Report: ISIS Places Bounty on Al-Qaeda Leader’s Head

AFP PHOTO / Site Intelligence Group
AFP PHOTO / Site Intelligence Group

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS) is disseminating “Wanted Dead” posters for several key al-Qaeda commanders, including the group’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Arutz Sheva reported.

“On Sunday, ISIS released the most provocative poster yet, placing a bounty on the head of al-Qaeda’s elusive leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over after the 2011 assassination of Osama Bin Laden by US Special Forces,” the report revealed.

According to The Long War Journal, ISIS’ official branch in Libya began distributing the posters online early this year.

“Jihadists connected to the Islamic State’s branch in Libya have released dozens of wanted posters online in recent weeks,” noted the Journal in mid-August. “The graphics identify the ‘caliphate’s’ enemies, including the jihadists and Islamists who have opposed its expansion in North Africa.”

“Many of the individuals shown in the posters belong to the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC) in Derna, Libya,” it added.

The MSC is an al-Qaeda affiliate that is currently fighting ISIS for control of Derna.

“The MSC has proven a tough adversary and has thwarted ISIS’s attempts to take the city thus far,” pointed out Arutz Sheva. “However, several of its leaders have indeed been successfully targeted since the [‘Wanted Dead’] campaign started.”

“Each time one is killed, the Islamic State’s supporters release a new version of the graphic, changing the format and color to signify his death,” explained The Long War Journal’s August report, noting that the MSC is not the only Libyan militia that has been targeted by the “Wanted Dead” campaign.

One poster was reportedly disavowed by some senior Islamic State figures.

Alleged ISIS supporters in Libya released an online “Wanted Dead” poster for Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an al-Qaeda leader who swore allegiance to al-Zawahiri and leads al-Murabitoon, an al-Qaeda affiliate that operates in North and West Africa.

However, some Islamic State-linked accounts revealed that the poster for Belmokhtar “was not officially issued by the group,” The Long War Journal reported, adding, “Not all of the posters are bluster, however.”

Following a power struggle between Zawahiri and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS officially broke off from al-Qaeda in February 2014.

Baghdadi proceeded to declare a “Caliphate” in ISIS-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq, naming himself “Caliph,” or supreme Muslim leader.

Al-Qaeda was angered by the move and refused to recognize Baghdadi as Caliph.

“Since then, the two groups have been locked in a bloody war, particularly in Syria, with each referring to the other as ‘apostates,’” reported Arutz Sheva.

“Still, an open call to kill al-Qaeda’s leader–who is currently believed to be hiding in the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border region–marks a new benchmark in the animosity between the two terrorist groups,” it added.