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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Jihadi Schadenfreude Over al-Nahdah in Tunisia

On July 25, President Qays Sa‘id of Tunisia dismissed Prime Minister Hisham al-Mishishi and suspended the activities of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People by invoking emergency powers under Article 80 of the Tunisian Constitution. The rationale was an out-of-control Covid crisis, continuing economic problems, and political dysfunction within the al-Nahdah-led parliament. Some analysts in the West have called Sa‘id’s maneuver an autogolpe, while many Tunisians locally, according to polling data, have backed Sa‘id’s move. It would not be a crisis, however, if the jihadi talking heads did not weigh in. It is important to note that jihadi activity in Tunisia has been on a decline in recent years due to counterterrorism and military efforts locally against al-Qaeda (AQ) and the Islamic State (IS), as well as the waning fortunes of foreign fighting endeavors in Iraq, Libya, and Syria as IS lost territory. Nevertheless, it is worth considering

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Living Long Enough To See Yourself Become The Villain: The Case of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi

It has become a trope within the jihadi studies field to describe Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi (born ‘Isam Bin Muhammad Bin Tahir al-Barqawi) as being the most important jihadi ideologue alive. Part of this derives from a study written by Will McCants in 2006 that notes he is the most cited living jihadi ideologue within jihadi primary source literature. At the time, in many ways, al-Qaeda (AQ) was also the unipolar leader of the jihadi world. Since then, cracks in the foundation of AQ’s leading role have created alternative visions for the future of the jihadi movement. Most notable has been the case of the Islamic State (IS), but another is that of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). In attempting to bolster their legitimacy, these different currents have moved away from al-Maqdisi and even derided him. The story of al-Maqdisi’s issues with the leader of IS’s predecessor, Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi, and of

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Ultra Extremism Among Tunisian Jihadis Within The Islamic State

Many within Syria viewed Tunisians as more extreme relative to other foreign fighters.[1] There is a twofold aspect to this. The first relates to the human rights violations that Tunisians have been involved in within Syria, which is not necessarily unique considering all of the human rights violations committed by members of IS, whether local or foreign. The second, which this article focuses on, relates to some Tunisians involved within an extremist trend within IS called the al-Hazimiya (Hazimis), which is named after the progenitor of the ideas these individuals follow, Ahmad Bin ‘Umar al-Hazimi, a Saudi religious scholar. It should be noted that al-Hazimi is not a member or affiliated with IS; his ideas, however, were co-opted by some members of IS. As former Saudi ISIS member Sulayman Sa‘ud al-Suba‘i noted about this extremist trend among Tunisians in ISIS, “it was mostly the Tunisians who were involved in takfir,

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