Sunday's assassination of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's representative in Syria underscores an ongoing power struggle among jihadist movements there.
Abu Khalid al-Suri was killed in a suicide bombing conducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Ahrar al-Sham leader Hassan Aboud announced in a Twitter posting that Abu Khalid al-Suri, whose real name was Mohamed Bahaiah, had been killed. Al-Suri co-founded Ahrar al-Sham, a leading Salafi-jihadi group in Syria, according to the Daily Mail.
Zawahiri sent him Syria as his personal representative in the region last May, the Long War Journal reports. He was supposed to mediate divisions between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. That didn't work.
"Direct your car bombs at the infidels and do not busy yourself with fighting the mujahedeen and killing them," al-Suri said in a recording aimed at ISIS last month. Both were al-Qaida affiliates before Zawahiri announced that ISIS had no connection with the global terrorist movement on Feb. 3.
Al-Suri had been a trusted courier of Osama bin Laden's. A 2003 New York Times story cited a Spanish judicial official as saying that he was "the person who was totally trusted by many different people in the various countries and was able to coordinate and transmit orders from bin Laden." The report said that he had been a key intermediary between the top al-Qaida leadership in Pakistan and jihadists in Spain and the United Kingdom.
He also had ties with Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, better known in intelligence circles as Abu Musab al-Suri, a prominent Syrian al-Qaida theorist who championed decentralizing the terror group. Nasar's name surfaced as a suspect in the March 11, 2004 Madrid train bombing.
Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic Front have been fighting ISIS with increasing ferocity since the beginning of the year. Infighting between the various jihadist factions will worsen as a result of al-Suri's assassination, Islamic Front spokesman Akram al-Halabi told the Associated Press.