Nusra to rebrand in public ‘Split’ from AQ, as Zawahiri suggested in May
Jason Ditz,, Jul 25 2016

Believing that their public status as AQ’s formal “affiliate” in Syria has made them a target, Jabhat al-Nusra is announcing its intention to rebrand as the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, or Sham Liberation Front, which itself won’t officially be affiliated with AQ’s parent organization. Nusra has been one of the highest-profile rebel factions throughout the Syrian Civil War, and is closely allied to a number of the Pindo-backed “moderate” factions. The group’s growth in its own right, however, has Pindostan talking with Russia about a joint move against them. Nusra’s “rebranding” seems like a cynical attempt to get around this Pindo-Russia operation by suddenly not being AQ, at least in name, but might conceivably work, given the number of Pindo boxtops openly objecting to attacking Nusra even as part of AQ. At the same time, the ruse is transparent, since AQ’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released a public audio statement in May suggesting Nusra could make a public break with AQ as a way to unify Islamists to form an “emirate” to rival ISIS. Whatever the reason, there is no suggestion this is going to leave Nusra, or whatever it calls itself, as anything but Syria’s AQ.

Jabhat al-Nusra officially splits from AQ
Sami Moubayed, Gulf News, Jul 26 2016

BEIRUT – Abu Mohammad al-Golani, commander of Jabhat al-Nusra, will make a public statement later today announcing his departure from AQ. His new group will be named Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Sham Liberation Front). He hopes to evade a new cooperation pact between Pindostan and Russia, aimed at annihilating AQ on the Syrian battlefield. Originally founded by four Salafi militants back in Jan 2012, it emerged as one of the strongest forces in the war. Moscow insists that it is a terrorist organisation, no different from Daesh. Its members were inspired by the teachings of Osama Bin Laden’s former right-hand-man, Abu Musab al-Souri. Many had read his works and attended his sermons, either in Pakistan or Afghanistan. The name of the group was actually inspired by Abu Musab’s seminal work, The Global Call for Islamic Resistance. After the Pindo occupation of Iraq, Golani took up arms with the so-called Sunni insurgency, meeting his future friend, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They later became colleagues in AQ. The relationship between Golani and Baghdadi remained warm during the first few months of the Syria War. When Golani formed Nusra in 2012, Baghdadi complained, viewing it a “soft defection.” He considered Golani to be both his creation and his protégé. They met in a small village near the Syrian-Iraqi border in late Dec 2011. It was to prove their last meeting until Nov 2014. Clearly, Baghdadi had not been consulted on the formation of Nusra. He snapped at Golani:

What is this Jabhat al-Nusra? This front cannot live on its own. It doesn’t have the means of survival. Assad and the Shi’ites will crush it. Stay with me! Together we can bring down this axis!

Baghdadi was jealous. Nusra should have been his idea. He was older, more experienced, and because his country, Iraq, was larger and richer, he had more money than Golani. He also considered his Islamic credentials far superior to those of Golani. He wanted to either hijack Golani’s group, or destroy it altogether. It was no use, however, as Golani had already made up his mind. Like so many Islamists in Syria, he did not wish to remain subordinate to an Iraqi commander, arguing that the Syrian war was not Baghdadi’s to wage. If the Syrian revolt failed, Baghdadi would easily pack up and return home, or head elsewhere to continue his journey in international Jihad. Golani’s goals were limited to the Levant and not the global stage. Golani wanted to establish an Islamic state in Greater Syria, with Damascus or Aleppo as its capital. Baghdadi, he claimed, was more interested in Iraq and parts of Deir al-Zor. A few months later, Baghdadi announced the formation of Da’esh. It was a direct response to the creation of Nusra. Shortly after creating Nusra, just months after Bin Laden’s death in May 2011, Golani pledged loyalty to AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, an alliance that expires today, Jul 25 2016. By Feb-Mar 2012, Nusra made up roughly 1% of the rebel community in Syria. The proportion grew to 3% in August, and reached an impressive 7% to 9.5% (6,000-10,000 fighters) by Nov 2012. Their breakdown was 2,000 troops in al-Bab (north-east of Aleppo), 3,000 in the Idlib countryside west of Aleppo, 2,000 in Deir al-Zor (eastern Syria), and 750-1,000 in the Damascus countryside. According to Nusra’s own account, it currently stands at 60,000 fighters, although this number is impossible to verify and sounds greatly inflated. According to the Rand Corp CIA, they stood at no more than 5,000-6,000 in 2014. The Economist says that their peak was 7,000 troops in 2013.

Golani’s nom de guerre implies that he hails from a small village in the occupied Golan Heights. His mother was from the Golan region, but Golani himself is actually a native of oil-rich Deir al-Zor in eastern Syria, and was born in 1979 in al-Shuheil, a small village famed for its agricultural produce. His associates refer to him as ‘Al Shaikh al-Fateh’ or ‘The Conqueror Shaikh.’ Golani studied at state-run schools in Deir al-Zor, joining Ba’ath Party cadets during summer camps at school, where he first learnt to use a firearm. Golani studied medicine at Damascus University but dropped out in 2005. He was recruited into AQ by a middle-aged Syrian named Abu Hamza who provided him with a fake Yemeni passport through which he entered Iraq to take up arms against the Pindosis. Golani returned to Syria in the autumn of 2006, after a brief stopover in northern Lebanon, where he lived in Tripoli on fake ID papers. He spent 10 months in Syria, working part-time in a printing press in the town of al-Mleihah in the Ghouta orchards on the outskirts of Damascus, to make a living. He returned to Iraq in early 2007, where he was briefly arrested by the Pindostanis and held at Camp Bucca on the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border. Pindo prison authorities mistook him for an Iraqi Kurd from Mosul. They released him in 2008, and he stayed in Iraq using the same ID papers, working closely with Baghdadi. This period in Iraq is when he trained in guerrilla warfare, but he never took part in any real combat. Baghdadi appointed him director of AQ operations in Mosul. It was a civilian job that required strong administrative skills, rather than a sound military record.

Syria. Iraq. Current
El Murid, Jul 25 2016

From the current news. Jabhat al-Nusra really refused the oath to AQ and is now called Jabhat al-Fath al-Sham and entering into an Alliance with “moderate” from Jaish al-Fatah. Strictly formally, it now refers to the “moderate” opposition. By the way, almost for the first time “lit up” the real Golani, head “Jabhat al-Nusra”:


Now what directly concerns us. Da’esh for the first time officially focussed its attention on Russia and threatened her with waves of attacks “in response to crime.” Until then, the only relatively official threats against Russia were the words of the late Umar al-Shishani, which were not disproved, but were not confirmed by the leadership of Da’esh never refute any of their statements or the statements of their commanders. Apparently, the efforts of the Russian leadership to pay attention, finally, was seen by Da’esh and the group decided to answer them. Long words but from practical affairs. They can very quickly be translated into deeds. But we have nothing to worry about: President Putin himself ensured that we have defeated Da’esh, which announced that it shot down today American fighter in the Western Anbar province of Iraq. The pilots were killed. This is the second plane from the operation of the coalition against Da’esh. The Kurds have taken over a small area of Manbij in the south. Under Da’esh remains approximately 40% of the city. During the siege of Manbij, the Kurds had killed 970 people and over 1,000 wounded. Unlike the Iraqis, the Kurds are not satisfied with cavalry assaults on the city, slowly moving from one reference point to another. Due to this, the loss of Iraqi Kurds significantly lower in the capture of Fallujah during a more serious result, although the time spent on this promotion so much more.

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