Increased Russian military action in the Syrian conflict has seen the US efforts fade from the limelight, however a number of recent high-profile killings have reminded observors that the Americans are still very much involved. A senior al-Qaeda member was killed over the weekend, and reports on blogs and social media indicate another important Islamist figure may have also been killed.
Kamal Zarrouk may not ring any bells in English, but he was well known in the Islamist circuit long before he began appearing in Daesh's (ISIS) propoganda videos. Here are four things to know about the Tunisian militant.
1. Kamal Zarrouk was the deputy leader of Ansar al-Shariah in Tunisia.
Zarrouk was known for his high-up position in radical Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia's Tunisian branch. The group has been designated a terrorist organisation by the Tunisian government as well as the UN and a number of other nations, including the US.
2. He was not shy to admit his radical viewpoints.
Zarrouk started speaking at mosques in 2011, and was reported to have likened Osama Bin Laden to the Prophet’s companions. He once stated that a range of extremist groups including al-Qaeda's Syrian wing al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Ansar al-Sharia all “stand united” against their enemies.
3. His mosque was raided but he escaped and fled to Syria.
Tunisian security forces raided his mosque and tried to detain him in September 2013, but his supporters stopped the arrest, allowing him to escape. He was reported to have fled to Libya, before moving on the Syria to join Daesh. While in Syria he encouraged Tunisians from afar to revolt against their government and praised the Charlie Hebdo attackers. He also put a lot of effort into persuading youg people to move to Syria to join the ranks of Daesh.
4. He was reportedly killed in a US airstrike, but Twitter thinks it may have been a targeted drone strike instead.
Several reports Sunday claim Zarrouk was killed in an airstrike from the US-led coalition in the Daesh's Syrian stronghold city of Raqqa. Others say it was instead a CIA drone strike. Meanwhile, social media is musing on whether Zarrouk may have been directly targeted. Here is one supporter pedaling several theories on why the militant may have been on a US drone strike list:
Kamal Zarrouk was an eloquent preacher/speaker known during the Ansar al-Sharia days in Tunisia, calling to Tawhid & Jihad— Maghrebi Witness (@maghrebiclear) October 18, 2015
Those men could wake up the Ummah and it would be a danger for the imperialist Crusaders, and they know it.— Maghrebi Witness (@maghrebiclear) October 18, 2015
By Kane Hippisley-Gatherum
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