The leader of Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria), Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, whose real name is Ahmad al-Shara, ostensibly broke the link between his organization and al-Qaeda last week. This is another stage in al-Qaeda’s long-term strategy of embedding itself into local societies so that it can more effectively reshape the faith and shield itself from the international community. Continue reading
Syria’s rebellion was already fighting for its life, squeezed between the regime and the Islamic State (I.S.) in Aleppo, and on Friday night a new front appeared to open. Jabhat an-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, announced that it was forming an Islamic Emirate. According to a translation by Hassan Hassan, Nusra’s commander, Abu Muhammad al-Golani, said that they would now start implementing the shari’a “in the full sense of the word,” and “without compromise, leniency, ambiguity, or politeness.” Golani specifically says that Nusra will begin implementing the hudud, the harsh punishments like amputation for theft, which Nusra has very deliberately not done so far, saying war conditions suspended such punishments according to the Holy Law. At a more material level, it avoided garnering them bad press for savagery against the civilian population. Golani dismissed with contempt the secular rebels as “grovelling” to the West, and declared I.S.’s Caliphate “void” and its members ghulat (extremists).