September 20th, 2012
04:03 PM ET

Meet the 'foreign fighters' in the Syrian rebel ranks

The presence of foreigners among the ranks of Syria's rebels has been seized on by nearly all sides to suit their purposes.

The Syrian government says they are proof the rebels are extremists and terrorists. The rebels sometimes point to them as a sign that they haven't had the outside help NATO gave their Libyan counterparts and have instead had to rely on foreign militants with genuine experience of battle, and sometimes let in people who they would not normally have asked to fight alongside.

Among the rebel ranks are, according to who you listen to, al Qaeda, foreign jihadis, Salafis seeking a radical Islamist state, and then plain old freedom fighters - Muslims seeking to support their Arab brothers in this brutal battle.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh and James Foley talk to one rebel who staunchly rejects claims that foreign fighters are radicals or have links to al Qaeda.

"I'm only a student. I left my money, my student, my family. We are not al Qaeda. We are not coming to break this country, we're coming to help," said Libyan Feras.

Read Nick and James reporting here.

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Filed under: Libya
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. krm1007 ©™

    Few days back, there was an interesting article on Pakistan "The bubble of Islamic Republic of Pakistan has burst in our faces". It made me to do more research on the subject and on grave political conditions in Pakistan, and possibility of another military coup. We here in the United States, continue to monitor the political and cultural turmoil in Pakistan and are very concerned with the continued state of deterioration, and it's nuclear stockpile. At this point, we restate our view that Islamic Republic of Pakistan is in a precarious situation and that a geo-political implosion is imminent (if not already in process) and the need of the hour. As you will recall, along the Afghan/Pak borders, Pakistan has an unmanageable large fundamentalist Taliban population mired in poverty and we are spinning our wheels trying to prop it up. Additionally, it is also too big of a geographical units of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) for Pakistani weak government to govern. In 2001 the Pakistani military entered the FATA for the first time in history, and returned home with heavy casualties. We Americans now need to focus on our own people and cannot afford to handout more financial and technological aid to Pakistan. We believe that this de-fragmentation of Pakistan along 13 FATA agencies (see the list below) will unleash boundless opportunities and uber economic demand that will be beneficial to US and our allies in extracting rare earth minerals along Afghan/Pak borders, and help pull ourselves out of current recessionary trends. Knowing presence of hard core islamic fundamentalists, war lords, drug cartels, and Russians and Chinese involvement, in the region, We pray for the events to unfold peacefully and in a harmonious manner for the poverty stricken people of Pakistan and its global future economic super power neighbors China and India. For the sake of long lasting peace and to break the cycle of violence in Pakistan, a potential solution for out of control militancy in Pakistan is to break down the Pakistan along the FATA agencies, like creation of Bangladesh in 1972:

    Bajaur Agency
    Mohmand Agency
    Khyber Agency
    Frontier Region Peshawar
    Frontier Region Kohat
    Orakzai Agency
    Kurram Agency
    Frontier Region Bannu
    North Waziristan Agency
    Frontier Region Lakki Marwat
    Frontier Region Tank
    South Waziristan Agency
    Frontier Region Dera Ismail Khan

    My prayer and good wishes are with militancy infested Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

    September 23, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Reply
  2. sally620

    Oh yes thank you for all your lies and colabration with our enimies.You rember hiding benladen for years in a big fancy compound less than a mile away from the police station.

    September 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  3. NO PAKISTANI IN WAR ON TERRORISM PLEASE

    Thank you Pakistan for helping Taliban, Haqqani network, Al Qaeda leaders, if we don't forget providing Osama a million dollar house in Abbotabad. The travesty is that the American policy makers bought lies and BS by Musharraf and his cronies. With a population of over 180 millions, with majority of Sunni Muslims, there was no value that this nation could bring to the table. Pakistani army (ragtag) continue hiding in the trenches scared from Taliban and al Qaeda, while milking American tax payers for technical support and training to fight these Muslim terrorists. A few teenage Taliban invaded the Pakistani Naval Base and held it hostage for days on end showing how useless Pakistan is. It was embarrassing for the world to observe this humiliation of a nation that was being touted as a front line ally on War on Terrorism (WOT). The Taliban brought them down in a few days with some BB guns. It is all over for Pakistan. Its demise is in process and should be completed with Afghanistan stabilization.

    September 22, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  4. utfhnmlutrfv

    GETTING A GOOD SIZED BEATING FROM IRAN THE VERY VERY BAD MUSLIMS CRY OUT FOR FREEDOM FROM FREEDOM LONG LIVE THE DICTATORS

    September 22, 2012 at 11:23 am | Reply
  5. T-Bone Thakur

    It is no secret that Hitler and his Nazi cronies sought inspiration from Indian extremist groups including the branding of his Nazi Party by adopting the Swastika, a traditionally Hindu symbol and representation of Hindu god Ganesha, as its marketing tool. The thesis being that like the Norwegian massacre the Jewish holocaust orchestrated by Hitler was inspired by the inherently violent cult of Indian Hindus and the manifesto of its then extremist/terrorist groups still in existence today. These groups are now the successors to and carrying out the vision of Al Qaeda all over the world albeit in a clandestine manner.

    September 21, 2012 at 8:24 am | Reply
  6. OffTheWorldPolitics

    That guy with the hammer looks like he could handle Assad all by himself.

    September 20, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Reply
  7. krm1007 ©™

    Besides emerging as a regional power, the time has come for Pakistan to take the leadership role in the Islamic World and lead them to the path of progress, prosperity and glory. The only nuclear nation in the Islamic World, Pakistan has shown the world that it can stand up to the nuances of world politics on principles and partake in global affairs. Also, that it can equally contribute to the progress of this planet called Earth. The sacrifices of the Pakistani nation in making this world safe are unmatched and deserves a seat at the table of the permanent members of The UN Security Council.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Reply
    • krm1007 ©™

      The sacrifices of the following muslim fighters in making this world safe are unmatched and muslim country deserves a seat at the table of the permanent members of The UN Security Council. Support Pakistan for the permanent member of the UN Security Council my friends.

      Osama Bin Laden
      Atiyah Abd Al-Rahman
      Abu Ayyub Al-Masri
      Mustafa Al-Yazid
      Abu Qaswarah
      Abu Laith Al-Libi
      Muharib Abdul Latif Al-Jubouri
      Muhsin Musa Matwalli Atwah
      Baitullah Mehsud
      Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi
      Amjad Farooqi
      Ali Qaed Senyan Al-Harthi
      Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh
      Abu Zubaydah
      Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri
      Muhammad Atef
      Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
      Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso
      Anwar al-Awlaki
      Mamdouh Mahmud Salim
      Ayman al-Zawahiri
      Thirwat Salah Shirhata
      Rifa'i Taha Musa
      Mustafa Hamza
      Mohammed Atef aka Abu Hafs al-Masri
      Saif al-Adel
      Abd al-Aziz al-Jamal
      Abu Zubaydah
      Abu Jafar al-Jaziri
      Abu Musab al-Zarqawi aka Abu Ahmad
      Abu Zubair al-Haili
      Tawfiq Attash Khallad
      Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri
      Abu Hazim aka Khalid Al Bin Ali Al-Hajj
      Abu Mohammed al-Masri aka Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah
      Tariq Anwar al-Sayyid Ahmad
      Mohammed Salah
      Yasser al-Jaziri
      Mahfouz Ould al-Walid aka Abu Hafs the Mauritanian
      Abdul Rahim al-Sharqawi aka "Riyadh the Facilitator"
      Zaid Khayr
      Safwan al-Hasham
      Ahmed Said al-Khadr
      Amin al-Haq
      Abdallah Tabarak
      Saif al-Din al-Ansari
      Abu Ubeid al-Qurashi
      Abu Bashir al-Yemeni
      Saad bin Laden
      Mahammed bin Laden
      Hamza bin Laden
      Saif bin Laden
      Yeslam Bin Ladin
      Saif Alwahid
      Khalid al-Zawahiri
      Thamr Mohammad Sharifi
      Najwa Ghanem
      Abdallah Al-Halabi
      Abdul Rahim Riyadh
      Abu Salah al-Yemeni
      Hamza al-Qatari
      Sheik Mohammed Al Hasan Al-Moayad
      Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed
      Mamoun Darkazanli
      Abu Yasir al-Jaziri
      Abdallah Muhammed Rajab Abd al-Rahman
      Munib Zahiragic
      Enaam Arnaout
      Haroun Abed
      Osailly Darwish
      Allie Darwish
      Ibrahim Bah
      Samih Ossaily
      Aziz Nassour
      Ibrahim Bah
      Youssef Mustafa Nada
      Ali Ghaleb Himmat
      Ahmed Idriss Nasreddin
      Yousuf Abdullah Al-Qaradawi
      Mariam Al-Sheikh A. Bin Aziz Al-Mubarak
      Huta Bin Laden
      Iman Bin Laden
      Ahmed Huber
      Hassan el-Banna

      September 20, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Reply
      • NO INDIANS IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD PLEASE

        Thank you Pakistan for helping us track down these bad elements. The travesty is that the American invasion of Afghanistan brought to the forefront the irrelevance of India as a nation. With a population of over 1.2 billion people there was no value that this nation could bring to the table. Their soldiers (ragtag) 1.2 million continue hiding in the trenches scared from Talibans. A few teenage Talibans invaded the country and held it hostage for days on end showing how useless India is. It was embarrasing for the world to observe this humiliation of a nation that was being touted as a regional power. The Talibans brought them down in a few days with some BB guns. It is all over for India. Its demise is in process and should be completed with Afghanistan withdrawal.

        September 21, 2012 at 11:53 am |
      • NO PAKISTANI IN WAR ON TERRORISM PLEASE

        Thank you Pakistan for helping Taliban, Haqqani network, Al Qaeda leaders, if we don't forget providing Osama a million dollar house in Abbotabad. The travesty is that the American policy makers bought lies and BS by Musharraf and his cronies. With a population of over 180 millions, with majority of Sunni Muslims, there was no value that this nation could bring to the table. Pakistani army (ragtag) continue hiding in the trenches scared from Taliban and al Qaeda, while milking American tax payers for technical support and training to fight these Muslim terrorists. A few teenage Taliban invaded the Pakistani Naval Base and held it hostage for days on end showing how useless Pakistan is. It was embarrassing for the world to observe this humiliation of a nation that was being touted as a front line ally on War on Terrorism (WOT). The Taliban brought them down in a few days with some BB guns. It is all over for Pakistan. Its demise is in process and should be completed with Afghanistan stabilization.

        .

        September 23, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  8. some guy

    Good footage.

    September 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Reply

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