US Designates NW Syria Islamist Group as Global Terrorists

Faction seen as closely aligned with al-Qaeda

Katibat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad has gone through a lot of incarnations throughout the Syrian War. Starting out as a formal al-Qaeda affiliate, the group retains very close ties with the parent al-Qaeda. The group remains centered in Idlib, and officially is independent now, not drawing attention to its international connections.

Its status was a poorly kept secret though, and the US State Department announced Monday they are adding the group to the “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” sanctions list.

The US requires all nations to impose an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on everyone on that list. Its not clear how many nations retain ties with Idlib’s Islamists, though Turkey has been accused of having ties to them.

The group’s feigned split from al-Qaeda was specifically to avoid such designations, with al-Qaeda leadership endorsing the move as strategically wise. In the end, however, it appears to have been ineffective.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of