The business of jihad appears to be quite lucrative- so much so that despite having it’s leader killed in an airstrike in early 2017, the company shows no signs of slowing down and has shown an increase of presence in the Middle East and in particular, the ongoing war in Syria while also turning an eye towards China. Meet Malhama Tactical, the private military company employing jihadists with the bona fides to be a genuine threat. Their cadre; ranging Islamists that have formal Special Operations military experience to lifelong jihadists from the Caucasus region; are committed to not simply fighting the global jihad on their own, but training others to their own standard. Why not make it an enterprise. And while its easy to dismiss most jihadi fighters as pray n’ spay adversaries who leave marksmanship up to the will of Allah praying on targets of opportunity, this crew brings actual experience and skill to the battlefield unlike most other garden-variety jihadis do and representing a threat level not yet seen in the region. Mimicking Western SOF-style equipment and practices, they have had noted successes against Syrian, Hezbollah and Russian forces in Syria. In a recent interview, one of their key leaders, Abu Salman Belarus, comments:
By the kindness of Allah [we] participated in many operations as a Spetsnaz group when our help was requested. First during the Aleppo blockade, we participated there as military advisors and trained almost all fighters and eventually successfully broke the blockade. In 2015, our brothers trained and prepared the operation for the capture of Abu ad-Dhuhur airbase. In 2016, we captured the heights of al-‘Ais . Furthermore we had a hand in more than 10 successful infiltration operations by our group and students.
We are primarily instructing insurgents in battle tactics, giving medical aid, working with armoured vehicles, mortars, sniper activity, and weapons modifications.
We even liquidated an [ethnic] Russian sniper and had clashes with other Russian forces. We fought against Hezbollah and killed a good number of them, one of our brothers was martyred back then.
We do not engage ourselves in teaching how to conduct terrorist attacks or killing peaceful civilians, however. We have never worked and will not work against civilians, regardless of their nationalities or religions. Our objectives are exclusively military facilities and war criminals. We are against any terrorist attacks where women and children and civilians can suffer.
Until now, by the kindness of Allah, we are teaching fighters of HTS and other groups. Quite a few of our students have become instructors, already working independently in different places. Many of us have former military experience. We have a lot of experience conducting battles in cities and in the desert.
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Back on my first tour in northern Iraq just over a decade ago, the rumor was Chechens training the insurgent snipers. The was later founded in reality- red haired and blue-eyed guys were indeed training their fellow Sunnis in marksmanship skills, but more importantly, baiting tactics, that worked to deadly effect down south in areas like Baqubah, Taji and Sadr City. The fear for us was real- every patrol, every static position, whether in vehicles or on the ground, was racked by the fear of snipers first and IEDs as a close second. Those tactics aimed at occupation forces made life rough. To have a formal cadre training and advising jihadi forces overseas is gravely concerning in and of itself; for them to be seeking weapons and advanced equipment is much more so. According to a report by PJ Media:
“We have finished our project about the building new training camp for brothers and I am so glad. And we are going to start the new lessons after a few days, inshallah, special courses for shooters of PKM and RPG,” Malhama Tactical leader Abu Salman Belarus said in an English-language video posted to his Twitter account Wednesday, thanking those who “supported our project.”
“We have completed the construction of a training camp, thank you for all and may Allah accept from you my dear brothers and sisters, we have done it together, with your help and donations my brothers,” he tweeted.
The new fundraising drive for equipment includes a desire to purchase airsoft guns to use in training exercises. The group has encouraged the use of Bitcoin for donations.
Malhama Tactical, referred to as Blackwater for jihadists, offers trainers who hail from Russia’s Caucasus region and the former Soviet states. Excerpts of training videos are frequently posted online.
Owing most of its hardened cadre to Eastern-bloc armies and the decades long struggle with Islamic extremism in the region, the estimated 20-30 militants as trainers have turned to social media for support of their cause as well as seeking cryptocurrency donations to reduce the paper trail. Those social media outlets include Facebook and Youtube, which as of this writing maintain their overt accounts which include instruction videos, despite considerable lengths to censor mainstream Conservative outlets. I’m certain they’ve got top people working on it.
The question you should have is where do they go when the war stops being “over there” and starts being “over here”? And they are not the only ones getting combat training on a two way range. Maybe you should be seeking competent training of your own. We’ve got dates on the calendar and there’s no time like the present to take charge of your situation.