The al-Nusra Front is an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq, but it also finds coordination from AQ elders in Pakistan, Turkey, and Lebanon. The jihadists are believed to receive their orders and mandates from Abu Du’a who is the senior leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Abu Du’a, aka Ibrahim ‘Awwad Ibrahim ‘Ali al-Badri, has been the AQI leader since 2010 and has yet to be apprehended.
The group announced its creation on 23 January 2012 during the Syrian civil war, and was later deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. The group also falls under the following aliases: Jabhat al-Nusrah, Jabhet al-Nusra, The Victory Front, and Al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant. I will continue to refer to them as al-Nusra.
From November of 2011 to December of 2012 the group has claimed responsibility for over 600 attacks and has killed and wounded hundreds if not thousands of Syrians. It is estimated that al-Nusra has approximately 10,000 fighters, but other estimates say they could account for as much as one quarter of the Syrian rebels–that number appears to be on the rise even with the increasing amount of suicide bombers sending themselves to Allah.
al-Nusra’s goal is to implement an Islamic state with Shari’a Law as its foundation. This group is willing to use any strategies and tactics necessary to fulfill their goals. On February 7th, 2013 al-Nusra claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb within a bus that killed approximately 90 people outside of a factory in Selmiyah, Syria located in Hama Province. The following account was taken by Sehaib Anjarini–reporter from As-Safir newspaper of Lebanon from Abu Malik, one of the injured:
“At the end of the workday, I saw a bus carrying 20 passengers coming from Bsirin (a nearby village) and approaching the factory’s entrance at a high rate of speed. The guards rushed toward it and ordered it to stop before it reached the main gate. The high number of guards caused the bus to stop about 30 meters from the gate. Then the driver detonated the bus. … The explosion was awful. The other buses flew into the air. I fell on the ground and felt pain everywhere. My heart almost stopped. I tried to stand up but bursts of bullets were fired at us from the direction of the farmland. So I lay on the ground, where I saw body parts everywhere. … I fainted, and I woke up in the hospital to find that I had fractures in the hip, back and hands. Had the bus been able to reach the main gate, the damage would have been much worse.”
Unfortunately, these atrocities are far from over and will continue into the foreseeable future. As this group grows in strength it will surely need intervention–possibly by SOF and/or other outside agencies. With that possibility, will the U.S. be forced into another warfront with AQ?
Stay tuned for Part II, where I will discuss funding, recruitment, outside coordination, and recent attacks associated with the al-Nusra Front.
(Featured Image Courtesy: presstv.ir)