A report by the United Nations includes new details concerning the dispute between Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and al Qaeda’s senior leaders, including the role played by two veteran operatives living in Iran. The UN’s member states say that HTS is still in “contact” with al Qaeda’s leadership despite their heated disagreements, and that al Qaeda has even reinforced HTS with “military and explosives experts” sent from Afghanistan.
On Aug. 8, the State Department announced that it had increased its reward for information concerning the whereabouts of two veteran al Qaeda leaders: Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah and Saif al-Adel. Although State didn’t explain the move, there is evidence that the two al Qaeda managers were operating inside Iran as of 2017.
The State Department has amended the terrorist designation for Al Nusrah Front to include the “alias” Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS). State’s announcement indicates that the US government still considers HTS to be part of al Qaeda’s network, despite the jihadists’ vitriolic disputes over its formation. State didn’t explain its reasoning behind the move.
The US is seeking the extradition of Christian Ganczarski from France, where he has been imprisoned since 2003. A French court convicted Ganczarski on terror-related charges for his role in the Apr. 11, 2002 suicide bombing at a synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia. The bomber called Ganczarski beforehand to receive his “blessing.” A newly-released indictment focuses on Ganczarski’s other ties to al Qaeda, including a plot targeting American interests in Australia.
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.