By Mustafa Harrington
For the past week there has been a lot of controversy revolving around HTS (Hayat Tahreer Sham) which may not sound like something abnormal but this time the talk was focused primarily on the leadership of HTS. There were walkie talkie communications allegedly leaked by a top official in the Nour Din Zinki movement. Just a couple months ago Zinki was taking part in the Shura council meetings of HTS before Zinki announced their split from the group.
The leaks exposed that Abu Waleed, the commander of Idlib, and several other commanders displayed a complete disregard for the group’s Sharee’ (religious advisors) opinions in major HTS decisions. Their discussion centered around the decision to fight other rebel groups. In addition to that, it showed an effort to silence Sharees’ that were attempting to speak out against the leadership’s decisions that they believed to be un-Islamic. Abu Waleed went as far as to say that the only role for Sharee’s in HTS is to support the decisions reached by HTS leaders and if they do not want to comply with this role then they should take their efforts far away from the group. Mentioned in the recordings was the well-known Shaykh Abdullah Muhaysni when he was en-route to a base of HTS fighters to advise them not to fight Ahrar Sham, a group that HTS ousted from many of their positions in northern Syria.
After the leak, HTS released a statement claiming that the “purpose of this attack is to bury the Jihad, sacrifices, blood, and patience of the rebels. HTS stressed the following:
1) Condemnation of any comments that show disrespect towards the students of knowledge, regardless of whether these comments were made by members of HTS or not.
2) It is the principle of HTS to be in coordination with the people of knowledge as they are the cornerstone of the group.
3) These leaks were a desperate attempt by the enemies of the revolution to undermine its efforts and strengths. And that these attempts were destined to fail.
4) The individual verbally abusing the Sharee’s will be sent to an internal judiciary to be dealt with justly and appropriately.
Abdullah Muhaysini was back in the spotlight when he released a statement of his own a few days after the leaked recordings. In it, three conditions were laid down by the people of knowledge within HTS to remain with the group. They were:
1) Due recognition for the people of knowledge and the preservation of their position and status.
2) Reform & greater implementation of internal judiciary.
3) Forming a judicial council to oversee all complaints against HTS from both the Syrian people and other factions. Also, to reopen all cases of prisoners detained by HTS.
However, it was unclear who Muhaysni was referring to when he said “people of knowledge” because not long after the release of this statement he released another one signed by him and another famous cleric, Musleh Ilyani, announcing their resignation from HTS. They stated that they will continue to work with the groups and people of Syria to bring about the fruits of their blessed revolution.
The internal judicial office of HTS released a statement apologizing for the disrespectful remarks made by Abu Waleed and sentenced him to one full month in prison.