Qatar recently secured the release of Qatari hostages, including members of the royal family. But its diplomatic victory was marred by reports that a multi-million dollar ransom was paid to a US-designated terrorist group and al Qaeda’s joint venture in Syria.
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.”
A new video from the Taliban features several images and clips of al Qaeda leaders, further demonstrating that the two remain firmly allied more than 15 years after the 9/11 hijackings.
Jund al Aqsa, a US and UN designated terrorist organization, was subsumed by al Qaeda’s rebranded Syrian branch in early October. The group had deep ties to al Qaeda’s fundraising network in the Gulf prior to the merger.
Al Qaeda’s rebranded guerrilla army in Syria is fighting alongside other jihadists, Islamists and Free Syrian Army-branded rebels in an offensive intended to break the Assad regime’s siege of Aleppo. Most of the participating groups belong to two coalitions: Jaysh al Fath (“Army of Conquest”) and Fatah Halab (“Aleppo Conquest”). These same two alliances tried and failed to break the siege earlier this year.
Washington should take a series of steps to stop nations from supporting the newly rebranded version of Al Nusrah Front in Syria.
The State Department’s newly released Country Reports on Terrorism for 2015 suggests that several Gulf States still have a lot of work to do when it comes to terrorist fundraising.
New US sanctions on two Qatari citizens expose Doha’s uneven response.