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.