Some may recognize this Shaykh from two videos that were posted on the blog before. Shaykh Mahmoud Mojaddami seems to have been the Imam of Jami` al-Batul in Zbediye and became the commander of the FSA Brigade Jaysh Muhammad when Assad’s army invaded the city a year ago. The first video is from August last year and shows him meeting Aleppo’s military council’s future head Col. Abdul Jabbar al-Agedi in Sayf al-Dawleh.
Here he is with the commander of the FSA Brigade Halab al-Shahba, also in Sayf al-Dawleh, September last year.
He seemed to be a typical Halabi Shaykh. Some months ago however, something was set in motion that would eventually lead to the unthinkable and horrific outcome that became a reality more recently. His brigade and another one came into conflict, blood was spilled   and not long after Aleppo’s Hay’a Shariah “court” summoned for his arrest. A supposedly Islamic trial followed in which he and his second in command, Abu Talib, probably along with others in his Brigade, were not only accused of murder, but of a long list of crimes including theft, robbery, collaboration and worse. The verdict was execution, which was carried out by a group of masked men in the name of Ha’ya Shariah in Salaheddin not long after. May Allah have mercy upon them.
Wait a minute, what just happened!? First, quite some time ago already a so-called Shariah Court was established in the liberated parts of Aleppo. Covering its development and the range of grave problems it has come to pose would require a separate topic. Suffice to say that it has a bad reputation, whether for the case at hand and other lethal and capital punishments, or for its power struggle with the Supreme Legal Council which Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi discusses, not to mention its persecution of peaceful activists and armed rivals or for the fact that it is dominated by Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham.
Whether the Shaykh was guilty or innocent, this so-called court has no right to impose itself upon the people and carry out anything, let alone punishments that are currently not condoned in Syria under actual Islamic law. The execution is therefore criminal in and of itself. Furthermore, it does not bring stability to anarchy or justice to injustice. On the contrary, it incites anarchy and may even be grave injustice in and of itself in case he was innocent. How is it possible for anyone under current circumstances to verify whether this badly reputed court has judged correctly, Islamically? Moreover, why is there no role for other courts? How can it be guaranteed that proof has been established beyond any reasonable doubt in this matter of life and death? He could have simply been disarmed and imprisoned if needed be, by a neutral body that is, now there is no going back and who can reassure the concerned of what really took place here?
In Shaykh Mojaddami’s case, there have unfortunately been few objections or complaints but shockingly enough quite the contrary. In fact, probably not that many would mind what happened. Instead, many from the neighborhoods called him a criminal, accusing him of randomly confiscating peoples’ cars as they were driving by. Some even used to sing about him being a thief during demonstrations such as here in Sukkari back in March:
Unfortunately, there is presently a far too dominant state of mind, understandable but not justifiable by this genocide, that allows hatred to grow from which extremist groups feed and strengthen themselves with in absence of sympathy for the rest of their religious views. Not to say that those calling him a thief or a criminal would all approve such an ending, but many of those who don’t still accept it. People have accepted a lot of things for a long time, though the tide seems to be currently turning. More shocking was the public approval of Col. al-Agedi.
Some groups claim to be Islamist or FSA but in fact, they are regime-made and consist of secret police and shabeeha. Last week a brigade commander was trialed and executed because his acts were doing harm to the reputation of the FSA. His name was Mahmoud [………], he headed the Unified Army of Muhammad, and his deputy’s name was Abu Taleb.
The translation is taken from Brown Moses which has the entire interview translated. Al-Agedi, with his military status and as someone who knew him personally, was apparently convinced of his guilt and approved of the execution. One thing to point out here is the vague reason he provides in “doing harm to the reputation of the FSA” something reminiscent of Assad’s legal system. Another is that al-Agedi signed the SSG-FSA Proclamation of Principles containing:
We will do our utmost to uphold international humanitarian law and norms, including by treating prisoners humanely, even as the Assad regime engages in crimes against humanity.
There have been no other responses from the FSA as far as I’m aware. This is one side of the story, and it remains a side that no matter how many may uphold it, carries no weight on its own when it comes to execution of anyone, or when it comes to establishing his guilt or innocence. He is certainly innocent until proven guilty, and there are too many people with a habit to spread rumors as well as too many who like for us to believe that everything is going a-ok when it comes to human rights, terrorism and extremism, for such matters of life and death to be taken at face value.
The ones who should speak about this besides the FSA are the scholars themselves. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find anything from them about Shaykh Mojaddami and his execution. Perhaps the news hasn’t reached them, or they don’t know him, or they haven’t had the time to address it among all other obligations and things to be addressed. However, their reaction is of fundamental importance, not only to clarify the matter and guide the people, but if he has actually been proven guilty to distance his acts from the traditional scholarship that he apparently represented. Traditional scholarship has had its reputation damaged in the eyes of many people, for many reasons, before and during the revolution, what must they think when Shaykhs are guilty of such horrible crimes? Yesterday he guided the people from the Minbar, today he guides them in Jihad, and tomorrow he murders, steals and collaborates with the enemy?
There still is, however, another side to the story. Shaykh Mojaddami denied everything and so did the members of his brigade, whose current status is unknown.
Here he denies having abused demonstrators at Jami` al-Batul.
Q: Tell me about yourself.
A: I am Dr. Shaykh Mahmoud Mojaddami, born in 1956 and graduate of Azhar.
Q: What is your military role?
A: I’m the commander of Jaysh Muhammad.
Q: Part of the FSA?
Q: Ha’ya Shariah accuses you of killing 2 men of Abu Wesam’s Usud al-Sunna brigade, is this correct?
A: That’s all hypocrisy and not correct. If they have anything to show they are welcome to come to us, but in reality it’s the other way around, they killed two of ours; three, not two.
Q: Can you give me their names?
A: Of course, Ahmad Diab, Muhammad al-Lanj, and the third of which I don’t know his exact name.
He goes on to mention that he would stand against them in a different court, and that if they would have any Shariah basis for their claims they would come with their jurists, but that he wouldn’t go to the Hay’a Shariah because it is no Shariah authority at all.
Whatever his guilt, this was his right and the “Shariah Court” did not respect it, neither was anyone else bothered with it. This horrible execution was recorded and released, showing exactly what took place. The men being masked, although natural for them, remains suspicious. An obscure website [Alsaymar] adds the following:
1. The executioners did not read the Qur’an properly.
2. Incriminating evidence against him included carrying a security ID card, which he said was fake and made by himself to be able to move around in regime areas.
3. He switched between Wahhabism, Sufism and the Ikhwan to attract financiers for his brigade.
4. A spokesperson for the Ansar al-Sunna Brigade accused Jabhat al-Nusra of being behind it because he was moderate and did not approve of their views and practices.
5. There is Saudi involvement, related to Nusra, working to oppose his Qatari financiers.
Much of this is far fetched, however, there is a much larger topic when it comes to bloody conflicts between Qaedists and the FSA, activists and other civilians, on the battle field or through the “court”, which has brought the country at the brink of another war after FSA Com. Abu Basir was murdered yesterday.
Finally, Shaykh Mojaddami’s death was also part of Assadist propaganda, albeit prematurely and quite out of place:
In this “Syrian Truth” image from as early as October 2012, it says:
Aleppo: Killing of the terrorist leader of Jabhat al-Nusra the wanted Mahmoud Mojaddami