OSINT – The Nusra Front

Also Known As: al-Nusrah Front; Jabhat al-Nusrah; Jabhet al-Nusrah; The Victory Front; al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant

Description:  The NCTC designated the Nusra Front “one of the most capable al-Qa‘ida-affiliated groups operating in Syria during the ongoing conflict.” The Nusra Front was founded with support from Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), but later the Nusra Front supported Al-Qaeda when AQI attempted to merge both organizations as ISIS in April 2013. The Nusra Front has been pragmatic in its primary objective of removing al-Assad regime forces from Syria, in that it has occasionally worked with and fought against the Free Syrian Army and ISIS to achieve this end.

Targets: Key targets of the Nusra Front include Syrian regime forces, Hezbollah forces, and Iranian IRGC troops in Syria.

Activities: The Nusra Front has executed numerous attacks against its targets, including cross border raids and bombings. The group has fought for control of Idlib and Aleppo in Northern Syria from the Syrian Revolutionaries Front.

Diplomacy: The Nursa Front’s leadership has a mutually beneficial relationship with AQ central. The Nursa Front receives ideological guidance and best practices from AQ, while the Nusra Front governed areas provides AQ (particularly the Khorasan Group) with a safe-haven in Aleppo. Moreover, the Nursa Front is able to work pragmatically with other actors in Syria.

Strength:  Estimated to be in the thousands

AO: Syria

Funding and External Aid:  The Nusra Front uses TNOC, such as extortion and smuggling, to fund its operations.

Syrian Factions (with the Nusra Front in blue, along with other opposition groups), courtesy of the BBC.

Syrian Factions (with the Nusra Front in blue, along with other opposition groups), courtesy of the BBC.

Local Media:

SOHR. “Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

The Syrian Times. Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

Global Media:

Al Jazeera. Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

BBC. Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

BBC. Syria: Islamist Nusra Front gives BBC exclusive interview.” January 17, 2013. Accessed January 2, 2015.

CNN. Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

Foreign Affairs. “Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

Foreign Policy. “Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

The Guardian. “Syria’s al-Nusra Front – ruthless, organised and taking control.” July 10, 2013. Accessed January 2, 2015.

NPR. Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

NYT. “As Qaeda-Backed Group Makes Gains, Rift Grows Among Rebels in Syria.” November 4, 2014. Accessed January 2, 2015.

Reuters. Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

VICE News. “Jabhat al-Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

VOA. Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

WaPo. “Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

Think Tanks / Academic:

AEI. “Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

Brookings. “Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

Brookings. “The ‘Real’ Jabhat al-Nusra Appears to Be Emerging.” August 7, 2014. Accessed January 2, 2015.

CFR. “Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

CRS. “Al Qaeda-Affiliated Groups: Middle East and Africa.” October 10, 2014. Accessed December 26, 2014.

CRS. “Al Qaeda and Affiliates: Historical Perspective, Global Presence, and Implications for U.S. Policy.” Accessed December 26, 2014.

CRS. “Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response.” September 17, 2014. Accessed January 2, 2015.

CRS. “The “Islamic State” Crisis and U.S. Policy.” December 8, 2014. Accessed January 2, 2015.

CSIS. “Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

CTC. “Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

ICG. “Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

ISW. “Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

Jihadology. “JABHAH AL-NUṢRAH.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

Stanford University. “Nusra.” Mapping Militant Organizations. November 12, 2014.  Accessed January 2, 2015.

TRAC. “Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

Government:

Defense Department. “Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

DIA. “Annual Threat Assessment.” February 11, 2014.

NCTC. “Al-Nusrah Front.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

State Department. “Nusra.” Accessed January 2, 2015.

State Department. “Nusra.” Chapter 6: Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Country Reports on Terrorism 2013.

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