{Update} Visitor Saudi Intelligence Service via google: “islam zoroaster jihad rafidah”. Always nice to know what makes their googlebots interested in a topic. Also on the same page this article Informed Comment (2008) – Islamic Radicals Announce Accord with Sunni Tribes. See first comment below – Saudi Influence in Syria and Iraq Compared .

The best fighting machine with the best weapons and most experienced leadership are known as the jihadists from the Jabhat al-Nusra. This group has established itself in Syria during the US occupation in neighboring Iraq and is linked to the Sunni extremists of Al-Zarqhawi or Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). A new report gives a thorough analysis of its founding, tactics and why they are so succesful. Unfortunately the report does not include the religious support from Saudi Arabia and the funds and arms from the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar. The report is only 13 pages and a very good read providing insight in the Jihad in Syria and why the US is doomed to fail. Designating Jabhat al-Nusra a terror group has increased its popularity and confirms its independence from western powers backing the main opposition group. A French article on why the US made a big mistake listing the group as a terror organization.

Syria conflict: New insight into shadowy jihadist group

(BBC News) – A new report has cast unprecedented light on Jabhat al-Nusra – the shadowy al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria that has become a key player in the conflict. The document by the UK-based think-tank Quilliam Foundation says the group has developed from al-Qaeda militants in Iraq and now has about 5,000 members.

It says the group – which has claimed deadly attacks against the government – will fight on even if President Bashar al-Assad’s regime falls. [See my earlier diary on origin of multiple suicide car bombs in Damascus and Aleppo – Oui]

Western alarm

The 13-page document describes Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) as one of Syria’s most effective groups, which aims to establish an Islamist state in the country.  

    “The short-term strategy of JN is primarily military focused, although preparations are being made for long-term sustainability of the group.”

The group, the document says, is now “adapting to the changing conflict, and making preparations for a post-Assad future”. This includes “the procurement of heavy weaponry”. The paper also details the group’s successful strategy of taking control of the countryside around main cities while simultaneously using secret cells to launch focused and demoralising attacks on urban targets through suicide bombers.

JN has spies in the government, and – unlike the mainstream Free Syrian Army – exerts stern discipline and rigorous selection process. The rebel group has alarmed Western and Arab governments by its fanaticism and links to al-Qaeda, the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner says.

Gulf States to arm and fund Syrian opposition

(RT.com) Jan. 27, 2012 – Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Than appealed to the international community to send troops into Syria to end the bloodshed earlier this month. Qatar was also the first Arab nation to offer support to the Libyan uprising that ousted Colonel Gaddafi and played a crucial role in supplying weapons to the rebel movement.
Dr Ibrahim Alloush, a professor at Zaytouneh University in Jordan, has told RT that the arming and funding of the Syrian opposition comes mainly from the Arab Gulf states, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and from Turkey and NATO.

    “It is obvious that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar are harboring an agenda of overthrowing the Syrian regime because it opposes Western political, military and cultural intervention in the region. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been sponsoring all kind of action, military action, around the region and not just Syria.”

Dr Alloush says that the point of this operation is to implode Syria socially so that there will not be any “central government that is able to fend off and protect the sovereignty of the country.”

More below the fold …

From my earlier diary – Condi’s Fairy Tale – Neocons and A Democratic Syria by Oui on Fri Jul 27th, 2012

Al Qaeda Taking Deadly New Role in Syria Conflict

CAIRO, Egypt (NY Times) — It is the sort of image that has become a staple of the Syrian revolution, a video of masked men calling themselves the Free Syrian Army and brandishing AK-47s — with one unsettling difference. In the background hang two flags of Al Qaeda, white Arabic writing on a black field.

“We are now forming suicide cells to make jihad in the name of God,” said a speaker in the video using the classical Arabic favored by Al Qaeda.

The video, posted on YouTube, is one more bit of evidence that Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists are doing their best to hijack the Syrian revolution, with a growing although still limited success that has American intelligence officials publicly concerned, and Iraqi officials next door openly alarmed.

While leaders of the Syrian political and military opposition continue to deny any role for the extremists, Al Qaeda has helped to change the nature of the conflict, injecting the weapon it perfected in Iraq — suicide bombings — into the battle against President Bashar al-Assad with growing frequency.

The evidence is mounting that Syria has become a magnet for Sunni extremists, including those operating under the banner of Al Qaeda. An important border crossing with Turkey that fell into Syrian rebels’ hands last week, Bab al-Hawa, has quickly become a jihadist congregating point.