Terrorism

Radical Saudi preacher survives attack in Syria's Idlib

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo

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Saudi preacher Abdullah al-Muhaysini, known for his extreme views and fatwas, was the target of an assassination attempt on Friday (April 27th) in rural Idlib province. [Photo courtesy of Mohammed al-Khalid]

A radical Saudi cleric survived an assassination attempt Friday (April 27th) in which an explosive device targeted his armoured vehicle near Saraqeb in Syria's rural Idlib province.

Abdullah al-Muhaysini, who had defected from extremist alliance Tahrir al-Sham in September 2017, sustained moderate injuries in the attack, while his travel companion was seriously wounded, sources tell Al-Mashareq.

He was a founding member of Tahrir al-Sham and served on its "sharia council" before becoming disillusioned with the infighting among the alliance's different factions.

A state of high alert prevailed among opposition factions in the area as news spread of the assassination attempt, said Mohammad al-Khalid of the Saraqeb co-ordination committee, which is affiliated with the Local Co-ordination Committees of Syria.

"Security checkpoints have been heavily deployed," he told Al-Mashareq, and militants are checking the identification documents of everybody passing through.

The attempted killing came hours after al-Muhaysini criticised the recent surge in assassinations against militant faction leaders, al-Khalid said, and his call to put an end to the cycle of attacks through proposing an eight-point plan to enhance security in the province.

The plan includes heightened security measures and a call for a unified administration, according to local media reports.

"This assassination attempt is part of a series of such attempts against a large number of opposition factions officials, leaders and elements, especially those known for their extremist approach," al-Khalid said.

"There have been at least 30 assassination attempts over the last few days," he said, the last of which was the assassination of two people at the entrance of a mosque in the city of al-Nairab after the Friday prayer.

Al-Muhaysini was previously a target of an assassination attempt on June 16th, 2017, when a suspected "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) suicide bomber attacked his armoured vehicle in Idlib.

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