A week ago, Huras al-Din (HD), al-Qaeda’s (AQ) main branch in Syria, began a Ramadan lecture series from a number of its ideologues. As of this date, HD has released seven videos in the series. Among them includes one of HD’s biggest ideologues, Abu Usamah al-Shawkani as well as Abu Hurayrah al-Shami and Abu ‘Adnan al-Shami. In addition to these individuals is someone that was promoted in Telegram when his two videos were released as Abu al-Bara’ al-Muhajir. However, if you watch the two videos he is in, it actually denotes an Abu al-Bara’ al-Tunisi, meaning he’s Tunisian.
This individual looks familiar to me, though I cannot place where I have seen him before and therefore do not know his real name. It is plausible I had previously seen his face in Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia propaganda in the past. There is also very little record of his name coming up previously in primary sources that I have. That said, according to Tunisian and Syrian reporting, Abu al-Bara’ had previously been Jabhat al-Nusrah’s top sharia official in Deir al-Zour prior to IS’s takeover of the area. Locals were not a fan of him, however. Following IS’s takeover, there were rumors that he was killed by IS, but that has been proven wrong. According to Charles Lister, following IS’s takeover, Abu al-Bara’ fled to southern Aleppo and the Badiya region and allegedly became the wali of Badiya for JN.
In late November 2017, Abu al-Bara’ broke with JN’s new direction and signed onto a statement with a number of other Tunisian foreign fighters that argued against Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham’s (HTS) arrest of the Jordanian Dr. Sami al-Uraydi who is a senior al-Qaeda official globally and was previously JN’s chief sharia official prior to the discord between him and HTS as JN moved away from AQ’s chain-of-command in mid-2016 to early 2017. At the time, Abu al-Bara’ was listed number eleven amongst the signatories in the statement, suggesting he was not as important a year-and-a-half ago and the possibility that he has risen in the ranks more recently. Besides his signature, there is little else known about this figure at this juncture and this paragraph is just an inchoate sketch.
As for the two videos he has appeared in thus far: in the first one, he discusses the importance of fighting in al-Sham and the place it has in the history of Islam and in the second video, he describes the necessity of killing infidels in war. We shall see if he appears in any other videos in this broader HD Ramadan dawa series in the coming days. If I come across anything else in the future I will update this post. For now, it is interesting that a Tunisian has appeared in this series alongside HD’s most prominent ideologue and two other Syrians.
Post updated based on details Charles Lister shared on Twitter.