Social Media Jihad: Honoring al Qaeda’s chief representative in Syria

ITMC honors Abu Khalid al Suri.jpg

For the second time in two days, the Ibn Taymiyya Media Center (ITMC) has tweeted a banner honoring Abu Khalid al Suri, who served as one of al Qaeda’s top representatives in Syria prior to his death a few days ago. The banner can be seen above.

The ITMC is the propaganda arm of the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC), which operates in Gaza and the Sinai. The ITMC also publicizes propaganda on behalf of Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis), the main al Qaeda-linked group operating in the Sinai.

The banner of Abu Khalid al Suri celebrates his “martyrdom.” When it was first released on Feb. 25, the ITMC posted a Twitter hashtag that has been widely used to commemorate al Suri’s death. The group tweeted the image above again today.

What is interesting about the ITMC’s honoring of al Suri is that the group frequently posts favorable references to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham’s propaganda. ISIS is, of course, the prime suspect in the death of al Suri, who was one of ISIS’ fiercest critics. Other rebel groups have blamed ISIS for the suicide bombing at a headquarters for Ahrar al Sham in Aleppo. Al Suri, a founding member of Ahrar al Sham in addition to being a senior al Qaeda leader, was at the headquarters at the time.

Other groups, such as the Al Nusrah Front (al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria), have similarly honored al Suri. Al Nusrah and Ahrar al Sham regularly fight alongside one another and are also allied against ISIS, which was disowned by al Qaeda’s general command earlier this month. In the aftermath of the attack on al Suri, Al Nusrah’s emir, Abu Muhammad al Julani, issued an ultimatum to ISIS. Al Julani threatened the destruction of ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.

The MSC dedicated a June 18, 2012 cross-border attack in Israel to al Qaeda, saying it was “a gift to our brothers in Qaedat al Jihad and Sheikh Zawahiri,” as well as a retaliation for the death of Osama bin Laden. For more on the MSC see here.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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