The events of the past few weeks has shown that al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, the al-Nusra front is the most effective fighting force of the Syrian rebels. They have achieved victories against Assad’s forces and have battered Hizb’Allah. They have spectacular suicide bombing attacks on Assad Regime targets and even killed an Iranian al-Quds force commander. Their success is ironically due to the US.
Al-Nusra Front is actually an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq. During the Iraq war, Bashar Assad allowed al-Qaeda to set up bases in Syria to use against Americans in Iraq. During the conflict, al-Qaeda acquired combat skills from fighting American forces. When the war ended they never left Syria. Instead they began to recruit Syrians into al-Qaeda. When Bashar Assad began cracking down on anti-Regime protests led by the Muslim Brotherhood an Islamist armed revolt began. Al-Nusra then used the skills they acquired fighting Americans against Assad’s forces. This has made al-Qaeda’s SYrian branch one of the organization’s greatest successes.
Al Qaeda’s franchise in Syria, just one year old, is now the fastest growing al Qaeda front in the world, attracting fighters from across the Islamic world. Jabhat al Nusra, translated variously as the Victory Front or the Support Front for the Syrian People, was founded in January 2012, almost a year after the first demonstrations against the dictatorship of President Basher al Assad. It was created with the assistance of the al Qaeda franchise in Iraq that was formed nearly a decade ago during the American invasion. The Iraqi base provided a safe haven for setting up the front in Syria and still provides sanctuary for the Syrian group to this day.
The Syrian franchise has also gotten crucial support from the al Qaeda core in Pakistan. Al Qaeda’s Amir Ayman Zawahiri issued a public call in February 2012 in which he demanded that “every Muslim and every free and honest person in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon to rise and help their brothers in Syria with everything they have and can do.” Zawahiri’s call, just after the announcement of the creation of the al Nusra front and its first major attacks in Aleppo, was clearly coordinated with the fighters on the ground. Since Zawahiri’s call at least one senior member of the al Qaeda shura council in Pakistan has traveled to Syria to further coordinate plans and operations with the core hiding in Pakistan. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton termed the exchanges of messages between al Qaeda in Pakistan and al Nusra in Syria as “deeply disturbing” in one of her final interviews in office.
Estimates of the size of the al Nusra organization vary but they may now account for up to a quarter of the opposition fighters in Syria. The al Qaeda presence is stronger around Aleppo and the north than around Damascus, but it is becoming a national phenomenon. Without doubt, they are among the most effective fighters in the resistance to the Assad regime and the most willing to use multiple simultaneous suicide bombings, an al Qaeda trademark. Al Qaeda in Iraq has a wealth of experience in developing large sophisticated bombs – experience that has been exported into Syria.
And the front is attracting more fighters rapidly, not just among Syrians but from across the Muslim world
The Syrian War has become a wet dream for al-Qaeda. Damascus was the first capital of the Arab Caliphate, when Syria was seized by the Arabs from the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantines) in 636. This is one of the motivations for al-Qaeda who believe history is repeating itself. They are in the lead of the revolt against Assad and have been able to outfight his forces and their Lebanese Shia allies.
Despite al-Qaeda clearly leading the revolt against Assad, many Democrats and Republicans continue to call for arming the Syrian rebels. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) is planning to introduce a bill to arm the Syrian Rebels. The sad part is that thanks to the interventionist/Nation Building ideology of the Republican elite, this could very well happen. When will ever learn to let the Mideast burn and self destruct?
Bashar Assad has only himself to blame for this current predictament. He invited al-Qaeda into Syria to kill Americans in Iraq. Now they are going after him and have turned on their former allies Hizb’Allah. This shows the futility in dealing with the Islamic world. If they turn in each other, they will turn on the Kuffar.