The Al Nusrah Front announced that its leader, Abu Muhammad al Julani, will appear at a press conference “soon.” The announcement was posted on one of the organization’s official Twitter feeds earlier today along with the photo above. Julani is shown in the picture with his back to the camera.
Julani has consistently obscured his face from public view. This is a security measure that he and other al Qaeda commanders have adopted, as they believe it makes it more difficult for their enemies to track them. In his interview with Al Jazeera earlier this year, for instance, Julani’s head was covered as he faced the journalist who questioned him. Julani was asked why he didn’t allow the public to see him and the Al Nusrah commander replied that he is hunted by Western intelligence services and other adversaries.
The Al Nusrah Front is al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. Both the U.S. and the United Nations have designated Al Nusrah as a terrorist organization. Therefore, the group was not invited to attend a large meeting of Syrian opposition groups this week in Saudi Arabia. The timing of Julani’s “press conference” was likely influenced by the Saudi-sponsored gathering.
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