Katibat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad
Katibat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (KTJ) is a terrorist group that operates under the broader organizational umbrella of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a former Al-Qaeda branch in Syria. The UN has named it the most capable Central Asian terrorist group under HTS leadership. The group’s resources and connections have resulted in KTJ developing an extensive international reach. Most recently in August of 2023, a 17-year-old teenager in Philadelphia was arrested on terrorism charges for allegedly communicating with KTJ. He supposedly attempted to travel overseas to support the group and began planning for an attack by acquiring chemicals to build a weapon.
Keep reading to learn about how KTJ finances its activities.
Origins and Operations
KTJ was created by Sirojiddin Mukhtarov in 2013. In September 2015, KTJ pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri and joined the al-Nusrah Front. In 2017, the al-Nusrah Front became Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and publicly split from Al-Qaeda. HTS presently maintains that the groups in the coalition, including KTJ, are independent and do not follow Al-Qaeda.
KTJ mainly operates in the northern Idlib, Hama, and Ladhiqiyah provinces of Syria. However, the group is infamous for its reach and attacks outside of Syria, such as the bombing of the Saint Petersburg metro in April 2017 that killed 14 and injured 50 others. Additionally, KTJ conducted a suicide car bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in August 2016 that wounded three people.
KTJ has approximately 500 operatives, mostly consisting of Uzbeks from the Fergana Valley. Alongside acting under the control of HTS, KTJ cooperates with other groups in the region such as Khatiba Imam al-Bukhari and the Islamic Jihad Group.