November 17, 2014
Western media outlets are reporting on a possible merger between the warring Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat a-Nusra, primarily as a result of US-coalition led airstrikes on both groups.
At least one Nusra spokesman in Idlib province disputes that account.
An IS-Nusra alliance “is not true,” Abu Azzam al-Ansari, from Jabhat a-Nusra’s media office in Idlib, tells Syria Direct’s Osama Abu Zeid.
Al-Ansari says Nusra sent a committee to bring about a reconciliation, but “was met with a refusal from the Islamic State” for reasons he did not elaborate on.
Nusra is looking for a ceasefire, not a larger merger with IS, al-Ansari says, because Nusra wants to focus on fighting “just the Alawites.”
The Islamic State is to blame for the US-led bombings, al-Ansari says, because IS “gave the West justification to bomb…everyone who subscribes to the Salafi-jihadi strain of thought.”
Q: First of all, everyone is wondering about the Khorasan Group—what is it? Is it under Nusra’s authority, or a part of Nusra?
Yes, Jabhat a-Nusra does not hide the fact that it is al-Qaeda, and al-Qaeda is the group that defeated the Americans in the Khorasan mountains, thanks to Allah alone. Seeing as al-Qaeda is the group fighting the Americans in Syria, they [the Americans] called al-Qaeda the Khorasan organization in order to mislead people.
Nusra teaches Quranic classes in Jabal a-Zawiya. Photo courtesy of @JN_Hama.
Q: I understand from your answer that when [the Americans] mention Khorasan, they mean Nusra?
Q: Days ago, the [US-led international] coalition struck Harem, in northern Idlib, and the American government talked about targeting the Khorasan organization…was Nusra the target there [in Harem]?
Yes, Jabhat a-Nusra [was the target]. And they also struck a headquarters belonging to Ahrar a-Sham in Sarmada.
Q: America announced its war against the Islamic State, and targeted you [a-Nusra] under the pretext that you were planning operations against the West—is this true?
The State organization [i.e., the Islamic State], which [has been] penetrated by American [spies], gave a justification to the West—because of its irresponsible actions—to bomb the mujahidin. The target is not the [Islamic] State only, but everyone who subscribes to the Salafi-jihadi strain of thought.
Q: As far as the infighting [between Jabhat a-Nusra and the] Syrian Revolutionaries Front on the basis that they are corrupt—will you undertake to fight any group that receives aid from the United States?
Yes. We don’t want the implementation of any foreign agendas in a-Sham. We’re Muslims, and Allah—blessed be Allah Exalted—ordered us to rule with Islam, and we won’t be satisfied with anything else.
Q: There’s been some talk about an alliance between Jabhat a-Nusra and the Islamic State—is this true?
No, this is not true. We sent a committee, headed by Sheikh Salah a-Din a-Shishani in order to bring about a reconciliation. The committee was met with refusal by the [Islamic] State group.
Q: Were there any clear reasons for their refusal? What was the aim of reconciliation—unification, or just a temporary ceasefire?
A ceasefire only, in order to busy ourselves with just the Alawites.
Q: Some say that Idlib has become an Islamic emirate ruled by Jabhat a-Nusra, thanks to Nusra’s control over the area and because you enjoy great popularity there. Is this true?
The emirate has not been announced. You can review installments of the interview with the Sheikh Abi Firas a-Suri, under the title ‘From Reality,’ where he talks about the emirate. If something had changed recently, we would have released an announcement addressing that.
Q: Right now there is no emirate…but is it possible that Jabhat a-Nusra is administering a self-ruled Idlib right now, or is that outside Nusra’s intentions?
The style of rule right now in Idlib is by means of the judiciary. It’s clear to all that all the [rebel] brigades participate in [this process].
Q: As far as what the American government says, that you intend to attack America and the West in their own homes—is this true? Or will you fight them only in Syria?
Of course we’ll face them everywhere—we will decide when and where.
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