Syria’s Russian Jihadists Vow To Slaughter Putin’s Invading Army

"Your sons will return dead," warned a Russian member of Jabhat Al-Nusra, Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate, in a video aimed at the Russian people

Oct 09, 2015 at 7:15 PM ET

A prominent Russian jihadist in Syria delivered a terse warning to his countrymen, promising a violent and bloody skirmish with Russian forces should President Vladimir Putin send them into war.

Abu Ubaid al-Madani, a member of Jabhat Al-Nusra, Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate, admonished Putin for his bluster and invoked the Soviet-Afghan War in a video published Friday in which he also claimed Russia would suffer a brutal, humiliating defeat. The fierce rhetoric seemed to be aimed squarely at the Russian public, which has cheered the Kremlin’s intervention in Syria over the last two weeks. It also appears to be the first public reaction by Syria’s Russian jihadists toward their country’s escalating military campaign.

“Your sons will return dead,” said Madani, who was flanked by a pair of Nusra militants wearing masks and gripping AK-47s. “Are those Russian soldiers willing to die for the caprices and egoism of Putin?”

In the video, which first appeared in a segment on the Norwegian news site Verdens Gang, the jihadist also alluded to the former Soviet Union’s failed invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. That war dragged on for nine years and took an enormous toll on the Soviets, and not just because of the thousands of their soldiers who were killed—the war is widely considered one of the precipitating factors that led to the fall of the Soviet Union, a blow from which many Russians still recoil.

If they come here we will remind them Afghanistan—and how embarrassed they were to return from there,” Madani said. He went on to call Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a “tyrant who kills Muslims and tortures” and accuse Islamic State militants in the country of “disobeying Islam.” 

The video quickly spread across Russian media and social media sites on Friday. It was also shared among several pro-Putin groups, whose members offered a handful of racist and expletive-filled rebuttals.

The Free Syrian Army, Syria’s largest rebel group, earlier this week also tried fighting back against Russia’s offensive by taking its case to the Russian people, asking for their help and warning of the potential consequences if their country continues on its current course.

“We want to tell you that we will fight until the end,” said Adham Akrad, the commander of one of the FSA’s artillery brigades, said in a videotaped message posted to YouTube and Facebook.