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