Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a new video featuring a former Guantanamo detainee, Ibrahim Qosi, who is also known as Sheikh Khubayb al Sudani.
In July 2010, Qosi plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and material support for terrorism before a military commission. His plea was part of a deal in which he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors during his remaining time in US custody. Qosi was transferred to his home country of Sudan two years later, in July 2012.
Qosi joined AQAP in 2014 and became one of its leaders. Qosi and other AQAP commanders discussed their time waging jihad at length in the video, entitled “Guardians of Sharia.”
Islamic scholars ensure the “correctness” of the “jihadist project,” according to Qosi. And the war against America continues through “individual jihad,” which al Qaeda encourages from abroad. Here, Qosi referred to al Qaeda’s policy of encouraging attacks by individual adherents and smaller terror cells. Indeed, AQAP’s video celebrates jihadists who have acted in accordance with this call, such as the Kouachi brothers, who struck Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris earlier this year. The Kouachi brothers’ operation was sponsored by AQAP.
The al Qaeda veterans shown in the video emphasized the importance of following the advice of recognized jihadist ideologues. Although AQAP’s men do not mention the Islamic State by name, they clearly have Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s group in mind. Al Qaeda has criticized the Islamic State for failing to follow the teachings of widely respected jihadist authorities, most of whom reject the legitimacy of Baghdadi’s self-declared “caliphate.”
Qosi’s appearance marks the first time he has appeared in jihadist propaganda since he left Guantanamo. His personal relationship with Osama bin Laden and time in American detention make him an especially high-profile spokesman.
A leaked Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) threat assessment and other declassified files documented Qosi’s extensive al Qaeda dossier. In the threat assessment, dated Nov. 15, 2007, US intelligence analysts described Qosi as a “high” risk to the US and its allies.
“Detainee is an admitted veteran jihadist with combat experience beginning in 1990 and it is assessed he would engage in hostilities against US forces, if released,” JTF-GTMO found.