Al Nusrah Front sharia official uses social media to condemn killing of fellow jihadist

Not long after the Al Nusrah Front’s leader in the Idlib province of Syria was killed two days ago, a senior sharia (Islamic law) official in the group condemned the killers on Twitter.

Abu Sulayman al Muhajir, an extremist preacher from Australia who is now one of Al Nusrah’s most senior sharia officials, described Abu Muhammad al Fateh as a “dear friend and brother,” adding that his killers are “filthy animals.” Fateh was the “gem of Idlib,” Sulayman says.

Although Sulayman did not publicly identify Fateh’s killers, the first reports of Fateh’s death said that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS), which was disowned by al Qaeda’s general command in early February, was responsible.

If true, then the ISIS has killed another significant al Qaeda figure in Syria. The ISIS and Al Nusrah, which is al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, have been fighting since last year. The ISIS is widely suspected of slaying Abu Khalid al Suri, Ayman al Zawahiri’s chief representative in Syria, in a suicide attack in late February. Al Suri was a founding member and senior leader in Ahrar al Sham, an extremist organization that plays a leading role in the Islamic Front, a coalition of several rebel groups.

Sulayman’s tweets honoring Fateh were compiled and edited into a longer statement released by the Al Nusrah Front. The statement describes Fateh as the “Amir of Qaedatul Jihad (Jabhat Al-Nusrah), Idlib.” Sulayman frequently describes Al Nusrah as simply al Qaeda in Syria.

Sulayman says that Fateh was “[a]ctive in Jihad since 2005 and he was part of Tandheem Al Qaeda [the al Qaeda organization], recruiting, financing and facilitating for AQ Iraq.”

Fateh “was imprisoned in Saydnaya on ‘terrorism charges’ and released in 2010-2011,” according to Sulayman. Saydnaya is a city north of Damascus. “After his release, [Fateh] immediately joined the Jihad and joined the ranks of Jabhat Al Nusrah.”

Sulayman says that Fateh “had the clear qualities of a leader and was soon recognized as one,” so he “was promoted in the ranks of Al Qaeda until he became the Amir of Idlib and then a confidante of Shaykh [Abu Muhammad al] Julani,” who is the emir of the Al Nusrah Front and has sworn an oath of loyalty to Zawahiri.

Fateh was recuperating from significant injuries at the home of his brother when the attackers came calling. They killed Fateh, his brother, and members of both of their families, including women and children. Al Nusrah has released a banner showing pictures of the family members, including Fateh, who were killed or wounded in the attack.

“The investigation is on-going and new information regarding the criminals will surface soon,” Sulayman says. “There is sensitive information, which will expose the true face of the enemy within.” When Al Nusrah fighters “found the house that [the] criminals were hiding in … two of the criminals blew themselves up causing two rooms to collapse.”

If true, then the attackers included suicide bombers in their ranks. And if the ISIS was responsible, then Al Nusrah will almost certainly use the killing of Fateh and his family members in the propaganda war against its deadly rival. Al Nusrah officials may also use the incident to again call on Ayman al Zawahiri to issue a a more specific condemnation of the ISIS. Earlier this month, Sulayman was one of several jihadist ideologues who used social media to ask Zawahiri to address the infighting between the ISIS and Al Nusrah. One of the issues they want Zawahiri to discuss is the ISIS’ killing and mistreatment of Muslims.

Sulayman discussed al Qaeda’s organization and strategy in a recent video. He also gave his version of the origins of the conflict with the ISIS in the video.

“Seems some need to be reminded who we [are] before killing our women & [children],” Sulayman blusters in one tweet. “We [are] the children of Osama [bin Laden] and [soldiers] of Ayman.”

“We [are] Al Qaeda!” Sulayman says.

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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  • EDDIED. says:

    You know a drone is coming so you may as well do it to yourself.

  • mike says:

    Now they have a problem with being martyred? Maybe they get double the virgins when their own people do it. Bravo

  • Neonmeat says:

    “ISIS has killed another significant al Qaeda figure in Syria”
    It is almost laughable, they’re doing our job for us, someone get these guys a beer! Or an Iced Tea I guess!
    “They killed Fateh, his brother, and members of both of their families, including women and children.”
    If Fateh was my Emir, and they did this to his family I would be out for some heads. Al Nusrah surely will exact bloody revenge for this.
    Recently the War Criminal Tony Blair condemned the lack of action on Syria by the West. However, do we not have a perfect situation to contain and attrite the entire movement? Let them spend their blood and men and morale in this war, let them poor themselves onto Assad’s and each others guns, let them turn against each other and let those poor deluded fools from our own countries travel their and murder themselves in ‘Mad Max’ style VBIEDs for the sake of blowing up part of a wall.
    We see here truly what society would look like should ISIS or another of their ilk implement their sacred Caliphate. Those claiming to share the ideology of AQ cannot even unite against a common enemy in war time, let alone when trying to form some sort of Government! Imagine how much death, murder and assassination would go on should any of these groups ever have the chance to establish their dream society. Their would be pyramids of heads as far as the eye can see.


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