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Al Nusrah Front Returns To The Embrace Of Al Qaeda
By Uran Botobekov*
The US State Department announced on May 31, 2018, that it has amended the terror designation for Sunni Jihadi group Al Nusrah Front (also known as Jabhat al-Nusra) to include the “alias” Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).It should be noted that Al Nusrah Front is primarily known for being the Syrian unit of Al Qaeda and the militant leader of the Central Asian Islamic terrorist groups Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad, Katibat al-Imam Bukhari, the Turkestan Islamic Party and Katibat al Ghuraba al Turkistani.
The State’s statement says that «in January 2017, al-Nusrah Front launched the creation of HTS as a vehicle to advance its position in the Syrian uprising and to further its own goals as an al Qaeda affiliate». Since then, the “group has continued to operate through HTS in pursuit of these objectives.”
Ambassador Nathan A. Sales, State’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, noted that “today’s designation serves notice that the United States is not fooled by this al Qaeda affiliate’s attempt to rebrand itself. Whatever name Nusrah chooses, we will continue to deny it the resources it seeks to further its violent cause.”State’s actions notify the U.S. public and the international community that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is an alias of al-Nusrah Front.The United States’ decision put a firm end to the speculative “games” between two leaders Ayman al Zawahiri and Abu Muhammad al Julani to hide their criminal ties and to present HTS as a new independent revolutionary movement in Syria, not related to the terrorist organization al Qaeda.
As is known, Salafist Jihadist group Al Nusrah Front after announced its formation in 2011, rapidly grew in influence and played the central role in the dynamics of the conflict in the Syrian Civil War. Al-Nusra was partly the product of Qatari funding and Turkish logistical support that were directed to Syria on the basis that jihadism would be the quickest way to topple the Assad regime.Al Nusrah was and remains an official branch of al Qaeda. Therefore, the counterterrorism officers described Al Nusrah Front as al Qaeda in Syria or al Qaeda in the Levant.