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Middle East Regional Report Jun 23 – Jul 02 2016

Will Al Nusra in Syria announce break from Al Qaeda tonight?

Will Al Nusra in Syria announce break from Al Qaeda tonight?

Abu Muhammad al-Joulani, the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria) recorded an interview with al-Jazeera TV and it is scheduled to air tonight. Sources close to al-Joulani say he is expected announce a break with al-Qaeda and its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. reported on 2nd April that they had received a report from Dubai based 5 Dimension consultants stating that Jabhat al-Nusra had informed their allies in Syria (Ahrar al-Sham) that soon they will make a decision about their allegiance to al-Qaeda.

In that report it was assessed that the most likely outcome would be al-Qaeda’s leader Zawahiri, absolving Jabhat al-Nusra of their allegiance to al-Qaeda.

Aimen Dean, a former member of al Qaeda and British spy believes that al-Nusra’s Joulani will use this al-Jazeera interview to announce that they have severed links with al-Qaeda.

Dean says “I know in recent weeks there has been intense internal debate within al-Nusra over its future links with al-Qaeda, which both Ahrar al-Sham as well as Jund al-Aqsa have been aware of.”

The debates have been complex he says, adding “The Nusra military leadership, mostly Syrians, favoured severing links with al-Qaeda, as they know that such links complicate al-Nusra’s military alliances inside Syria. The Sharia committee of al-Nusra, mostly Saudis, were against severing such links and Sheikh Abu Qatada (Palestinian Jordanian al-Qaeda cleric deported from UK to Jordan in 2013) supported the option to remain loyal to al-Qaeda.”

He went on to say “my sources indicate that Joulani and his military commanders outlined several challenging questions to the Sharia committee about the “convoluted” chain of allegiance that al-Nusra’s leader finds himself in, due to his allegiance to Zawahiri.”

“Zawahiri as head of al-Qaeda, affirmed his allegiance to the leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan Mullah Muhammad Omar. Mullah Muhammad Omar appears to be completely uninterested about what is happening in Syria, Iraq or anywhere else but Afghanistan” he said.

Dean said “ Apparently Joulani asked how the current arrangement benefited al Nusra? And stated Zawahiri is financially broke with no funds to even finance a simple Video appearance after the head of al-Qaeda’s media operations, Adam Ghadan, was killed last January.”

Joulani and his Syrian commanders complained that Zawahiri was always on the move due to security fears and was difficult to get hold of to consult on major policy issues.

Dean expanded by saying “Zawahiri is not only on the run for fear of US drone attacks, but from some rogue units of the Taliban of Pakistan who have pledged allegiance to the IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They are operating near where Zawahiri is hiding out”.

“In short, the Nusra Syrian military commanders see no political, ideological or financial advantage in the current arrangement with al-Qaeda.” Dean says.

What is clear is that tonight’s interview with Joulani will reveal who won the internal debate within Nusra over the links with al-Qaeda. Dean and his 5 Dimension team believe it will end up with al-Nusra severing its links with al-Qaeda.

It is clear from the arguments that there is a school of thought that Al-Qaeda and Zawahiri are not providing leadership, finance, vision or direction. This could suggest that al-Qaeda’s central command and Zawahiri are in a state of paralysis through threats from multiple sources.

Could this be the sign that al-Qaeda as an organisation is finished? There are no indications al-Qaeda in Yemen, AKA Ansar al-Sharia or AQAP looking at taking a leading role to give the organization direction.

The detail in this report has been provided to by Aimen Dean of 5 Dimension Consultants.

The update for what happened in the interview can be found here:



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