Abu Abd al-Karim al-Masri

Abu Abd al-Karim al-Masri is a senior leader of Hurras al-Din (HaD), an al-Qaeda affiliated group in Syria.“Abu ‘Abd al-Karim al-Masri,” Rewards for Justice, September 2019, https://rewardsforjustice.net/rewards/abu-abd-al-karim-al-masri/. The group was formed from a merger of seven hardline Syrian rebel factions on February 27, 2018.Tore Refslund Hamming and Pieter Van Ostaeyen, “The True Story of al-Qaeda’s Demise and Resurgence in Syria,” Lawfare, April 8, 2018, https://lawfareblog.com/true-story-al-qaedas-demise-and-resurgence-syria. HaD is largely based in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, but also maintains a presence in nearby provinces.“US Offers Bounty for Information on al-Qaida-Affiliated Militants in Syria,” Voice of America, September 12, 2019, https://www.voanews.com/a/extremism-watch_us-offers-bounty-information-al-qaida-affiliated-militants-syria/6175724.html.

According to media sources, al-Masri has been active in al-Qaeda for many years and was named as a member of the shura council for al-Qaeda’s general command.Thomas Joscelyn, “Analysis: Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and Hurras al-Din reach a new accord,” Long War Journal, February 15, 2019, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2019/02/analysis-hayat-tahrir-al-sham-and-hurras-al-din-reach-a-new-accord.php. In December 2017, amidst disagreements between the al-Qaeda linked Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and burgeoning al-Qaeda splinter groups, al-Masri was named head of a reconciliation committee. The committee was a response to an initiative set up by al-Qaeda central seeking to eliminate infighting amongst al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadist groups in Syria.Thomas Joscelyn, “Analysis: Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and Hurras al-Din reach a new accord,” Long War Journal, February 15, 2019, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2019/02/analysis-hayat-tahrir-al-sham-and-hurras-al-din-reach-a-new-accord.php.

At some point in 2018, al-Masri was appointed a member of HaD’s shura council.“Abu ‘Abd al-Karim al-Masri,” Rewards for Justice, September 2019, https://rewardsforjustice.net/rewards/abu-abd-al-karim-al-masri/. Given continued infighting among al-Qaeda aligned groups in Syria, in November 2018, al-Masri established the “Holding Fast Committee”. Within the committee, and despite al-Masri’s ties to HaD, al-Masri served as a general mediator to resolve issues between HTS and HaD which had broken away from HTS.“Abu ‘Abd al-Karim al-Masri,” Rewards for Justice, September 2019, https://rewardsforjustice.net/rewards/abu-abd-al-karim-al-masri/; Sirwan Kajjo, “US Offers Bounty for Information on al-Qaida-Affiliated Militants in Syria,” Voice of America, September 12, 2019, https://www.voanews.com/a/extremism-watch_us-offers-bounty-information-al-qaida-affiliated-militants-syria/6175724.html.

According to media sources, there is a possibility that al-Masri is known as Abu ‘Abd al-Karim al-Gharbi within jihadist circles. If he is also known as al-Gharbi, al-Masri has undertaken a prominent role in commenting on Twitter and Telegram.Thomas Joscelyn, “Analysis: Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and Hurras al-Din reach a new accord,” Long War Journal, February 15, 2019, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2019/02/analysis-hayat-tahrir-al-sham-and-hurras-al-din-reach-a-new-accord.php. One document that al-Masri/al-Gharbi has proliferated on al-Qaeda Telegram channels is a 52-page guide on how to conduct lone wolf attacks in the United States, and which was believed to have been authored in April 2017.Pieter Van Ostaeyen and Tore Hamming, “Jihadists Respond to Trump: “In al-Quds we meet”,” International Center for Counter-Terrorism, February 2, 2018, https://icct.nl/publication/jihadists-respond-to-trump-in-al-quds-we-meet/; “الابتكار الفنان في استهداف الأمريكان,” Scribd, https://www.scribd.com/doc/307098580/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%AA%D9%83%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%85%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%83%D8%A7%D9%86.

Given al-Masri’s prominent role within al-Qaeda and HaD, on September 12, 2019, the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice Program offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the capture of al-Masri.“Abu ‘Abd al-Karim al-Masri,” Rewards for Justice, September 2019, https://rewardsforjustice.net/rewards/abu-abd-al-karim-al-masri/.

Also Known As

Extremist entity
Hurras al-Din
Type(s) of Organization:
Non-state actor, religious, terrorist, national, violent
Ideologies and Affiliations:
Jihadist, pan-Islamist, Salafist, Sunni, takfiri
Position(s):
Senior leader

Hurras al-Din (HaD) was formed on February 27, 2018, by a merger of seven hardline Syrian rebel factions. Ten more minor rebel factions joined the group in the months following its formation, all with a history of ideological and leadership ties to al-Qaeda. HaD is avowedly loyal to al-Qaeda and its leadership is dominated by non-Syrian al-Qaeda veterans.

Return to Full Database

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On August 13, 2017, suspected al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) gunmen opened fire on a Turkish restaurant and hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. 19 people were killed and 22 others were wounded.    

View Archive

CEP on Twitter