Making its first appearances in the fall of 2012, Liwa’a Abu Fadl al-Abbas (Abu Fadl al-Abbas Brigades or LAFA) represents a new addition to the Syrian battlefield and serves as another example of increased sectarianism in the Syrian Civil War. The organization claims its role is to defend the Sayida Zaynab Shrine and surrounding Shia populated neighborhoods located in southern Damascus. The group is made-up of a mixture of a small number of native Syrian Shia with a majority of foreign Shia Muslim fighters.
LAFA has also maintained an outward appearance which mirrors the same type of spirit once found with the volunteer International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. Despite the presented narrative, this does not necessitate the group is an ad hoc collection of individual Shia Muslims. The group heavily utilizes fighters originating from Iranian-backed organizations (such as Iraq’s Kata’ib Hizballah and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq), has uniformed personnel, new weapons, a recognizable leadership structure, and openly identifies with Lebanese Hizballah. These factors point to an extremely organized fighting group and deeper levels of Iranian involvement in the organization.
Unlike larger and more established militant Shia Islamist groups such as Lebanon’s Hizballah or Iraq’s Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, LAFA has no official website or official online forums. The group finds most of its internet representation through a mixture of quasi-official Facebook pages and YouTube stations. In fact, for the Western and Arabic-language press, LAFA’s existence only came to light when a YouTube music video featuring the group’s fighters was made public. Thus, fifteen pro-LAFA Facebook pages, five Facebook pages associated with Lebanese Hizballah, one Hizballah forum, three pro-Muqtada al-Sadr forums, and five pro-LAFA/pro-Hizballah YouTube stations were reviewed for this study.
One such Facebook photo is this picture, where Abu ‘Ajeeb, LAFA’s “Secretary General”, and other militants drink Pepsi.
This isn’t Pepsi’s first connection to terrorism, if you may recall the Pepsi sponsored Hamas football game in Gaza.
It seems there’s something about Pepsi that is savoury to the tongue of terrorists, though in reality, all the money used to buy these drinks goes to Israel, for Pepsi is actually an acronym for Pay Every Penny, Save Israel.
FYI, this video is from Al-Aqsa TV, who almost had its terrorist members honoured on the Newseum memory wall.