Swedish ex-imam formed militia group in Syria

The Commission for Civilians Protection - an organsation founded by the Swedish former imam, Haytham Rahmeh - smuggles weapons into Syria and has formed an armed militia group which cooperates with groups loyal to al-Qaeda.

The militia has over 2,000 members, its political leader, Nazir Hakim, told Swedish Radio News. "We needed a military solution," he said.

Hakim added that the militia operates in Halab, al-Asor, latakia, Hama, Homs and Damaskus. "We are everywhere," he said.

There are hundreds of video clips of the militias on the Commission for Civilians Protection's own website and YouTube channel. The militia men wear uniforms with the organisation's logo and fire weapons at buildings and other targets.

Rahmeh, a Swedish citizen and formerly an imam at the main mosque in Stockhom, founded and worked for the Commission for Civilians Protection.

On Thursday, Swedish Radio News revealed that Rahmeh has supplied weapons worth hundreds of millions of Swedish krona to rebels in Syria.

The organisation's own militia, which has grown strong in a short time, has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, but Hakim also told Swedish Radio News' reporters that the militia collaborates with extreme jihadist groups like the al-Nusra front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Both are loyal to al-Qaeda.

"If there is an attack from the regime, or if Nusra attacks - in such cases we form a joint defence", said Hakim.

Swedish Radio News was not able to reach Rahmeh.