Jihadist groups are already cheering on the announcement by al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi yesterday that his organization and the Al Nusrah Front in Syria will now operate under the same name, the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.” The Al Nusrah Front is a creation of al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq and has been under al Baghdadi’s command from the beginning.
The banner above, for instance, was posted on Ansar al Sharia Tunisia’s main Facebook page today and is intended to be used as a background on computer desktops. The text immediately above the banner in the Facebook post reads: “Victory for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, background for desktop.” The first two lines of text in the banner read:
O lions of god in all the earth ** Call out: Allah Akbar, for victory and conquest is ours
Rejoice, for the glorious caliphate is near ** Our sharia [law] will reign over every corner [or inch of land]
This banner, dedicated to the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,” is not the only relevant posting on Ansar al Sharia Tunisia’s sites.
In a separate Facebook posting hours earlier, which appears between posts dedicated to the group’s dawa (or proselytizing and missionary work), the al Qaeda-linked group embedded al Baghdadi’s audio message. The only image that appears during al Baghdadi’s speech is the black banner first adopted by al Qaeda in Iraq and now by numerous al Qaeda-affiliated and associated groups, including Ansar al Sharia Tunisia. Similar postings dedicated to the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” have been published on Ansar al Sharia Tunisia’s Facebook news page.
**Thanks to Steve Miller and Tony Badran, my colleagues at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, for their assistance.