Syria’s Nusra Front Says Cutting Ties With al-Qaeda To Avoid Attacks

Leader: Change Denies US, Russia Excuse to Attack

Following reports earlier this week that they would do so, the Nusra Front’s leader Abu Mohamad al-Golani has announced publicly that his group is officially ending its status as the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda, and will insist on being called Jabhat Fatah al-Sham from now on.

Golani, a former ally of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, formed Nusra as al-Qaeda’s faction involved in the Syrian Civil War. After Baghdadi attempted to absorb Nusra into ISIS, the groups split, and ISIS cut off connections with al-Qaeda. Nusra, however, has remained an affiliate since then, establishing a stronghold around Idlib Province in northern Syria.

Golani insisted that the change was designed to “remove the excuse used by the international community” to attack Muslims in the country on the grounds that Nusra is “associated with al-Qaeda,” suggesting that the US and Russia’s reported deal to coordinate attacks on them was a factor.

How sincere the separation was is unclear, as al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri suggested the exact same thing back in May, saying Nusra might benefit from publicly disassociating itself from al-Qaeda, and that the parent group was fine with this and would continue to support them within Syria.

The renaming makes Jabhat Fatah al-Sham one of several rebel factions whose leadership are openly allied with al-Qaeda’s parent organization, but which are not, in and of themselves, formally part of al-Qaeda. Golani appears to be betting this will be enough to remove them as a target, and indeed it may as other such factions have been openly endorsed by the US and its allies as “moderate rebels.”

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • TellTheTruth-2

    Jabhat Fatah al-Sham? Doesn’t “al-Sham” say it all? Just another CIA sham!

    • Joexpert

      Dude what are you going on about? ‘Sham’ means ‘Syria’ in Arabic.

      And maybe this notion of CIA being behind every major jihadi group is getting a old now, wouldn’t you agree? I mean, i was okay with it back when i was a teenager, heck, it was exciting stuff to get into back then. But now its just moronic.

      It’s past time you wake up dude, take the red pill.

  • dmaak112

    If it talks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it is a duck. The name change is only an excuse to get more American guns and money to fight a war that world wide jihadists love. If the next president supports these terrorists, then we will all be in danger. Every two bit radical will use this ploy to avoid being bombed. I hope that Russia and Syria blow them out of the country.

    • Do you want Russia to bomb Saudi Arabia and Iran too? Saudi Arabia and Iran are similar to Islamic State.

      • dmaak112

        Whereas Saudi Arabia share a great deal in common with ISIS, Iran does not. Saudi Arabia is Sunni as is ISIS, Iran is Shiite. Saudi Arabia used its radio broadcasts to call jihadists from around the globe to join the rebellion in Syria to defeat the Apostates, which is what the Sunnis consider the Shiites. Qatar and Saudi Arabia poured money and arms into this war not to create a democratic state, but to fight Iran. While hundreds and thousands of jihadists entered Turkey to cross into Syria to join al-Qaeda and ISIS camps, Iran was backing the Baghdad government in its fight against ISIS.

        Our help to the rebels has seen hundreds of millions of tax dollars spent on “moderate” rebels only to produce a few dozen fighters. We have seen our “moderate” rebels melt away or join the very terrorists we declared war on in 2001. Our American weapons are now in the hands of terrorists or are found on the blackmarket. Our turning a blind eye to our oil sheik friends who ignited a worldwide Islamic radicalization that has led to individuals acting out the call for jihad from Europe to America. When we called for support against ISIS, our oil buddies did nothing and our NATO ally Turkey bombed the Kurds who were willing to help us in that battle.

        As for equating Iran with Saudi Arabia, how many Iranians were among the terrorists that attacked us on September 11? How many were from Saudi Arabia?

  • RD1485

    “Jabhat Fatah al-Sham”, well, the last word is right. “Sham”.

    Does someone want to remind me what these goons are fighting for ?