Al Nusrah Front claims suicide attack in Syria


A screen shot of the video released on Feb. 26 by the Al Nusrah Front. Image from the SITE Intelligence Group.

A recently formed jihadist group known as the Al Nusrah Front claimed credit for suicide attacks in the Syrian capital of Damascus as well as in Aleppo. The Al Nusrah Front is one of two Islamist terror groups in Homs to have announced their existence in the past month to battle President Bashir al Assad’s regime.

The Al Nusrah Front to Protect the Levant released a 45-minute-long videotape today on the al Qaeda-linked Shumukh al Islam web forum. The video was translated by the SITE Intelligence group.

In the video, Al Nusrah said the “martyrdom-seeking operation” was executed “in revenge for our mother Umm Abdullah – from the city of Homs- against whom the criminals of the regime violated her dignity and threatened to slaughter her son,” SITE reported. The suicide bomber was identified as Abu al Bara’a al Shami, who is seen on the tape giving a martyrdom statement.

The video also shows “an excerpt of allegiances, operations, and training of the al-Nusra Front” as well as a fighter “amongst the masses in a public demonstration, advising them to do their prayers and adhere to the rituals of Islam.”

The Al Nusrah Front announced the formation of the “Free Ones of the Levant Brigades” in a YouTube video statement that was released on Jan. 23. In the statement, the group claimed an attack on security headquarters in Idlib.

“To all the free people of Syria, we announce the formation of the Free Ones of the Levant Brigades,” the statement said, according to a translation obtained by The Long War Journal. “We promise Allah, and then we promise you, that we will be a firm shield and a striking hand to repel the attacks of this criminal Al Asad army with all the might we can muster. We promise to protect the lives of civilians and their possessions from security and the shabihah [pro-government] militia. We are a people who will either gain victory or die.”

In addition to the Al Nusrah Front, a second jihadist group has been activated in Homs in the past month. Last week, a group calling itself the Al Baraa Ibn Malik Martyrdom Brigade said it had formed a martyrdom battalion and was prepared to carry out suicide attacks against Syrian forces. The group, which posed in front of a flag belonging to al Qaeda in Iraq, said it was part of the Free Syrian Army, which claims to be secular. The Free Syrian Army has blamed suicide attacks in Syria on Assad’s intelligence services. A group known as the Al Baraa Ibn Malik Martyrdom Brigade was created to wage jihad in Iraq in 2005, and merged with al Qaeda in Iraq under the command of Ayman al Zawahiri.

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri has recently urged Muslims inside and outside of Syria to take up arms against the Syrian government. In a statement issued on Feb. 11 and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, Zawahiri said: “I appeal to every Muslim and every free, honorable one in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, to rise to help his brothers in Syria with all what he can, with his life, money, wonders, opinion, and information.” Telling Syrians not to trust Turkey, the Arab League, or the West, he exhorted the “lions of the Levant” to “[d]evelop the intention of jihad in the Cause of Allah to establish a state that defends the Muslim countries and seeks to liberate the Golan and continue its jihad until it raises the banners of victory above the usurped hills of Jerusalem.”

Since the end of December, there have already been five suicide bombings in Syria. The Syrian government said that a pair of suicide bombers targeted security headquarters in Damascus on Dec. 23; over 40 people were reported killed and scores more were wounded in the blasts. On Jan. 6, the Syrian government said that a suicide bomber killed 25 people in an attack on security forces in Damascus. And on Feb. 10, a pair of suicide bombers killed 25 people while targeting security headquarters in Aleppo.

Al Qaeda in Iraq already has a strong presence in Syria [see LWJ report, Eastern Syria becoming a new al Qaeda haven]. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a regional al Qaeda affiliate, also is known to operate in Syria. Two of its senior leaders, Saudi citizens Saleh al Qarawi and Suleiman Hamad Al Hablain, have been added to the US’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists since November 2011. The terror group has denied any involvement in the Dec. 23 suicide attack.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Rookie says:

    Just great!
    Yet another jidadi-in-the making state courtesy of USA, France and UK. I’m quite sure that after the ousting of Assad the massacration of what’s left of Levant Christianity will begin, but suddently if will not be the problem of the human right activists anymore.
    1. Assad and his most of their henchmen are blood-thirsty muslims
    2. Most of their victims are blood-thirsty muslims
    I have yet to hear a so called secular movement in ME calling for reformation of islam and denunciation of the writings in quran calling for ethnic and religious cleansing. True, if those writings will be repudiated not much of islam will stand.. too bad.

  • D.B. says:

    Dear sir,
    Maybe I misread the article or SITE made a mistake but they were claiming the Jan. 6 suicide attack in the al-Midan quarter of Damascus, not Homs. It is the one that happened at the intersection next to the underpass and killed many.

  • mike merlo says:

    Welcome news. More players = more confusion.

  • Neo says:

    From all appearances the Syrian opposition is a thrown together mishmash of different groups. They are very badly organized and splintered. Looks like the opportunity is there for Al Qaeda to do it’s usual take over of someone elses conflict. So what happens with the Al Qaeda presence already in Syria. Do they follow Zawahiri and turn against Syria, or do they continue a well cultivated long term relationship with Syria? (Do they try to maintain both for and against at the same time, it worked in Pakistan.) Do they get Saudi funding against Syria? Will it be the same funding network they used through Syria against Iraq? Is Al Qaeda still trying to overthrow the Saudi Kingdom or have they mended fences? Furthermore, are they for overthrowing the Pakistani government and replacing it with a Celiphate or are they allied with the Pakistani government to overthrow the Afghan collaborators and their American masters?
    Killing heretics, unbelievers and collaborators can get complicated. So many people to kill, only so many half-witted losers who will blow themselves up for a good cause! Is there anyone left Al Qaeda hasn’t sworn to kill. I think they should rename their organization, “Backstabbers Unlimited”. Official Motto: “Today we unite to kill the infidel, tomorrow we kill you. Sorry, you are on the list too. We make no exceptions, only temporary alliances. If we make a mistake, god will reward you in paradise.” You would figure these guys need to prioritize at some point. On the other hand, with everyone in the region wanting to kill one another, maybe Al Qaeda is on to something.
    So Pakistan survives its alliance with Mr. Zawahiri, for now at least. Jr. Assad maybe not so lucky. One extremist organization alliance too many for the Assad family. Boy, there’s some skeletons in that family closet.
    Al Qaeda vs. the Assad family. It’s probably too much to hope for. Of course Daddy Hafaz Assad and Yasser Arafat had an interesting relationship too, Sso there is precedent for this sort of thing.
    Who says middle eastern politics is cynical? I feel sorry for the Syrian people. They’re doomed.


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