Tag Archives: Muhammad al-Bahaya

U.S. Treasury Targets Al-Qaeda in Syria

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on February 24, 2017

The U.S. Treasury on Thursday imposed sanctions on two senior operatives associated with al-Qaeda in Syria (AQS). This is undoubtedly part of the escalating campaign against AQS. The two men are interesting on their own account, however, and give a glimpse at some of the things that have shaped jihadism across the Fertile Crescent. In the one case, that of Iyad Nazmi Salih Khalil, better-known as Iyad al-Tubaysi or Abu Julaybib, this history begins with the earliest days of the Islamic State (IS), from which AQS splintered, in Iraq before Saddam Husayn was deposed. The other case, that of Bassam al-Hasri (Abu Umar al-Filistini), highlights the events at the outset of the Syrian uprising, when the regime of Bashar al-Assad set in motion its strategic plan to militarize and radicalize the nascent insurgency in order to present the population and the world a binary choice—the dictator or a terrorist takeover. Continue reading

The Coalition Strikes Down Al-Qaeda’s Leaders In Syria

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 20, 2017

Muhsin al-Fadhli [top-left]; Abdul al-Sharikh (Sanafi an-Nasr) [bottom-left]; Radwan Nammous (Abu Firas al-Suri) [centre]; David Drugeon [top-right]; Rifai Taha (Abu Yasser al-Masri) [bottom-right]

Since September 2014, the U.S.-led Coalition has been targeting the leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, which has since rebranded as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS). Below is a list of the Qaeda-linked individuals killed in Coalition air attacks since 2014. It will be updated and kept as a rolling record of the ongoing campaign. Continue reading

The Fall of the Islamic State’s Terrorism Director

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on August 31, 2016

Taha Falaha (Abu Muhammad al-Adnani) in al-Naba

Taha Falaha (Abu Muhammad al-Adnani) in al-Naba

The Islamic State confirmed yesterday, via their “news” agency Amaq, that Taha Subhi Falaha had been killed in Aleppo. Falaha had gained global notoriety under his kunya, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, after his September 2014 speech calling on Muslims in the West to “kill any disbeliever” in range, and to at least “spit in his face” if one was unable to find a knife or a car or a rock to do murder with.

Falaha was often referred to as the spokesman of IS, and so he was—the voice of the organization since 2011. He was also from the first generation of the organization, recruited before the invasion of Iraq, one of the few within the organization of that stature. But, as I explained recently in a paper for the Henry Jackson Society that compiled what is known of IS’s leadership, Falaha was much more than a figurehead.

Falaha was the governor of IS-held areas in Syria and the man who oversaw the external terrorist attacks. By now he was the caliph’s effective deputy. Heretofore, IS’s impressive bureaucracy has managed to replace individuals with minimal perturbation. IS will experience few perturbations quite like this.
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ISIS’s Spokesman Denounces Al-Qaeda’s Leader, Claims ISIS Is The Victim

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 13, 2014

The spokesman of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, gave a speech via audio message on 11 May 2014, entitled “Udhran emir al-Qaeda” (Apologies, emir of al-Qaeda). Al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, disowned ISIS, al-Qaeda’s prior Iraqi branch, in February, and then gave an extended statement a few days ago that placed blame for the schism squarely on ISIS. Al-Adnani’s speech was a response to al-Zawahiri, and it was among ISIS’s most stern attacks on al-Qaeda so far. Al-Adnani denounced al-Zawahiri for allegedly deviating from the outlook of Usama bin Ladin. Al-Adnani called on al-Zawahiri to reverse his ruling that accepted Jabhat al-Nusra’s split from ISIS. Al-Nusra has rebelliously broken its pledge of allegiance to ISIS, al-Adnani says, and al-Zawahiri’s duty was to side with ISIS against this renegade—not to join in a campaign of sedition and conspiracy against ISIS. Most intriguingly, al-Adnani denied that ISIS had ever been, in a formal sense, subordinate to al-Qaeda. Rather, says al-Adnani, ISIS had placed itself in a position of voluntarily labelling themselves as al-Qaeda and accepting the advice of the “elders of jihad” in order to unite the ranks of the jihadists. But, says al-Adnani, this was not a command relationship for ISIS’s internal affairs: witness, al-Adnani says, ISIS’s refusal to listen to al-Qaeda’s order to cease attacking Shi’i civilians. Though, says al-Adnani, ISIS did obey al-Qaeda in external matters, specifically not targeting Iran, where al-Qaeda has an important facilitation network that serves as its supply line from Afghanistan-Pakistan to the Arab world. Al-Adnani’s speech was translated today by Musa Cerantonio, an Australian convert to Islam who is one of ISIS’s most important international propagandist-recruiters. Al-Adnani’s speech is reprinted below. Continue reading

Al-Qaeda Rules on the Dispute Between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on April 3, 2014

Ayman al-Zawahiri, September 2013, AFP/Getty Images

Ayman al-Zawahiri, September 2013, AFP/Getty Images

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the then-Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), released an audio statement on 8 April 2013 asserting his authority over Jabhat al-Nusra, which was set up as the Syrian wing of ISI. Al-Nusra’s leader, Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, rejected al-Baghdadi’s hostile takeover on 10 April and swore allegiance—renewed, in his telling—to al-Qaeda. The leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, ruled on this matter in a letter dated 23 May 2013, which was released to, and translated by, al-Jazeera, on 9 June 2013. Al-Zawahiri’s letter is reprinted below with some editions for clarity and some important sections highlighted in bold. Continue reading