The U.S. military said it targeted a senior al Qaeda leader in Idlib province, Syria on Sept. 20, but has offered few details concerning the airstrike.
Hosts Tom Joscelyn and Bill Roggio discuss al Qaeda’s problems in Syria, where a series of disputes have upset the group’s chain of command.
Jihadists on social media say that two al Qaeda figures, Abu al Qassam and Bilal al Sanaani, were killed in a drone strike in Idlib. Their deaths haven’t been confirmed. Abu al Qassam was one of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s closest comrades and an important al Qaeda figure in Idlib.
Thabat, an al-Qaeda-affiliated media outfit, has released a series of infographics that are intended to highlight the group’s global reach and resiliency. The images trumpet a large number of purported attacks in Afghanistan, as well as America’s withdrawal from the country.
A coalition of Qaeda-linked jihadist groups in northwestern Syria detail their recent operations.
U.S. Central Command says an airstrike targeted al Qaeda in Syria (AQ-S) “leadership at a facility north of Idlib, Syria” earlier today. Jihadis on social media say the facility belonged to Ansar al-Tawhid, which is one of several al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria.
Al Qaeda Telegram channels have shared a statement attributed to Saif al-Adel. He writes that the jihadis modify their military program to take into account Turkey’s influence.
CENTCOM says the U.S. targeted a group of al Qaeda operatives in Syria who were “responsible for plotting external attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians.” According to jihadists online, the operatives belonged to Hurras al-Din (the “Guardians of Religion” organization).
The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), an al Qaeda-affiliated group, has released a series of images showing a large number of fighters preparing for battle in Syria. The TIP has been a key jihadist group within the insurgency for years.
The Assad regime and Russia have stepped up their bombing campaign in northwestern Syria in recent weeks. The al Qaeda-linked “Incite the Believers” operations room has counterattacked with a series of operations.
Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a US and UN-designated terrorist organization, has strengthened its grip on northwestern Syria in recent weeks. HTS has seized ground from rival insurgents.
The latest edition of al Qaeda’s Al-Nafir news bulletin addresses the jihadists’ infighting in Syria. Al Qaeda has been forced to comment on the disputes multiple times over the past year.
Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), a coalition that includes the group formerly known as Al Nusrah Front, launched a campaign against alleged Islamic State operatives in the Idlib province earlier today. HTS has repeatedly accused Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s men of forming cells to attack their jihadist rivals in HTS and allied groups.
The Department of Justice announced on June 29 that Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud pleaded guilty nearly two years ago to training with and fighting for Al Nusrah Front in Syria. Al Nusrah “instructed” Mohamud “to return to the US and commit an act of terrorism.” He admittedly planned to kill American “military officers or other government employees or people in uniform.”
Qatar recently secured the release of Qatari hostages, including members of the royal family. But its diplomatic victory was marred by reports that a multi-million dollar ransom was paid to a US-designated terrorist group and an al Qaeda-linked joint venture in Syria.
The US Treasury Department designated Muhammad Hadi al-‘Anizi as an al Qaeda terrorist earlier this month. He was detained in Afghanistan in late 2001 at the age of 15. Al-‘Anizi was freed and thanked Kuwait’s leadership for his repatriation. He is now based in Kuwait.
Jihadists, Islamists and rebel groups affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched a new offensive against Bashar al Assad’s regime in northern Hama province earlier this week. Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, al Qaeda’s joint venture in Syria, is playing a prominent role in the fighting, dispatching several suicide bombers and its “special forces.” Upwards of 10 or more FSA-branded groups are participating as well.
Abu Jaber (also known as Hashem al Sheikh), the leader of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), has released a message commemorating the sixth anniversary of the Syrian revolution. He portrays HTS as a popular revolutionary force and calls on other rebel groups to join it for the sake of “unity.” He also promises to “escalate” operations against Bashar al Assad’s regime.
The US bombed what it says was a suspected al Qaeda “meeting location” in Syria. The airstrikes were immediately controversial, as Syrian activists and others said that the building hit was a mosque. The US has stepped up its air campaign in Syria since the beginning of the year by going after larger facilities suspected of being run by al Qaeda.
Five groups, including al Qaeda’s rebranded branch, have announced the creation of a new group in Syria. The move comes after weeks of reported disagreements and clashes between the insurgents in northern Syria.
In a statement released last week, Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, an influential jihadi ideologue aligned with al Qaeda, criticized Turkey’s cooperation with Russia against the Islamic State. Maqdisi warned jihadists and Islamists in Syria to rethink their decision to work with Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield, which has captured significant territory from the so-called caliphate in northern Syria.
The Pentagon is still assessing the results of airstrikes on Jan. 1 and Jan. 3 in northern Syria, but it is believed that 20 al Qaeda “militants” were killed in the bombings. The airstrikes are likely among the most significant carried out against al Qaeda in Syria since Sept. 2014. President Obama reportedly authorized a more robust air campaign against al Qaeda in Syria late last year, after the administration had previously defined down the threat.
Al Qaeda’s rebranded guerrilla army in Syria is fighting alongside other jihadists, Islamists and Free Syrian Army-branded rebels in an offensive intended to break the Assad regime’s siege of Aleppo. Most of the participating groups belong to two coalitions: Jaysh al Fath (“Army of Conquest”) and Fatah Halab (“Aleppo Conquest”). These same two alliances tried and failed to break the siege earlier this year.
A transcript of Abu Muhammad al Julani’s remarks yesterday shows that his statement has been misconstrued in the press.
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.