Institute for the Study of War og American Enterprise Institute har publisert en rapport som ber om at man ikke undervurderer Jabhat al-Nusra. Denne gruppen er like farlig for Vesten som IS, heter det.
The report’s authors include Fred Kagan, considered an architect of the 2007 «surge» strategy in Iraq, which increased American troops and engagement with local tribes to stabilize that country, and Kim Kagan, a former adviser to Gen. David Petraeus on Afghanistan strategy and the president of the Institute for the Study of War.
Though for now al-Nusra hasn’t undertaken attacks in the West like ISIS has, Kagan said it’s just as potent.
«While ISIS is flashier … both represent an existential threat, both wish to attack the homeland, both seek the mobilization of Muslim communities against the West,» she said.
In fact, Kagan warned that al Qaeda’s Syrian branch represented a longer-term and more intractable threat than ISIS and that targeting al-Nusra would be more difficult than targeting the other group, both of which take advantage of the chaos of the Syrian civil war to expand their reach.
«Al-Nusra is quietly intertwining itself with the Syrian population and Syrian opposition. … They are waiting in the wings to pick up the mantle of global jihad once ISIS falls,» she said.
The State Department has said that over 35,000 foreign fighters from 100 countries have traveled to Syria to participate in the conflict and that the al-Nusra Front attracts the second-most foreign fighters, ranking only behind ISIS, according to Nick Heras of the Center for a New American Security.
Al-Nusra emerged in late 2011 during the early days of the Syrian civil war and was initially largely made up of battle-hardened Syrians who had traveled to Iraq to fight U.S. troops during the American engagement there.
It has emerged as one of the most effective groups fighting the Syrian regime and currently controls swaths of northwestern Syria. The group holds «coercive power» over several opposition groups, serving as a sort of «kingmaker,» Heras said.
Al-Nusra does «not have the same capacity as ISIS, but its greatest usefulness is as a base of operations» to other elements of al Qaeda that may seek to strike Western targets,» Heras said.