A Saudi-based, al-Qaida-connected cleric Skyped the New York Times last week to insist he’s not a globally designated terrorist.
“Today, Syrians are shocked to find that the United States has put on the terror list a person whom they consider to be a national symbol,” Abdallah Muhammad al-Muhaysini told The New York Times. He continued “It’s a very bizarre thing.”
The NYT described the scene as comical:
In a Skype interview on Friday, from a room illuminated by a single fluorescent bulb, Mr. Muhaysini seemed relaxed, often breaking into a toothy grin as he insisted that he posed no threat to the West.
Muhaysini is a senior member of al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, previously known as Jabhat Al-Nusra and now known as Jabhat Fateh Al Sham.
“Whether it calls itself Jabhat Fath al Sham or al-Nusrah Front, the group remains al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria,” the U.S. Department of State declared Nov. 10, formally recognizing the name change of the terrorist group. “How can the American State Department describe Abdallah al-Muhaysini as belonging to Fath al-Sham?” he queried.
The Department of the Treasury noted Muhaysini “has been involved in recruiting fighters to join al-Nusrah Front and helping to form a new al-Nusrah Front ‘state’ in northern Syria. In April 2016, Muhaysini launched a campaign to recruit 3,000 child and teenage soldiers across northern Syria for al-Nusrah Front.”
Muhaysini even admitted to The New York Times he’d been in contact with al-Qaida leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, but insisted he did so to denounce the Islamic State.
The Long War Journal has tracked Muhaysini since 2014, and described his terrorist connections in detail, including known connections to a jihadi cleric linked to 9/11, serving as an al-Qaida emissary to ISIS in 2014, and bragging about his exploits on Twitter.
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