Extremism – A systematic plan

Areas outside the control of the Assad regime are subjected to systematic plans aimed at the planting of the seeds of extremism within the Syrian society. The plans tamper with the culture and introduce a violent one by well-planned intensive activities, ranging from leaflets teaching that Democracy is “disbelief “and to fight against its advocates, to child recruitment and indoctrination in the educational centers.
The study does not include Daesh-held territory, where it has absolute dominance over the local communities, enabling the propagation of its ideology.

Mosques

At a time, because of their significant influence on civilians, mosques always caused tension between military factions operating outside Assad-held territory.

Their influence reached an unbelievable degree that a faction power was measured by the number of mosques under its control. These factions appoint Sheikhs by themselves and instruct them to spread and teach ideas which do not go against their ideology. Few cases were documented of locals maintaining their mosque platforms in some areas. We did not focus on these cases because they are rare and because they might put the lives of some of those people in real danger.

The seizure of educational centers

We have noticed in this study that the educational centers constitute the second goal, after mosques, for the extremists. They are keen on the establishment of educational and Quranic sessions, which are also one of the customs in Syria during summer. However, they have added extra lessons to the sessions to successfully pass on and spread their extreme ideologies. We have remarked in some areas that civilians introduced initiatives to teach Quran to children in order to prevent the radicals from attaining their goals, but because of their decent funding, the initiatives failed.
For the radicals, schools are also of significance importance; however, they have avoided a direct control over them because it would be materially expensive. They have taken any opportunity to provide some help to the schools, such as providing them with fuel during winter. In return, they demand from girls to wear a dress that does not violate Islamic code, and they employ Islamic Sharia teachers in an attempt to reach the minds of the children.

Hizb Al-Tahrir

The activities of Hizb Al-Tahrir are the most intense. They mainly focus on areas located in Aleppo and Idlib. Their activities are various, as they rely on all means at their disposal, enabling them to be in direct contact with the local communities. They resort to lessons, sermons in mosques and exclusive seminars associated with current political events and updates in Syria in order to incite the locals to adopt their stance on the Syrian issue. In the same context, they propagate their ideas and thoughts using pamphlets and billboards containing the ideology of the party.
There is no wall without a phrase or a poster promoting this group in the areas where they have presence. It also operates a radio channel in different areas by which it promotes its ideology among the locals.

Jihadists’ Centers

It is a center that was established by Sheikh Abduallah Muheissni from Saudi Arabia. He is still operating the center with more activities, all of which are aimed at the direct communication with the community and the dissemination of his own ideas that come from his environment, in addition to a Jihadist approach. Jihad Advocates Center is considered the most significant platform and the most dangerous, as it targets children by recruiting them for Jihadist factions such as Nusra.

Workshops

Some radicals establish workshops and capacity-building sessions under various names designed to lure the young generation to being indoctrinated by extremist Jihadist ideologies. The high-level students are elevated to a higher degree. Most notable sessions took place in 2014 under the banner “Creating Leadership Session”, which was funded by the Islamic Sham organization.

CIVIL RESISTANCE AS A STRATEGY TO COMBAT EXTREMISM

Civil resistance is characterized by its ability to effectively reach the local communities by the employing of several activities adopted by it. It is also less costly in comparison with military strategies. According to our observations in Syria, the mistakes of military strategies which are embodied in massacres against civilians, might have a negative impact on the local communities and push them to join the ranks of the radicals.

The extremists also forcibly promote and spread the idea that these wars are not against the organization of Daesh or others, but they are targeting the Muslims, they are “Crusade wars”. The military mistakes play into the hands of the extremists who use them to propagate their ideologies.

The international coalition rely on multiple strategies in the fight against Daesh and the Nusra Front, as the military strategy is a top priority for them, not taking into account that the radicals have a dominance over local communities, where they seek to plant their extremist ideologies to turn them into ticking bombs societies; which would later pose a real threat, amid chaos and instability in the region.

We believe that our activities will be complementary and significant in the fight against extremism, and that the civil resistance should be among the top strategies adopted beside other strategies, and it should be offered all necessary means to attain its objectives to become an effective means to counter extremism.

After one year and a half of serious and continuous efforts, we in the 24CR have a clear stance on the importance of such work due to being close to the local communities. We have also noticed that the extremists are afraid of an awakening of the local communities.