Footage of Belgian-Syrian sheikh Bassam Ayachi in liberated Idlib

Mohammed Chourouhou (50), a Belgian fighter within the former islamist militia ‘Suqur as-Sham’, has posted recent footage from Idlib on his Facebook page.

Bassam Ayachi in the middle with white beard

Bassam Ayachi in the middle with white beard

“The city is completely liberated now”, Chourouhou wrote yesterday morning. “But lots of people are starting to flee because they fear bombardments and even chemical attacks by the Syrian regime.”

One of the people who are visible in the video and the slideshow of stills Chourouhou has shared, is sheikh Bassam Ayachi (68) — easy recognisable by his white beard, the sword he is carrying, and the fact he is missing an arm. Syrian born Ayachi has for years been based in Brussels, where he was considered as a central figure in several terrorist plots.

But after joining Suqur as-Sham and losing his son Abdel Rahman in the Syrian war, he turned himself openly against the recruitment of western fighters. He also came into conflict with ‘Islamic State’, the terrorist group that several of his Belgian admirers now have joined.

Last month, Ayachi was hit by a terrorist attack himself. A bomb that reportedly was planted under his car, did cost him his arm. But last week, it was announced he has recovered and started to work as an islamic judge in rural Idlib again.

Also visible in the footage is Ayachi’s long time Belgian trustee Olivier Dassy (39). Nicknamed ‘Hamza Talha’, he’s the one explaining in French what will be done with all the confiscated goods. Mohammed Chourouhou himself can bee seen in the montage of stills at minute 00:00:23, wearing a khaki shirt.

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