Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) Religious Official To Al-Qaeda Branch Leaders: Dissolve Al-Qaeda, Focus On Fighting Iran, Not Others

August 25, 2022

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On August 15, Abu Mariyah Al-Qahtani, also known as Maysarah Al-Jubouri, a senior religious official in the Idlib-based jihadi group Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which severed its ties with Al-Qaeda in 2016, published a post on his Telegram channel advising Al-Qaeda branches to dissolve the organization and to reconsider their jihadi agenda and narrative.[1]

Without A Trustworthy Leader Al-Qaeda Should Be Dissolved

The HTS official wrote that after the death of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike that targeted his residence in Kabul on July 31, the best option is to dissolve the organization entirely, because Al-Zawahiri's potential successor, Sayf Al-'Adel, is living under confinement in Iran.[2]

"My advice to Al-Qaeda's branches is to dissolve Al-Qaeda in order to counter the pretext which some countries are using [to condemn Al-Qaeda.] Let us not forget that Sayf Al-'Adl resides in Iran and is managing [Al-Qaeda's] branches while he is under captivity and coercion."

Criticizing Al-'Adl's leadership, Al-Qahtani cited the "strife" within the group following Al-'Adl's assignment to manage Al-Qaeda's affairs in Syria. "We have seen in Syria what Sayf Al-'Adl did, and the sedition and other issues that took place and led to losses that were not taken into consideration," he said.

Al-Qaeda In The Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Should Reconsider Its Narrative, Alliances

Addressing the organization's branch in Yemen, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al-Qahtani advised its leadership to focus on their fight against the Iran-backed Houthis, and to reconsider their agenda and narrative.

"My advice to the Yemen branch is to devote themselves to confronting the Iranian project, and to sever their foreign ties, change their internal and external policies. They should address the world and the Sunni people of Yemen with a new narrative. They ought to save our people, the Sunnis in Yemen, who are exhausted by the wars and Iran," he noted.

He went on to add that the Islamic nation needs to unite against Iran, which controls several Arab Muslim capitals, and threatens others. In this regard, Al-Qahtani suggested that AQAP should seek to make regional alliances with Yemen's neighboring countries "to break Iran's thorn, expel their proxies [i.e., Houthis] and to expel their evil away from the region."

AQAP's Position Is Vulnerable

Further, Al-Qahtani argued that Al-'Adl's residency in Iran impacts AQAP's image as a protector of the Sunnis, saying Sunnis in Yemen needs to unify their efforts to defeat the Houthis, but that AQAP "remains connected to their base in their position against the Houthis, who are a proxy of Iran — where Sayf Al-'Adl resides under confinement."

Al-Qaeda Branches Must Focus On Fighting Iran, Not Other Countries

Concluding his advice, Al-Qahtani addressed other Al-Qaeda branches, advising them to carefully examine his message objectively and put aside their disputes with him, stressing that Al-Qaeda leaders should consider changing their jihadi agenda to focus on fighting Iran, not other countries.

"My words here are nothing but advice, and [are written] out of pity for our Sunnis everywhere. The stage that the nation and its people are going through needs the forming of relations with countries and nations. It is not reasonable that Iran occupies our capitals, yet we declare war on other countries. The reality of the Islamic nation is bitter, and we need to reconsider our priorities and think about the situation of our people who suffer because of Iran."

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