Abu Khalid al-Suri

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Abu Khalid al-Suri (Arabic: أبو خالد السوري; Abu Khalid 'the Syrian'), or Mohamed al-Bahaiya or Abu Umayr al-Shami, was a Syrian jihadist militant often affiliated with Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda and the Syrian Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham.[1] Al-Suri was assassinated in an ISIS suicide operation in 2014.

Militant activity[edit]

Born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1963 as Mohamed al-Bahaiya, al-Suri's jihadist career has its roots in the failed Islamist uprising in Syria between 1979 and 1982, following which he fled Syria.[2][3]

During the 1990s al-Suri coordinated closely with Abu-Musab al-Suri, a Spanish-Syrian jihadist. Together they worked to establish jihadi volunteer centers, training camps and various media groups in Afghanistan. While both men worked closely with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, they denied being members of al-Qaeda in a statement made in 1999.[4] Around the time of the statement, al-Suri had been operating mostly out of Turkey and fled to Afghanistan.[5]

In 2004, al-Suri and Abu-Musab were linked to the 2004 Madrid bombing through a series of money transfers and personal contacts. A Spanish court document went on to name al-Suri as Bin Laden's "courier" in Europe.[4][6] Another report refers to him as "a 'mid-level' activist…and a 'member of Usama bin Ladin's structures in Europe".[5]

Al-Suri was financially aided partly by Abd Al-Rahman al-Nuaimi, a Qatari national. Nuaimi is a purported human rights activist and co-founder of Alkarama. On December 18, 2013, Nuaimi was placed on the United States Treasury's Specially Designated Global Terror List (SDTG). Nuaimi is accused of transferring $600,000 dollars to al-Suri and the intent to transfer approximately $50,000 more.[7]

Involvement in the Syrian Civil War and Ahrar al-Sham[edit]

In 2011, al-Suri co-founded Ahrar al-Sham, a Sunni Syrian Islamist group, opposing Bashar al-Assad's government forces as part of the Islamic Front.[8] Despite helping to found al-Sham and serving in its most senior ranks, al-Suri's involvement in the organization and his ties to al-Qaeda were kept secret, and he adopted a new nom de guerre: Abu Omeir al-Shami.[4] Al Suri continued to use both names separately in statements, but it was not until after his death that the two were linked as the same person.[4]

In early 2013 infighting began between al-Qaeda's al-Nusra Front and ISIL (then known only as ISI). It began with a recorded announcement on April 8 by ISI's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announcing an unauthorized merger between the two groups.[9][10] Disagreements and conflicts between the two escalated by the end of 2013. Hostilities continued to worsen, with al-Nusra's leader, Abu Mohammed al-Julani, claiming in a 2014 interview that he saw no end to the conflict.[11][12]

In May 2013, the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, sent a secret letter to al-Baghdadi in the hopes of quelling tensions between their two groups. The letter, dated 23 May 2013, asserts al-Qaeda's dominance and names al-Suri as al-Zawahiri's representative and delegate in Syria.[13]

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Abu Musab al-Suri, Abdullah Azzam, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Osama bin Laden were cited by Abu Khalid when he addressed ISIL.[14]


On February 21, 2014 five men entered al-Suri's headquarter compound in Aleppo and opened fire, then one of the gunman detonated his explosive pack. The attack killed al-Suri and six of his men.[15][16]

Syrian rebels mourned al-Suri's death on social media accounts, posting his photo and praising his actions in support of jihad.[17] Al-Qaeda published a eulogy for al-Suri and uploaded a video of him at the al-Farouq training camp in Afghanistan, along with photos of him with Bin Laden.[18]

A rebel source was quoted saying "Sheikh Abu Khalid was an important Jihadi figure, he fought the Americans in Iraq and in Afghanistan. They (ISIL) gave the Americans a present, a free gift, by killing him."[17]

Abu Khalid received condolences from Nusra Front member Abu Sulayman al Muhajir.[19]

Abu Khalid was praised by the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem's media branch Ibn Taymiyya Media Center.[20]

Abu Khalid received condolences from Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.[21] Abu Firas al-Suri and Abu Khalid were praised in an Al-Qaeda video released by al-Zawahiri called "Three Sheikhs of Jihad".[22]

Abu Khalid appeared in photos with Ahrar ash-Sham chief Hassan Abboud.[23] A photo of Abu Khaled al-Suri, Hassan Abboud, and Abu Firas al-Suri was released.[24][25][26]

Abu Khaled al-Suri was mentioned by Abu Firas al-Suri in a Nusra video which released more information on Abu Firas, such as his previous Muslim Brotherhood affiliation and his association with bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam.[27]


  1. ^ Joscelyn, Thomas (January 18, 2014). "Statement from Zawahiri's representative shows Syrian rebel group tied to al Qaeda". Long War Journal. Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
  2. ^ "Who and What Was Abu Khalid al-Suri? Part I - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace". Carnegieendowment.org. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  3. ^ "Timeline: The Syrian revolt". Al Jazeera English. 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  4. ^ a b c d "Who and What Was Abu Khalid al-Suri? Part I - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace". Carnegieendowment.org. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  5. ^ a b "Norsk rapport" (PDF). Investigativeproject.org. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-17. Retrieved 2016-08-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Treasury Designates Al-Qa'ida Supporters in Qatar and Yemen". Treasury.gov. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  8. ^ "Al-Qaeda's Abu Khaled al-Suri killed by suicide bomb in Syria". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  9. ^ http://www.pri.org/dispatch/news/afp/130409/qaeda-iraq-confirms-syrias-nusra-part-network[dead link]
  10. ^ "ISI Confirms That Jabhat Al-Nusra Is Its Extension In Syria, Declares 'Islamic State Of Iraq And Al-Sham' As New Name Of Merged Group". Memri.org. Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  11. ^ "Factbox: Syria's rebel groups". Reuters. 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  12. ^ Abu Mohammed al-Golani (2015-06-04). "Nusra leader: No end to conflict with ISIL in Syria". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  13. ^ "Translation of al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri's letter to the leaders of the two Jihadi groups" (PDF). S3.documentcloud.org. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  14. ^ Joscelyn, Thomas (January 17, 2014). "Alleged message from Zawahiri's Syrian representative posted online". Long War Journal. Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
  15. ^ "Syria rebel leader Abu Khaled al-Suri killed in Aleppo". BBC News. 2014-02-24. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  16. ^ Joscelyn, Thomas (February 23, 2014). "Al Qaeda's chief representative in Syria killed in suicide attack". Long War Journal. Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
  17. ^ a b Karouny, Mariam (2014-02-23). "Syrian rebel, friend of al Qaeda leader, killed by rival Islamists". Reuters. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  18. ^ Daniel Cassman. "Ahrar al-Sham | Mapping Militant Organizations". Web.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  19. ^ Joscelyn, Thomas (April 10, 2014). "Social Media Jihad: Banner dedicated to Zawahiri's main representative in Syria". Long War Journal. Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
  20. ^ Joscelyn, Thomas (February 26, 2014). "Social Media Jihad: Honoring al Qaeda's chief representative in Syria". Long War Journal. Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
  21. ^ Joscelyn, Thomas (April 4, 2014). "Zawahiri eulogizes al Qaeda's slain Syrian representative". Long War Journal. Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
  22. ^ Joscelyn, Thomas (January 17, 2017). "Ayman al Zawahiri honors 2 slain jihadis in new video". Long War Journal. Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
  23. ^ Joscelyn, Thomas (February 24, 2014). "Islamic Front official posts pictures of al Qaeda's top representative in Syria". Long War Journal. Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
  24. ^ Orton, Kyle (3 April 2016). "Interesting picture being circulated: Abu Khalid as-Suri, Ahrar a-Sham's founder, Hassan Aboud, + Abu Firas as-Suri.pic.twitter.com/C0kfs0FcP7". @KyleWOrton.
  25. ^ Joscelyn, Thomas (3 April 2016). "Should further embarrass Ahrar al Sham's apologists in West. Abu Firas al Suri w/ Hassan Abboud, Abu Khalid al Suripic.twitter.com/nLzoTqn48I". @thomasjoscelyn.
  26. ^ Lister, Charles (3 April 2016). "Interesting, unseen pic showing Abu Firas al-Suri with Ahrar al-Sham founder Hassan Abboud w. Abu Khaled al-Suripic.twitter.com/oh2I7zVOaN". @Charles_Lister.
  27. ^ Joscelyn, Thomas (March 20, 2014). "Al Qaeda veteran appears in Al Nusrah Front video, criticizes rival". Long War Journal. Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

External links[edit]