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People Have A Lot Of Doubts About This Interview With An Alleged Jihadi In Syria

A German journalist's interview with a man who claimed to be a commander with Jabhat al-Nusra is under fire.

Posted on September 29, 2016, at 2:56 a.m. ET

German journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer on Monday posted a video titled "America supporting al Qaeda?" featuring an interview with an alleged jihadi in Syria.

Facebook: video.php

In the video, Todenhöfer — who previously entered into ISIS-controlled territory and wrote about his experience — is shown driving across a landscape in Syria before sitting down with a man described as a commander with Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda–affiliated group in Syria fighting against the government of Bashar al-Assad. (The name is important and we'll get back to that in a second.)

Over the course of the interview, conducted in English and Arabic, the commander claims that the US supports his group — through advisers and indirectly supplying weapons.

"Yes, the USA supports the opposition, but not directly," the commander, identified by Todenhöfer as "Abu Al Ezz," said. "They support the countries that support us. However, we are still not satisfied with this support. They should support us with highly developed weapons."
Facebook: JuergenTodenhoefer

"Yes, the USA supports the opposition, but not directly," the commander, identified by Todenhöfer as "Abu Al Ezz," said. "They support the countries that support us. However, we are still not satisfied with this support. They should support us with highly developed weapons."

The interview, which has gotten little play in Western press, has been picked up widely in Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergy Lavrov even brought it up in a phone call with Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday.

Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

Since the interview went up, however, people have been skeptical about the claims made in the video — starting with the fact that the man interviewed by Todenhöfer was named as a commander with Jahbat al-Nusra.

In July, the group renamed itself "Jabhat Fateh al-Sham" and reportedly cut its ties with al-Qaeda. That the fighter in the video claimed that his group and al-Qaeda were one in the same immediately raised red flags.
Omar Haj Kadour / AFP / Getty Images

In July, the group renamed itself "Jabhat Fateh al-Sham" and reportedly cut its ties with al-Qaeda. That the fighter in the video claimed that his group and al-Qaeda were one in the same immediately raised red flags.

On Tuesday, the group's official media arm put out a statement saying that no commander with the name that Todenhöfer said he interviewed actually exists.

Fateh al-Sham's media official denies Todenhofer's interview with one of its commanders: No commander with this name

Meanwhile, a user on reddit tracked down the location in the opening of the video and identified it as being in a quarry in a regime-controlled area of Syria.

Others pointed out oddities in the appearance and speech patterns of the purported commander.

was also wearing a gold ring, referring to gulf states by wrong names. Todenhofer appears to have been hosed. https://t.co/iuKqXfTqVi

(5) Apart from speaking for Islamists uncharacteristically half-assed high Arabic, he also refers to Saudi, Israel etc. by their real names.

A Syrian opposition newspaper went so far as to accuse Todenhöfer of working with Assad's government to make up the whole thing.

Syria opposition paper @ZamanEnglish finds comical signs of fabrication in Todenhofer itvw with Nusra figure… https://t.co/p3BSjzLgeM

Todenhöfer, who has previously had an amiable relationship with the Assad regime and claimed on his website that the US wanted the rise of ISIS, did not respond to a BuzzFeed News request for comment.

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