Abu Jaber has released his first speech as the general commander of the newly formed Ha’yat Tahrir al Sham (“Assembly for the Liberation of Syria”). He calls on other factions to join his group, promises to wage jihad on Bashar al Assad’s regime until the end and claims that losing the war would be catastrophic for Syria’s Sunnis.
The Pentagon announced that 11 al Qaeda operatives were killed in a pair of airstrikes near Idlib, Syria earlier this month. One of them, Abu Hani al Masri, is described as “a legacy al Qaeda terrorist with ties to the group’s senior leaders, including Ayman al Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden.”
Ayman al Zawahiri eulogizes two slain al Qaeda veterans in a newly released video. Zawahiri praises the pair for their contributions to jihad. The production is laced with criticisms of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State.
Al Qaeda has released a new audio message from Hamza bin Laden, Osama’s son and heir. The message was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. Hamza argues that the number of “mujahideen” has grown dramatically around the globe despite the decade and a half of war that began on Sept. 11, 2001. Hamza also threatens revenge for his father’s death.
Abu Ubaydah Al Lubnani was once one of al Qaeda’s top security officials. After being dismissed from his job, he joined the Islamic State. In an interview with Al Naba magazine earlier this year, Lubnani discussed al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran and the group’s early strategy for the war in Syria. An al Qaeda loyalist has responded to Lubnani’s testimony.
Shabaab’s leadership has actively opposed the Islamic State’s expansion in East Africa. The Islamic State has made a major push via propaganda videos to encourage defections, but only a small cadre of Shabaab fighters has switched allegiance to the “caliphate” thus far.
Five veteran jihadists, including three members of al Qaeda’s management council, have reportedly been released from custody in Iran as part of a hostage exchange. The details of their detention and release from Iranian custody are murky.
In a video recorded prior to his death, a jihadist known as Abu Hafs al Masri explained that he served al Qaeda for 17 years and had lived with Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders. Al Masri was a senior leader in Ahrar al Sham in Syria when he was “martyred” in late March.