Long War Journal & Threat Matrix

Ayman al Zawahiri warns against ‘nationalist’ agenda in Syria

In a new audio message, Ayman al Zawahiri warns jihadists that they should avoid a strictly "nationalist" agenda in Syria. He also says the jihadists should focus on waging a "guerrilla" war inside Syria and not place too much emphasis on controlling territory at this time. Zawahiri's words are likely intended to influence some of the debates occurring within jihadist circles. Read more →

Qods Force commander to advance Tehran’s influence as ambassador to Iraq

An Iranian general from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) this week began his new position as Tehran’s ambassador to Iraq. The selection of Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi, the senior adviser to the commander of the IRGC extraterritorial branch the Qods Force, highlights Tehran’s strategy to assert itself as the dominant foreign power in its western neighbor following the Mosul campaign. Since 2003 all Iranian ambassadors to Iraq have been Qods Force officers. Read more →

Pakistani Taliban faction claims spokesman was captured in Afghanistan

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar said that Ehsanullan Ehsan was captured on Mar. 7 by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate along with three others and subsequently turned over to the Pakistani military. The group's claim contradicts the Pakistani military's version of events. Earlier this week, Pakistani officials said Ehsan had voluntarily turned himself in. Read more →

Ohio man pleads guilty to terror charges after posting Islamic State hit list

The Department of Justice announced yesterday that a 24 year-old Ohio man, Terrence J. McNeil, has pleaded guilty to terrorism charges. Prosecutors charged McNeil with soliciting the murders of American servicemen after he republished an Islamic State "hit list" online. The list was first compiled by Junaid Hussain, an Islamic State operative who was subsequently killed in a drone strike in Raqqa, Syria. Read more →

State Department designates 2 Canadian citizens for joining jihadist groups

The State Department announced yesterday that two Canadian citizens have been added to the US government's list designated terrorists. Tarek Sakr has been "linked" to al Qaeda's "affiliate" in Syria and Farah Mohamed Shirdon is a member of the Islamic State. According to press reports, jihadists associated with Sakr are suspected of playing a role in the kidnappings of two Americans in Syria. Read more →

Reading Iran’s Reaction To US Missile Strikes In Syria

Iran's political elite have weighed-in on the recent US cruise missile strikes in Syria and used the opportunity to plug their regime's narrative. While time will tell if Iran will ultimately read the strike as a show of American resolve or indecision, Iranian officials have fallen back on gloating, intimidation, and misinformation tactics that so often characterize Persian-language reporting. Read more →

Islamic State claims church bombings in Egypt

The Islamic State has claimed credit for bombings at two Coptic churches in the Egyptian cities of Tanta and Alexandria earlier today. The attacks killed dozens of people and wounded approximately 100 others. The so-called caliphate has a history of targeting Christians in Iraq, Egypt and Libya. Read more →

How a US citizen became a key player in the Islamic State’s rivalry with al Qaeda

The eighth edition of the Islamic State's Rumiyah magazine features a cover story on Ahmad Abousamra, who was added to the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist List in 2013. Abousamra was the "chief editor" of Dabiq, the Islamic State's English-language magazine, and also one of al Qaeda's fiercest rhetorical opponents. He described al Qaeda's leaders and pro-al Qaeda ideologues as the "Jews of Jihad." Read more →

Qassem Soleimani reportedly spotted in Syria’s Hama province

A photo surfaced on Friday claiming to show Qassem Soleimani, the chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) extraterritorial branch the Qods Force, in the northern countryside of Syria’s central province of Hama. Meanwhile, the IRGC announced the deaths of three additional Guard soldiers including a brigadier general second class in Syria. Read more →

Islamic State propagandist was ‘brainwashing’ children, US military says

The US military announced today that a senior Islamic State propagandist, Ibrahim al-Ansari, was killed in an airstrike in Al-Qaim, Iraq on Mar. 25. Al-Ansari "was a leader in producing and disseminating propaganda to direct, encourage and instruct terror attacks, as well as to recruit foreign terrorist fighters," a US military spokesman said. Al-Ansari also "promoted terror attacks against US and Turkish citizens" and was responsible for "the brainwashing of young children to perpetuate ISIS's brutal message." Read more →

Analysis: Insurgents launch major offensive against Assad regime in Hama province

Jihadists, Islamists and rebel groups affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched a new offensive against Bashar al Assad's regime in northern Hama province earlier this week. Hay'at Tahrir al Sham, al Qaeda's joint venture in Syria, is playing a prominent role in the fighting, dispatching several suicide bombers and its "special forces." Upwards of 10 or more FSA-branded groups are participating as well. Read more →

Pakistani Taliban confirms senior al Qaeda commander killed in Afghanistan

The Pakistani Taliban confirmed today that Qari Muhammad Yasin, a senior al Qaeda military commander, was killed along with three of his "companions" in a US drone strike on Mar. 19. The airstrike was carried out in Afghanistan's eastern Paktika province. Yasin was a member of the Punjabi Taliban, which includes jihadists from various other Pakistani terrorist organizations who are aligned with al Qaeda. Read more →