The Syrian civil war has seen the rise of a number of groups whose foundations are muhajireen ('migrants'- i.e. Sunni foreign fighters who came to Syria to participate in the insurgency). One of those groups is the Imam al-Bukhari Battalion. Today I conducted an interview with the group about its history and the current situation in Syria. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: When was the Imam al-Bukhari Battalion formed and what was its origin exactly? From which countries are most of its members? Do you have Syrian members as well?
A: In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. The Imam al-Bukhari Battalion was formed in Ramadan 2013 by a group of veteran Uzbek brothers in jihad led by Sheikh Salah al-Din al-Uzbeki. Most members of the battalion are from Central Asia, from the sons of what is beyond the river [i.e. the Oxus river]. The battalion continues in its activities since its establishment with the (ansar) Syrian brothers.
Q: Are you under allegiance [bay'a] to any side currently?
A: The battalion is independent: it is not affiliated to any side officially but it coordinates its matters with the mujahid factions.
Q: In which battles has the battalion participated and how many martyrs has it offered?
A: The battalion has participated in the liberation of Mennagh airport and the battles of Aleppo countryside passing through to the liberation of Idlib and its environs. And it has offered during its course and jihad more than 200 martyrs.
Q: Currently in which battles is the battalion fighting?
A: The battalion is performing ribat on the al-Sahel [coastal/Latakia] front and is heeding any call from the lands of the liberated areas and is on all alert with all power it has to resist the aggressor or to inflict damage on the enemy by God's permission.
Q: How do you assess the situation of the field of al-Sham today? What is the future of the jihad there?
A: The situation of the field of al-Sham is good by the permission of God Almighty and its mujahideen are prepared to fight the enemies of God. They must bring together their efforts, distribute their provisions and serve their people in the liberated areas of the Muslims: they are the head of the mujahideen's wealth [i.e. the mujahideen's capital] and they are their support base.
God Almighty says: 'He it is who has supported you with His victory [/help] and the believers' [Qur'an 8:62].
Praise be to God in the liberated areas there are all the components of fighting, but they are lacking mercy, justice and bringing together of efforts.
The future of the jihad in al-Sham if God Almighty wills is in preservation, protection and security from God Almighty. Here the campaigns of the enemies of Islam are broken, and from here will be the renaissance of the Muslims and the liberating of their land from the threads of the enemies of Islam. God will bring ease after adversity.
Q: How do you support your efforts? For example from donations from the Ummah? How can the Muslims support your efforts?
A: We support our efforts from donations of the Muslims and partly from the help of the mujahid factions. As for the one who will support the efforts and jihad of their mujahideen muhajireen brothers, the door of charity is open if God Almighty wills to all who desire to do so, particularly in these days in which fronts with the Nusayri [Alawite] regime have become cold, as there are no battles of liberation through which we can obtain war spoils.
Q: What are the activities you undertake on the ground in addition to military work?
A: The primary focus in the battalion is on the military aspect and education: the battalion trains its members in different military arts and it has Shari'i institutes to teach Shari'i sciences.
The Imam al-Bukhari Battalion.