The jihad in Syria has unleashed another leadership crisis for al Qaeda.
The US has released a video from Hamza bin Laden’s wedding, providing a more recent image of Osama’s heir than was previously available. The video was recovered during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011. FDD’s Long War Journal assesses that the wedding likely took place inside Iran, where Hamza was detained until being released sometime in 2010.
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.
The US government announced the transfer of two Libyans from Guantanamo to the Republic of Senegal. Both of the men were allegedly members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and worked for al Qaeda prior to their detention. JTF-GTMO found both to be “high” risks. President Obama’s Guantanamo Review Task Force previously deemed one of them “too dangerous” to transfer.
An al Qaeda media operative known as Shaybat al Hukama returned to Twitter on Feb. 15 after having his previous accounts suspended. Hukama has implied that Saif al Adel, a senior al Qaeda leader wanted for his alleged role in the 1998 US Embassy bombings, is in Syria to lead the fight against the Russians.
Five veteran jihadists, including three members of al Qaeda’s management council, have reportedly been released from custody in Iran as part of a hostage exchange. The details of their detention and release from Iranian custody are murky.
On Nov. 28, a DC district court ruled that Iran and Sudan were culpable for al Qaeda’s 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. The attacks killed more than 200 people and were al Qaeda’s most successful operations prior to 9/11.
Al Qaeda’s interim emir is reportedly Saif al Adel, a longtime member of al Qaeda and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Al Adel has a decades-long relationship with Iran and was protected by the Iranians after 9/11.