Following Ahmad Jibril's Death In Damascus, PFLP Praises His Role In Fight Against Israel, Support For 'Axis Of Resistance'; Salafi-Jihadi Figures Dub Him 'Mercenary' Of Syrian Regime

July 8, 2021

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

On July 7, 2021, Ahmad Jibril, the leader of Al-Jabhah Al-Sha'biyyah Li-Taḥrir Filastin, or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – designated by the United States, the European Union, and Israel as a terrorist group – reportedly died at the age of 83 in a hospital in the Syrian capital Damascus. Reacting to his death, salafi-jihadi figures, including jihadi ideologue Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, criticized Jibril for his support for the Syrian regime and accused him of participating in massacres against Palestinians and Syrian people.

Below are reactions to Jibril's death:

In a statement posted on its website,[1] the PFLP eulogized its founder Jibril, a.k.a. Abu Jihad, as a "great Palestinian leader," highlighting "his long experience in the struggle" against Israel. The statement praised his stance that Israel is "an occupation entity that usurped Palestine," and that "the struggle of the Palestinian people aims to defeat this entity and fully liberate Palestine, without negotiating any part of it away."

Deeming him a "martyr," the statement lauded Jibril's "pioneering role in founding and launching the contemporary Palestinian revolution" and "his prominent role in founding the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and founding and developing Palestinian military activity, based on his knowledge and experience, which he demonstrated in multiple qualitative military operations against the Zionist entity [Israel], and in confrontations between the Palestinian revolution and plots [made against it] to deflate its fight for existance. He sacrificed his oldest son, Jihad, on this path."

Jibril's death, the statement continued, is a loss for the Palestinians and their national movement, as well as for "the axis of resistance," which he had advocated for as an alternative to "the axis of subordination, submission, and normalization in the region."

Gaza-based Islamist Ahmad Qanitah, who supports the Syrian jihadi group Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham, published a post on Telegram[2] leveling harsh criticism at Ahmad Jibril. According to Qanitah, "The hands of Jibril and his militias are stained with the blood of Palestinian refugees residing in camps in Syria and Lebanon, and also with the blood of our Syrian people, who revolted against their fascist and oppressive regime."

Qunitah also accused Jibril and his group of acting as mercenaries for the "sectarian and criminal" Syrian regime. He stressed that "the operations carried out by Jibril and his faction against the Zionist entity do not wash away the shame of his participation in the slaughtering of the Syrian people who revolted, demanding freedom, justice, and a peaceful transition of power (just like the demands [for Palestine])."

Justifying his criticism of Jibril, Qunitah said he had leveled similarly harsh criticism at the Palestinian Authority for allegedly assassinating Palestinian political activist Nizar Banat and other political activists. Such criticism, he said, is therefore warranted in the case of Jibril, who "cooperated with a thuggish regime that killed approximately one million Syrians, displaced millions, and destroyed historical sites in Syria, for the sake of clinging to their cursed seat [of power]."

Also commenting on Jibril's death, prominent Jordanian Salafi-jihadi ideologue Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi described Jibril in a tweet[3] as "one of the most evil arms of the Syrian regime, which used him for its filthy missions," and accused him of "participating the regime's massacres in Al-Yarmouk refugee camp[4] and others." Al-Maqdisi added: "He wasted his life as the mercenary of tyrants, and in the eyes of his stupid supporters he is a big hero! Woe for him, how will meet his Lord?!"

Al-Maqdisi's tweet included a clip from the Syrian opposition Orient TV denouncing Jibril for using his militias to destroy Al-Yarmouk refugee camp and for supporting Hamas, Hizballah, and Iran.




[1], July 7, 2021.

[2], July 7, 2021.

[3] Twitter, @ttawhedfirst, July 7, 2021.

[4] Al-Yarmouk is an unofficial refugee camp which was home to approximately 160,000 Palestine refugees, the largest Palestinian refugee community in Syria, before the eruption of the 2011 conflict.

The Cyber & Jihad Lab

The Cyber & Jihad Lab monitors, tracks, translates, researches, and analyzes cyber jihad originating from the Middle East, Iran, South Asia, and North and West Africa. It innovates and experiments with possible solutions for stopping cyber jihad, advancing legislation and initiatives federally – including with Capitol Hill and attorneys-general – and on the state level, to draft and enforce measures that will serve as precedents for further action. It works with leaders in business, law enforcement, academia, and families of terror victims to craft and support efforts and solutions to combat cyber jihad, and recruits, and works with technology industry leaders to craft and support efforts and solutions.

Read More