Syrian Salafi activist Omar Bakri denied allegations that his group and al-Qaeda will join forces against the Syrian regime or that al-Qaeda is present in Syria in the first place.
“The tyrannical Syrian regime is so desperate as to place the blame on al-Qaeda and Salafi Jihadist movements for what is happening in Syria and none of those are in Syria anyway. The Syrian regime is lying,” he told Al Arabiya’s point of Order Friday.
Bakri said that reports by some Western newspapers about the group to which he belongs, called al-Ghurabaa, Arabic for “The Strangers,” and al-Qaeda interfering in Syria are totally devoid of truth.
“There is no group called al-Ghurabaa to start with and I am not entitled to speak on behalf of al-Qaeda anyway.”
Bakri said that he called upon members of the UK-based Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamaah, of which he is a founding member, to support the Syrian revolutionaries through closing Syrian embassies in the countries where they live.
“They should all be ready to help their Syrian brethren in case the regime ignites a sectarian war. The regime is committing a heinous crime and we can’t stand still and watch while this happens.”
Bakri denied that his approach is sectarian and that he is only focusing on Sunnis in Syria, yet pointed out that all those killed by the Syrian regime are Sunnis.
“The Syrian regime involved Alawites in the killings and most of them link their destiny to that of Bashar al-Assad and think that his fall means their end.”
Bakri explained that his and the revolutionaries war is not against Alawites or Christians or any other faction, but is rather against the corrupt Baath Party.
Bakri lashed out at Hezbollah for supporting the Syrian regime against the Sunnis in Syria.
“I am grateful to Hassan Nasrallah for the support he gave when a lawsuit was filed against me in Lebanon, yet this does not mean that I endorse his alliances or his party.”
According to Bakri, the only winner in the Arab revolutions is Islamist forces like al-Qaeda, the Salafis, Hizb al-Tahrir, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The ultimate proof is that Islamists already came to power in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya and the same will happen later in Syria.”
Muslims in Egypt, he said, are no longer afraid to grow their beards and the majority of parliament members are bearded.
“They are no longer put in jail for communicating with other mujahedin in Chechnya, Kashmir, or Palestine.”
Bakri, however, admitted that Salafi movements did not take part in the revolutions that toppled several regimes in the Arab world.
“They felt that their participation will not be in the best interest of the Muslim Nation, especially as the U.S. keeps hunting them down as part of its war on terror. They decided to take a warrior’s rest then gather the booty at the end.”
Bakri said he is against any foreign intervention in Syria, yet admitted that the Syrian opposition might not at some point find an alternative like what happened in Libya.
“The Syrian people are suffering a lot and this will make them seek any possible way out.”
Bakri accused scholars in the Muslim world of abandoning the Syrian people and forcing them to resort to strangers.
As far as Lebanese politics are concerned, Bakri stressed he neither supports March 8 nor March 14, yet he is more inclined towards the latter because it is made up of Sunnis.
“But I blame March 14 bloc for distancing itself from the Syrian crisis while they are supposed to support their Sunni brethren in Syria.”
Bakri complained that Syrians fleeing to Lebanon are being mistreated.
“They are persecuted and are not recognized as refugees who need shelter and support.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)