A series of clashes broke out on 19 January between al-Qaeda’s rebranded Syrian branch, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS), and its heretofore close ally and portal into the Syrian rebellion, Ahrar al-Sham. By 23 January, JFS had expanded its targets, engaging in hostilities with mainstream rebel groups in the “Greater Idlib” area, and specifically trying—and succeeding—in dismantling the positions of Jaysh al-Mujahideen, a moderate group, west of Aleppo. The crisis continued to escalate, forcing many groups to merge with Ahrar al-Sham for protection, until 28 January, when a JFS-led merger was announced under the banner of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), or the Syrian Liberation Committee. HTS announced a ceasefire, and since then individuals and groups—including a significant number from Ahrar—have given allegiance to HTS. This radical reshaping of revolutionary dynamics in northern Syria has undoubtedly created antibodies going forward against al-Qaeda that could be capitalized on by the international community, but the present situation is highly favourable to al-Qaeda. Continue reading
A profile of Umar Hadid, published on an Islamic State forum, is reproduced below with some interesting and important sections highlighted in bold. Hadid—variously known as Abu Khattab al-Falluji, Abu Khattab al-Ansari, and Abu Khattab al-Iraqi—was a native of Fallujah who took up Salafism in the late 1990s during the rule of Saddam Husayn, leading to clashes with the security forces and Hadid going into internal exile. After the fall of Saddam, Hadid quickly linked up with the elite circles of the nascent Islamic State movement, including its leader Ahmad al-Khalayleh (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi), his deputy Umar Yusef al-Juma (Abu Anas al-Shami), the military leader Mustafa Ramadan Darwish (Abu Muhammad al-Lubnani) and Abu Raghd who set up the Rawa Camp in Anbar Province, said to be the first terrorist training facility of the Iraqi jihad, and Abdallah Najem al-Jawari (Abu Azzam al-Iraqi), the chief financier and Anbar governor in 2004 before being appointed emir of Baghdad in 2005. Hadid was the leader of the insurgency in the two battles at Fallujah in 2004, being killed during the second of them. Continue reading
Originally published at The Henry Jackson Society
The Islamic State (IS) has named a new official spokesman, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir. Abu Hassan is the fourth man to hold the position of spokesman within the IS movement, and the third since it declared statehood in 2006. Very little is known about Abu Hassan but assessing the history of IS’s media enterprise offers some hints about his profile. In this regard, a new paper by Dr. Craig Whiteside of the International Centre for Counter Terrorism Terrorism is instructive. Looking forward, examining Abu Hassan’s inaugural speech offers some clues about the direction IS’s messaging and behaviour will take now as its statelet shrinks under pressure from the U.S.-led Coalition. Continue reading
An Islamic State (ISIS) commander was killed in Libya in mid-June, The Daily Beast reported yesterday, after being “paraded … through the streets amid the taunts of onlookers, and then walked … to a gallows, where he was hanged.” This occurred in the eastern city of Derna, long a hotbed of Islamic militancy. The crucial thing about the “executed” ISIS operative is that he was an Iraqi and an FRE—a former (Saddam) regime element—who had been dispatched to Libya last year to oversee the cultivation of an ISIS branch.
Al-Qaeda expelled the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from its ranks on February 3, 2014. This was the culmination of a dispute that broke into the public eye with ISIS’s declaration in April 2013, an effort by ISIS’s emir, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to formally subsume the secret Syrian wing of the then-Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), known as Jabhat an-Nusra, under his own banner, and the rejection of both al-Nusra’s leadership and al-Qaeda’s to this move. In truth, the schism between ISIS and al-Qaeda has its roots all the way back to the beginning, when ISIS became al-Qaeda’s Iraqi branch, al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQM), in 2004.
Below is the transcript of the audio address by al-Baghdadi, released by al-Furqan on 8 April 2013, entitled, “Give Good News to the Believers: The Declaration of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. Some transliterations have been altered, the syntax has been cleared up, and some interesting or important sections highlighted in bold. Continue reading