Ahmad Salama Mabruk

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Ahmad Salama Mabruk
Born 8 December 1956
El Giza, Egypt
Arrested 1981, 1996, 1998
Egypt, Russia and Azerbaijan
Died October 3, 2016(2016-10-03) (aged 59)
Jisr al-Shughur, Idlib Governorate, Syria
Citizenship Egyptian
Detained at Guantanamo Bay camp
Alternate name Abu al-Faraj al-Masri,[1]
Children Ibrahim, Ahmed, Musab, at least one daughter

Ahmad Salama Mabruk (Arabic: الشيخ أحمد سلامة مبروك‎‎; December 8, 1956 – October 3, 2016), known as Abu Faraj al-Masri (Arabic: أبو الفرج المصري‎‎), was a senior leader in the Syrian militant group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and was previously a leader in Jabhat al-Nusra and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad militant groups. He was present alongside Abu Muhammad al-Julani at the announcement of the creation of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.[3][4][5] He was one of 14 people subjected to extraordinary rendition by the CIA prior to the 2001 declaration of a War on Terror.[6]


A computer science graduate of Cairo University, Mabrouk graduated alongside Mustafa Hamza.[7][8] He then joined the Egyptian army as a reserve officer,[8] and raised his sons "to obey Allah's commands, in a home where obedience, traveling for the sake of jihad, and perseverance were encouraged".[9]

In 1981, Mabruk was arrested following the assassination of President Anwar Sadat, and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.[2]

Released in 1988, Mabruk moved to Afghanistan where Sayyed Imam Al-Sharif was gathering EIJ members. However, al-Sharif was replaced by Ayman al-Zawahiri as leader of the group in 1991, and the following year Mabruk moved to the Sudan.[2]

In 1994, Mabruk's 17-year-old son Ahmed, as well as the 15-year-old Musab, son of Mohammed Sharaf, were captured by the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate and sexually abused. They were blackmailed with videotape of the sodomy, until they agreed to act as informants against their fathers' group. Musab went through his father's files and photocopied them for the Egyptians, but the Sudanese intelligence service saw the covert meetings and alerted al-Jihad, recommending that they treat the boys leniently if they confessed. After Tariq Anwar found explosives in Musab's possession, al-Zawahiri convened a Sharia court, where Musab confessed he had been given the bomb by the Egyptians which he was told to detonate at the next Shura council meeting. They were each found guilty of "sodomy, treason, and attempted murder", and sentenced to death by firing squad. The trial, and the execution, were filmed and copies of the film were distributed by al-Jihad.[10][11] The incident "catastrophically undermined" Mabruk's position in the organisation,[2] and when the Sudanese found out about the executions, al-Jihad was ordered to leave the country.[12]

The Khan el-Khalili marketplace

Mabruk ran al-Jihad operations under the front organisation Bavari-C.[13] He was a vocal critic of the group's close connections to Osama bin Laden, and criticised its leadership for allowing such a close relationship.[14] In 1995 he was sentenced to death in absentia for plotting to bomb the Khan el-Khalili market in Cairo,[15] along with Ahmad Ibrahim al-Sayyid al-Naggar and Adel Abdel Bary.[16]

Throughout 1996, he maintained telephone contact with Canadian Mahmoud Jaballah, who was believed to be an al-Jihad organiser.[17][18] At some point in the year, he traveled to Albania for several months where he was employed by the Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage.[2][15] His daughter married Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah.[19]

Arrest and imprisonment in Russia[edit]

On December 1, 1996, Mabruk and Mahmud Hisham al-Hennawi - both carrying false passports - accompanied Ayman al-Zawahiri on a trip to Chechnya, where they hoped to re-establish the faltering al-Jihad. Their leader was traveling under the name Abdullah Imam Mohammed Amin, and trading on his medical credentials for legitimacy. The group switched vehicles three times, but were arrested within hours of entering Russian territory and spent five months in a Makhachkala prison awaiting trial. The trio pleaded innocence, maintaining their disguise and having other al-Jihad members from Bavari-C send the Russian authorities pleas for leniency for their "merchant" colleagues who had been wrongly arrested; and Russian Member of Parliament Nadyr Khachiliev echoed the pleas for their speedy release as al-Jihad members Ibrahim Eidarous and Tharwat Salah Shehata traveled to Dagestan to plead for their release. Shehata received permission to visit the prisoners, and is believed to have smuggled them $3000 which was later confiscated from their cell, and to have given them a letter which the Russians didn't bother to translate.[13]

In April 1997, they were sentenced to six months, and were subsequently released a month later and ran off without paying their court-appointed attorney Abulkhalik Abdusalamov his $1,800 legal fee citing their "poverty".[13] Shehata was sent on to Chechnya, where he met with Ibn Khattab.[13] Zawahiri and Mabruk accompanied al-Hennawi to Baku, Azerbaijan where he'd managed to secure himself a position.[20]

In June 1998, tired of Mabruk's criticisms of his relationship with Bin Laden, al-Zawahiri allegedly banished him from al-Jihad's central operations. He subsequently remained in Azerbaijan when Zawahiri left, and set up his own militant cell under the Bavari-C name, replacing Eidarous as the regional commander, after his transfer to London.[14][21]

1998 arrest in Azerbaijan[edit]

In August 1998, a wiretapped phonecall tipped off the Israeli Mossad that a rendez-vous between Ihab Saqr and an Iranian MOIS official was planned in Baku, Azerbaijan. Without a bureau in Azerbaijan, they contacted the American CIA, who allowed a Canadian-raised Mossad agent to unofficially tag along as seven or eight CIA officers based in Frankfurt oversaw a local police raid on the Baku hotelroom on August 20.[22][23][24]

When the Azeri police received confirmation that Saqr was in his hotelroom drinking coffee with others, they stormed the room grabbing all three people they found present and brought them still barefoot to the police station. It was now realised that the Iranian official hadn't yet shown up, and they had instead arrested Saqr, as well as Mabruk and Essam Marzouk.[22][25] They were brought to the police station, where the Mossad agent says the police "beat the crap out of them".[22] His laptop computer was seized, and yielded information on an Albanian cell, leading to a raid which saw five more arrested and extradited to Egypt.[26][27] It also ostensibly confirmed the identity of more than a hundred others who were, or had been, arrested based on their links to the group.[28]

An alternative telling of his arrest suggests that he had been arrested outside a Baku restaurant after American authorities had been tipped off by an informant inside al-Jihad.[26]

Imprisonment in Egypt[edit]

Under interrogation and alleged torture,[14] Mabruk claimed that al-Jihad had acquired chemical weapons over the past two years and gave up the names and locations of dozens of al-Jihad members.[23][24] Although previously sentenced to death in absentia, he was instead sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment at the Huckstep Military Court.[13][29]

While in prison, he began to lead a militant al-Marj group in the Abu Zabal prison camp. In the summer of 2004, he used this position to denounce an attempt by Nabil Na'eem to preach that violence was counter-productive to jihad.[30] That July, it was announced that his son Ibrahim, who had worked as an "educator" close to al-Jihad, had been killed in a Predator drone airstrike in the North West Frontier Province that had killed Midhat Mursi.[31]

In December 2007, al-Zawahiri announced he would take questions from the public and attempt to answer as many as he could.[32] The 846th question asked if he knew whether it was true that Mabruk had been arrested while attempting to purchase red arsenic.[33]

The following year, Zawahiri mentioned Mabruk as one of those leading the campaign to protest unfair treatment by Egyptian prison authorities who had neglected the medical needs of imprisoned militants.[34]


Mabruk was released from prison following the Egyptian revolution of 2011.[35] By 2016, Mabruk had travelled to Syria, where he joined the central leadership of al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.[4]


At approximately 5:15pm on October 3, 2016, while being driven down a suburban street in the rebel stronghold of Jisr al-Shughur, Syria, Mabruk's car was hit by a drone strike, killing both him and the driver instantaneously. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham confirmed Mabruk's death on a Twitter account run by the group.[36]


  1. ^ Schiler, Verlag Hans. Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, The Spectrum of Islamic Movements, 2006
  2. ^ a b c d e Jamestown Foundation, Jamestown.org, from EIJ to Chechnya: A Portrait of Mahmoud Hinnawi, July 1, 2005
  3. ^ "Analysis: Al Nusrah Front rebrands itself as Jabhat Fath Al Sham". The Long War Journal. 28 July 2016. Retrieved 29 July 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Syria's cease-fire strengthens al-Qaida branch". Associated Press. 29 May 2016. 
  5. ^ Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Azerbaijan: Whether al-Jihad or any other terrorist organization had a presence in Azerbaijan between August 1995 and May 1996, February 5, 2003
  6. ^ Mother Jones, Disappearing Act: Rendition by the Numbers Archived 2009-12-21 at WebCite, March 3, 2008
  7. ^ Potomac Books, Through Our Enemies Eyes, 2003. p. 73
  8. ^ a b Al-Ahram, Weekly.Ahram.org, The Hamza connection, January 19, 2005
  9. ^ Zawahiri, Ayman. "Radio Message of August 22, 2008
  10. ^ Bergen, Peter, The Osama bin Laden I Know, 2006.
  11. ^ al-Shafey, Mohammed. Asharq Alawsat, Al-Qaeda's secret Emails: Part Four, June 19, 2005
  12. ^ Sageman, Marc, Understanding Terror Networks, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004, p.45
  13. ^ a b c d e Wall Street Journal, "Saga of Dr. Zawahri Sheds Light On the Roots of al Qaeda Terror"
  14. ^ a b c Gerges, Fawaz A. "The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global", 2005. p. 169
  15. ^ a b Deliso, Christopher. "The Coming Balkan Caliphate", 2007. p. 34
  16. ^ al-Ahram, Military trial for bombing suspects, November 5–11, 1998
  17. ^ Tab 9, MCI et al v. Mahmoud Jaballah, DES-6-99, Transcript of Proceedings, June 8, 1999, p. 95
  18. ^ Tab 11, MCI et al v. Mahmoud Jaballah, DES-4-01, Transcript of Proceedings, July 11, 2006, pp. 856-858
  19. ^ United States v. Usama bin Laden, Transcript of Day 8
  20. ^ Debka, "Who Killed the Globetrotting Abu Sahal?"
  21. ^ CNS.Miis.edu[permanent dead link], Copy of indictment, USA v. Usama bin Laden et al. S(6)98 Crim.1023 (LBS), District Court of Southern New York, June 1999. Emphasis on page 28.
  22. ^ a b c Bell, Stewart. National Post, "Mossad's Canuck gets his man", October 15, 2005
  23. ^ a b Salah, Muhammad. Al-Hayah, "Bin Ladin Front Reportedly Bought CBW from E. Europe", April 20, 1999
  24. ^ a b Salah, Muhammad. Al-Hayah, "US Said Interrogating Jihadist Over CBW", April 21, 1999
  25. ^ Ross, Michael and Jonathan Kay. "The Volunteer: The Incredible True Story of an Israeli Spy on the Trail of International Terrorists", 2007. pp 214-224
  26. ^ a b Jamestown Foundation, The End of Egyptian Islamic Jihad?, February 9, 2005
  27. ^ Rasanayagam, Angelo. "Afghanistan: A Modern History", p. 247
  28. ^ El-Zayyat, Montasser, "The Road to al-Qaeda", 2004. tr. by Ahmed Fakry
  29. ^ Al-Sharq al-Awsat, "Extracts from al-Jihad Leader al-Zawahiri's new book", December 2, 2001
  30. ^ Brachman, Jarret. "Global Jihadism", 2008. p. 77
  31. ^ The National, Zawahiri lauds chemical expert, August 24, 2008
  32. ^ Musharbash, Yassin (2007-01-16). "Ask al-Qaida: A jihadi advice column? Osama bin Laden's second-in-command answers questions from fans of the terror group worldwide". Salon/Der Speigel. 
  33. ^ Al-Ekhlas, English Translation of Original Questions to Zawahiri
  34. ^ Zawahiri, Ayman. The Exoneration: A Treatise Exonerating of the Nation of the Pen and the Sword of the Denigrating Charge of Being Irresolute and Weak, March 2008. p. 265
  35. ^ "Veteran Egyptian jihadist now an al Qaeda leader in Syria - The Long War Journal". 
  36. ^ "Airstrike in Syria kills al-Qaida-linked commander once held over 1981 Sadat assassination". 4 October 2016 – via Japan Times Online.