Al-Qaeda's Syrian Affiliate Eulogizes Commander Killed In U.S. Airstrike, Prohibits Jihadis From Using 'Deadly' Cellphones

October 26, 2021

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On October 26, 2021, Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, Hurras Al-Din, released a statement via its official media arm, Sham Al-Ribat Media, eulogizing Abu 'Abdallah Al-Raqqawi,[1] who other jihadi Telegram channels have identified as Abdul Hamid Al-Matar, a senior Al-Qaeda leader killed by a U.S. drone strike near Sulouk, Syria, on October 22, 2021.[2]

According to the statement, Al-Raqqawi served as Hurras Al-Din's top officer "behind enemy lines" in the "eastern area," which refers to the area east of Syria's Raqqa. The statement also noted that he and his comrades were subjected to harassment by Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which "abused, killed, and detained them, and confiscated what it could of their weapons, money, and possessions." It further noted they were eventually forced to move farther behind enemy lines, "exposing them to the dangers of that area."

The eulogy further warned Hurras Al-Din fighters of the "danger" of using "the deadly cellphones" and prohibited them from using them "in any jihadi activities in a way that would expose them to Allah's enemies."  

Commenting on Al-Raqqawi's death, several anti-HTS Telegram channels, including Muzamjir Al-Thawrah Al-Suriyah, noted that Al-Raqqawi, also identified as Abdul Hamid Al-Matar, formerly served as a commander in Jabhat Al-Nusra, which later became HTS, before defecting to Hurras Al-Din and coming under HTS surveillance.[3]

While the statement released by Hurras Al-Din did not specifically address how, when, and by whom Al-Raqqawi was "targeted," it did conclude by assuring the U.S. that Hurras Al-Din fighters "will not bow and they will continue waging jihad." This, coupled with the above-mentioned comments by anti-HTS channels identifying Al-Raqqawi as Abdul Hamid Al-Matar and the USCENTCOM statement announcing Al-Matar's death, indicate that Abu 'Abdallah Al-Raqqawi is Al-Matar's alias and that he was, in fact, killed in the October 22 U.S. airstrike.   

[1] Telegram,  October 26, 2021.

[2], October 22, 2021.

[3] Telegram, October 22, 2021.

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