Jawlani’s “State of the Union”

In recent years, Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani, the leader of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), has conducted and promoted a series of meetings with different actors in the areas that HTS controls. Those meetings that HTS promotes online usually happen in spurts. Of course, they can’t tell us everything about what is going on in HTS-controlled territory or the group’s plans for the future, but these meetings do provide some insights worth examining when viewing them over time. Over an approximately two-week period in late July, HTS released five addresses from Jawlani where he spoke with notables from the Hamah, Idlib, and Jisr al-Shughur regions, met with the Council of Ministers in the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG), and spoke at the inauguration of a water pumping project from Ain al-Zarqa to Sahel al-Rouj. In line with HTS’s gradual push in recent years to open itself up to the outside world, the most

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“Dissolve al-Qaida”: The Advice of Abu Mariya al-Qahtani

Last week, Abu Mariya al-Qahtani, a senior leader in Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), delivered a controversial message on his Telegram channel. The time had come, he wrote, for al-Qaida’s branches to shut the organization down. After the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri on July 31, 2022, and with the question of succession complicated by the leading candidate’s presence in Iran, this was the best path forward. He urged the affiliates to consider an alternative model of jihadism, one that embraces cooperation with regional states as part of a strategy of confronting “the Iranian project” in the Middle East. The advice, or nasiha, was not received well in al-Qaida circles. Several critics of the nasiha wrote at length against it, castigating its author as an ignoramus and dismissing his arguments as unfounded. Two of these authors purport to be members of al-Qaida. The exchange is worth considering, as Abu Mariya is no

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Was Ayman al-Zawahiri Really a Success Story?

At Akhbar al Aan, a news outlet with a keen interest in covering the developments in the Salafi-jihadi world, every year around the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks we strive to tell compelling stories about where Al Qaeda (AQ) stands and where it may go next. Our audience includes young men on the cusp of deciding what to do with their lives. We know some of them may have lost hope of finding a fulfilling life and might be attracted to the call of extremist organizations like AQ. That’s why we care about informing our audience with reliable facts and insightful analyses of the reality of violent extremism.  In April, when we reviewed the potential of various story possibilities on AQ, Ayman al-Zawahiri did not even make it to our shortlist of top AQ personalities to storify. Our team and the extremism experts who regularly contribute to our output have

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