The Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, a jihadist group that has claimed credit for three other suicide attacks in Syria, recently denied having produced a video attributed to Al Nusrah that claimed credit for the May 10 double suicide attack in Damascus. The video was released on YouTube two days after the May 10 bombings, which killed 55, and was subsequently reported in major media outlets as being attributed to Al Nusrah.
Al Nusrah’s denial was issued on jihadists forums yesterday. An excerpt from the SITE Intelligence Group translation:
These agencies, websites and channels attributed this act to al-Nusra Front of the People of the Levant, may Allah grant it glory, basing it on a video clip that was published on YouTube. But, to show the truth and remove the falsehood, we say: That video and the statement included therein is made up and false on behalf of the Front, and anyone who follows the news knows that. We thought that we wouldn’t need to deny this video, as it is full of mistakes …
The statement went on to list the reasons why the YouTube video was false:
- The video was not issued by the “Al-Manara Al-Baydha’ foundation,” which Al Nusrah described as the “sole and exclusive one authorized to publish” its statements.
- The number of the statement is wrong.
- Al Nusrah does not issue videos in this format, and the voice “attributed to Sheikh al-Fatih [conqueror] Abu Muhammad al-Julani” was faked.
- The Al-Manara Al-Baydha’ foundation does not publish videos.
- The video did not contain complete details of the attack.
- The video was not released through the established, official jihadist web forums.
LWJ did not report on the YouTube videotape claim, as was done in the three previous claims, as we were suspicious of the authenticity of the tape and how it was released. It has been clear that Al Nusrah uses the Al-Manara Al-Baydha’ foundation to create the tapes, and relies on the established jihadist forums to distribute them.
Note that Al Nusrah did not deny responsibility for the attack, it only denied the validity of the videotape. Al Nusrah may yet claim credit for this attack.
An interesting question arises: If Al Nusrah did not produce the video, who did? Given that we don’t yet know who carried out the bombings, we can only speculate as to why this video was created. Perhaps an Al Nusrah cell that carried out the attack jumped the gun and posted the video (if so, why get the release wrong and fake the voice of al Julani?) Or maybe a rival jihadist group, or even the Free Syrian Army, wants to pin the attack on Al Nusrah (but why)? Or was this the work of Syrian intelligence (conspiracy theories persist that Syrian intelligence is actually conducting these attacks to paint the rebels as jihadists)? Or perhaps a foreign intelligence service created the video to sow uncertainty in jihadist media circles?
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“An interesting question arises,” this sounds like an ‘all of the above’ answer. Historically when a dictator is in a tenuous position that could easily trend towards precarious it’s not unusual to find elements of their Security or their Defense Establishments making arrangements or engaging in activity contraire to the Dictators best interest’s.
“Or perhaps a foreign intelligence service created the video to sow uncertainty in jihadist media circles?”
Now that’s an interesting proposition…would-be Jihadists from across the region and beyond are buzzing about Syria being the new Jihad front – but which group to join? Who is credible? Which group is genuinely Jihadist rather than Islamist-nationalist? Some potential volunteers outside Syria will be waiting for Al-Nusrah Front to establish a slick, credible media presence, to view their output, and so ensure that they’re making the right pick. If you can raise questions about the group’s ideological platform and credibility in the eyes of the regional / international Jihadist support base at the earliest possible stage, you might successfully dissuade some potential volunteers from making the journey. Which sounds like a useful enough endeavour to me…