Clashes have erupted today between al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS), and its heretofore-inseparable ally, Ahrar al-Sham. For the overall insurgency, the bodes ill, in the short-term, but there might be some long-term political advantages if JFS isolates itself from the wider opposition. Continue reading
On 6 January 2017, pro-al-Qaeda channels distributed a statement, with the picture above, written by Abu Mahmud al-Filistini.1 Abu Mahmud writes of a young jihadist, Abd al-Rahman, who had, after joining the Islamic State (IS), not been fully seduced by their ideology and had maintained contact with Abu Mahmud. At a certain point, however, Abd al-Rahman accepted IS’s ideology and recently killed himself in a suicide bombing against insurgent forces in Syria. It is not clear whether the insurgents referred to are rebels or Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS), al-Qaeda’s rebranded Syrian branch, which was until recently known as Jabhat al-Nusra. The statement is reproduced below with some minor editions, for the sake of clarity, to transliterations and punctuation. Continue reading
On 5 January 2017, the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, gave a speech, “To Other Than Allah, We Will Not Bow: Brief Messages To A Victorious Nation, Part 5”. Today, al-Qaeda channels put out an English translation. The emphasis of the speech was restating al-Qaeda’s creed and methodology, specifically as it differs from that of the Islamic State (IS). One noticeable point was al-Zawahiri’s admonition against IS’s genocidal approach to the Shi’a: lay Shi’is should not be harmed, al-Zawahiri says; rather, their leaders should be killed for misguiding them and the masses converted to Sunnism. Al-Zawahiri also reiterates that al-Qaeda remains focused on the West and determined to carry out terrorism against it—regardless of whatever short-term strategic calculations currently have al-Qaeda de-emphasizing this aspect of its worldview and conduct. The speech is reproduced below with some transliteration editions and some sections bolded for emphasis. Continue reading
Abu al-Abed Ashidaa was, on 1 December 2016, appointed to lead all insurgent forces, under the banner of al-Jaysh al-Halab (The Army of Aleppo), in the besieged enclave of eastern Aleppo City. The city’s defences collapsed to the coalition of forces—namely Russia and Iran—supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad on 12 December, and on 22 December the deportation of 40,000 people from the enclave to Idlib was completed. On 29 December, Abu al-Abed gave a speech explaining the reasons as he saw them for the fall of Aleppo City. Today, insurgent channels in Syria circulated an English summary, which is reproduced below with some editions in transliterations and some interesting sections highlighted in bold. Continue reading
In the past few days, news has circulated of an impending merger between the rebranded al-Qaeda branch in Syria Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS) and several rebel groups, Ahrar al-Sham and Harakat Nooradeen al-Zengi among them. Labib al-Nahhas (Abu Ezzeddine al-Ansari) is the leader of the Political and External Affairs bureau within Ahrar al-Sham. In mid-to-late 2015, al-Nahhas led an effort to recast Ahrar as a mainstream actor in the insurgency that was in any case too large to avoid engaging, a characterization of the organization that is, to say the least, open to challenge. Al-Nahhas is sincerely opposed to Ahrar merging with JFS, however, for the simple reason that he can see it is political suicide: it is the end of any degree (and there hasn’t been much as it is) of Western support for the Syrian armed opposition; once the insurgency is formally attached to al-Qaeda, the only question will be the extent of the Western support for efforts to put it down. Continue reading
The forty-first edition of the Islamic State’s newsletter, al-Naba, was released within the territory of the caliphate on 30 July 2016 and released online on 2 August; it and the forty-second edition (released 6 and 9 August) contained an obituary for Abdurrahman al-Qaduli (Abu Ali al-Anbari), the caliph’s deputy, who was killed on 25 March. The German version of the third issue of the Islamic State’s Rumiyah magazine on 11 November contained this obituary. Below is a very rough translation. Some interesting or important sections have been highlighted in bold. The subheadings are mine.