Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

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al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
القاعدة في جزيرة العرب
Participant in the al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen,
the Yemeni Revolution, the Yemeni Civil War, and
the Global War on Terror
AQMI Flag asymmetric.svg

The Black Standard used by AQAP
Active January 2009 – present[1]
Ideology Salafism[2]

Qutbism[2]

Leaders Nasir al-Wuhayshi   (2011–15)[3]
Qasim al-Raymi (2015–Present)[4]
Headquarters Mukalla, Hadhramaut Governorate[5](2015-2016)
Zinjibar, Abyan Governorate (2015-2016)[6]
Area of operations Yemen;

Strength
Part of al-Qaeda
Merger of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia and Islamic Jihad of Yemen
Allies
Opponents State opponents

Non-state opponents

Battles and wars Yemeni Insurgency

Yemeni Civil War (2015–present)

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Arabic: تنظيم القاعدة في جزيرة العرب‎, translit. Tanẓīm al-Qā‘idah fī Jazīrat al-‘Arab, lit. ‘al-Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula’‎ or تنظيم قاعدة الجهاد في جزيرة العرب‎, Tanẓīm Qā‘idat al-Jihād fī Jazīrat al-‘Arab, “Organization of Jihad’s Base in the Arabian Peninsula”), or AQAP, also known as Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen (Arabic: جماعة أنصار الشريعة‎‎, Jamā‘at Anṣār ash-Sharī‘ah, “Group of the Helpers of the Sharia”),[21] is a militant Islamist organization, primarily active in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. It was named for al-Qaeda, and says it is subordinate to that group and its now-deceased leader Osama bin Laden, a Saudi citizen of Yemeni heritage.[22] It is considered the most active[23] of al-Qaeda’s branches, or “franchises,” that emerged due to weakening central leadership.[24] The U.S government believes AQAP to be the most dangerous al-Qaeda branch due to its emphasis on attacking the far enemy and its reputation for plotting attacks on overseas targets.[25] The group established an Emirate during the 2011 Yemeni Revolution.

The group has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations, Australia, Canada, Russia, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the European Union, and the United States.

Ideology and formation[edit source]

Current territorial situation in Yemen. AQAP territory is shown in white, primarily in the Al Bayda and Hadhramaut provinces.

Like al-Qaeda Central, AQAP opposes the monarchy of the House of Saud.[26] AQAP was formed in January 2009 from a merger of al-Qaeda’s Yemeni and Saudi branches.[1] The Saudi group had been effectively suppressed by the Saudi government, forcing its members to seek sanctuary in Yemen.[27][28] In 2010, it was believed to have several hundred members.[1]

Transformation into an active al-Qaeda affiliate[edit source]

AQAP fighters in Yemen, 2014.

The percentage of terrorist plots in the West that originated from Pakistan declined considerably from most of them (at the outset), to 75% in 2007, and to 50% in 2010, as al-Qaeda shifted to Somalia and Yemen.[29]

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton formally designated al-Qaeda in Yemen a terrorist organization on December 14, 2009.[30] On August 24, 2010, The Washington Post journalist Greg Miller wrote that the CIA believed Yemen’s branch of al-Qaeda had surpassed its parent organization, Osama bin Laden’s core group, as al-Qaeda’s most dangerous threat to the U.S. homeland.[31]

On August 26, 2010, Yemen claimed that U.S. officials had exaggerated the size and danger of al-Qaeda in Yemen, insisting also that fighting the jihadist network’s local branch remained Sanaa’s job.[32] A former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden warned of an escalation in fighting between al-Qaeda and Yemeni authorities, and predicted the government would need outside intervention to stay in power.

However, Ahmed al-Bahri told the Associated Press that attacks by al-Qaeda in southern Yemen was an indication of its increasing strength.[33]

Operations and activities carried out as al-Qaeda in Yemen and Saudi Arabia[edit source]

Main article: USS Cole bombing

al-Qaeda was responsible for the USS Cole bombing in October 2000 in the southern port of Aden, killing 17 U.S. sailors.[26]In 2002, an al-Qaeda attack damaged a French supertanker in the Gulf of Aden.[26]

The Global Terrorism Database attributes the 2004 Khobar massacre to the group.[34] In this guise, it is also known as “The Jerusalem Squadron.”

In addition to a number of attacks in Saudi Arabia, and the kidnap and murder of Paul Marshall Johnson Jr. in Riyadh in 2004, the group is suspected in connection with a bombing in Doha, Qatar, in March 2005.[35] For a chronology of recent Islamist militant attacks in Saudi Arabia, see terrorism in Saudi Arabia.

Operations and activities carried out as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula[edit source]

2009[edit source]

In the 2009 Little Rock recruiting office shooting, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, formerly known as Carlos Leon Bledsoe, a Muslim convert who had spent time in Yemen, on June 1, 2009 opened fire with an SKS Rifle in a drive-by shooting on soldiers in front of a United States military recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas, in a jihad attack. He killed Private William Long, and wounded Private Quinton Ezeagwula. He said that he was affiliated with and had been sent by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.[36][37][38]

AQAP said it was responsible for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab‘s attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it approached Detroit on December 25, 2009.[39] In that incident, Abdulmutallab reportedly tried to set off plastic explosives sewn to his underwear, but failed to detonate them properly.[26]

2010[edit source]

On February 8, 2010, deputy leader Said Ali al-Shihri called for a regional holy war and blockade of the Red Sea to prevent shipments to Israel. In an audiotape he called upon Somalia‘s al-Shabaab militant group for assistance in the blockade.[40]

The 2010 cargo planes bomb plot was discovered on October 29, 2010, when two packages containing bombs found on cargo aircraft, based on intelligence received from government intelligence agencies, in the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. The packages originated from Yemen, and were addressed to outdated addresses of two Jewish institutions in Chicago, Illinois, one of which was the Congregation Or Chadash, a LGBT synagogue.[41] On October 30, 2010, On November 5, 2010, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took responsibility for the plot.[42] It posted its acceptance of responsibility on a number of radical Islamist websites monitored by the SITE Intelligence Group and the Nine Eleven Finding Answers Foundation, and wrote: “We will continue to strike blows against American interests and the interest of America’s allies.” It also claimed responsibility for the crash of a UPS Boeing 747-400 cargo plane in Dubai on September 3. The statement continued: “since both operations were successful, we intend to spread the idea to our mujahedeen brothers in the world and enlarge the circle of its application to include civilian aircraft in the West as well as cargo aircraft.”[42][43][44][45]American authorities had said they believed that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was behind the plot.[41] Officials in the United Kingdom and the United States believe that it is most likely that the bombs were designed to destroy the planes carrying them.[46]

In November 2010, the group announced a strategy, called “Operation Hemorrhage”, which it said was designed to capitalize on the “security phobia that is sweeping America.” The program would call for a large number of inexpensive, small-scale attacks against United States interests, with the intent of weakening the U.S. economy.[47]

2012[edit source]

AQAP guards standing out of one of their buildings.

On 21 May 2012, a soldier wearing a belt of explosives carried out a suicide attack on military personnel preparing for a parade rehearsal for Yemen’s Unity Day. With over 120 people dead and 200 more injured, the attack was the deadliest in Yemeni history.[48] AQAP claimed responsibility for the attack.[49]

During the June 2012 al Qaeda retreat from key southern Yemen stronghold, the organization planted land mines, which killed 73 civilians.[50]According to the governor’s office in Abyan province, 3,000 mines were removed from around Zinjibar and Jaar.[50]

2013[edit source]

On 5 December 2013, an attack on the Yemeni Defense Ministry in Sana’a involving a series of bomb and gun attacks killed at least 56 people.[51] After footage of the attack was aired on Yemeni television, showing an attack on a hospital within the ministry compound and the killing of medical personnel and patients, the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a video message apologizing. Qasim al-Raymi claimed that the team of attackers were directed not to assault the hospital in the attack, but that one had gone ahead and done so.[52]

2014[edit source]

On 9 May 2014, several soldiers from Yemen were killed after a skirmish sparked when a vehicle attacked a palace gate.[53]

The group also publishes the online magazines Voice of Jihad and Inspire.[citation needed]

In New Zealand it is listed as a terror group.[54]

In December 2014, the group released a video depicting Luke Somers, a journalist whom they were holding hostage.[55] On 26 November, U.S. Navy SEALs and Yemeni special forces attempted a hostage rescue where eight hostages, none American, were freed, but Luke Somers and four others had been moved to another location by AQAP prior to the raid. The nationalities of the eight hostages rescued were six Yemenis, one Saudi, and one Ethiopian. On 6 December, 40 SEALs used V-22 Ospreys to land a distance from the compound where Somers and Korkie were kept at about 1 a.m. local time, according to a senior defense official. An AQAP fighter apparently spotted them while relieving himself outside, a counter-terrorism official with knowledge of the operation told ABC News, beginning a firefight that lasted about 10 minutes. According to CBS News, dog barking could have alerted the hostage takers of the operation. When the American soldiers finally entered the building where Somers and Korkie were kept, they found both men alive, but gravely wounded. Korkie and Somers died some minutes later despite attempts to save them.

2015[edit source]

On 7 January 2015, Saïd Kouachi and Chérif Kouachi attacked French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, resulting in 11 French citizens killed and another 11 injured. The French-born brothers of Algerian descent stated they were members of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, to an eyewitness.[56] On 9 January, AQAP confirmed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo shooting in a speech from top Shariah cleric Harith bin Ghazi al-Nadhari. The reason given was to gain “revenge for the honor” of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.[57]

Mukalla[edit source]

On 2 April 2015, AQAP fighters stormed the coastal city of Mukalla, capturing it on the 16th of April after the two week Battle of Mukalla. They seized government buildings and used trucks to cart off more than $120 million from the central bank, according to the bank’s director. AQAP forces soon passed control to a civilian council, giving it a budget of more than $4 million to provide services to residents of the city. AQAP maintained a police station in the city to mediate Sharia disputes, but avoided imposing its rule across the city. AQAP refrained from using its name, instead using the name the ‘Sons of Hadhramaut’ to emphasize its ties to the surrounding province.[58] Mukalla was recaptured by the Saudi-led coalition on 25 April 2016.

2016[edit source]

2017[edit source]

Remarks of Algeria atrocities by France acknowledged by Emmanuel Macron was mentioned in an article in the publication Al-Masra by the terrorist group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.[59][60] The French colonial rule in Algeria was mentioned.[61][62][63]

Fall of Zinjibar and Jaar[edit source]

In 2 December 2015, the provincial capital of Abyan Governorate, Zinjibar, and the town of Jaʿār were captured by AQAP fighters. Like Al Mukala, AQAP forces soon passed control to a civilian council, police patrols and other public services.[64]

Southern Abyan Offensive[edit source]

In 20 February 2016, AQAP seized the southern Abyan governance, linking them with their headquarters in Mukalla.[65]

Ansar al-Sharia[edit source]

AQAP fighters in Yemen.

In the wake of the 2011 Yemeni Revolution and the Battle of Zinjibar, an Islamist insurgent organisation called Ansar al-Sharia (Yemen) (Supporters of Islamic Law), emerged in Yemen and seized control of areas in the Abyan Governorate and surrounding governorates in southern Yemen and declared them an Islamist Al-Qaeda Emirate in Yemen. There was heavy fighting with the Yemeni security forces over the control of these territories, with Ansar al-Sharia driven out of most of their territory over 2012.[66]

In April 2011, Shaykh Abu Zubayr Adil bin Abdullah al-Abab, AQAP’s chief religious figure, explained the name change as a re-branding exercise: “the name Ansar al-Sharia is what we use to introduce ourselves in areas where we work to tell people about our work and goals.”[67]

On 4 October 2012, the United Nations 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee and the United States Department of State designated Ansar al-Sharia as an alias for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.[21] The State Department described the establishment of Ansar al-Sharia as an attempt to attract followers in areas of Yemen where AQAP had been able to establish territorial control and implement its interpretation of Sharia.[21]

U.S. drone strikes[edit source]

Main article: Targeted killing

Predator drone

In 2010 the White House was reported to be considering using the CIA’s armed MQ-1 Predator drones to fight Al-Qaeda in Yemen.[citation needed]

A CIA targeted killing drone strike killed Kamal Derwish, an American citizen, and a group of al-Qaida operatives (including Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi) in Yemen in November 2002. Drones became shorthand in Yemen for a weak government allowing foreign forces to have their way.[68]

On September 30, 2011, a US drone attack in Yemen resulted in the death of Anwar al-Awlaki, one of the group’s leaders, and Samir Khan, the editor of Inspire, its English-language magazine.[69] Both were US citizens.[70]

The pace of US drone attacks quickened significantly in 2012, with over 20 strikes in the first five months of the year, compared to 10 strikes during the course of 2011.[71]

Over the period 19–21 April 2014, a series of drone attacks on AQAP killed dozens of militants, and at least 3 civilians.[72][73][74][75][76] A spokesperson for the Yemeni Supreme Security Committee described the attacks, which included elements of the Yemeni army as well as US drones, as “massive and unprecedented”.[77] The attacks were alleged to have targeted AQAP leadership, with a major AQAP base in Wadi al-Khayala reported to have been destroyed.[78]

From March 1 through March 8, 2017, the US conducted 45 airstrikes against AQAP, a record amount of airstrikes conducted against the group by the US in recent history. The airstrikes were reported to have killed hundreds of AQAP militants.[79][80] The US continued its airstrikes afterward. Around 1–2 April 2017, the US carried out another 20 airstrikes, increasing the total number of airstrikes against AQAP in 2017 to 75, nearly double previously yearly record of 41 airstrikes in 2009.[81]

Senior leaders[edit source]

Nasir al-Wuhayshi, former leader and founder of AQAP. He was later killed by an airstrike in June 2015.

  • Killed in November 3, 2014
Name Position Situation
Nasir al-Wuhayshi  Former Emir and founder of AQAP
  • Founder and former Emir of AQAP[1]
  • Deputy leader and General Manager of al-Qaeda[82][83]
  • Killed in a drone strike in June 2015[3][4]
Qasim al-Raymi Emir and former military commander
  • Senior military commander in AQAP[84][85]
  • In 2007, he and AQAP leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi announced the emergence of al-Qaida in Yemen, AQAP’s predecessor group[86]
  • He played an important role in recruiting the current generation of militants making up the Yemen-based AQAP[86]
  • Succeeded Nasir al-Wuhayshi as leader of AQAP.[4]
Abu Hamza al-Zinjibari   former military commander in the Abyan region
  • Senior military commander in AQAP
  • He played an important role during the AQAP battles in the Abyan province
  • Succeeded by his brother Tawfiq Belaidi
  • Killed in a drone strike in February 4, 2016
Said Ali al-Shihri  Deputy Emir
  • Deputy leader and highest ranking Saudi official in AQAP[87]
  • Was a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay until released to Saudi Arabia in November 2007[88]
  • Killed in a drone strike in 2013[89]
Khalid Batarfi Senior commander
Ibrahim al-Rubaysh  Mufti
  • He was reported to be AQAP’s mufti.[93]
  • Also served as a senior advisor for AQAP operational planning, and was involved in the planning of attacks.[94]
  • Detaineed at Guantanamo Bay until December 2006 when he was handed over to Saudi Arabian authorities, he subsequently escaped to Yemen[95]
  • Killed in a drone strike in April 2015[96]
Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi  Deputy General Manager
  • al-Ansi became an appointed Deputy General Manager of Al-Qaeda in 2010.[97]
  • al-Ansi was a senior ranking Shari’a official within AQAP.
  • He claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo shooting on behalf of AQAP[98]
  • Killed in a drone strike in April 2015[99]
Anwar al-Awlaki  Chief of External Operations
  • Senior recruiter and involved in organizing external operations to be conducted for AQAP[100][101][102]
  • Killed in a drone strike in September 2011[103]
Harith bin Ghazi al-Nadhari  Senior Shari’a official
  • Senior ranking Shari’a official within AQAP.
  • He rebuked the Islamic State announcement of expanding their caliphate into Yemen and renewed loyalties to al-Qaeda and its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri[18]
  • Killed in a drone strike in January 2015[104]
Ibrahim al-Banna Chief of Security
  • Has served as AQAP’s chief of security[105]
  • He is a founding member of AQAP and provides military and security guidance to the AQAP leadership[105]
  • He was added to the U.S. State Department’s Rewards for Justice list on October 19, 2014.[106][107]
  • He appeared in a video in December 2015.[108]
Othman al-Ghamdi  Operational commander
  • Al-Ghamdi has been involved in raising funds for the organization’s operations and activities in Yemen.[109]
  • Al-Ghamdi appeared in a video released in May 2010, where he was identified publicly as AQAP’s operational commander.[109]
  • He was a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay from April 2006 to June 2006 until he was handed over to Saudi Arabian authorities and subsequently released.[102]
  • Quietly removed from the U.S. State Department’s Rewards for Justice list in January 2016.[110]
  • In March 2016, the State Department confirmed to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism that al-Ghamdi no longer “posed a threat to U.S. persons or interests.”[111]
Ibrahim al-Asiri Explosives expert
Ibrahim al-Qosi AQAP Shura council member[115]
  • al-Qosi was a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay from January 2002 to July 2012 until he was handed over to Sudan after serving a short sentence as part of a plea bargain.
  • He appeared in a video released in December 2015.[116]

Members[edit source]

The group has taken advantage of Yemen’s “slow collapse into near-anarchy. Widespread corruption, growing poverty and internal fragmentation have helped make Yemen a breeding ground for terror.”[117] More than two years later, on April 25, 2012, a suspected US drone strike killed Mohammed Said al-Umdah, a senior AQAP member cited as the number four in the organization and one of the 2006 escapees. He had been convicted of the 2002 tanker bombing and for providing logistical and material support.[118]

Yemeni analyst, Barak Barfi, discounted claims that marriage between the militant group and Yemeni tribes is a widespread practice, though he states that the bulk of AQAP members hail from the tribes.[119]

AQAP is a popular choice for radicalized Americans seeking to join Islamist terror organizations overseas. In 2013 alone, at least three American citizens or permanent residents — Marcos Alonso Zea, Justin Kaliebe, and Shelton Thomas Bell — have attempted to join AQAP.[120] They count among over 50 Americans who have attempted to join terrorist groups overseas, including AQAP, since 2007.[120]

Reportedly, as many as 20 Islamist British nationals traveled to Yemen in 2009 to be trained by AQAP.[121] In February 2012, up to 500 Internationalistas from Somalia’s Al Shabaab, after getting cornered by a Kenyan offensive and conflict with Al Shabaab national legions, fled to Yemen.[122] It is likely that a number of this group merged with AQAP. The following is a list of people who have been purported to be AQAP members. Most, but not all, are or were Saudi nationals. Roughly half have appeared on Saudi “most wanted” lists. In the left column is the rank of each member in the original 2003 list of the 26 most wanted.

Most
wanted
English Arabic Notes
Yousif Saleh Fahd al-‘Uyayri (or Ayyiri, etc.) يوسف صالح فهد العييري leader, writer, and webmaster, killed June 2003 in Saudi Arabia[123]
3 Khalid Ali bin Ali Hajj خالد علي بن علي حاج leader, killed in Riyadh March or April 2004[124]
1 Abdulaziz Issa Abdul-Muhsin al-Muqrin عبد العزيز عيسى عبد المحسن المقرن leader, killed in Riyadh 18 June 2004[125][126][127]
5 Saleh Muhammad ‘Audhuallah al-‘Alawi al-Oufi صالح محمد عوض الله العلوي العوفي leader, killed 17 or 18 August 2005 in Madinah[128]
2 Rakan Muhsin Mohammed al-Saikhan راكان محسن محمد الصيخان killed 12 April 2004 in Riyadh
7 Saud Hamoud ‘Abid al-Qatini al-‘Otaibi سعود حمود عبيد القطيني العتيبي senior member, one of 15 killed in a 3-day battle in Ar Rass April 2005[129][130]
4 Abdul Kareem Al-Majati عبد الكريم المجاطي Moroccan, killed with Saud al-Otaibi at Ar Rass,[129] was wanted in the USA under the name Karim El Mejjati
6 Ibrahim Muhammad Abdullah al-Rais إبراهيم محمد عبدا لله الريس killed 8 December 2003 in Riyadh
8 Ahmad Abdul-Rahman Saqr al-Fadhli أحمد عبدالرحمن صقر الفضلي killed 22 April 2004 in Jeddah
9 Sultan Jubran Sultan al-Qahtani alias Zubayr Al-Rimi سلطان جبران سلطان القحطاني q.v., killed 23 September 2003 in Jizan
10 Abdullah Saud Al-Siba’i عبد الله سعود السباعي killed 29 December 2004[131]
11 Faisal Abdul-Rahman Abdullah al-Dakhil فيصل عبدالرحمن عبدالله الدخيل killed with al-Muqrin[126]
12 Faris al-Zahrani فارس آل شويل الزهراني ideologue, captured 5 August 2004 in Abha[132]
13 Khalid Mobarak Habeeb-Allah al-Qurashi خالد مبارك حبيب الله القرشي killed 22 April 2004 in Jeddah
14 Mansoor Muhammad Ahmad Faqeeh منصور محمد أحمد فقيه surrendered 30 December 2003 in Najran
15 ‘Issa Saad Muhammad bin ‘Ushan عيسى سعد محمد بن عوشن ideologue, killed 20 July 2004 in Riyadh
16 Talib Saud Abdullah Al Talib طالب سعود عبدالله آل طالب at large; (last of the original 26)
17 Mustafa Ibrahim Muhammad Mubaraki مصطفى إبراهيم محمد مباركي killed 22 April 2004 in Jeddah
18 Abdul-Majiid Mohammed al-Mani’ عبد المجيد محمد المنيع ideologue, killed 12 October 2004 in Riyadh[133]
19 Nasir Rashid Nasir Al-Rashid ناصر راشد ناصر الراشد killed 12 April 2004 in Riyadh
Sultan bin Bajad Al-Otaibi سلطان بن بجاد العتيبي spokesman[134] and writer for al-Qaeda, killed 28 or 29 December 2004[135]
20 Bandar Abdul-Rahman Abdullah al-Dakhil بندر عبدالرحمن عبدالله الدخيل killed December 2004[135]
21 Othman Hadi Al Maqboul Almardy al-‘Amari عثمان هادي آل مقبول العمري recanted, under an amnesty deal, 28 June 2004 in Namas[136][137]
22 Talal A’nbar Ahmad ‘Anbari طلال عنبر أحمد عنبري killed 22 April 2004 in Jeddah
23 ‘Amir Muhsin Moreef Al Zaidan Al-Shihri عامر محسن مريف آل زيدان الشهري killed 6 November 2003 in Riyadh[138]
24 Abdullah Muhammad Rashid al-Rashoud عبد الله محمد راشد الرشود q.v., ideologue, killed May or June 2005 in Iraq
25 Abdulrahman Mohammad Mohammad Yazji عبدالرحمن محمد محمد يازجي killed 6 April 2005[131]
26 Hosain Mohammad Alhasaki حسين محمد الحسكي Moroccan, held in Belgium[131]
Turki N. M. al-Dandani تركي ناصر مشعل الدندني cell leader, a former # 1 most wanted,[139] died by suicide July 2003 in al-Jawf[140]
Ibrahim bin Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad al-Muzaini إبراهيم بن عبد العزيز بن محمد المزين killed with Khalid Ali Hajj[124]
Abdul-Rahman Mohammed Jubran al-Yazji عبدالكريم محمد جبران اليازجي killed 2 June 2004 in Ta’if[141]
Mohammed Othman Abdullah al-Waleedi al-Shuhri محمد عثمان عبدالله الوليدي الشهري [139]
Mansour Faqeeh منصور فقيه surrendered[142]
Hamid Fahd Abdullah al-Salmi al-Shamri حمد فهد عبدالله الأسلمي الشمري [139]
Ahmad Nasser Abdullah al-Dakhil أحمد ناصر عبدالله الدخيل [139] (dead)
Turki bin Fuheid al-Mutairi a/k/a Fawaz al-Nashimi تركي بن فيهد المطيري killed with al-Muqrin[126]
Jubran Ali Hakmi جبران علي حكمي [143]
Hani Said Ahmed Abdul-Karim al-Ghamdi هاني سعيد أحمد عبد الكريم الغامدي [143]
Ali Abdul-Rahman al-Ghamdi علي عبد الرحمن الغامدي surrendered 26 June 2003[144]
Bandar bin Abdul-Rahman al-Ghamdi بندر عبد الرحمن الغامدي captured September 2003 in Yemen[145] and extradited to KSA
Fawaz Yahya al-Rabi’i فواز يحيى الربيعي q.v., killed 1 October 2006 in Yemen
Abdul-Rahman Mansur Jabarah عبدالرحمن منصور جبارة “Canadian-Kuwaiti of Iraqi origin”,[139] dead according to al-Qaeda; brother of Kuwaiti-Canadian Mohamed Mansour Jabarah
Adnan bin Abdullah al-Omari captured somewhere outside KSA, extradited to KSA November 2005[146]
Abdul-Rahman al-Mutib killed in al Qasim December 2005[147]
Muhammad bin Abdul-Rahman al-Suwailmi, alias Abu Mus’ab al-Najdi محمد بن عبد الرحمن السويلمي killed in al Qasim December 2005[147]
According to Saudi authorities,[148] these 12 died or were killed while committing the Riyadh compound bombings on 12 May 2003. Several were previously wanted.
Khaled Mohammad Muslim Al-Juhani خالد محمد مسلم الجهني leader of this group
Abdul-Karim Mohammed Jubran Yazji عبد الكريم محمد جبران اليازجي
Mohammed Othman Abdullah Al-Walidi Al-Shehri ومحمد عثمان عبد الله الوليدي الشهري
Hani Saeed Ahmad Al Abdul-Karim Al-Ghamdi هاني سعيد أحمد عبد الكريم الغامدي
Jubran Ali Ahmad Hakami Khabrani جبران علي أحمد حكمي خبراني
Khaled bin Ibrahim Mahmoud خالد بن إبراهيم محمود called “Baghdadi”
Mehmas bin Mohammed Mehmas Al-Hawashleh Al-Dosari محماس بن محمد محماس الهواشلة الدوسري
Mohammed bin Shadhaf Ali Al-Mahzoum Al-Shehri محمد بن شظاف علي آل محزوم الشهري
Hazem Mohammed Saeed حازم محمد سعيد called “Kashmiri”
Majed Abdullah Sa’ad bin Okail ماجد عبدالله سعد بن عكيل
Bandar bin Abdul-Rahman Menawer Al-Rahimi Al-Mutairi بندر بن عبد الرحمن منور الرحيمي المطيري
Abdullah Farres bin Jufain Al-Rahimi Al-Mutairi عبدالله فارس بن جفين الرحيمي المطيري
Abdullah Hassan Al Aseery عبد الله حسن عسيري Died trying to assassinate a Saudi prince in October 2009.
The following five were reported killed in Dammam in early September 2005.[149]
Zaid Saad Zaid al-Samari a former most wanted, killed by Saudi forces in 2005[150]
Saleh Mansour Mohsen al-Fereidi al-Harbi
Sultan Saleh Hussan al-Haseri
Naif Farhan Jalal al-Jehaishi al-Shammari
Mohammed Abdul-Rahman Mohammed al-Suwailmi
Abu Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi Former Guantanamo captive who appeared in threatening YouTube video in January 2009, and who voluntarily turned himself in to Saudi authorities a month later.[151]
Abu Abdurrahman – al Faranghi[152] A convert—allegedly trained as a bombmaker[153]—hunted by CIA, MI5 and Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste, since 2012. (His legal name in Norway has not been revealed by media.)

See also

Lashkar al-Zil

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fighters of Lashkar al-Zil in Swat, Pakistan.

The Lashkar al-Zil or Shadow Army (also known as Jaish al Usrah, or the Army of the Protective Shield[1]) is a paramilitary organization linked to al-Qaeda and descended from the 055 Brigade.[2] According to Syed Saleem Shahzad, it “comprises the Pakistani Taliban, 313 Brigade, the Afghan Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan and former Iraqi Republican Guards“.[3] Lashkar al-Zil has reportedly been led by Khalid Habib al Shami (killed October 2008),[2] Abdullah Said al Libi (killed December 2009), and Ilyas Kashmiri (killed June 3, 2011).[3][4]

The Lashkar al-Zil has been involved in attacks in Afghanistan’s eastern and southern provinces.[5] News reports have linked it to several specific attacks, including the Camp Chapman attack (December 30, 2009)[3] and the Sudhnati suicide bombing (January 6, 2010).[6]

al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
تنظيم القاعدة في بلاد المغرب الإسلامي
Participant in Insurgency in the Maghreb (2002–present) and the Global War on Terrorism
The black flag variant used by AQIM

Active 2007–present
Ideology
Groups
Leaders Abdelmalek Droukdel
Headquarters Kabylie Mountains[4][5]
Area of operations The Maghreb and the Sahel

Strength 800-1,000+[1][7]
Part of Al-Qaeda
Originated as Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (1998–2007)
Allies
Opponents State opponents

Non-State Opponents

Battles and wars Insurgency in the Maghreb

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Arabic: تنظيم القاعدة في بلاد المغرب الإسلامي‎, translit. Tanẓīm al-Qā‘idah fī Bilād al-Maghrib al-Islāmī‎), or AQIM,[10] is an Islamist militant organization which aims to overthrow the Algerian government and institute an Islamic state.[11] To that end, it is currently engaged in an anti-government campaign.

The group originated as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). It has since declared its intention to attack European (including Spanish and French) and American targets. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the United Nations, Australia, Canada, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom[12] and the United States.

Membership is mostly drawn from the Algerian and local Saharan communities (such as the Tuaregs and Berabiche tribal clans of Mali),[13] as well as Moroccans from city suburbs of the North African country.[14][15][16][17] The leadership are mainly Algerians.[18] The group has also been suspected of having links with the Horn of Africa-based militant group Al-Shabaab.[19]

AQIM has focused on kidnapping for ransom as a means of raising funds and is estimated to have raised more than $50 million in the last decade.[20]

On 2 March 2017, the Sahara branch of AQIM merged with Ansar Dine and Al-Mourabitoun into Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin.[21]

Name[edit source]

The group’s official name is Organization of al-Qa’ida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (Qaedat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Maghrib al-Islami), often shortened to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM, from French al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique, AQMI).[22] Prior to January 2007 it was known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (Arabic: الجماعة السلفية للدعوة والقتال‎‎ al-Jamā‘ah as-Salafiyyah lid-Da‘wah wal-Qiṭāl) and the French acronym GSPC (Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat).[23]

History[edit source]

AQIM fighters in a propaganda video, filmed in the Sahara desert.

In January 2007, the GSPC announced that it would now operate under the name of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).[22][24]

On 19 January 2009, the UK newspaper The Sun reported that there had been an outbreak of bubonic plague at an AQIM training camp in the Tizi Ouzou province in Algeria. According to The Sun, at least forty AQIM militias died from the disease. The surviving AQIM members from the training camp reportedly fled to other areas of Algeria hoping to escape infection.[25]The Washington Times, in an article based on a senior U.S. intelligence official source, claimed a day later that the incident was not related to bubonic plague, but was an accident involving either a biological or chemical agent.[26]

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is one of the region’s wealthiest, best-armed militant groups due to the payment of ransom demands by humanitarian organizations and Western governments.[27] It is reported that 90 per cent of AQIM resources come from ransoms paid in return for the release of hostages.[28] Oumar Ould Hamaha said “The source of our financing is the Western countries. They are paying for jihad.”[27]

In December 2012, one of AQIM’s top commanders, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, split off from AQIM and took his fighters with him, executing the In Amenas hostage crisis in Algeria weeks later, just after France launched Operation Serval in Mali.[29]Belmokhtar later claimed he acted on behalf of Al Qaeda.[30] In December 2015, Belmokhtar’s splinter group, Al-Mourabitoun rejoined AQIM, according to audio statements released by both groups.[31]

A top commander of AQIM, Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, was reported killed by French and Chadian forces in northern Mali on February 25, 2013.[32] This was confirmed by AQIM in June 2013.[33]

Alleged prejudice[edit source]

The FrontPage Magazine reported that Sub-Saharan Africans are treated with contempt by the predominantly Arab-led AQIM. The AQIM leadership are said to be mainly Algerians, while no Sub-Saharan African is known to possess any leadership position. Robert Fowler, a former Canadian diplomat, who was held hostage by AQIM for 130 days in the Sahara Desert in 2010, wrote that “There was a big gulf in the AQIM between those who were black and those who were not. They preached equality, but did not practice it. Sub-Saharan Africans were clearly second class in the eyes of AQIM.”[18] The article went on to say that an AQIM splinter faction, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa separated itself from the group due to the marginalization of its Sub-Saharan African members.[18]

The United States National Counterterrorism Center stated that AQIM had a reputation for holding cultural and racial insensitivities towards Sub-Saharan Africans. The NCTC maintained that some recruits “claimed that AQIM was clearly racist against some black members from West Africa because they were only sent against lower-level targets.” The bulletin goes on to say that former AQIM commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar in August 2009 stated “he wanted to attract black African recruits because they would agree more readily than Arabs to becoming suicide bombers and because poor economic and social conditions made them ripe for recruitment.”[5][34]

By 2016, AQIM had reportedly recruited large numbers of young sub-Saharan Africans, with attacks like the 2016 Grand-Bassam shootings in Ivory Coast being carried out by black AQIM members. AQIM commander Yahya Abou el-Hammam, in an interview with a Mauritanian website, was quoted as saying “Today, the mujahideen have built up brigades and battalions with sons of the region, our black brothers, Peuls, Bambaras and Songhai“.[35]

Leadership[edit source]

Key leaders and operatives of this group include Yahya Abu el Hammam, who serves as a senior leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), planning operations and kidnapping Westerners in North and West Africa. Wanted by the US Rewards for Justice Program with a $5 million bounty for his arrest. Hammam has played a key role in perpetuating AQIM’s terrorist activities in West Africa and Mali, and participated in several AQIM terrorist attacks in Mauritania. In July 2010, Hammam was reportedly involved in the killing of a seventy-eight year old French hostage in Niger. In 2006, Hammam was sentenced to death in absentia by Algerian authorities for terrorism-related charges.[36]

International links[edit source]

AQIM Tuareg militant in Sahel, December 2012.

Allegations of the former GSPCs links to al-Qaeda predated the September 11 attacks. As followers of a Qutbist strand of Salafist jihadism, the members of the GSPC were thought to share al-Qaeda’s general ideological outlook. After the deposition of Hassan Hattab, various leaders of the group pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.

In November 2007, Nigerian authorities arrested five men for alleged possession of seven sticks of dynamite and other explosives. Nigerian prosecutors alleged that three of the accused had trained for two years with the then Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat in Algeria.[37] In January 2008 the Dakar Rally was cancelled due to threats made by associated terrorist organizations.

In late 2011, the splinter group Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa was founded in order to spread jihadi activities further into West Africa. Their military leader is Omar Ould Hamaha, a former AQIM fighter.[38]

According to U.S. Army General Carter Ham, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab, and the Nigeria-based Boko Haram were as of June 2012 attempting to synchronize and coordinate their activities in terms of sharing funds, training and explosives.[19] Ham added that he believed that the collaboration presented a threat to both U.S. homeland security and the local authorities.[29][39] However, according to counter-terrorism specialist Rick Nelson with the Washington-based Center for Strategic International Studies, there was little evidence that the three groups were targeting U.S. areas, as each was primarily interested in establishing fundamentalist administrations in their respective regions.[19]

In a 2013, Al Jazeera interview in Timbuktu, AQIM commander Talha claimed that his movement went to Niger, Algeria, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, to organize cells of AQIM. He explained their strategy: “There are many people who have nothing, and you can reach them by the word of God, or by helping them.”[40]

Statements[edit source]

AQIM logo.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb operates a media outlet known as al-Andalus, which regularly releases propaganda videos showing AQIM operations, hostages, and statements from members.[41]

According to London-based risk analysis firm Stirling Assynt, AQIM issued a call for vengeance against Beijing for mistreatment of its Muslim minority following the July 2009 Ürümqi riots.[42]

AQIM voiced support for demonstrations against the Tunisian and Algerian Governments in a video released on 13 January 2011. Al Qaeda offered military aid and training to the demonstrators, calling on them to overthrow “the corrupt, criminal and tyrannical” regime, calling for “retaliation” against the Tunisian government, and also calling for the overthrow of Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. AQIM leader Abu Musab Abdul Wadud appeared in the video, calling for Islamic sharia law to be established in Tunisia.[43] Al Qaeda has begun recruiting anti-government demonstrators, some of whom have previously fought against American forces in Iraq and Israeli forces in Gaza.[44]

AQIM endorsed efforts in Libya to topple the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, though it remains unclear how many fighters in Libya are loyal to al-Qaeda. Gaddafi seized on the expression of support and help for the rebel movement to blame al-Qaeda for fomenting the uprising.[45]

Timeline of attacks[edit source]

2007–09[edit source]

  • 11 April 2007: Two car bombs were detonated by the group. One was close to the Prime Minister’s office in Algiers and the blast killed more than 30 people and wounded more than 150.[23]
  • February 2008: Two Austrians were captured in Tunisia and taken via Algeria to Mali and freed later that year, the kidnappings were attributed to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb[46]
  • December 2008: Two Canadian diplomats were taken hostage along with their driver in south-western Niger while on official UN mission to resolve a crisis in northern Niger. The driver was freed in Mali in March 2009. The diplomats were freed in Mali in April 2009. The kidnappings were attributed to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb[46]
  • 22 January 2009: Four Westerners were kidnapped while visiting the Anderamboukane festival in Niger near the border with Mali. AQIM demanded the British government release Abu Qatada, and on 31 May 2009 a statement was released claiming Edwyn Dyer had been executed, which was confirmed by the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on 3 June 2009. All of the other tourists were eventually released.[citation needed]
  • 30 July 2009: At least 11 Algerian soldiers are killed in an ambush while escorting a military convoy outside the coastal town of Damous, near Tipaza.[47]

2010–present[edit source]

  • March 2010: an Italian national, Sergio Cicala, and his wife are held hostage. They were released on April 16, 2010.[48][49]
  • 21 March 2010: Three militants are killed by security forces near El Ma Labiod, 35 kilometres (22 mi) from Tebessa.
  • 26 March 2010: Three militants are killed and another captured by security forces in Ait Yahia Moussa, 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Tizi Ouzou.[citation needed]
  • 14 April 2010: According to Algerian officials, at least ten militants are killed during a counter-terrorist operation in Bordj Bou Arreridj wilaya.[citation needed]
  • 16 September 2010: seven employees from Areva and Vinci are kidnapped in Arlit, Niger (five French, one Togolese and one Malagasy). The capture was claimed on 21 September by AQIM in a communiqué published in Al Jazeera. Three of the hostages were released on 24 February 2011. The other four were released on 28 October 2013.[50][51][52]
  • 25 November 2011: Three Western tourists were abducted in Timbuktu, including Sjaak Rijke from the Netherlands, Johan Gustafsson from Sweden and Stephen Malcolm McGown from South Africa. A fourth tourist, from Germany, was killed when he refused to cooperate with the perpetrators. Rijke was rescued in April 2015.[53][54]
  • 9 December 2011: AQIM published two photos, showing five kidnapped persons of European descent including the three tourists abducted in Timbuktu. French hostage Philippe Verdon was killed in March 2013. His body was found in July 2013. French hostage Serge Lazarevic was released on December 9. 2013.[55][56][57][58]
  • 30 September 2013: AQIM claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing in Timbuktu that killed at least two civilians.[59]
  • 20 November 2015: AQIM and Al-Mourabitoun attacked a hotel in Bamako, Mali. They took more than 100 persons hostage, killing 19 before the siege was ended by security forces.[60]
  • 8 January 2016: Gunmen kidnapped Swiss nun Beatrice Shockly in Timbuctoo, Mali. AQIM claimed responsibility for the kidnapping a month later, and released a video in January 2017 showing Shockly still alive. [61]
  • 15 January 2016: AQIM gunmen attack the Capuccino and Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, killing at least 28 people, wounding at least 56 and taking a total of 126 hostages.[62][63] 200 km to the north, Australian couple Ken and Jocelyn Elliott, medical doctors, were kidnapped. Jocelyn was released a few days later, as AQIM claimed credit for the kidnapping. [64]
  • 13 March 2016: AQIM attacked the town of Grand-Bassam, in the Ivory Coast, killing at least 16 people, including 2 soldiers, and 4 European tourists. 6 assailants were also killed.[65][66]

Al-Mourabitoun (militant group)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Al-Mourabitoun (jihadist group))
al-Mourabitoun
المرابطون
Participant in the Insurgency in the Maghreb (2002-present)
Northern Mali conflict
AQMI Flag asymmetric.svg

Active August 2013 – 2 March 2017
Ideology Salafist jihadism
Leaders Abubakr al-Masri [1]
Mokhtar Belmokhtar[2]
Abu Walid Al-Sahraoui
Area of operations  Algeria
 Burkina Faso
 Ivory Coast
 Libya
 Mali
 Niger
Strength Under 100 (May 2014, French claim)[1]
Part of Al-Qaeda
AQMI Flag asymmetric.svg
Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin[3]
Originated as Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (until 2013)
Al-Mulathameen
(The Masked Men Brigade)
Became Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin
Opponents
Battles and wars Northern Mali conflict
In Amenas hostage crisis
March 2015 Bamako shooting
2015 Bamako hotel attack
2016 Ouagadougou attacks
2016 Grand-Bassam shootings
2017 Gao bombing

Al-Mourabitoun (Arabic: المرابطون‎, translit. al-Murābiṭūn, lit. ‘The Sentinels’‎) is an African militant jihadist organisation formed by a merger between Ahmed Ould Amer, a.k.a. Ahmed al-Tilemsi’s Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Mokhtar Belmokhtar‘s Masked Men Brigade.[4] In 4 December 2015, it joined Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).[5] The group seeks to implement Sharia Law in Mali, Algeria, southwestern Libya, and Niger.[6]

On 2 March 2017, the group’s cells in Mali, along with Ansar Dine merged into the group Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen.[3]

Origins and membership[edit source]

Al-Mourabitoun is composed mostly of Tuaregs and Arabs from the northern Mali regions of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao, but also includes Algerians, Tunisians and other nationalities. Its area of operations is in the north of Mali, near towns such as Tessalit and Ansongo.[1]

The group’s establishment was announced by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, however the group’s leader who was said to be a non-Algerian veteran of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan and the 2002 battles against American forces in the same country,[7]later identified by French Intelligence as an Egyptian known as Abubakr al-Nasri (al-Masri). Abubakr was reportedly killed by French Special Forces in North Eastern Mali between 10 and 17 April 2014, as was senior commander Omar Ould Hamaha weeks earlier.[1]

The group is named after the Almoravids, a North African Islamic dynasty of the 11th and 12th centuries.[7] It has been designated as a terrorist organization by the UN,[8] Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom[9] and the United States.

History[edit source]

On 14 May 2015, Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui released an audio message pledging the group’s allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[10] Belmokhtar issued a statement several days later rejecting this pledge and stating that it had not been approved beforehand, seeming to indicate a split in the group.[11][12] On 3 December 2015, AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdel announced in an audio statement that Al-Mourabitoun had joined his organisation.[5] ISIL formally accepted Sahraoui’s pledge of allegiance in a statement and video released in October 2016. The reason for the lengthy delay in acknowledgement was not clear.[13]

Timeline of attacks[edit source]

  • 7 March 2015: A masked gunman killed 5 and injured 9 others at a restaurant popular with foreigners in Mali‘s capital Bamako. Among the victims were three locals, a Frenchman, and a Belgian security officer with the European Union representative in the city.
  • 10 August 2015: An IED killed three Malian soldiers and injured four others near Sévaré.
  • 11 August 2015: A coordinated assault against the Byblos hotel in Sévaré lead to a 24-hour-long stand-off in which 13 people were killed, including five UN workers, four soldiers, and four attackers. The group later claimed responsibility for this attack and the bombing on the day before.[14]
  • 20 November 2015: A group of militants took more than 170 people hostage at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, sparking a siege that left 22 people dead, including 2 gunmen. At least 7 others were injured in the attack, with 2 of them being members of the Malian Special Forces.[15]
  • 15 January 2016: A group of militants staged a co-ordinated assault on two hotels and adjacent businesses in the center of Burkina Faso‘s capital Ouagadougou, burning vehicles and taking more than 200 hostages. At least 30 people were killed and 56 others injured in the siege that followed.[16]
  • February 2016: The group released an audio message, in which it admitted it had kidnapped an Australian couple during the Ouagadougou attacks, and that it planned to release one of the captives as it does “not target women in times of war.”[17] The wife of the doctor that was kidnapped during the Ouagadougou attacks was subsequently released on February 7.[18]
  • 13 March 2016: Three gunmen assaulted a beach resort in Grand-Bassam, Ivory Coast, using assault rifles and hand grenades. At least 21 people were killed in the attack, including all of the attackers, three members of the country’s special forces, as well as 15 civilians (including at least 5 Europeans).[19][20][21]
  • 18 January 2017: A suicide bomber drove a vehicle filled with explosives into a military camp near Gao, Mali, killing 77 people and injuring at least 115 others. At the time it was the deadliest terrorist incident in the country’s history.

al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent
جماعة قاعدة الجهاد في شبه القارة الهندية
Flag of AQIS

Flag of AQIS
Active 3 September 2014 – present
Leaders Asim Umar
Area of operations Indian subcontinent
Strength 300 in Pakistan (2010)[1]
300 in India (2014)[2]
Part of al-Qaeda
Merger of Various Indian, Afghan, and Pakistani Jihadist Factions[3]
Allies
Opponents

Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (Arabic: جماعة قاعدة الجهاد في شبه القارة الهندية‎, translit. Jamā‘at Qā‘idat al-Jihād fī Shibh al-Qārrah al-Hindīyah, lit. ‘Organisation of the Base of Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent’‎) usually abbreviated as AQIS,[5]is an Islamist militant organization which aims to fight the governments of Pakistan,[4] India, Myanmar and Bangladesh[6] in order to establish an Islamic state. The militant group has also stated its intentions to attack American targets in the Indian Subcontinent.

History[edit source]

Before Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent[edit source]

Before coming together under AQIS, there were various jihadist factions operating in Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. One of these factions operated in Karachi, Pakistan, and were responsible for numerous attacks in the city. On 11 December 2014, AQIS issued a report detailing these attacks. The attacks targeted local police, a professor, and a blogger.[7]

As Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent[edit source]

On 3 September 2014, Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of al-Qaeda, announced the establishment of a new branch in the Indian subcontinent in a 55-minute video posted online.[8][9] During the announcement, Zawahiri stated that it had taken two years to gather various jihadist factions into the new group, and introduced Asim Umar, a former commander in the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, as its Emir.[3] The announcement also introduced the group’s spokesman, Usama Mahmoud, who praised militant commanders like Amjad Farooqi, Ilyas Kashmiri and Hassan Ghul. Farooqi was killed by Pakistani security forces. Kashmiri and Ghul were killed by US drone strikes in Pakistan.[3]

On 11 December 2014, Pakistani police arrested Shahid Usman, the head of the al-Qaeda wing in Karachi, and four others in Karachi along with weapons and 10 kg of explosives.[10] Ustad Ahmad Farooq, the deputy emir for AQIS, was killed on 15 January 2015 following a US drone strike in South Waziristan. Qari ‘Imran, a member of the group’s ruling Shura Council, was killed on 5 January 2015 in a drone strike in North Waziristan.[11]

Relations with other Jihadist factions[edit source]

In October, a Kashmiri militant group calling itself “Ansar ut-Tawhid wal Jihad in Kashmir” published a video expressing support for Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent.[12] The group offered to provide shelter to foreign fighters within AQIS as well as fight alongside it.

AQIS spokesman Usama Mahmoud, in series of tweets, expressed support for militant groups in Chechnya, Dagestan, and Yemen.[13] He also gave a eulogy for al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed in a US drone strike.[14]

Media[edit source]

On 19 October 2014, a 117-page English-language magazine called Resurgence was released online. It was produced by the Subcontinent branch of Al Qaeda’s As-Sahab media production house, and the articles focused on waging jihad in the Indian Subcontinent.[15]

Statements[edit source]

Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent has released multiple statements, mainly via the Twitter account of Usama Mahmoud, the group’s spokesperson.

On 13 September 2014, Usama Mahmoud claimed responsibility for the attempted raid on a Pakistani frigate and the assassination of Pakistani Brigader Zahoor Ahmad Fazal in Punjab Province.[16] On 17 September, Mahmoud released a statement which justified the attempted attack on the Pakistani frigate, stating that America was the primary enemy of AQIS.[17] On September 30, AQIS released another statement which said that the intended targets were the American and Indian navies.[18]

On 14 October 2014, Mahmoud confirmed that AQIS senior leader Imran Ali Siddiqi was killed in a US drone strike. He also spoke about the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria.[19]Siddiqi was a member of the group’s Shura council.

On 4 November 2014, Mahmoud released a series of tweets that condemned what he said as the “Infidel System.” He also prayed for god to support militants in Chechnya, Dagestan, and Yemen, as well as Iraq and Syria.[13] The following day, Mahmoud released a statement giving condolences to the killing of Somali al-Qaeda leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. He directed a statement to Somali fighters which said that the US must be fought.[14]

AQIS released an audio message from its leader, Asim Umar, on 10 November 2014. Umar eulogized AQIS Shura Council member Imran Ali Siddiqi, who was killed in a US drone strike in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.[20]

On 20 November 2014, AQIS spokesman Usama Mahmoud released a statement confirming the death of two officials of the group in a US raid on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. One of the officials owned the house that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed lived in when he was captured.[21] Four days later, Mahmoud gave a eulogy for the two officials, and urged Pakistani doctors and military officers to follow their example.[22]

On 5 December 2014, AQIS published a photo showing the two officials who were killed in the US raid on the Afghan-Pakistani border, as well as a photo of the deceased son of one of the officials.[23]

On 20 December 2014, Usama Mahmoud, spokesman for AQIS, condemned an attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, which was carried out by the Pakistani Taliban. He said that the attack was un-Islamic and that “the massacre of innocent children makes our hearts burst.”[24]

Claimed, alleged and repudiated attacks[edit source]

  • The group took responsibility for the 2 September 2014 assassination of Brigadier Fazal Zahoor, a senior officer in the Pakistani Army, who was shot dead by men riding motorcycles.[25]
  • Spokesman Usama Mahmoud claimed responsibility for a 6 September 2014 attack on a Naval dockyard in Karachi, reportedly carried out by former Pakistan Navy officers, who unsuccessfully tried to hijack a F-22P frigate. Three attackers were killed and seven were arrested by Pakistani forces.[26][27]
  • Spokesman Usama Mahmoud condemned on 20 December 2014 the Peshawar school attack.[28]
  • In video released on 2 May 2015, AQIS claimed responsibility for the death of four Bangladeshi bloggers; Avijit Roy, Oyasiqur Rahman Babu, Ahmed Rajib Haider and AKM Shafiul Islam. They also claimed responsibility for killing two Pakistani citizens, Dr Shakil Auj and blogger Aneeqa Naz. They mentioned Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.[29][30]
  • In 7 April 2016, a blogger was stabbed to death by some Islamist militias. AQIS claimed responsibility.[31][32]
  • In 25 April, AQIS claimed responsibility for the death of an LGBT activist in Dhaka, Bangladesh.[33][34]

Criticism[edit source]

The group has been condemned by other Muslim religious and political organizations including the Association of Indian Muslims, Indian American Muslim Council, Indian Minorities Advocacy Network, Indian Muslim Educational Foundation of North America, Indian Muslim Relief and Charities, Muslim Youth Awareness Alliance in India,[9] and the Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh and Khelafat Majlish in Bangladesh and Burmese Muslim Association in Myanmar.[9][35] A spokesman for Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh added:

There is prevailing a congenial and peaceful environment in Bangladesh. People are living in peace and in such a situation the announcement by Al Qaeda chief Zawahiri has made the people fearful and worried. Bangladesh had experienced earlier militant activities and terrorism by Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh and Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami. But they could not emerge successful and Al Qaeda would not come out successful in Bangladesh despite their announcement.[35]

See also

Tahrir al-Sham

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with Sham Liberation Army.
Hayʼat Tahrir al-Sham
Organization for the Liberation of the Levant
هيئة تحرير الشام
Participant in the Syrian Civil War and the
Syrian Civil War spillover in Lebanon
Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham logo.jpg
Logo of Hayʼat Tahrir al-Sham
Flag of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.svg
Flag of Hayʼat Tahrir al-Sham
Active 28 January 2017 – present
Ideology Sunni Islamism

Leaders
Headquarters Idlib, Idlib Governorate, Syria
Area of operations  Syria
 Lebanon
Strength ~40,000[6][7][8][9][10]
(20,000 al-Nusra fighters)[11]
Part of al-Qaeda (covertly)[12][2][13][14][15]
Originated as
Allies
Opponents State opponents

Non-state opponents

Battles and wars Syrian Civil War

Military intervention against ISIL

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (Arabic: هيئة تحرير الشام‎‎, transliteration: Hayʼat Taḥrīr al-Shām,[23]Organization for the Liberation of the Levant” or “Levant Liberation Committee“),[21][22] commonly referred to as Tahrir al-Sham and abbreviated HTS, also known as al-Qaeda in Syria[24] and referred to by the Arabic acronym Hetesh (هتش) by some Syrians (akin to ISIL’s Daesh label),[25][26] is an active Jihadist and Salafist terrorist organization involved in the Syrian Civil War. The group was formed on 28 January 2017 as a merger between Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (former al-Nusra Front), the Ansar al-Din Front, Jaysh al-Sunna, Liwa al-Haqq, and the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement.[2] After the announcement, additional groups and individuals joined. The merger is currently led by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and former Ahrar al-Sham leaders, although the High Command consists of leaders from other groups.[27][28] Many groups and individuals defected from Ahrar al-Sham, representing their more conservative and Salafist elements. Currently, a number of analysts and media outlets still continue to refer to this group by its previous names, al-Nusra Front, or Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.[29][30]

Despite the merger, Tahrir al-Sham effectively functions as al-Qaeda‘s Syrian branch on a covert level.[31][32] Some analysts reported that the goal of forming Tahrir al-Sham was to unite all groups with al-Qaeda’s extreme ideology under one banner, and to obtain as many weapons as possible. They also reported that many of the former Jabhat Fateh al-Sham fighters still answered to al-Qaeda, and held an increasing amount of sway over the new group.[15] It was also reported that despite the recent formation of Tahrir al-Sham, the new group secretly maintains a fundamental link to al-Qaeda, and that many of the group’s senior figures, particularly Abu Jaber, held similarly extreme views.[31] Tahrir al-Sham shares al-Nusra Front’s goal of turning Syria into an Islamic emirate run by al-Qaeda.[33][34] The group is currently the single-largest anti-Assad group in Syria after ISIL, after Jaysh al-Farouq (a former FSA-affiliate) joined, allowing HTS to eclipse Ahrar al-Sham.[9]

History[edit source]

Formation[edit source]

Abdullah al-Muhaysini, Abu Taher Al Hamawi, and Abd ar-Razzaq al-Mahdi worked on the formation of the group.[35] Bilal Abdul Kareem reported on the formation of the new group.[36][better source needed]

Tahrir al Sham stated that it may include the Turkistan Islamic Party in the future.[37][better source needed]

The group received praise from the Gaza-based Salafist jihadist insurgent group Jaysh al-Ummah.[38][better source needed]

The Damascus Umayyad Mosque is represented on the logo.[39]

The group is currently establishing an Islamic governing body (Majlis-ash-Shura), or the consultative council (hence the multiple signed documents creating decrees/laws which can be found on official Tahrir al-Sham outlets). The reasoning behind this is that with a governing body, the newly formed group will be able to work together & prevent infighting which had been seen as the cause of tension within the rebel held areas for weeks prior to the formation of the group.[40]

On 28 January, the same day that Tahrir al-Sham was born, the group announced the formation of its elite units, the “Inghimasi”, some of whom were deployed in Idlib city. They could also be used for suicide infiltration operations and as assault troops.[41]

Consolidation of power (2017)[edit source]

On 30 January, there were reports of mobilizations by Tahrir al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham at the Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing and other nearby areas, and that the two groups were preparing for another round of clashes.[42] On 30 January, it was reported that there were around 31,000 fighters in Tahrir al-Sham.[6]

Soon after the group’s formation, many local Syrians began referring to the group as Hetesh, which was an Arabic acronym meant as a pejorative, similar the “Daesh” label applied to ISIL by much of the Arab World. This labeling indicated that many Syrians saw Tahrir al-Sham as no different than ISIL, especially given the similarities between Tahrir al-Sham’s recent attacks and ISIL’s massive offensive on rebel forces in 2014.[25]

On 1 February 2017, it was reported that the US had conducted an airstrike on Carlton Hotel, in the city of Idlib, which was used by Tahrir al-Sham’s former al-Nusra component for troop housing, and hosting meetings of prominent commanders.[43]On the same day, the Elite Islamic Battalions of the FSA was attacked by Tahrir al-Sham.[44][45]

On 2 February, Muhaysini asked members of various factions to urge their leaders to join Tahrir al-Sham.[46][better source needed]

On 3 February, a US airstrike struck a Tahrir al-Sham headquarters[47] in Sarmin, killing 12 members of HTS and Jund al-Aqsa. 10 of the killed militants were HTS members.[48][13] The airstrike also killed militant commander Ibrahim al-Rihaal Abu Bakr.[47]

On 3 February, hundreds of Syrians demonstrated under the slogan “There is no place for al-Qaeda in Syria” in the towns of Atarib, Azaz, Maarat al-Nu’man to protest against HTS. In response, supporters of HTS organized counter-protests in al-Dana, Idlib, Atarib, and Khan Shaykhun.[49] In Idlib pro- Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham protests were held waving pictures of its leader Abu Jaber on 3 February 2017.[50][51][52]

Attendance at a speech by Muhaysini was manipulated by drawing internally displaced persons and impoverished people with promises of motorcycles and refrigerators through a raffle by HTS.[53][better source needed]

On 4 February 2017, a US airstrike killed al-Qaeda commander Abu Hani al-Masri, who was a part of Ahrar al-Sham at the time of his death. It was reported that he was about to defect to Tahrir al-Sham before his death.[13] On the same day, Tahrir al-Sham official Muslah al-Alyani criticized other groups for not joining Tahrir al-Sham, arguing that any group that “fought for Islam” would be bombed, regardless of terrorist designations. In his statement, he indicated that one of the reasons why most Ahrar al-Sham fighters refused to join Tahrir al-Sham was because the latter group contained terrorist-designated individuals.[47]

Tariq Abdul Haleem posted a tweet defending Abu Jaber against Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi.[54] Tareq praised a statement calling for war against Alawites and Zoroastrians by Hashim al Shaikh and denounced negotiations.[55][better source needed] Tariq criticized a statement on HTS by Barqawi.[56] Tareq complained about Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham being criticized by Barqawi.[57][better source needed] Hani al-Siba’i spoke on the topic of Tahrir al-Sham.[58][59]

Around 8 February, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi confirmed that 2 senior Jabhat Fateh al-Sham leaders, including former al-Nusra deputy leader Sami al-Oraydi, left Tahrir al-Sham after its formation.[60]

A speech was released by Abu Jaber on 9 February.[61][62][63] He emphasized his group being an “independent entity” and praised his “brothers” in the “Syrian Jihad“. The statement included derogatory rhetoric on Shia Muslims.[64][65][66]

On 12 February, the Al-Bunyan al-Marsous Operations Room, of which Tahrir al-Sham is a member of, launched an offensive against the Syrian Army in Daraa‘s Manshiyah district. Tahrir al-Sham forces began the attack with 2 suicide bombers and car bombs.[67]

On 13 February, clashes erupted between the previously-allied Tahrir al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa, also called Liwa al-Aqsa, in northern Hama and southern Idlib.[68][69]

On 15 February, Ahrar al-Sham published an infographic on its recent defections, claiming that only 955 fighters had defected to Tahrir al-Sham.[60] There were also reports that Ahrar al-Sham, the Sham Legion, Jaysh al-Izza, the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria, and Liwa al-Tamkin would soon merge to form a new organization called the “Tahrir al-Syria Front”, with websites close to the organizations reportedly disclosing this.[70][71]

Tahrir al-Sham leader Abu Al-Abed Ashida posted his condolences to Omar Abdel-Rahman upon his death.[72]

On 19 February, HTS arrested Major Anas Ibrahim in Atarib, and in response, an anti-HTS protest was held in the town.[73]

On 20 February, a Ma’rat al-Numan Shura Concil was created by Faylaq al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham, and Tahrir al-Sham.[74]

On 22 February, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that Russia feared that Tahrir al-Sham would declare a new Islamic Emirate in northwestern Syria within a month, patterned after ISIL’s self-styled “Caliphate” in Ar-Raqqah.[34] On the same day, the Combating Terrorism Center reported that Jabhat Fateh al-Sham had formed the Tahrir al-Sham group due to its fear of being isolated, and to counter Ahrar al-Sham’s recent expansion during the clashes in the Idlib Province.[60]

On 22 February, the last of Liwa al-Asqa’s 2,100 militants left their final positions in Khan Skaykhun, to join ISIL in the Ar-Raqqah Province, after a negotiated withdrawal deal with Tahrir al-Sham and the Turkistan Islamic Party.[75][76] Afterward, Tahrir al-Sham declared terminating Liwa al-Aqsa, and promised to watch for any remaining cells.[77]

On 26 February, a US airstrike in Al-Mastoumeh, Idlib Province, killed Abu Khayr al-Masri, who was the deputy leader of al-Qaeda.[4][5][78] The airstrike also killed another Tahrir al-Sham militant.[79][80]

On 27 February, an HTS spokesman was slammed by Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi.[81] Also, Tahrir al-Sham leader Abu al-Abed Ashida criticized the participation of certain rebel groups in Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield.[82]

In early March 2017, local residents in the Idlib Province who supported FSA factions accused Tahrir al-Sham of doing more harm than good, saying that all they’ve done is “kidnap people, set up checkpoints, and terrorize residents.”[83]

On 14 March, Tahrir al-Sham made an announcement on their elite “Inghimasi” units, and published a video about them.[41]

On 16 March, a US airstrike struck an al-Qaeda meeting in the village of al-Jina, just southwest of Atarib, killing dozens of Tahrir al-Sham militants and 49 civilians. Despite local groups and the SOHR accusing the US of bombing a mosque in the village, the US denied targeting the al-Jina Mosque, though the airstrike struck a building only 15 meters away.[84][85][86]

On the morning of 21 March (local time), a US drone strike in Darkoush, Idlib Province, killed Abu Islam al-Masri, a high-ranking HTS commander. HTS commander Abu al-‘Abbas al-Darir was also killed in the drone strike.[87] On the same day, Jaysh al-Farouq, a former FSA-affiliated group based in Northern Hama, joined Tahrir al-Sham, making HTS the single largest anti-Assad group (other than ISIL) in Syria.[9] On the same day, Tahrir al-Sham launched the 2017 Hama offensive against Syrian Government forces.

On 24 March, two flatbed trucks carrying flour and belonging to an IHH-affiliated Turkish relief organization were stopped at a HTS checkpoint at the entrance to Sarmada. HTS then seized the trucks and the flour, which was intended for a bakery in Saraqib. The seizure caused 2,000 families in the area to be cut off from a free supply of bread.[88]

Terrorist attacks[edit source]

On 25 February 2017, 5 Tahrir al-Sham suicide bombers attacked the headquarters of the Syrian military intelligence in Homs, killing dozens of security forces, including the head of the military security in Homs.[89][90][91] There were 5 of them.[92][93][94][95] Pictures of the attackers were released.[96][97] One of the attackers was a Khan Shaykhun native called Abu Hurayra (Safi Qatini).[98] The State Security branch chief and Military security branch chief died in the attack.[99] Hassan Daaboul was among the 40 assassinated by Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham[24][100][101][102] The explosion killed Ibrahim Darwish, a Brigadier General and the state security branch’s chief.[103][104][105][106] Syrian reporter Moussa al-Omar tweeted that he “thanks the terrorists who killed him”.[107] Moussa uploaded a video talking about the blast.[108][109] He posted pictures of officers and soldiers who were killed.[110]The War Center Media gave a figure of six suicide attackers and a death toll of thirty.[111] The death toll was given at twenty by Moussa when he posted it a breaking.[112] The death toll was given at thirty five on 24 February according to Moussa.[113] The injured numbered fifty four and the dead numbered forty seven on 25 February according to Moussa.[114] Abu Yusuf al-Muhajir, a Tahrir al-Sham military spokesman was interviewed by Human Voice on the bombings.[115][116][117] Twenty-six names were released.[118]Sheikh Samir bin Ali Ka’aka Abu Abdurrahman from Eastern Ghouta suggested that the attack was carried out by Iranians in a dispute between Russians and Iranians.[119][120][121] It was claimed that the Homs strike was carried out by the government by Geneva-based opposition Syrians.[122] The attack took place the same time as the beginning of the Geneva Four talks.[123][124] The attack was praised by Liwa Omar al-Farouq Brigade leader in Ahrar Al-Sham, Abu Abdul Malik (Mahmoud Nemah).[125] The attack was mentioned in an article in the publication Al-Masra by the terrorist group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.[126][16] Terrorist leader Abu Mohammed al-Julani mentioned the Homs attack, stating that it was a message for the “defeatist politicians” to “step aside.”[127][128][129][130] It has been alleged that the raid did not result in the death of Ibrahim Darwish.[131][132] Tariq Abdelhaleem posted a tweet on the Homs attack by Tahrir al-Sham.[133]

On 11 March, Tahrir al-Sham carried out a twin bombing attack in the Bab al-Saghir area of Damascus’s Old City, killing 76 people and wounding 120 others. The death toll included 43 Iraqi pilgrims.[134][135][136] On the same day, the US officially designated Tahrir al-Sham as a terrorist organization, declaring that the group still functioned as al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate.[32]

On 15 March, Tahrir al-Sham carried out 2 more bombing attacks in Damascus, targeting the main courthouse and a popular restaurant, killing at least 39 people and wounding 130 others.[137][138][139][140] Two other blasts were also reported in Damascus.[140]

Ideology and governance[edit source]

Tahrir al-Sham’s leader, Abu Jaber, has Salafist jihadist beliefs. This caused him to be arrested several times by the Syrian government. He was imprisoned at the Sednaya Prison in 2005 and released among several jihadist prisoners in 2011 who would form several Salafist rebel groups during the Syrian Civil War.[64] Abu Jaber has also professed a belief in “Popular Jihad”, a bottom-to-top approach in which jihadists would win the hearts and minds of the people, before setting out to establish jihadi governance, after receiving enough popular support, which is notably the opposite of ISIL’s “elite Jihad” top-to-bottom approach.[31]

Analysts have also reported that the group continues to maintain many of al-Nusra Front‘s extreme al-Qaeda ideologies, which include Salafist jihadism and Wahhabism.[15] It was also reported that a large portion of Tahrir al-Sham’s fighters from Jabhat Fateh al-Sham still refused to disengage from al-Qaeda, and continued to hold a large sway over the group, despite the public re-branding of the group.[15] Tahrir al-Sham continues to harbor the former al-Nusra Front’s goal of turning Syria into an Islamic Emirate, run by al-Qaeda. If such a governing entity were declared, it would be similar to ISIL’s declaration of a Caliphate.[33][34] The Combating Terrorism Center also reported that despite public statements by some of Tahrir al-Sham’s top figures, the group was still largely the same al-Qaeda-aligned group it was, back when it was known as al-Nusra.[60]

Structure[edit source]

Member groups[edit source]

The groups in italic are defectors from Ahrar al-Sham.

Disclaimer

This list is based on official announcements by Tahrir al-Sham[223][better source needed] and may not necessarily express the full extent of allegiances to the group. These groups may or may not become independent in the future; however, effort will be made to accordingly add or remove groups, based on the status given to them by the commanding office of Tahrir al-Sham. This list may not be a full comprehensive list of member groups.[citation needed]

Leadership[edit source]

The “general commander” or emir of Tahrir al-Sham is Abu Jaber Hashem Al-Sheikh,[224][225] also known as Abu Jaber, who was the leader of Ahrar al-Sham until September 2015.[226] The “general commander” should not be confused with Tahrir al-Sham’s “military leader”, who is Abu Mohammad al-Julani,[225] the emir of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham who had also led its predecessor organisation Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.[227] The individuals in italic are defectors from Ahrar al-Sham, which either left to join Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in the last few days of its existence, or joined it’s successor group Tahrir al-Sham.

Political relations[edit source]

Ahrar al-Sham[edit source]

The relationship between HTS and Ahrar al-Sham is complex, while there is some enmity, both groups are not at war, according to a leading scholar in Tahrir al-Sham, the groups do not particularly hate one another in the political or social battlefield. Certain members, however, do believe that a war between the two would be feasible due to Ahrar al-Sham attending the Astana talks, labeling it as a “moderate” faction, often seen as blasphemy within groups such as Tahrir al-Sham.[254]

Designation as a terrorist organization[edit source]

Country Date References
 United States 11 March 2017 [255][32]

External support[edit source]

Iran’s government has accused Qatar and Saudia Arabia of helping Tahrir al-Sham.[256]

See also

Al-Qaeda Kurdish Battalions

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
al-Qaeda Kurdish Battalions
(Arabic: تنظيم القاعدة الكتائب الكردية‎‎)
Participant in the Iraq war and
the Global War on Terrorism
Flag of Jihad.svg

The Shahada flag commonly used by al-Qaeda.
Active March 2007–present[1]
Ideology
Leaders Dilshad Kalari (Unknown to Unknown): Very little is known about Kalari although some sources believe him to be the operational leader of AQKB.

Abdullah Hassan al-Surani (2007 to Unknown): Surani has released public statements of behalf of AQKB and is believed to be the group’s official spokesman.[3]

Headquarters
Part of Flag of Jihad.svg al-Qaeda
Opponents State Opponents

Non-State Opponents

al-Qaeda in the Kurdish Battalions (AQKB) is a militant Islamist organization,primarily active in the northern IranIraq border. It is the Kurdish branch of al-Qaeda that has launched several attacks on the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq. The group was classified as a terrorist organization by the US State Department on January 1, 2012.[4]

Formation[edit source]

AQKB was founded in 2007, after the apparent disbandment of Ansar al-Islam, another al-Qaeda-affiliated group. The group is considered to be relatively small, but it has camps in the Iranian towns of Mariwan and Sanandaj.[5]

Attacks[edit source]

The group has launched several attacks, including its largest one being against KRG‘s Ministry of Interior in Erbil that killed 19 people in May 2007.[5] AQKB killed 7 border guards and one PUK security officer in Penjwan in July 2007.[6] In September 2010, two police officers were hurt by a failed suicide attack in Sulaymaniyah.[6]