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Friday, August 9, 2013




Dedicated to the background of contemporary events around the world. 

Al Nusra

Al-Nusra - or "The Front for the Defence of the Syrian People."

``Jabhat Nusra, Syria’s homegrown Salafi-jihadist group, has important links to al-Qaeda affiliates and demonstrates a higher level of effectiveness than many other rebel groups.  Jabhat Nusra has demonstrated sensitivity to popular perception and they are gaining support within Syria. The emergence of indigenous Salafi-jihadist groups such as Jabhat Nusra is far more dangerous to the long-term stability of the Syrian state than foreign jihadist groups because it represents a metamorphosis of a Salafi-jihadist ideology into a domestic platform that is able to achieve popular resonance.`` - Jihad in Syria- The Institute for the Study of War.

1980-  Abu Musab al  Sur (aka Mustafa Setmariam Nasar and the intellectual godfather of Al Nusra) joins the Combatant Vanguard organization, a radical offshoot of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood which is at the forefront in the Islamic uprising in Hama, Syria.

1982-  Al Sur joins in the uprising of the Muslim Brotherhood at Hama which is crushed by Syrian President Hafez al Assad, killing tens of thousands.

2000 -Syrian Jihadists fighting alongside Al Qaeda leader Zarqawi in Herat, Afghanistan.

2001- Abu Mohammed Jolani (Golani) (later to lead Al Nusra) under the command of Al Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al Zawahiri.

2002- Al Qaeda operative Musab al Zarqawi arrives in Iraq and founds Hai al JamiĆ  Baghdad. Syrians who had been with Zarqawi in Herat, Afghanistan are sent to build network branches in Syria and Lebanon. Zarqawi would later exercise control from Iraq.

2003- US Invasion of Iraq: "The link between al-Nusra and the AQI is logical and should not be surprising. Al-Nusra is formed of fighters who took part in the post-2003 armed campaign against US forces in Iraq, jihadists who essentially crossed into Iraq from Syria to commit terrorist atrocities against US and Iraqi targets. Most of AQI's (Al Qaeda in Iraq) fighters were foreign jihadists from neighbouring countries, in particular Syria. Al-Nusra's leader, Jawlani, has himself acknowledged that he fought in Iraq alongside AQI."-, April, 2013.

-Syria becomes the pipeline for sending jihadists into Iraq for the Zarqawi network, with safehouses kept by Syrian jihadists.

-2005- Abu Musab al-Sur, noted jihadi theorist followed by Al Nusra-  " al-Suri was arrested in Pakistan (2005), but for some reason was released and handed over to Syria when the rebel uprising began (2011). It is believed that he freely resides somewhere within Syria’s borders and his teachings are heavily influencing the strategies of the Al Nusra Front".- SOFREP, March 24, 2013.

-Zaraqawi's Al Qaeda in Iraq becomes the Mujahedeen Shura Councilafter various armed factions were integrated.

2006- after the death of Zarqawi, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi take the lead of Al Qaeda in Iraq, renaming it The Islamic State of Iraq.

2007- Syrian government cracks down on Zarqawi`s Syrian jihadists and safe houses. The fighters leave Syria for refuge in Iraq.

2008- having alienated Sunnis in Iraq and driven their fighters into the arms of the Americans, Al Qaeda changes its strategy and rhetoric to attract local support.  Al Nusra's local effectiveness in Syria is an indirect result.

2011- Syrian Jihadists begin to return from Iraq for the Syrian uprising.

2011- Dec.- veteran jihadists of deceased Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi, leave Iraq, crossing the border to Syria to join in the Arab Spring rebellion against the Assad regime. Jabhat Al Nusra (JN) claims to fight on behalf of the Syria's increasingly oppressed Sunni majority and against Syria's ruling Shia Alawite sect and its allies which include Shia Iran and the Shia Hezbollah organization and militia in Lebanon. 

Oct- in Homs and Rif Dimashq jihadists discuss al Nusra's founding and objectives.
'Al Nusra' means "The Support Front for the People of the Levant [Greater Syria]"). At its founding, it had no affiliation with Al Qaeda.

Dec. 23- suicide car bombs kill 44 in Damascus.

2102- Jan- al Nusra meetings continue in Rif Damashq and Homs.

2012- Jan 6- Al Nusra suicide bombing carried out by Abu al-Baraa al-Shami in Midan District of Damascus kills 26.

-in late January, ``the jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra li Ahl Ash-Sham, or the Support Front for the People of Syria, announced its formation and goal to bring down the regime of President Bashar Assad.`` -TIME.

2012- Jan 23- In its inaugural video Al Nusra claims an attack on a government  security installation in Idlib. "We are Syrian mujahideen, back from various jihad fronts to restore God's rule on the Earth and avenge the Syrians' violated honour and spilled blood," a masked man declared in the video. (BBC)

2012- 10 Feb Al Nusra (JN)  suicide bombings kill 28 in Aleppo.


2102- March 17- two car bombs in Damasucs kill 27.

2012- March-April- JN expands after many leading jihadists from Lebanese Fatah al-Islam and Palestinian groups joined the leadership and were able to secure sponsorship of key jihadi ideologues including Sheikh Abu al-Mundhir al-Shinqiti, Sheikh Abu Muhammad. JN may be responsible for bombings carried out on this date.

2012- May 29- On 29 May 2012, a mass execution was discovered near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor. The unidentified corpses of 13 government soldiers had been discovered shot to death execution-style. JN later claimed responsibility.

2012- June 17-  Walid Ahmad al-Ayesh, described by Syrian authorities as the "right hand" of the Al-Nusra Front, was killed when Syrian authorities discovered his hiding place. He was reportedly responsible for the making of car bombs that were used to attack Damascus in the previous months. (Wikipedia)

2012- June 27-  JN blows up a pro-government TV station in the town of Drousha, just south of the capital Damascus.

2012- July 15 (circa)  JN executes popular TV news presenter Mohammed al-Saeed

2012- August 12-  a JN leader, Wael Mohammad al-Majdalawi, killed in a government operation in Damascus.
2012- Oct 3- three car bombs explode in central Aleppo killing 44.

2012- 12 Oct- attacks on a Syrian air defense base near Aleppo; they reportedly destroyed buildings and sabotaged radar and rockets after overrunning the base in cooperation with the al-Fajr Islamic Movement.

-attack on the the Hanano barracks in Aleppo city killing 11 government soldiers. 

-attack on the the Suluq barracks in Raqqah wherw they claimed killing 32 soldiers.

-other attacks in October, 2012: the military base at Wadi Deif and Taftanaz air base. 

-JN seized three army checkpoints around Saraqeb at the end of October 2012, forcing the Syrian Army to withdraw from the area the next day. In the battle, 28 Syrian soldiers were killed as well as five Nusra fighters. Some of the captured soldiers were summarily executed after being called "Assad dogs". (Wikipedia)

2012- early November- car bomb kills 2 in a rural development center in Sahl al-Ghab in Hama.
-suicide bombing in Mezzeh neighbourhood of Damascus kills 11 people.

 -by the end of 2012- Al Nusra units have become the shock troops of the armed Syrian opposition, the best armed, funded, trained and disciplined of all the rebel groups, Al Nusra can turn the tide wherever rebel lines run into trouble.

2012- Dec. -US lists al-Nusra as a terrorist organisation, A group of 29 opposition groups, including both fighting units and civilian organisations signed an online petition calling for demonstrations in its support. 

2012- Dec. Al Nusra reported to have entered Lebanon: "Senior Lebanese security officials have confirmed that there has been a noticeable increase in jihadist elements associated with al-Qaeda within Lebanon. This increase is naturally linked to armed elements in Syria and the stated and covert positions taken by some Lebanese political forces towards the conflict in Damascus. However, the same security apparatus has revealed in an exclusive interview that their investigations have determined that the most recent statement made by Al Nusra was authored in north Lebanon. The email address responsible for posting the statement on the internet was traced to Tripoli, the capital of the North Governorate and close to the Syrian border." Al-Monitor, Dec. 24, 2102.

2012- Dec. 23- JN declares "no-fly-zone" over Aleppo, using 23 mm and 57 mm anti-aircraft guns.

2013- January- JN takes over the distribution of flour in Aleppo in the wake of the hoarding and sale of flour by the Syrian Free Army.  "The Nusra Front is outside the FSA and has a reputation for discipline and honesty." BBC.

2013- February- Al Nusra fighters were involved in fighting in Safira with regime reinforcements, preventing these forces from reaching their destination of the city of Aleppo. (Al Jazeera)

"Danish reports say at least 30 Danish Muslims have gone to fight with al Nusra in Syria. Senior European intelligence officials have told me that there is a wave of angry young Muslim men from all across Western Europe going to Syria to join al Qaeda and fight Assad." The Daily Beast, Feb 23, 2013.

-As of early 2013 al-Nusra is estimated to have around 5000 members. (Wikipedia)

2013- March- JN has claimed responsibility for 57 of the 69 suicide attacks in Syria during the conflict. (Wikipedia).

2013- March 13- Anti-regime activists took to the streets of rebel-held Mayadeen in eastern Syria on Wednesday for a third straight day to demand that jihadist Al-Nusra Front fighters leave the town.

March, 2013- Jihadists rebels control large parts of the three provinces that make up northeastern and are working to install the foundations for an Islamic state.Extremist rebels — mostly from large armed groups Ahrar al Sham and Jabhat al Nusra took the provincial capital of Raqqa, Syria’s sixth largest city and the first to fall into rebel hands.

2013- April 8- Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi,  leader of 'The Islamic State of Iraq' (Al Qaeda)  releases video stating that  JN leader Abu Mohammed al Golani had been sent into Syria to announce the union of JN and 'The Islamic State of Iraq' and that the latter had already been supplying JN with finding and strategy for several months. From now the entire organisation was to bear the name, "The Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham."

2013- April 9- AN leader Golani denies any such merger exists but that AN and Al Qaeda are still allies.

Aharar Al Sham Distances itself from Al Nusra; Al Nusra Splits.

From The Economist: "Hitherto the most prominent of the extreme Islamist groups has been Jabhat al-Nusra, which may have 7,000 or so fighters. But recently it has been bogged down in a power struggle with al-Qaeda in Iraq, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. After Jabhat al-Nusra’s leaders, led by Abu Muhammad al-Golani, refused to submit to his rule, the group split: a more extreme branch merged with the Iraqi brethren, forming the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. It has recently clashed with other Syrian groups, something Ahrar al-Sham has so far avoided. As Jabhat al-Nusra’s clout has weakened, Ahrar al-Sham’s has grown stronger." (July 20, 2013)

2013- April 20- The Syrian National Coalition rejects any association with Al Qaeda:
“We reject the thoughts of al-Qaeda. Syria is a country where moderate Islam prevails,” said Moaz al-Khatib, head of the main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition. “The bottom line is that al-Qaeda’s ideology doesn’t suit us, and rebels in Syria have to take a clear stance about this.” His call has been heeded. “We don’t support the ideology of al-Nusra,” said Louay Meqdad, spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army. “When we in Syria launched our jihad (holy war) against the sectarian regime... we did not do so for the sake of any allegiance to a man here or another there,” said the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front, an umbrella group of some 20 rebel brigades, including some of the most prominent. “Pledging allegiance to someone who does not understand our reality does not serve our people or nation.” (Al Arabiya, April 22, 2013)

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