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Samir Hijazi, known as Abu Humam al-Shami, was the military chief of al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate al-Nusra Front.[2] He became the head of the Guardians of Religion Organization in February 2018.[1]

Abu Humam al-Shami
Abu Humam al-Shami.png
BornSyria
Military career
Allegiance al-Qaeda
Service/branch al-Nusra Front
(2012–2016)
Guardians of Religion Organization (2018–present)[1]
Years of service1990s–present
RankMilitary chief of al-Nusra Front
Leader of the Guardians of Religion Organization
Battles/warsSyria

Lebanon

Military intervention against ISIL

Contents

Early lifeEdit

He is of Syrian origin.

He traveled to Afghanistan between 1998 and 1999 and is believed to have spent a year at Al Ghuraba training camp, run by Abu Musab al-Suri. He attended al-Qaeda's Al Farouq training camp, where he finished second in his class. He was later made a trainer at Al Farouq training camp and afterwards he was appointed the emir over the region of the Kandahar Airport training camp by Saif al-Adel.[2]

He pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden, personally shaking his hand, and was placed in charge of Syrian jihadists in Afghanistan. He took part in al-Qaeda's battles at the time. He was appointed by Saeed al-Masri to work in Iraq prior to the fall of Baghdad in 2003. He stayed in Iraq “as an official representative of" al-Qaeda for four months prior to the Iraq War. During that time, he met with both Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Abu Hamza al-Muhajir.

He was arrested by Iraqi intelligence and transferred to Syrian custody but he was quickly freed by the Syrians and resumed his work in Iraq. At the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003, he was appointed as the military head “of the mujahideen services office that was working in the benefit of the jihad in Iraq.” Zarqawi “would send him men and he would train them militarily and [then] return them to” Iraq.

In 2005 he was subject to a series of arrests by the Syrian intelligence that forced him to flee to Lebanon. He then returned to Afghanistan. At some point he returned to the Levant under the orders of Atiyah Abd al-Rahman[3] and in 2007 was arrested and imprisoned in Lebanon for five years.[2] During this time he was held in the infamous Roumieh Prison.[4]

Syrian Civil WarEdit

He was released from prison in Lebanon in 2012 and immediately traveled to Syria to participate in the Syrian Civil War. He joined al-Nusra Front and became the group's overall military chief.[2][5] In August 2016, it was reported on social media that al-Shami informed Nusra in letter he wouldn't join Jabhat Fateh al Sham.[6]

Relations with ISILEdit

In 2014, al-Nusra was engaged in hostilities with the break away al-Qaeda faction, ISIL. Al-Shami was said to have spearheaded efforts in order to negotiate a ceasefire. He met with one of ISIL emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi's chief deputies. Baghdadi's deputy supposedly told al-Shami that either ISIL will annihilate everyone else, or ISIL itself will be annihilated. When al-Shami suggested that their differences could be settled in a common sharia court, Baghdadi's deputy replied that they will bring their disagreements to a sharia court when the fight to the death is over.[7]

The al-Nusra Front finally brokered a ceasefire with ISIL, when al-Shami met with Abu Omar al-Shishani, the Chechen ISIL commander. Before the deal could be ratified however, ISIL detonated a car bomb. The bombing presumably brought the peace process to a halt.[7]

Reports of deathEdit

On 5 March 2015, Syrian state media claimed that al-Shami had been killed in a Syrian Army operation in the Idlib Province. However, other sources, including the SOHR, reported that al-Shami had been killed by a US-led Coalition airstrike.[8][9][10] His death was never officially confirmed by al-Nusra Front.[11][12]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Joško Barić (28 February 2018). "Syrian War Daily – 28th of February 2018". Syrian War Daily.
  2. ^ a b c d "Who's who in the Nusra Front?". al-Araby. 15 December 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  3. ^ "TSG IntelBrief: The Long Arc of an Al-Qaeda Terrorist - The Soufan Group".
  4. ^ agencies, The New Arab &. "Syrian al-Nusra leader reportedly killed in airstrike".
  5. ^ "Deaths Reported in Syria of Top Figures in Group Affiliated With Al Qaeda". The New York Times. 7 March 2015.
  6. ^ Joscelyn, Thomas (26 August 2016). "1. Nusra Front military commander Abu Hamam al Shami informed Nusra in a letter he wouldn't join Jabhat Fath al Sham". Twitter.
  7. ^ a b "Al Nusrah Front video features veteran al Qaeda military leader". The Long War Journal. 24 March 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  8. ^ "Syria's Qaeda leader killed in explosion - ARA News". ARA News. Archived from the original on 2015-03-08. Retrieved 2016-03-03.
  9. ^ "About 4500 people including 366 civilians were killed over 17 months since the beginning of US-led coalition airstrikes on Syria". SOHR. February 23, 2016. Archived from the original on March 12, 2016. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  10. ^ "Senior Nusra Front commander killed in Syria air strike". Al-Jazeera. 6 March 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  11. ^ Hubbard, Ben (6 March 2015). "Deaths Reported in Syria of Top Figures in Group Affiliated With Al Qaeda". The New Yirj Tunes.
  12. ^ "Al Qaeda veteran reportedly targeted in Syria". Long War Journal. 6 March 2015.