A group calling itself the Al Baraa Ibn Malik Martyrdom Brigade has formed in the Syrian town of Homs, and has said it will employ suicide bombers against Syrian security forces. From [email protected], a website that tracks al Qaeda and other terror groups:
The footage seems oddly similar to what was released from Iraq in 2003 soon after the American invasion. Masked gunmen posing with their weapons in front of an Al-Qaida flag. But this is not the scene of a Iraqi Al-Qaida video – it is recent footage coming out of Syria.
A group of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” in the occupied city fo Homs has – according to the new video – formed a martyrdom battalion, a special unit committed to carry out suicide bombings in the country.
One Syrian militant explains that the “Al-Baraa Ibn Malik Martyrdom Brigade” will fight the Assad regime and its military with all needs, especially suicide bombers.
Interestingly enough, a group called the Al Baraa bin Malik Brigade formed in in May 2005, and joined with al Qaeda in Iraq. From the START database:
Al-Bara bin Malek Brigades is a specialized cell of suicide bombers within Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers. The Brigades have launched numerous suicide operations against U.S. and Iraqi government targets and were reportedly responsible for the devastating November 2005 hotel bombings in Jordan that killed almost 60 people.
The formation of the group was announced in June 2005 in a posting on a Jihadist website by a man identifying himself as Abu Doujana al-Ansari, the leader of the Al-Bara bin Malek Brigades. The statement read: “We gladly inform our sheik Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi of the formation of al-Bara bin Malek Brigade.” However, the group first emerged a month earlier when it claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of six Jordanians who were working in Iraq. The group released a video showing the abductees, and warned Jordanian companies not to cooperate with the United States. The fate of the hostages is as yet unknown.
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri has recently urged Muslims inside and outside of Syria to take up arms against the Syrian government. In a statement issued on Feb. 11 and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, Zawahiri said: “I appeal to every Muslim and every free, honorable one in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, to rise to help his brothers in Syria with all what he can, with his life, money, wonders, opinion, and information.” Telling Syrians not to trust Turkey, the Arab League, or the West, he exhorted the “lions of the Levant” to “[d]evelop the intention of jihad in the Cause of Allah to establish a state that defends the Muslim countries and seeks to liberate the Golan and continue its jihad until it raises the banners of victory above the usurped hills of Jerusalem.”
Since the end of December, there have already been five suicide bombings in Syria. The Syrian government said that a pair of suicide bombers targeted security headquarters in Damascus on Dec. 23; over 40 people were reported killed and scores more were wounded in the blasts. On Jan. 6 the Syrian government said that a suicide bomber killed 25 people in an attack on security forces in Damascus. And on Feb. 10, a pair of suicide bombers killed 25 people while targeting security headquarters in Aleppo.
Al Qaeda in Iraq already has a strong presence in Syria [see LWJ report, Eastern Syria becoming a new al Qaeda haven]. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a regional al Qaeda affiliate, also is known to operate in Syria. Two of its senior leaders, Saudi citizens Saleh al Qarawi and Suleiman Hamad Al Hablain, have been added to the US’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists since November 2011. The terror group has denied any involvement in the Dec. 23 suicide attack.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.