The jihad in Syria has unleashed another leadership crisis for al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) has released a 20-page code of conduct outlining its approach to waging jihad throughout the region. The group says its men are currently fighting “shoulder-to-shoulder” with the Taliban and calls on Muslims in the surrounding countries to pledge allegiance to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (another name for the Taliban).
Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia, released a nearly hour-long video celebrating al Qaeda’s legacy and promoting its war as part of the global jihad. The group also advertised its “Mohamed Atta Training Camp for Martyrdom Seekers.”
AQAP released a lengthy “dialogue” with its emir, Qasim al Raymi, on April 30. Raymi discusses the complex war inside Yemen, AQAP’s desire to focus on the Houthis and his group’s general approach to waging jihad. He also cites a text written by Ayman al Zawahiri to explain why AQAP cooperates with other Islamists inside Yemen.
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.
On Mar. 2, a new al Qaeda joint venture in West Africa was announced. The “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims” is led by Ansar Dine’s Iyad Ag Ghaly and is openly loyal to Ayman al Zawahiri. It brings together four groups that were already part of al Qaeda’s international network.
Al Qaeda has released a eulogy for Abu al Khayr al Masri, who was killed in a US airstrike in Idlib, Syria in late February. The eulogy emphasizes his close relationship with Osama bin Laden and his role as al Qaeda’s “representative” in meetings with the Taliban. Once in Syria, Masri was “honored” to oversee “combat operations” in the insurgents’ “management and planning rooms.”
The US killed al Qaeda veteran Abu al Khayr al Masri in a drone strike in Idlib, Syria in late February. Masri was identified as al Qaeda’s “general deputy” in July 2016. He worked to unite Syrian rebel groups under a common banner.
Al Qaeda agitated for Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman’s release from a US prison for more than 20 years. Rahman, whose teachings had a significant influence on al Qaeda’s development, was convicted in 1995 of conspiring to attack several New York City landmarks.
The State Department has designated Ibrahim al Banna as a terrorist. Al Banna has served as an al Qaeda official in Yemen since the 1990s. He originally joined the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) and has been one of Ayman al Zawahiri’s loyalists for decades.
The State Department announced today that Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza, has been added to the US government’s list of designated terrorists. Al Qaeda has released several messages from Hamza since Aug. 2015. He has threatened the West, said that all Muslims should support the jihad in Syria, and called for the Saudi government to be overthrown.
During a congressional hearing earlier today, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified that “violent extremism” — that is, jihadism — demands more intelligence collection and analysis now “than at any other point in history.”
The Pentagon has confirmed that Ahmed Salama Mabrouk was killed in an Oct. 3 airstrike in Syria’s Idlib province. According to Defense Department Press Secretary Peter Cook, Mabrouk was “one of Al Qaeda’s most senior leaders” and his death is “a blow to their ability to plot external attacks.” Mabrouk was one of the most senior officials in Jabhat Fath al Sham, al Qaeda’s rebranded branch in Syria.
Jabhat Fath al Sham, al Qaeda’s rebranded branch in Syria, announced earlier today that Ahmed Salama Mabrouk has been killed in an airstrike in Idlib. Mabrouk was an Egyptian al Qaeda veteran and served on Jabhat Fath al Sham’s elite shura council.
General John W. Nicholson Jr., who leads NATO’s Resolute Support and US Forces Afghanistan, said yesterday that the US is hunting al Qaeda in Afghanistan’s Kandahar, Zabul, Paktika, Ghazni, Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar provinces. His comments are just the latest indication that al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan has been underestimated.
Fifteen years after 9/11, Al Qaeda remains a threat to the West despite not carrying out a large-scale attack in years. The group is waging insurgencies in several countries and is far larger than it was on 9/11.
Anonymous Pakistani officials deny al Qaeda’s claim that General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s son was kidnapped and exchanged for Ayman al Zawahiri’s two daughters, a third woman and their children. But their denial raises a number of additional questions and only adds to the mystery.
Al Qaeda claims that two of Ayman al Zawahiri’s daughters and a third woman were exchanged for the son of Ashfaq Pervez Kayani in either late July or early August. The Long War Journal cannot independently verify the claim, but it is known that al Qaeda had been trying to exchange at least one kidnapped son of Pakistan’s elite for the women. Al Qaeda announced that the women and their children were released in early August.
Hamza bin Laden, Osama’s son, criticizes Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen in a newly released audio message. Hamza claims that the Saudi campaign has aided Houthi rebels by interfering in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s war against them. He calls on Muslims to overthrow the Saudi government.
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri blasts the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in a newly-released audio message, saying the organization has adopted secular ways.
A transcript of Abu Muhammad al Julani’s remarks yesterday shows that his statement has been misconstrued in the press.
In the ninth episode of the Islamic Spring video series, Ayman al Zawahiri says Uighur jihadists, who are from the Xinjiang region of China, have shown the ummah what mujahideen unity means in the face of international enemies. Zawahiri praises the deceased founder of the Turkistan Islamic Party, Hasan Mahsum, and his jihadist followers.
Ayman al Zawahiri has sworn allegiance to the Taliban’s new leader, Mullah Haibatullah. Zawahiri’s oath of bay’ah continues a tradition of al Qaeda’s leaders swearing their fealty to the Taliban’s top man.
The Turkistan Islamic Party released an audio message from its leader, Abdul Haq, on May 30. The message is the latest indication that Abdul Haq survived a US drone strike in 2010. The man identified as Haq blasts the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in 2015. Haq claims the IMU has “disappeared” since.
Hamzah bin Laden calls for jihadist unity and says the jihad in Syria is key to “liberating” Palestine from the Jews. He says Muslims everywhere should participate in the Palestinians’ “intifada.”
Al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, As Sahab, has released a new audio message from Ayman al Zawahiri. The al Qaeda emir discusses his organization’s goal of establishing an Islamic emirate in Syria, calls for “unity” among the mujahideen, and heaps praise on Al Nusrah Front.
AQIS quickly claimed responsibility for the murder of a prominent LGBT activist, Xulhaz Mannan, and his friend in Bangladesh. Mannan worked for USAID and previously worked for the US Embassy for eight years. AQIS has targeted alleged “blasphemers” in Bangladesh as part of a campaign authorized by Ayman al Zawahiri.
The Al Nusrah Front confirmed today that Abu Firas al Suri, a veteran jihadist who served al Qaeda since the 1980s, was killed in a US airstrike on Apr. 3. A Pentagon spokesman recently explained that Al Nusrah has “ties” to al Qaeda, but this is not an adequate description of the relationship. Al Nusrah is one of al Qaeda’s regional branches and is openly loyal to Ayman al Zawahiri.