US adds ‘ex’ al-Qaeda group in Syria to terrorist list

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Militants of the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda wing in Syria. File photo

ARA News

The US State Department has amended the designation of Jabhat al-Nusra as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, listing Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS) as a terrorist alias.

“US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and all property and interests in the property of the organization […] are blocked,” the US State Department said. “In addition, knowingly providing, or attempting or conspiring to provide material support to the organization is prohibited.”

In July, al-Nusra Emir Abu Muhammed al-Joulani announced that the extremist group was rebranding, changing its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and distancing itself from al-Qaeda.

The American State Department said that those changes were cosmetic. “Despite attempts to distinguish itself from al-Nusra by developing a new logo and flag, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham’s principles continue to be the same as those of al-Qaeda and the group remains committed to carrying out terrorist [attacks],” it said.

As a result, the US-led coalition has continued to carry out airstrikes against the jihadist group, killing two of its members in November. Security analysts told ARA News that the United States is expanding its anti-JFS campaign.

“Whether it calls itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham or al-Nusra Front, the group remains al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria,” the US State Department said. “Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control today [sanctioned] four key leaders of al-Nusra.”

Kyle Orton, an analyst for the Henri Jackson Society, wrote that “The United States and therefore the international coalition is about to step up its operations against Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.” Orton argued that the policy was necessary but cautioned that it would inadvertently “strengthen the coalition supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad.”

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