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.
Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), a newly formed group that includes al Qaeda’s Syrian arm, launched a complex assault on the Assad regime’s security services in the city of Homs earlier today. A high-ranking military intelligence official was killed in the suicide raid.
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.
Abd al-Jalil al-Muslimi waged jihad in Afghanistan and Yemen, and had “extensive and long-standing ties to numerous al Qaeda external operations planners and terrorists” before he was killed, according tot he US military. Mohammad Habib Boussadoun al-Tunisi was an external operations leader who plotted against the West.
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 US Treasury Department designated Dr. Abdallah Muhammad al Muhaysini and three other jihadists in Syria today. All four of them have worked for Al Nusrah Front, now known as Jabhat Fath al Sham (JFS), which is al Qaeda’s arm in Syria. Muhaysini claims to be an “independent” cleric, but Treasury says he is part of Al Nusrah’s “inner leadership circle.”
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.