Jihadists on social media are claiming that Sanafi al Nasr, sitting on the far left in the picture above, has been killed in an airstrike. Nasr’s death hasn’t been confirmed.
Jihadists on social media are claiming that a senior al Qaeda strategist known as Sanafi al Nasr has been killed in an airstrike in Syria. Two other al Qaeda members, Abdul Malik al Jazrawi (a Saudi) and Abu Yasir al Maghrebi (a Moroccan), were also allegedly killed. The Long War Journal cannot independently verify their deaths at this time.
Last year, members of Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, and other jihadists said that Nasr had been killed in a battle with forces loyal to Bashar al Assad’s regime. Those reports proved to be false, and was probably disinformation intended to allow Nasr the time to recover from his wounds. Nasr himself also erroneously spread death notices for some of his al Qaeda comrades on his popular Twitter feed. So, while it is certainly possible that Nasr has perished in an airstrike, his demise has not been confirmed.
Some of the reports of Nasr’s death appear to come from jihadists he interacted with online, one of whom is known as Qari Ikram. Nasr had recently retweeted some of Ikram’s messages. Ikram has posted a picture of Nasr’s supposed grave (reproduced below) and also claimed in a tweet that he had spoken to Nasr shortly before his death.
Another Twitter user, known as Habib al Taymi, eulogized Nasr in several posts. One of the tweets says that Nasr has joined Muhsin al Fadhli “in paradise.” Fadhli is a Kuwaiti who served alongside Nasr in al Qaeda’s so-called “Khorasan Group.” In September 2014, Nasr claimed on Twitter that Fadhli had been killed in US airstrikes. That was false, however, as the Pentagon later said that Fadhli died in a US airstrike this past July.
Al Taymi said that his readers should use online search engines to find out more information about Sanafi al Nasr, who is “very famous” and well-known by the “tyrants,” even more so than Nasr’s “fellow Muslims.”
Separately, Al Nusrah Front posted a picture purportedly showing a car struck by the “Crusader coalition” in Al Dana, a town in northern Syria west of Aleppo. Al Nusrah also published a picture of the corpses of the jihadists killed in the bombing, but has not identified them. The photos can be seen below.
If Nasr is dead, then al Qaeda has lost an important leader. Nasr, a Saudi whose real name is Abdul Mohsin Abdullah Ibrahim Al Sharikh, was long known for his active role in promulgating propaganda and messages online.
But The Long War Journal first reported in March 2014 that Nasr had risen through al Qaeda’s ranks to become a senior leader and that he had relocated to Syria from the Khorasan, an area that encompasses Afghanistan and Pakistan. As The Long War Journal reported at the time, Nasr, a third cousin of Osama bin Laden, led the “Victory Committee,” which is responsible for developing and implementing al Qaeda’s strategy and policies. Declassified files recovered in bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound show that the al Qaeda master had ordered the creation of a committee to serve that function. [For more information on Nasr’s biography and al Qaeda role, see LWJ report: Head of al Qaeda ‘Victory Committee’ in Syria.]
The US Treasury Department later confirmed Nasr’s relocation to Syria and his role as an al Qaeda strategist in an official terrorist designation. [See LWJ report, Treasury designates 2 ‘key’ al Qaeda financiers.]
In September 2014, the US government said that it had bombed the so-called “Khorasan Group” in Syria. The government’s claims caused widespread confusion, but the “Khorasan Group” is really just an elite cadre of al Qaeda operatives from around the globe. The Long War Journal reported shortly after the airstrikes were launched that Sanafi al Nasr was a leading figure in the “Khorasan Group.” [See LWJ report, Senior al Qaeda strategist part of so-called ‘Khorasan group.’]
Nasr is or was a well-known critic of the Islamic State, al Qaeda’s jihadist rival. In July, for instance, he was one of more than a dozen signatories on a statement vowing to continue to oppose the Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s self-declared “caliphate.” The statement was authored by leading Al Nusrah Front and Ahrar al Sham leaders, as well as a handful of other allied jihadists. [See LWJ report, Officials from Al Nusrah Front, Ahrar al Sham vow to continue fight against Islamic State.]
Al Nusrah Front posted the two pictures below, saying they show a car destroyed in an airstrike carried out by the “Crusader coalition” and the corpses of the jihadists killed:
This picture purportedly shows the grave of Sanafi al Nasr and two other al Qaeda members in Syria:
Jihadists on Twitter say this photo shows Abu Yasir al Maghrebi, a Moroccan al Qaeda member purportedly killed alongside Sanafi al Nasr: