Abu Khalid al-Suri

Abu Khalid al-Suri (Abu Khalid 'the Syrian'), or Mohamed al-Bahaiya or Abu Omeir al-Shami was a Syrian Jihadist militant often affiliated with Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda and the Syrian Islamist group, Ahrar al-Sham. Al-Suri was assassinated in 2014 during a suicide operation carried out by fighters belonging to ISIS.

Militant activity

Born in Aleppo, Syria in 1963 as Mohamed al-Bahaiya, al-Suri’s Jihadist career has its roots in the failed Islamist Uprising in Syria between 1979 and 1982, following which he fled Syria.[1][2]

During the 1990’s al-Suri coordinated closely with Abu-Musab al-Suri, a Spanish-Syrian Jihadist. Together, Abu-Musab and Abu Khalid al-Suri worked to establish Jihadi-volunteer centers, training camps and various media groups in Afghanistan. While both men worked closely with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, they clearly denied being members of the group during an issued a statement in 1999.[3] Around the time of the statement, al-Suri had been operating mostly out of Turkey and fled to Afghanistan.[4]

In 2004, al-Suri, along with Abu-Musab, was linked to the 2004 Madrid bombing through a series of money transfers and personal contacts. A Spanish court document went on to name al-Suri as Bin Laden’s “courier” in Europe.[3][5] Another report refers to him as “a ‘mid-level’ activist…and a ‘member of Usama (sic) bin Ladin’s structures in Europe”.[4]

Al-Suri was financially aided partly by a Qatari national, named Abd Al-Rahman al-Nuaimi. Nuaimi is a purported human rights activist and co-founder of Alkarama. On December 18th, 2013, Nuaimi was placed on the United States Treasury’s Specially Designated Global Terror List (SDTG). Nuaimi is accused of transferring $600,000 dollars to al-Suri and the intent to transfer approximately $50,000 more.[6]

Involvement in the Syrian Civil War and Ahrar al-Sham

In 2011, al-Suri co-founded Ahrar al-Sham¸ a Sunni Syrian Islamist group, opposing Bashar al-Assad’s government forces as part of the Islamic Front.[7] Despite helping to found al-Sham and serving in its most senior ranks, al-Suri’s involvement in the organization and his ties to al-Qaeda were kept secret, and he adopted a new nom de guerre: Abu Omeir al-Shami.[3]

Al Suri continued to use both names separately in statements, but it was not until after his death that the two were linked as the same person.[3]

In early 2013 infighting began between al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front and ISIL (then known only as ISI). It began with a recorded announcement on April 8th by ISI’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announcing an unauthorized merger between the two groups.[8][9] Disagreements and conflicts between the two escalated by the end of 2013. Hostilities continue worsen, with al-Nusra’s leader, Abu Mohammed al-Julani, claming in a 2014 interview that he saw no end to the conflict.[10][11]

In May of 2013, the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri¸ sent a secret letter to al-Baghdadi in the hopes of quelling tensions between their two groups. The letter, dated 23rd of May, 2013, asserts al-Qaeda’s dominance and names al-Suri as al-Zawahiri’s representative and delegate in Syria.[12]


On February 21st, 2014 five men entered al-Suri’s headquarter compound in Aleppo and opened fire, one of the gunman then detonated his explosive pack. The attack killed al-Suri and six of his men.[13]

Syrian rebels mourned al-Suri’s death on social media accounts, posting his photo and praising his actions in support of Jihad.[14] Al-Qaeda published a eulogy for al-Suri and uploaded a video of him at the al-Farouq training camp in Afghanistan, along with photos of him with Bin Laden.[15]

A rebel source was quoted saying "Sheikh Abu Khalid was an important Jihadi figure, he fought the Americans in Iraq and in Afghanistan. They (ISIL) gave the Americans a present, a free gift, by killing him."[14]


  1. "Who and What Was Abu Khalid al-Suri? Part I - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace". Carnegieendowment.org. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  2. "Timeline: The Syrian revolt". Al Jazeera English. 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Who and What Was Abu Khalid al-Suri? Part I - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace". Carnegieendowment.org. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  4. 1 2 "Norsk rapport" (PDF). Investigativeproject.org. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-17. Retrieved 2016-08-16.
  6. "Treasury Designates Al-Qa'ida Supporters in Qatar and Yemen". Treasury.gov. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  7. "Al-Qaeda's Abu Khaled al-Suri killed by suicide bomb in Syria". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  8. "ISI Confirms That Jabhat Al-Nusra Is Its Extension In Syria, Declares 'Islamic State Of Iraq And Al-Sham' As New Name Of Merged Group". Memri.org. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  9. "Factbox: Syria's rebel groups". Reuters. 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  10. Abu Mohammed al-Golani (2015-06-04). "Nusra leader: No end to conflict with ISIL in Syria". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  11. "Translation of al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri's letter to the leaders of the two Jihadi groups" (PDF). S3.documentcloud.org. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  12. "Syria rebel leader Abu Khaled al-Suri killed in Aleppo". BBC News. 2014-02-24. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  13. 1 2 Karouny, Mariam (2014-02-23). "Syrian rebel, friend of al Qaeda leader, killed by rival Islamists". Reuters. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  14. Daniel Cassman. "Ahrar al-Sham | Mapping Militant Organizations". Web.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
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