pregnant at the time they were detained, and Nadia al-Satour reportedly had her young baby with her."
On May Day, 2006, Jund al-Sham reportedly fought with Fatah in the Ein el-Hilweh camp. One Palestinian bystander, Mohammed Tayssir Awad, 20, was killed by a stray bullet. The Associated Press reported: "A Fatah official in the camp, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the fighting began when Jund al-Sham gunmen tried to assassinate Mahmoud Abdul-Hamid Issa, a Fatah military official, as he walked with his bodyguards. One of the bodyguards, Abu Omra al-Aswad, was seriously wounded, the official said."
On September 12, 2006, armed militants reportedly linked to Jund al-Sham attempted to storm the US Embassy in Damascus. The four attackers were armed with hand grenades and automatic rifles, as well as a van rigged with explosives. Three of the attackers were killed and one wounded; a Syrian anti-terrorism officer was also killed in the battle.
On June 3, 2007, Jund al-Sham fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a Lebanese Army Checkpoint near Sidon, prompting a response from the Lebanese Army leading to clashes. These clashes follow a tense three weeks in Lebanon's north, where the Lebanese Army has been battling militant group Fatah al-Islam
Fatah al-Islam, is a radical Sunni Islamist group that formed in November 2006 in a Palestinian refugee camp, located in Lebanon. It has been described as a militant jihadist movement that draws inspiration from al-Qaeda...
at a Palestinian refugee camp.
In March 2008 fighting broke out between members of the Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...
faction and Jund al-Sham in the Ain Al Helweh camp.
- Profile: Jund al-Sham (BBC, Monday, 4 June 2007)