Sheikh Abdallah Muhammad al Muhaysini has launched a new jihadist recruiting campaign throughout Syria. 200 sharia officials from various factions have fanned out across Syria in an attempt to recruit 5,000 new “mujahideen.” Muhaysini has multiple links to al Qaeda’s international network.
The US killed Rifai Ahmed Taha Musa in an airstrike this week. Musa first began working with Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri in the 1980s and 1990s. US intelligence officials identified him as a key figure in al Qaeda’s so-called “Khorasan Group.” According to one of his former comrades, he was in Syria to promote unity between Al Nusrah Front and Ahrar al Sham.
The Syrian government says that a fighter jet was downed by a surface to air missile in the Aleppo province earlier today. There are conflicting reports concerning how the plane was hit. Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, has the pilot in custody and another al Qaeda-linked group, Ahrar al Sham, has claimed responsibility for downing the jet.
Jihadists on social media say that Abu Firas al Suri, a veteran jihadist who served al Qaeda since the 1980s, has been killed in an airstrike in Syria. Abu Firas previously explained al Qaeda’s revolutionary approach to waging jihad, saying the group seeks to develop “erupting jihadi centers” in various Muslim-majority countries.
Several rebel groups in Syria’s Aleppo province have united under the leadership of Hashem al Sheikh, who was the emir of Ahrar al Sham from September 2014 to September 2015. The alliance doesn’t include Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, but its constituents will almost certainly continue to cooperate with al Qaeda’s men.
A crucial battle in Syria’s Aleppo province pits Bashar al Assad’s regime and its allies against jihadists, Islamists, and other rebel factions.
The head of the Al Nusrah Front, Abu Muhammad al Julani, proposed a merger with several other jihadist groups in Syria earlier this month. According to an al Qaeda member who has a popular Twitter feed, the plan fell through when some Ahrar al Sham leaders pushed for Al Nusrah to publicly disassociate itself from al Qaeda.
An American citizen, Amin al Baroudi, pleaded guilty to violating US sanctions by providing “tactical equipment” to Ahrar al Sham, which is allied with al Qaeda’s arm in Syria.