A group of jihadist ideologues, including a sharia official in the Al Nusrah Front, have called on Ayman al Zawahiri to address the specific problems that the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) has caused inside Syria.
The message, which was obtained by The Long War Journal, is being disseminated on Twitter. A photo of Zawahiri next to a sealed envelope, shown above, as well as a hashtag are accompanying the message. Oren Adaki, a research associate and Arabic language specialist at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has provided a translation of the missive.
The ideologues argue that the infighting has led the jihad in Syria astray.
Abu Firas al Suri, a senior al Qaeda operative, was sent to Syria from Yemen in 2013. According to the Al Nusrah Front, Al Suri served as an “envoy” for Osama bin Laden and helped establish Lashkar-e-Taiba. The picture above is from an Al Nusrah Front video
A recently released video produced by the Al Nusrah Front features Abu Firas al Suri, an al Qaeda veteran who has waged jihad since the late 1970s. In his video debut, al Suri criticizes the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS), a jihadist group that has been disowned by al Qaeda’s senior leadership. The Al Nusrah Front is al Qaeda’s official branch inside Syria and has been openly fighting ISIS both online and on the ground.
Abu Firas is one of the senior al Qaeda officials who was entrusted to mediate the dispute, but those efforts have failed.
“I was not intending to talk about the State (ISIS) and about its crimes against the Islamic ummah and against Islam,” Abu Firas says in the video, according to a translation obtained by The Long War Journal. However, an ISIS leader known as Abu Muhammad al Adnani recently accused Abu Abdallah al Shami, a Nusrah Front official, of “lying and slander.” Al Adnani also called for Allah to curse the lying party in the dispute, by which al Adnani meant the Al Nusrah Front.
Abu Firas says that al Adani’s speech, which was widely disseminated online, was “devastating” and therefore he had to respond.
Shortly before Abu Khalid al Suri (whose real name was Mohamed Bahaiah) was killed, Abu Firas says the two met. Abu Khalid claimed to have received prior warnings about an impending attack on him by ISIS. “They put me on the black list and they want to assassinate me,” Abu Khalid said, according to Abu Firas’ account.
Abu Firas claims he warned Abu Khalid to take special precautions, but the attack was successful the day after they met, on Feb. 23.
Abu Khalid al Suri worked with Abu Firas to end the disagreement between ISIS and the Al Nusrah Front. But all he did was earn ISIS’ enmity.
Another senior al Qaeda official in Syria, a Saudi known as Sanafi al Nasr, has made similar claims on his Twitter feed. Nasr has claimed that Abu Khalid al Suri warned him about ISIS’ threats just two weeks prior to the suicide bombing. [See LWJ report, Head of al Qaeda ‘Victory Committee’ in Syria.]
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades and the Al Nusrah Front in Lebanon have claimed joint responsibility for rocket attacks on Hezbollah’s “strongholds.” On March 8, both groups published the same statement claiming credit for the attacks on their respective Twitter feeds.
The six Grad rockets “targeted strongholds of the Party of Iran [Hezbollah] in the Lebanese area of Hermel … in response to the Party of Iran killing our people in Syria and continuing to oppress our people in Lebanon especially our brothers the prisoners,” the statement reads. The statement was first obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The war in Syria has led to a string of attacks against Iranian interests in Lebanon. Hezbollah is backed by the Iranian government and Bashar al Assad’s regime.
The Al Nusrah Front is al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria and has expanded its operations into Lebanon and throughout the Levant. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades was established by terrorists with ties to al Qaeda’s senior leadership, as well as al Qaeda in Iraq.
The two al Qaeda-affiliated groups have launched rocket attacks on Hezbollah positions in Hermel on three occasions since December 2013, according to SITE. Hermel is located close to the Syrian border in the Bekaa Valley, which is dominated by Hezbollah.
On Feb. 19, two suicide bombers from the Abdullah Azzam Brigades attacked the Iranian cultural center in Beirut, killing five people and wounding more than a dozen more. The group issued a statement on March 7 saying that an “error” during the bomb detonations led to the deaths of civilians. The statement showed a clear sensitivity to civilian casualties, stressing that the al Qaeda-linked group’s “war” is with Hezbollah and that “its interests … are legitimate targets.”
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula executed one of its members at dawn today. Yemeni media sources reported that an unidentified man was found dead this morning, his body hanging on a pole in a soccer field in the coastal city of Al Shajar in Hadramout province. Arabic-language news reports confirmed that the man was shot in the head before being hanged for all to see. The Yemeni media said the location where the corpse was found was the site of an American drone strike on Dec. 24, 2013 that killed five Yemenis.
The man was apparently killed because it was suspected that he was working with the Americans. An al Qaeda flag and black banners were found beside his body reading, “American Spy in the Arabian Peninsula,” and “Whoever fights with the government or cooperates with it is not a Yemeni, not a Hadrami, but a traitor.” Another banner read, “Guider of American planes to kill Muslims.”
Arabic reports also claimed that AQAP sources alleged that the man had planted microphones in AQAP vehicles and meeting places in order to guide American drone missiles. Additionally, AQAP operatives have reportedly disseminated flyers to locals in al Shajar warning that the “punishment” meted out to the man will be the fate of anyone who cooperates with the Americans.
This execution comes on the heels of the latest American drone strike in Yemen, on March 5, in which al Qaeda commander Ali Juraym was killed [see LWJ report, US drones kill al Qaeda operative who fought in Iraq]. Photograph & video of man executed by AQAP [Warning: graphic]