Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 - Foreign Terrorist Organizations: Al-Nusrah Front (ANF)

aka Jabhat al-Nusrah; Jabhet al-Nusrah; The Victory Front; al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant; al-Nusrah Front in Lebanon; Jabhat al-Nusra li-Ahl al-Sham min Mujahedi al-Sham fi Sahat al-Jihad; Support Front for the People of the Levant; Jabhat Fath al-Sham; Jabhat Fath al Sham; Jabhat Fatah al-Sham; Jabhat Fateh al-Sham; Front for the Conquest of Syria; The Front for liberation of al Sham; Front for the Conquest of Syria/the Levant; Front for the Liberation of the Levant; Conquest of the Levant Front; Fatah al-Sham Front; Fateh Al-Sham Front

Description: Al-Nusrah Front (ANF) is al-Qa'ida's affiliate in Syria and was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on May 15, 2014. It is led by Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani aka al-Julani. The group was formed in late 2011 when then-al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI) – now ISIS – leader and SDGT Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sent al-Jawlani to Syria to organize terrorist cells. In 2013, the group split from AQI and became an independent entity. ANF's stated goal is to oust Syria's Assad regime and replace it with a Sunni Islamic state. The group currently controls a portion of territory in northwest Syria from which it participates in the Syrian conflict. It also operates in the mountainous, mostly uninhabited zones of the un-demarcated Lebanese-Syrian border, and maintains a small presence in southern Syria.

Activities: ANF has been active in a number of operations against other factions in the Syrian conflict. In December 2013, ANF abducted 13 nuns from a Christian monastery in Maaloula and held them until March 9, 2014. In 2014, ANF also carried out multiple suicide bomb attacks and kidnappings, including the abduction of UN peacekeepers.

ANF continued fighting in Syria throughout 2015; it participated in fighting against other opposition groups and carried out a number of kidnappings against civilians. In March 2015, ANF claimed an attack on the intelligence headquarters of Syria's air force in Aleppo, killing an estimated 20 members of the security force. In April 2015, ANF reportedly kidnapped, and later released, approximately 300 Kurdish civilians from a checkpoint in Syria. In June 2015, ANF claimed responsibility for the massacre of the Druze village Qalb Lawzeh in Idlib province, Syria, which killed 20. In July 2015, the group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing of an army outpost in Aleppo, which killed at least 25 soldiers and allied militia.

In 2016, the group carried out attacks in Aleppo and in other parts of Syria controlled by the Syrian army, killing both military officials and civilians. ANF also attacked various Syrian opposition groups.

In July, ANF leader Jawlani announced the group had adopted a new name, Jabhat Fath al-Sham, and would no longer be known as ANF. The Department of State amended the designation of al-Nusrah Front in November 2016 to add additional aliases, including Jabhat Fath al-Sham. The group remains al-Qa'ida's affiliate in Syria.

Strength: Five to 10 thousand members

Location/Area of Operation: Syria and Lebanon

Funding and External Aid: ANF receives funding from a variety of sources, including kidnapping-for-ransom payments and donations from external Gulf-based donors.


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