Journal Article - Insight Turkey

The Multiple Faces of Jabhat al-Nusra/Jabhat Fath al-Sham in Syria's Civil War

| Spring 2016

Since its public emergence in January 2012, Jabhat al-Nusra has proven itself to be both a military asset and a complex political problem for the Syrian political opposition and other rebel groups fighting the Syrian Ba’th Party-run government of Bashar al-Assad. Organized originally by a group of Islamic State of Iraq (ISI, now the Islamic State/ISIS) members returned from Iraq together with veteran Syrian jihadis with experience in the country's Fighting Vanguard movement that fought the Syrian regime during the early 1980s and al-Qaeda's training camps in Afghanistan, Jabhat al-Nusra quickly developed significant military capabilities on the ground inside Syria after laying the groundwork for its expansion during 2011 leading up to its public announcement of its existence in January 2012. Led by its amir, Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani, one of the Syrian ISI members dispatched back home, the group coalesced around a collective of jihadi veterans, such as the group's spokesman Abu Firas al-Suri, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in April 2016, and ideologues such as shari’a council members Sami al-Uraydi and Abu Abdullah al-Shami, bringing together both military experience and creedal puritanism.

Operating at first as an extension of the ISI, Jabhat al-Nusra proved itself to be a major military asset in the war against the Syrian government, successfully carrying out a number of well-planned bombings against key military, intelligence, and security forces nodes in Damascus, Idlib and Aleppo....

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For Academic Citation: Anzalone, Christopher. The Multiple Faces of Jabhat al-Nusra/Jabhat Fath al-Sham in Syria's Civil War.” Insight Turkey, vol. 18. no. 2. (Spring 2016) .