Four suicide bombers, including three foreigners, who conducted an attack in Syria. Photograph courtesy of the SITE Intelligence Group.
A “correspondent” for the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, said that three foreign fighters and a Syrian national conducted a complex suicide assault in conjunction with Suqour al Sham in Idlib. Suqour al Sham is a member of the so-called moderate Syrian opposition to President Bashir al Assad.
The “Idlib Correspondent” for the Al Nusrah Front posted on Twitter on May 25 that three foreign fighters and a Syrian carried out a joint suicide attack using vehicles in the province of Idlib, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained and translated the tweets and photographs of the suicide bombers. The exact date, the location of the attack, and the identities of the suicide bombers were disclosed, SITE noted.
It is unclear how many of the suicide bombers were members of the Al Nusrah Front and which belonged to Suqour al Sham.
The report that the Al Nusrah Front conducted a joint operation with Suqour al Sham is interesting, as it highlights al Qaeda’s continuing alliances with supposedly moderate Syrian rebel groups. Suqour al Sham is one of six brigades that make up the Islamic Front, which recently issued a statement purportedly rejecting extremism and the involvement of foreign fighters in the Syrian civil war.
The Islamic Front’s founding document, which was released in November 2013, declared that its primary aim is to “topple the Assad regime … and build an Islamic state,” with sharia, or Islamic law, as the basis of governance. The Islamic Front also said that “the Muhajireen,” or emirgrants, “are our brothers” and vowed to support the jihad.
American rumored to be one of the suicide bombers
An “English-speaking Twitter user” known as “Abu Muhajir,” whose identity and affiliation is unknown, published a photograph of the four suicide bombers and claimed that the foreign fighters are from the United States, the Maldives, and “Turkistan,” likely a reference to Central Asia or western China. Abu Muhajir identified the bombers as Abu Hurayra al Muhajir, Dada’ullah al Muhajir, and Abu Turab al Muhajir, and the Syrian was identified as Abu Rish al Ansari. The term “al Muhajir” means “the emigrant,” or foreign fighter.
Abu Muhajir’s account is unconfirmed and has not been corroborated by the Al Nusrah Front or Suquor al Sham.
US intelligence and law enforcement officials contacted by The Long War Journal said they were aware of the report that an American participated in a suicide attack in Syria with the Al Nusrah Front and Suqour al Sham, but could not confirm it.
If an American did carry out a suicide attack in Syria, it would be the first confirmed suicide bombing by an American in Syria, and just the fourth such attack known to have been carried out by an American. Three Americans are thought to have executed suicide attacks in Somalia with Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia and East Africa.
Americans are known to have waged jihad in Syria with al Qaeda; with its rival offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham; and with Ahrar al Sham, an al Qaeda-allied jihadist group that is part of the Islamic Front. Among them are Abu Muhammad al Amriki, Eric Harroun, Amiir Farouk Ibrahim, and Nicole Lynn Mansfield. On Feb. 4, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, told Congress that more than 50 Americans are thought to be waging jihad in Syria and are among 7,500 foreign fighters in the country. [See LWJ report, ‘American’ jihadist in Syria pictured with dangerous ISIS commanders.]