The US Treasury Department and the UN have added two senior jihadists to their terror sanctions lists. Both of them were leaders in the group formerly known as Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. Treasury’s announcement provides new details about al Qaeda’s operations in Syria, including the organization’s history and personnel.
Abu Jaber has released his first speech as the general commander of the newly formed Ha’yat Tahrir al Sham (“Assembly for the Liberation of Syria”). He calls on other factions to join his group, promises to wage jihad on Bashar al Assad’s regime until the end and claims that losing the war would be catastrophic for Syria’s Sunnis.
Five groups, including al Qaeda’s rebranded branch, have announced the creation of a new group in Syria. The move comes after weeks of reported disagreements and clashes between the insurgents in northern Syria.
Jund al Aqsa, a US and UN designated terrorist organization, was subsumed by al Qaeda’s rebranded Syrian branch in early October. The group had deep ties to al Qaeda’s fundraising network in the Gulf prior to the merger.
Fifteen years after 9/11, Al Qaeda remains a threat to the West despite not carrying out a large-scale attack in years. The group is waging insurgencies in several countries and is far larger than it was on 9/11.
A transcript of Abu Muhammad al Julani’s remarks yesterday shows that his statement has been misconstrued in the press.
Abu Muhammad al Julani announced that Al Nusrah Front has been rebranded as Jabhat Fath Al Sham. Many have read into Julani’s statement as a formal disassociation with al Qaeda. But Julani didn’t actually say that, as his language was intentionally ambiguous. While sitting next to a longtime al Qaeda veteran from Egypt, Julani did not explicitly say that his group has broken from al Qaeda.
The Al Nusrah Front confirmed today that Abu Firas al Suri, a veteran jihadist who served al Qaeda since the 1980s, was killed in a US airstrike on Apr. 3. A Pentagon spokesman recently explained that Al Nusrah has “ties” to al Qaeda, but this is not an adequate description of the relationship. Al Nusrah is one of al Qaeda’s regional branches and is openly loyal to Ayman al Zawahiri.