- The Nusrah Front was formed in January 2012, when al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—now chief of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—sent AQI operative Abu Muhammad al-Julani to Syria to organize an al-Qa’ida affiliate. In 2013, Julani broke ranks with Baghdadi and reaffirmed his allegiance to al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Since then, the group has attempted to expand its influence both regionally and globally.
- In 2012, the US State Department designated the Nusrah Front a terrorist organization. It remains one of the most capable armed groups in Syria.
- In July 2016, the Nusrah Front changed its name to the Levant Conquest Front, or Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. Julani stated the organization would no longer associate with groups outside Syria, including al-Qa’ida. However, Julani did not revoke the organization’s allegiance to Zawahiri, suggesting communication between the groups will continue.
Threat to New Jersey: Low
The Nusrah Front remains focused on overthrowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and establishing an Islamic state in Syria. The Nusrah Front has not conducted attacks against the United States; however, Nusrah Front leaders have publicly threatened to retaliate against the United States for conducting strikes against the group in Syria.
- Since 2012, the Nusrah Front’s primary objective has been to overthrow Assad’s government while building relationships with rebel factions throughout the country, according to Julani’s public statements.
- The Nusrah Front is predominantly composed of local Syrian fighters who likely have little ambition to attack the United States. The group has some foreign fighters with experience with al-Qaida in other theaters, including a group of al-Qa’ida veterans known as the Khorasan Group; however, US airstrikes have degraded this network.
- Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, approximately 270 Americans either traveled or attempted to travel to Iraq and Syria. Since 2015, at least two individuals from Ohio and California have attempted to travel to Syria to join the Nusrah Front.
- The Nusrah Front publishes an English-language magazine focused on recruiting individuals from Europe and the United States.