Leaders: Abdul Jashari;
Key Members: Abdul Jashari;
Operational Area: Idlib Governorate/North Aleppo;
Number Of Members: Around 20;
Involved In: Assassinations, Armed Attacks, Plotting Terrorist Attacks;
- Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, commonly referred to as Tahrir al-Sham and… [+]
- Abdul Jashari Abdul Jashari (alias Abu Qatada al-Albani), born on September 25,… [+]
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- The Balkans turn into a hotbed for terrorist recruitment The Balkans have been one of the regions of recruitment… [+]
- Albanian sniper group joined the Hayat Tahrir al-Cham terrorist group An Albanian sniper group has joined jihadists fighting in Idlib,… [+]
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Xhemati Alban is a small Sunni jihadi militant group operating in Idlib Governorate/North Aleppo, who are ethnically Albanians, though originating from Kosovo.
They have recently released a video on their “sniper squad”, although the group as a whole has additional members and are not limited only to snipers. It appears to be no more than ten members at present. They are widely thought to be a sub group of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.
Abdul Jashari (alias Abu Qatada al-Albani), born on September 25, 1976 in Skopje, former Yugoslavia (currently the capital of North Macedonia), is the Commander of Xhemati Alban. He is considered a close advisor to Abu Muhammad al-Julani, the Commander-in-Chief of the Syrian militant group Tahrir al-Sham.
Jashari is an influential figure and close military advisor to Abu Muhammad al-Julani, the leader of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, who appointed Abu Qatada al-Albani in the summer of 2014 to lead the organization’s military operations in Syria.
The U.S. Treasury Department designated Jashari a terrorist on November 10, 2016. His name appeared recently in HTS communiqués as one of the members of a high committee tasked with leading reconciliation efforts with Hurras al-Din, a jihadi faction affiliated with al-Qaeda.
On November 10, 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department designated Jashari a terrorist and stated that he helped to raise funds for the families of Jabhat al-Nusrah Front fighters. During the summer of 2015, Jashari led the Jabhat al-Nusrah Front military operations in northern Syria.
He has maintained a significant military standing within the jihadists’ ranks for more than four and a half years now.
Xhemati Alban releases frequent propaganda videos that emphasise on its members’ technical training capabilities, weapons manufacturing capacities, and combat preparedness.
Media releases by Xhemati Alban’s outlets between 2017 and mid-2020 suggest that the group may have up to 24 fighters, although the current number of non-Albanians in its ranks is unclear, and therefore the number of ethnic Albanians within the group may be smaller.
On October 18, 2017, one of Xhemati Alban’s social media channels posted an image of 18 balaclava-clad men in military fatigues and armed with automatic weapons, sniper rifles, and a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher under the banner in the Albanian language reading “Xhemati Alban: The infiltration unit”.
In September 2019, Xhemati Alban released a new video about fighting in Kabani, Iraq. The latest martyrdom announcement was issued by the unit’s official propaganda channel on May 13, 2019.
The video is light on combat footage, but highlights how the outfit takes advantages of fortifications, sparse firing holes/positions in favourable geography, and long-range weapon use.
As part of Xhemati Alban’s continued engagement and propaganda efforts via social media channels targeting audiences in the Balkans, in August 2018, the group released a 33-minute video entitled “Albanian Snipers in the Lands of Sham.”
This high-quality propaganda video, narrated in Albanian with English subtitles, documents various stages of training, planning, and combat efforts of the unit’s sniper squad, which appears to be self-sufficient both at weapons craftsmanship and tactical training.
Its members use customized, high-precision rifles with relatively expensive scopes and craft-made suppressors. The skillsets displayed in the video indicate possible ex-military or paramilitary background and affiliation.
Whilst an separate group to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham they do fall under the operational control of the larger group. Their goals, ideology and weaponry are hence closely aligned with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.
Other martyrdom propaganda footage indicates that the unit may have suffered at least 18 combat deaths, one after a SVBIED attack during an offensive in Aleppo in late February 2016.
One of the most recent propaganda videos, released on May 8, 2020, by Xhemati Alban’s official media outlet and entitled “Military training: SPG9 and AGS-17” depicts an instructor providing training to at least eight balaclava-clad men dressed in military fatigue.