Pentagon confirms US targeted veteran al Qaeda leader in Syria

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook confirmed today that the US targeted Abu Firas al Suri, a senior al Qaeda leader and member of Al Nusrah Front’s elite shura (advisory) council, in an airstrike in Syria.

“The US military conducted an airstrike on a senior al Qaeda operational meeting in northwest Syria on Sunday [Apr. 3], resulting in several enemy [sic] killed,” Cook told reporters during a briefing. “We assess that al Qaeda senior leader Abu Firas al Suri was in that meeting and we are working to confirm his death.”

Cook described al Suri as a “legacy al Qaeda member” who “fought in Afghanistan in the 80s and 90s and worked with Osama bin Laden and other founding al Qaeda members to train terrorists and conduct attacks globally.”

As The Long War Journal reported yesterday, well-connected jihadists on social media quickly claimed that Abu Firas had been killed. [See LWJ report: Jihadists say airstrike killed veteran al Qaeda leader in Syria.]

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Abu Firas’ son “and at least 20 members” of Jund al Aqsa (an al Qaeda front group), Al Nusrah Front (al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria) and “jihadists from other factions of Uzbek nationalities” were killed in the bombings. Uzbek jihadists have long fought alongside Al Nusrah and Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad (KTJ), a predominately Uzbek group, was subsumed by the al Qaeda arm last September.

SOHR’s account indicates that there were multiple airstrikes, with one targeting Jund al Aqsa’s headquarters near the village of Kafr Jalis and two others hitting points in the “northern countryside” of the Idlib province.

Separately, Cook confirmed that Hassan Ali Dhoore, a dual hatted al Qaeda and Shabaab leader, was killed in an airstrike in Somalia on Mar. 31. Cook said that Dhoore was “heavily involved” in Shabaab’s attack planning in Mogadishu and elsewhere. Shabaab is al Qaeda’s official branch in East Africa. [For more on Dhoore, see LWJ report: US airstrike targets senior leader of Shabaab’s security and intelligence service.]

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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3 Comments

  • Truthful James says:

    Good work by our troop. People are replaceable as long as the ideology persists. We have a tendency to forget that we are not facing a politically organized nation state.

    The enemies we face in ISIL and al Qaeda are not ignorant, voluntary draftees. Those that come from estern Europe — the ones beloved of ISIL — have had years, a lifetime of indoctrination by radical Sunni Imams. The host countries have broken down the patriarchal nature of the Muslim family. These refugees are billeted in high rise or low rise ghettos. The father is without patrimony to pass on to his sons. The young men see no future. It is no wonder that they are willing recruits. The second life, in which Muslims believe, will surely be a better one.

    ISIL is a creation of Turkish influences. Establishment of the new Caliphate not in Turkey but in the contested lands of northern Syria and Iraq diverts attention from the Turkish objective of restoring Ottoman strength and weakening the the hold that Riyadh has on the Holy Cities.

    For its part. Saudi Arabia is the founder and supporter of al Qaeda, the franchisor of worldwide radical Sunni movements. It is the McDonald’s of the terrorist business, franchising local start-ups, providing money, training and weapons.

    At play are the over one million Sunni refugees in Jordan. Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia would like to oversee the destruction of Shia and Iran. Neit her are yet strong enough to do it.

    • Brendan Johnson says:

      The people we kill might be easily replaced, but the skill and knowledge base that they represent is not. Many of the men that we have killed are vital resources with experience going back many years, experience that no fresh from the internet Jihadi can easily replace. Along with their deaths come the death of the ties of trust that they formed with their fellows in those past wars which allowed them a high degree of operational security. Bringing in a new crop of leaders from a different generation creates a possibility for the Western powers to plant sleeper agents among them in a way that was not previously possible,

  • ulises says:

    AGAIN IN THIS WAR ON TERRORISM THE “DRONE-STRIKE” THE MOST LETHAL FORM TO KILL ENEMY LEADERS OF THE WESTERN WORLD.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis