In the UNSC’s new report on the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and affiliated groups, the UN states that the Uzbek jihadist group, the Islamic Jihad Union, operates in Syria. This was not previously known.
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.
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.
A B-52 bomber and a number of remotely piloted aircraft pounded an al Qaeda camp in Syria. The US has already launched five attacks against al Qaeda’s network in Syria since the beginning of 2017.
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.
Sham al Islam, a group founded by former Moroccan detainees at Guantanamo Bay, has merged with a local Syrian faction in order to “unify the ranks” and to “protect the jihad” in Syria.
Jund al Aqsa, a US and UN designated terrorist organization, was subsumed by al Qaeda’s rebranded Syrian branch in early October. The group had deep ties to al Qaeda’s fundraising network in the Gulf prior to the merger.
The Defense Department announced today that Haydar Kirkan, a veteran al Qaeda operative who was plotting against the West, was killed in an airstrike in Idlib, Syria on Oct. 17. Kirkan was one of several al Qaeda leaders targeted in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen during the month of October. The Pentagon emphasized that the airstrikes demonstrate the “transregional nature” of al Qaeda.
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.
Jund al Aqsa has sworn allegiance to Jabhat Fath al Sham, al Qaeda’s rebranded branch in Syria. Jund al Aqsa itself is an al Qaeda front group. The move comes after weeks of infighting between Jund al Aqsa and other groups opposed to Bashar al Assad’s regime.
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.
The State Department has designated Jund al Aqsa in Syria as a terrorist organization. The Long War Journal previously exposed Jund al Aqsa as an al Qaeda front group. Al Qaeda veterans have been embedded within the organization and Jund al Aqsa’s “general command” remains loyal to al Qaeda’s leaders.
The State Department has designated Omar Diaby, who has recruited French men and women to wage jihad in Syria, as a terrorist. Diaby faked his death in 2015 so he could receive treatment for wounds he suffered. He resurfaced earlier this year. Diaby is infamous for producing a series of videos under the brand “19HH.” The videos have explicitly marketed his loyalty to al Qaeda.
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.