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Al-Qaeda linked militant in Jordan to Syria's Assad: attacks 'coming'

Threats speak to concerns of a growing, imported Islamic militant presence in Syria.

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A destroyed photo of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the grounds of the Al Ansari police station in the Sikari neighborhood of Aleppo. (Nicole Tung/GlobalPost)

An Al-Qaeda-linked militant leader today warned of impending "deadly attacks" by his Jordan-based group in neighboring Syria to aid the rebel movement in their 18-month attempt to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said the Associated Press.

Mohammad al-Shalabi, popularly known as Abu Sayyaf, sent a message to Assad in a speech outside the Jordanian prime minister's Amman office today in which he said "our fighters are coming to get you," reported AP

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"Take your dirty hands, which are stained with the blood of innocent people, off Sunni Muslims in Syria, or face our deadly attacks," The Press Association cited Al-Shalabi as saying before a crowd of several hundred, who reportedly answered by shouting, "Allahu Akbar," or "God is great."

Syria's mostly Sunni-led rebel movement is currently locked in a fierce battle for control of the country following popular uprisings against Assad last March. The violence is believed to have taken more than 23,000 lives. 

The speech is likely to further concerns that Islamic militants are either actively cooperating with the rebels in Syria or taking advantage of the instability there to secure power

Al-Shalabi said the offensive is in revenge for Assad's "crimes" against Syria's predominantly Sunni population, according to The Press Association.

Assad is a member of the Alawite offshoot Shiite sect

The militant leader was in custody himself until last year on charges of planning to attack air bases used by US trainers in Jordan, said AP. His Salafi Jihadi group is also accused of orchestrating the assassination of US aid worker Laurence Foley in Jordan in 2002. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/jordan/120909/al-qaeda-linked-militant-jordan-syrias-assad-attacks