When a big named jihadi leader dies, there is usually a cacophony of statements released eulogising the individual that was killed. In a way, it allows one to judge the level of support that person might have had or the broader organisation by seeing who actually releases such a statement. These dynamics fully playout within the online jihadosphere where not only the groups themselves release such content on their preferred online platform of the day, but also the particular group’s supporters on social media then repost and share the same content expand the potential reach of these messages of congratulations on someone’s so-called martyrdom.
Last week, Abu Khalid al-Shami, the official military spokesman for Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which controls parts of northern Idlib and western Aleppo provinces, was killed in a Russian airstrike. It is the first large-name HTS leader killed in sometime not only because the group has been in control of different areas in NW Syria over the past six years, but also due to a ceasefire brokered in spring 2020 between Russia and Turkey.