World View: Al-Nusra Descendant Claims Credit for Massive Terror Attack in Damascus, Syria

The Umayyad Mosque in the old city of Damascus

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Al-Nusra descendant claims credit for massive terror attack in Damascus, Syria
  • Al-Nusra becomes Levant Liberation Committee (LLC) and gains at expense of ISIS

Al-Nusra descendant claims credit for massive terror attack in Damascus, Syria

Aftermath of double terror explosions in Damascus suburb (ARA News)
Aftermath of double terror explosions in Damascus suburb (ARA News)

Two explosions killed 74 people and injured 120 more in Damascus, the capital city of Syria, on Saturday. The second of the two explosions went off ten minutes after the first, killing many who came to help the wounded from the first explosion.

The attacks targeted Shia pilgrims from Iraq who were visiting one of Shia Islam’s holiest sites, the Bab al-Saghir cemetery. The cemetery is near one of the seven gates of the old city of Damascus, and many prominent religious figures are buried there, including family members of the Prophet Muhammad.

On Sunday, a group with the previously unknown name Levant Liberation Committee (LLC), also known as Tahrir al-Sham, took credit for the attacks. LLC is the current incarnation of the former al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front). The group issued a statement saying that it was targeting Syria’s Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad and Iran-linked Shia targets in general:

On Saturday… a twin attack was carried out by two heroes of Islam … in the center of the capital Damascus, killing and wounding dozens…

Iran and its militias have, from the start of the revolution, supported the tyrannical and criminal regime and have been killing and displacing our people, This is a message to Iran and its militias that the right will not go wasted.

Last year, the delusional Bashar al-Assad issued a delusional statement saying that the destruction of Aleppo would be a victory that would be remembered throughout history and that it would end the war since the jihadists would no longer have any reason to continue fighting. In December, a ceasefire came into effect, brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey, but it’s never been a ceasefire in more than in name only.

Two weeks ago, the LLC carried out another major terrorist attack, this one in Homs. It was a very complex, well-planned attack on some of al-Assad’s most highly secure military installations, killing 32 people and injuring dozens more. In particular, Major-General Hassan Daaboul, head of Syrian regime’s Military Security Department, was killed during the attacks.

There has never been any credible reason to support al-Assad’s delusional belief that a victory in Aleppo or any other city would bring about the end of Syria’s civil war. These two terror attacks by a single group, two weeks ago in Homs and on Saturday in Damascus, obviously have the objectives of stoking sectarian Sunni vs Shia conflicts and of proving to al-Assad, Russia and Iran that the war is far from over.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. The actions by this terror group bring that day much closer. ARA News (Damascus) and France 24 and Deutsche Welle

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Al-Nusra becomes Levant Liberation Committee (LLC) and gains at expense of ISIS

In January 2012, a shadowy al-Qaeda linked terrorist group called the “al-Nusra Battlefront” appeared in Syria and conducted a series of car and bomb attacks. In May of that year, it was behind the first major terror attack against the al-Assad regime, twin suicide car bombs outside a military intelligence building in Damascus, killing 55 people. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, the successor to Osama bin Laden, issued a statement asking terrorists to support the group.

In 2012-3, a parallel development occurred, when thousands of young jihadists came to Syria to fight al-Assad, who was massacring, torturing and committing atrocities against thousands of Sunni Muslims in Syria, including many women and children. Al-Assad’s attack on a Palestinian refugee camp near Latakia in October 2011 in particular energized young jihadists around the world. They came to Syria and formed the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Thus, Syrian jihadists joined Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra front), while foreign jihadists joined ISIS. Since then, ISIS expanded into Iraq and had some major successes, but today is under attack and facing existential threats in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria.

Al-Nusra, which is a jihadist group of mostly local Syrian fighters, appears to have taken a more methodical approach, without overstretching as ISIS did. Many anti-Assad fighters in Syria did not want to join a foreign terror organization like al-Qaeda, since they felt that their fight was against al-Assad, but not targets in Asia or Europe or other countries. So in July of last year, al-Nusra split with al-Qaeda, and changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS, Front for the Conquest of Syria). Many people have doubted the sincerity of that split, but it did have the purpose of making the group more welcoming to Syrians who wanted to fight al-Assad, but did not want to join al-Qaeda.

In January, JFS announced another organizational change and another name change. It would become Hayat Tahrir al-Sham — Liberation of the Levant Organization, or the Levant Liberation Committee (LLC). Furthermore, LLC would be a merger with four smaller local groups: the Nour al-Din Zinki Movement, one of the most important opposition factions in Aleppo province; Ansar al-Din Front; the Homs-based Jaysh al-Sunna; and Liwa al-Haqq, which operates in Idlib, Aleppo and Hama provinces. Under the new name, LLC has conducted two spectacular terrorist acts in the last two weeks, the one in Homs two weeks ago, and the one in Damascus on Saturday.

This seems to point to a trend that we already suggested in our article two days ago on Syria and Afghanistan. ISIS is claiming to be an international organization, and it supports that claim by taking credit for any terrorist attack anywhere, whether it was part of it or not. In addition, some local jihadist groups are pledging allegiance to ISIS, giving it the appearance of being larger than it is.

Although ISIS was successful in drawing thousands of jihadists to Syria, it really does not make sense for someone to want to spend his life fighting someone else’s war in someone else’s country. So while ISIS is claiming to be an international organization, what we are seeing is that it is really a collection of local jihadist groups in different countries, with no real connection to one another beyond public relations.

In Syria, the al-Assad regime rarely attacked ISIS, and considered them his ally, because they were fighting against al-Nusra and other Sunni groups, which were al-Assad’s real targets. However, now we see that this has not ended well for either al-Assad or ISIS. ISIS is under attack from local Kurdish and Arab militias in Mosul and Raqqa, and al-Assad is under attack from local LLC militias in Damascus and Homs.

One can enjoy a certain amount of Schadenfreude that when a psychopathic war criminal like al-Assad decided to ally himself with a horrific terror group like ISIS, it is ending badly for both of them. Making a deal with the devil really doesn’t seem to pay off, even for another devil. Unfortunately, as Generational Dynamics predicts, when these two devils become allies it also means that the rest of us will suffer, as the Mideast heads into a major sectarian war that will engulf the region and the world. BBC (28-Feb) and BBC (4-Jan-2016)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Syria, Damascus, Homs, Bashar al-Assad, Hassan Daaboul, Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Nusra Front, Shia, Alawite, Sunni, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Liberation of the Levant Organization, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, JFS, Front for the Conquest of Syria, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Aleppo, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Mosul, Raqqa, Nour al-Din Zinki Movement, Ansar al-Din Front, Jaysh al-Sunnah, Liwa al-Haqq
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