A report by the United Nations includes new details concerning the dispute between Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and al Qaeda’s senior leaders, including the role played by two veteran operatives living in Iran. The UN’s member states say that HTS is still in “contact” with al Qaeda’s leadership despite their heated disagreements, and that al Qaeda has even reinforced HTS with “military and explosives experts” sent from Afghanistan.
Since late April, Shabaab has released a series of videos emphasizing its place in al Qaeda’s global network. Two of the videos were recorded by the group’s emir, Abu Ubaydah Ahmad Umar, a normally reclusive figure. Abu Ubaydah refers to the Taliban’s emir as the “Commander of the Faithful” and Ayman al Zawahiri as the “father-emir” while addressing the mujahideen in Syria and Yemen.
A jihadist known as Abu Abdullah has responded to claims made by a senior Hay’at Tahrir al Sham figure. Abu Abdullah identifies himself as al Qaeda’s “external communication officer,” a previously undisclosed position, and says that al Qaeda’s senior leaders are able to communicate with their representatives around the globe on an “almost daily” basis.
The jihad in Syria has unleashed another leadership crisis for al Qaeda.
In a new audio message, Ayman al Zawahiri warns jihadists that they should avoid a strictly “nationalist” agenda in Syria. He also says the jihadists should focus on waging a “guerrilla” war inside Syria and not place too much emphasis on controlling territory at this time. Zawahiri’s words are likely intended to influence some of the debates occurring within jihadist circles.
The eighth edition of the Islamic State’s Rumiyah magazine features a cover story on Ahmad Abousamra, who was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List in 2013. Abousamra was the “chief editor” of Dabiq, the Islamic State’s English-language magazine, and also one of al Qaeda’s fiercest rhetorical opponents. He described al Qaeda’s leaders and pro-al Qaeda ideologues as the “Jews of Jihad.”
The US Treasury Department and the UN have added two senior jihadists to their terror sanctions lists. Both of them were leaders in the group formerly known as Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. Treasury’s announcement provides new details about al Qaeda’s operations in Syria, including the organization’s history and personnel.
Abu Jaber has released his first speech as the general commander of the newly formed Ha’yat Tahrir al Sham (“Assembly for the Liberation of Syria”). He calls on other factions to join his group, promises to wage jihad on Bashar al Assad’s regime until the end and claims that losing the war would be catastrophic for Syria’s Sunnis.