Following his counsel, Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri had immediately disowned the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, whose leader Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi envisages carving out his own caliphate stretching across the Levant.
Bombing impaired the resolution of dispute between Syrian militants
In a development that is likely to escalate in a major clash exacerbating the Syrian rebel quandary, the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, have allegedly killed one of the leaders of Ahrar-al-Shaam, in Aleppo, by sending a suicide bomber in the battalion’s headquarters on Sunday.
Mohammad Bahaiah nom de guerre Abu Khaled al-Suri, famous for his ties with Al-Qaeda leadership, was tasked to resolve the misgivings of ISIS with other rebel factions. Al-Suri failed to resolve the tensions; more than 2000 rebel fighters got killed in the infighting since the inception of this year, due to ISIS intransigence and repeated attacks on the rebel forces bastions. Earlier in January 2014, Al-Suri had specifically requested to be appointed as a mediator and advised al-Qaeda’s supremo to “cut a patient so as not to damage the whole body, mySheikh.” Following his counsel, Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri had immediately disowned the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, whose leader Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi envisages carving out his own caliphate stretching across the Levant.
Al-Suri, widely considered as one of the founding leaders of Ahrar-al-Shaam, was fundamental in bridging the gap between various hardliner rebel factions who denounced the methodology of ISIS, and unified them to create the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF). Initially, the Syrian Islamic Front refrained from fighting alongside the Jabhat-ul-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda Syrian affiliate, but later joined with them in attacks in tandem against the ISIS and the Syrian government.
Hailed as one of the ‘most articulate’ Jihadi ideologues, closer to the Al-Qaeda cadres, the infamous Abu Khaled al-Suri usually supported the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, in his disputes with Sheikh Osama bin Laden during his stay in Afghanistan. In 2005, he was arrested by the Pakistani authorities in a joint intelligence operation with the CIA. Later, he was extradited to Syria. Abu Khaled was also wanted in Spain, Europe, for a suspected role in the 1985 bombing of a restaurant and the 2004 train bombing.
In an interview on Al-Jazeera, Hassan Aboud, the SIF political chief has openly blamed the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria for attacking Khaled al-Suri. His statement is exactly being reproduced here:
In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
To those who are deluded and consider themselves martyrs and those who have angered God yet think they are pleasing him: Who deluded you into thinking that the key to Heaven is killing the innocent and that establishing an Islamic state begins with destroying the pillars of Islam? To the blind followers of tyranny, the misguided and worshippers of the unknown: Do you know that you were seduced and are guided by your own fanciful whims? Tomorrow you will know the truth, that your State is empty. Tomorrow you and your comrades will find yourselves in the infernal depths of hell where regret is futile.
“[And they should consider that] when those who have been followed disassociate themselves from those who followed [them], and they [all]see the punishment, and cut off from them are the ties [of relationship.]” (Quran 2:166)
You indeed have blood on your hands as long as you quench your thirst with the blood from Muslim lands and destroy the foundations of Islam as long as you venerate the criminal sins of the heretics.
May God have mercy on Abu Khaled who was devoted to Islam and is now with God. You will be remembered by the forces of jihad that have followed in your footsteps and by the earth that has been soaked in your blood. Those who killed you are evil and killing them is permitted. Praise be to you, a martyr at the hands of the evil.
How many riches to you for your jihad, Abu Khaled!
Praise be to what you have achieved and defeat to your evil killer!
Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, the top boss of Al-Qaeda Syrian affiliate, Jabhat-ul-Nusra, in his audio message released on Monday, expressed his regret and anger over the assassination of Al-Suri. In a ten minute audio recording released on Youtube, al-Jolani threatened the ISIS and gave it a deadline of five days to submit to Sharia law.Al-Jolani further added that Jabhat-ul-Nusra has “tolerated ISIS’s violations for a full year.”
The death of the senior Al-Qaeda fighter can complicate further efforts to resolve the conflicts between rebel forces. The frequent rebel infighting has resulted in the government forces gaining the opposition-held areas.