Shabaab’s leadership has actively opposed the Islamic State’s expansion in East Africa. The Islamic State has made a major push via propaganda videos to encourage defections, but only a small cadre of Shabaab fighters has switched allegiance to the “caliphate” thus far.
Five veteran jihadists, including three members of al Qaeda’s management council, have reportedly been released from custody in Iran as part of a hostage exchange. The details of their detention and release from Iranian custody are murky.
In a video recorded prior to his death, a jihadist known as Abu Hafs al Masri explained that he served al Qaeda for 17 years and had lived with Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders. Al Masri was a senior leader in Ahrar al Sham in Syria when he was “martyred” in late March.
Intelligence cited in leaked Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) threat assessments link the six recently transferred Guantanamo detainees to Abu Zubaydah and al Qaeda.
The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, has released a statement honoring the Ahrar al Sham leaders killed in yesterday’s explosion. Al Nusrah says they were among the “best” of men and leaders.
Several influential al Qaeda members have used their Twitter feeds to mourn the slain leaders of Ahrar al Sham and the Islamic Front. The jihadists were killed in an explosion earlier today. One well-connected jihadist, who appears to be an al Qaeda media operative, claimed that the head of the Islamic Front had been in communication with Ayman al Zawahiri.
The Islamic Front announced today that more than one dozen of its senior leaders were killed in a car bombing in Idlib. Among the slain leaders is Hassan Abboud, who was the leader of Ahrar al Sham and the head of the Islamic Front’s political office. Abboud was especially close to Ayman al Zawahiri’s representative in Syria.
A banner dedicated to Abu Khalid al Suri is being posted on Twitter. The banner shows him both after his “martyrdom” and as a younger man.