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“… Zawahiri  lauds the success of al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq in contrast. In Syria, al Qaeda’s  franchise, Jabhat al Nusra, has become the fastest-growing Qaeda movement in the  world after Zawahiri called upon jihadists from across Islam to go and fight in  Syria a year ago.  Since then the Qaeda core headquarters in Pakistan  has been in close  communication with the Nusra front in Syria. Zawahiri also praises the  Qaeda organization in Iraq for outlasting the American occupation and for its  constant attacks on the Shia government in Baghdad.In both Syria and  Iraq, Zawahiri blames Iran and its ally Hezbollah for  supporting the Assad and Maliki governments. He accuses Tehran of secretly  colluding with Washington in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.  …

Zawahiri pays tribute to the Qaeda franchise in Iraq, the self-styled  Islamic State of Iraq, for helping the al Nusra front in Syria get organized.  Shortly after Zawahiri’s statement the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, who uses the  nom de guerre Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, publicly claimed credit for helping set up  the Qaeda franchise in Syria and announced the two groups had merged into an  Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. Al Baghdadi’s statement confirmed what  the United States had been saying for months: the al Nusra front is an offshoot  of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Next the  leader of al Nusra, who calls himself Abu Muhammad al Golani, walked it back a  bit. He said he had not been “consulted” on any merger with the Iraqi group,  although he was careful not to criticize al Baghdadi and stressed his loyalty to  Zawahiri and al Qaeda. The exchange has brought al Nusra out of the closet; it  is clearly now part of the Qaeda global jihadist campaign. Al Golani admitted  that he had earlier been a fighter in Iraq and was a supporter of the Iraqi  franchise but he went out of his way to declare al Nusra’s loyalty is to  Zawahiri and the Qaeda core group

The tempest over al Baghdadi’s comments is likely to  pass, and the two Qaeda groups will continue to collaborate closely.  Both in Syria and Iraq  al Qaeda is growing in numbers and power at a dangerous pace. And with Zawahiri’s  encouragement, al Qaeda’s support base  across the Islamic world is funneling sympathizers to go to Syria and Iraq to  join the fight. In his statement Zawahiri makes clear the end state is  creation of a new caliphate across Islam …”

Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 10:41 AM
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