Road to the Caliphate: April 12-14, 2013

Primary Sources:

Poem from Abū al-Ḥasan al-‘Azdī: “Oh Islamic State We Sacrifice For You”

The Syrian Coalition denounces all positions that stand in the way of Syrian freedom and that do not align with the will of the people

The future of Syria is drawn by the arms of the revolutionaries

Secondary Source:

Syrian Rebels Break With Group Over Qaeda Wing Alliance – New York Times

Road to the Caliphate: April 11, 2013

Primary Sources:

Secondary Sources:

Hassan Hassan: Pouring in: Responses from Syrian Islamist Rebels about Al Qaeda Merger

Condemnation of Zawahri’s statements regarding his intervention in the internal affairs of Syria | Syria Freedom Forever – سوريا الحرية للأبد

Confusion On Jihadi Forums, Twitter Following Unexpected Message By Leader Of Jabhat Al-Nusra Regarding The Group’s Merge With Al-Qaeda In Iraq

Syria’s Jihadists Dismay the Opposition – Al-Monitor

Road to the Caliphate: April 10, 2013

Primary Source:

Audio message from Jabhat al-Nuṣrah’s Abū Muḥammad al-Jawlānī: “About the Fields of al-Shām”

Ahmad Muaz al-Khatib (post 1 and post 2)

Secondary Sources:

In Syria, the Jihadist Campaign for Hearts and Minds |

Al Nusrah Front leader renews allegiance to al Qaeda, rejects new name – The Long War Journal

Nusra Front members in Syria have never masked al Qaida ties | McClatchy

Jabhat al-Nusra Declares Allegiance to Al-Qaeda – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

Road to the Caliphate: April 9, 2013

Primary Sources:

Audio message from the Islamic State of Iraq’s Shaykh Abū Bakr al-Ḥussaynī al-Qurayshī al-Baghdādī: “Announcement of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shām”

Statement from Shaykh Abū Basīr al-Ṭarṭūsī: “On the Announcement of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shām”

Secondary Sources:

Jihadists warn: Syria-Iraq Al Qaeda unification reflects badly on us by Hassan Hassan

HTS’s Self-Proclaimed Accomplishments in 2022

On January 1, HTS’s municipal governance apparatus the Administration of the Liberated Areas released a series of infographics (below) about self-proclaimed achievements over the past year. Instead of framing it as achievements for HTS or the Salvation Government (the civilian-led executive governing body in HTS-controlled areas) for that matter, the post discusses these achievements as ones for the Syrian revolution. This is because from HTS’s perspective they view everything that is being done in its territories as for the benefit of the revolution and that the revolution is not about a particular individual or faction, but everyone. Thus, this is line with HTS’s broader messaging strategy in recent years since it began to co-opt the language of the revolution. Of course, other groups and activists that are against and disagree with HTS would argue otherwise, but this is how HTS projects the issue. Alongside the infographics just released, I will also provide more primary sources on each self-proclaimed achievement and note anything specific about it, if a comment and analysis is warranted.

January: Formation of the new government

Every year since the Salvation Government (SG) was formed in 2017, there has been an elite-led process amongst the consultative council, tribal elders, and key town and displaced notables, whereby a prime minister is nominated to manage those in charge of the various ministries that make up the SG. These ministries currently include Interior; Justice; Endowments, Proselytization, and Guidance; Education; Health; Local Administration and Services; Economy and Resources; Development and Humanitarian Affairs; Higher Education; and Agriculture and Irrigation.

January: Rehabilitation of the Bab al-Hawa – Halab Road

The opening of the rehabilitated road was noteworthy because it was the first time that the leader of HTS, Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani, was publicly inaugurating a services-related project instead of the usual meetings he would have with military officials or notables. This came on the heels of him in November 2021 appearing at an emergency session of the General Shura Council to alleviate the bread price crisis at the time. Thus, the end of 2021 and through 2022 saw more appearances of Jawlani acting as a political figure alongside his more traditional role as the overall military commander for HTS and its fight against the Assad regime and rival factions in the insurgency. More of these types of actions by Jawlani are touted as other achievements below too. During this inauguration, Jawlani spoke and said this achievement is a “success of the revolution,” and that it should be celebrated by anyone who supports the revolution. One of the more interesting quotes that Jawlani said during this speech too was that: “freedom comes from military strength… and dignity comes from economic and investment projects, through which the people, and the citizens, live a dignified life that befits Muslims.” Therefore, according to Jawlani, each of these projects matters because it is a “step towards Damascus, and a step towards Aleppo, and step towards all the rest of Syria.”

February: Solving the murder of the two children in Atme

This is likely highlighted to showcase the competence of the Interior Ministry’s police force and investigative prowess from the perspective of HTS.

March: Opening of the Military College

I’m not quite sure why they noted that the Military College was opened in March 2022 since it was originally announced in December 2021. The only thing noteworthy about March for the Military College was that the college had its final exam for its first batch of cadets. Plus, the above image is from September 2022 when the Military College had a graduation ceremony. Nevertheless, the announcement of the Military College was another step in the professionalization of HTS’s fighting forces and structure from one that was involved in terrorism (mainly when it was Jabhat al-Nusrah and Jabhat al-Fatah al-Sham) and insurgency to a formalized body that could eventually lead to a Ministry of Defense within the SG.

June: Bab al-Hawa Industrial City

The Bab al-Hawa Industrial City was originally announced in mid-September 2021, however, the development of the area started being built in June 2022. The most recent aerial update of its progress is from January 4, 2023 (bottom image).

July: The Irrigation Project From ‘Ayn al-Zarqa’

The project will pump water from ‘Ayn al-Zarqa’ to Sahl al-Ruj. This was another governance project that Jawlani inaugurated. During this inauguration, Jawlani had another speech. One of the points that Jawlani made was that there needed to be investment in irrigation as this is the biggest barrier to increasing agricultural production. Jawlani also laid out a whole agricultural plan, which I wrote about here, among other issues.

August: The Idlib Book Fair

It took place from August 18-25, 2022.

September: Issuance of ID Cards

Another mechanism that further consolidates HTS’s governance project through bureaucratic measures to gain a better understanding of who is actually living in its territory. While some might view this as a way to better spy on local residents, there is also another plausible reason for this: the transient nature of those that come and go through HTS’s territory, especially with the Syrian National Army territories. Plus, 3/4 of the population in HTS-controlled areas are displaced individuals from different parts of Syria. Thus, from HTS’s perspective it would make sense to formalize this process.

September: Honoring Memorizers of the Qur’an

This is through the private Dar al-Wahi al-Sharif Qur’anic school, which is run by Hisham al-Shaykh, the original leader of HTS when it formed in January 2017, prior to Jawlani retaking the mantle in October 2017.

October: Rehabilitation of the Bab al-Hawa – Jindires Road

Work on upgrading this road actually began in late August 2022. What’s noteworthy about this road is that when it first began being changed from dirt to asphalt, HTS did not actually control the town of Jindires. This was the first possible indication of HTS’s interest in eventually taking it over from Syrian National Army (SNA) factions, which HTS eventually attempted to takeover in mid-October 2022. While Turkey eventually forced HTS out, it is believed that secretly HTS still has a presence there and acts as shadow rulers via a puppet SNA faction.

October: Supporting the Education File

This occurred at the tenth session of the General Shura Council, whereby Jawlani made another appearance. Other key leaders in the Salvation Government spoke on improving the educational sector including the Prime Minister of the SG Ali Kida and the Ministers of Education and Higher Education. They sought to interrogate problems in the educational sector in the liberated areas. During Jawlani’s speech at the session, he opened by focusing on the education process, which Jawlani views as “the foundation for any renaissance of societies that have gone through wars and crises.” Jawlani sees this issue as a generational project: “The real revolution is bringing up an educated generation capable of managing itself, and of bringing up children on a high standard for the benefit of the whole community.” Jawlani is self-aware and argues that it will take a long time for this to develop, and “cannot be solved in one session or one month.” Thus, Jawlani calls for the creation of a strategic plan for education since 200,000 people in the liberated areas have dropped out of school, leading to potential “illiteracy that leads to ignorance, which is a precursor to crime, unemployment, begging, and many other things.”

November: Idlib Municipal Stadium

The new stadium for various sports activities was inaugurated.

November: Re-opening the National Hospital

This is seen as a major victory since the prior national hospital in Idlib had been bombed by the Assad regime in late May 2016, a heinous tactic the regime has used against civilian healthcare facilities all over Syria. Interestingly, HTS’s Dr. Mazhar al-Ways was at the dedication. Currently, he is a key ideologue for HTS and also is on the SG’s Ministry of Justice’s Supreme Judicial Committee. However, when he was younger, he received a medical degree from Damascus University, hence why he’s still described as a doctor whenever mentioned in HTS materials.

December: Winter Warmth Campaign

This was yet another campaign that Jawlani was a part of to announce greater assistance for those living in IDP camps ahead of the rugged winter weather. While this campaign was announced in mid-December 2022, the efforts to help individuals is still ongoing and is highlighted almost daily by the SG’s Ministry of Development and Humanitarian Affairs. These efforts have also been funneled through HTS’s General Zakat Commission to assist the super needy amongst the IDPs. It should also be noted that this campaign comes a month-and-a-half earlier than last winter’s ‘Your Warmth Is Our Duty’ campaign in late January 2022. Suggesting that HTS has learned to get ahead of the issue this time around before there is an actual crisis. During the most recent announcement, Jawlani said that these provisions will help 15,000 families and provide necessary resources and funds. Jawlani also framed this campaign as a way to distinguish HTS’s governance with the mendacity of the Assad regime: “The blessed Syrian revolution, based on strength and dignity, continues to care for the people, god willing, to not enable the criminal regime, and to support the people despite all the bombing, destruction, and explosives campaigns.” Therefore, according to Jawlani, despite the regime’s failures, HTS will continue to strive to build the “Syria of the future.”

December: The Opening of Clock Square

This can be seen as in line with broader “beautification” projects to re-establish a sense of normalcy within the cities and villages of HTS-controlled areas by making the design of the central corridors have a new aesthetic that could make locals proud since they built it themselves and can now take advantage of the urban space beyond the rubble that the Assad regime created through its campaign of destruction.

Primary Sources Comparing The Islamic State’s Three Bayat Campaigns in its Wilayat al-Sham

The First Bayat Campaign – Abu Ibrahim

Hawran (Dara’)


al-Khayr (Dayr al-Zur)


al-Barakah (al-Hasakah)

Halab (Aleppo)

The Second Bayat Campaign – Abu al-Hasan



“Jihad of the Believers Continues – Wilayat al-Sham”

The Third Bayat Campaign – Abu al-Husayn

al-Sham – I

al-Sham – II


“And God Will Surely Support Those Who Support Him #5 – Wilayat al-Sham”

Designations and Sanctions Related to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Its Predecessor Groups

In light of the recent booklet I wrote on Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, its transformation, and the question of its terrorism designation, I thought it would be worthwhile as a follow-up to share what the group, its predecessors, and individuals in it, or used to be in it, are currently designated/sanctioned for. From an organizational perspective, as one can see, it’s more complicated than being only taken off of the State Department’s FTO list. There’s also the Treasury Department’s SDGT list, plus the UN’s sanction’s list, which the US is legally bound to follow. Therefore, even if hypothetically Washington took the step to remove HTS from both its State and Treasury lists, legally the US would still have to follow the UN list, which we know HTS will not be removed from since Russia is on the Security Council. Plus, then there are the individuals that are designated separately, too.

Either way, I hope the below details are useful. And it should be noted that the descriptions related to the reasons why individuals are listed is from the original press release date of when they were designated. Thus, the information presented as such could be irrelevant today to their current circumstances or flat out wrong. That’s why at the bottom of each individual I noted their current status. Though some, I don’t know where or what they are up to now. So if anyone wants to fill in the ‘unknown’ gaps feel free to reach out.

As An Organization:

The State Department’s Foreign Terrorism Organization List

Jabhat al-Nusrah added on December 11, 2012 as an alias of al-Qaeda in Iraq

Jabhat al-Nusrah removed as an alias of al-Qaeda in Iraq and added as own designated organization with no connected alias on May 7, 2014

Jabhat Fatah al-Sham added on November 10, 2016 as an alias of Jabhat al-Nusrah

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham added on May 31, 2018 as an alias of Jabhat al-Nusrah

The Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Global Terrorists List

Jabhat al-Nusrah added on December 11, 2012 as an alias of al-Qaeda in Iraq

Jabhat al-Nusrah removed as an alias of al-Qaeda in Iraq and added as own designated organization with no connected alias on May 7, 2014

Jabhat Fatah al-Sham added on November 10, 2016 as an alias of Jabhat al-Nusrah

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham added on May 31, 2018 as an alias of Jabhat al-Nusrah

The State Department’s Entities of Particular Concern (EPC) – non-state actors that have engaged in particularly severe violations of religious freedom

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham added on December 7, 2020

United Nations Sanctions List

Jabhat al-Nusrah added on May 30, 2013 as an alias of al-Qaeda in Iraq

Jabhat al-Nusrah removed as an alias of al-Qaeda in Iraq and added as own designated organization with no connected alias on May 14, 2014

Jabhat Fatah al-Sham added on June 7, 2017 as an alias of Jabhat al-Nusrah

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham added on June 5, 2018 as an alias of Jabhat al-Nusrah


December 11, 2012:

Maysar Ali Musa Abdallah al-Juburi (Abu Mariya al-Qahtani)

Maysar Ali Musa Abdallah al-Juburi (al-Juburi) moved from Mosul, Iraq to Syria in late 2011 to exploit Syria’s more permissive security environment with the objectives of transferring al-Qa’ida’s ideology to Syria and forming likeminded terrorist groups. As of mid 2012, al-Juburi became the religious and military commander for al-Nusrah Front in eastern Syria and also operated a training camp for the network.  Al-Juburi is suspected of participating in a 2004 attack against a Coalition Forces checkpoint in Ninawa Province, Iraq.

Status: Senior Leader in HTS

Anas Hasan Khattab

As of mid 2012, Anas Hasan Khattab (Khattab) was involved with the formation of al-Nusrah Front for AQI.  He communicated periodically with AQI leadership to receive financial and material assistance and helped facilitate funding and weapons for al-Nusrah Front.  Khattab works closely with al-Qa’ida-linked facilitators to provide logistical support to al-Nusrah Front.

Status: Senior Leader in HTS

May 16, 2013:

Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani

Al-Jawlani is considered the leader of al-Nusrah. He has stated in videos that his ultimate goal is the overthrow of the Syrian regime and the institution of Islamist shari’a law throughout the country. Al-Jawlani was specifically tasked by al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) to carry out these objectives. Under al-Jawlani’s leadership, al-Nusrah Front has carried out multiple suicide attacks throughout Syria. These attacks have been primarily in Damascus but the group has targeted other areas of the country as well. Many of these attacks have killed innocent Syrian civilians. Al-Nusrah’s claimed operations since the group’s December 2012 designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization have included a January 26, 2013 suicide attack on a military base in Syria’s Quneitra Province, near the Golan Heights; a February 15, 2013 statement claiming responsibility for early February suicide attacks on regime targets in Damascus and the nearby town of al-Shadadi; and a March 20, 2013 statement claiming responsibility for two separate suicide attacks that targeted a bridge and bunker near the city of Homs on March 6, 2013.

Although al-Nusrah Front was formed by AQI in late 2011 as a front for AQI’s activities in Syria, recently al-Jawlani publicly pledged allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qa’ida’s leader.

Status: Leader of HTS

December 18, 2013:

Usamah Amin al-Shihabi

Al-Shihabi is an associate of FAI, a Lebanese-based militant group formed in 2006, whose ultimate goal is the institution of Islamist sharia law in the Palestinian refugee camps and the destruction of Israel, and at times has played a key leadership role in the organization. He has also recently been appointed head of Syria-based al-Nusrah Front’s Palestinian wing in Lebanon.

Status: Allegedly based in Lebanon

August 18, 2014:

Said Arif

Syria-based Algerian national Said Arif is wanted for arrest in France, and is the subject of an Interpol Red Notice. In October 2013, Arif fled house arrest in France, traveled to Syria, and joined the terrorist group al-Nusrah Front.

Arif is an Algerian army officer deserter, who traveled to Afghanistan in the 1990s, where he trained in al-Qa’ida camps with weapons and explosives. Arif is a long-time terrorist who was a suspect in the al-Qa’ida December 2000 plot to bomb the Strasbourg Christmas market.

In 2003, Arif was arrested and was put on trial in France with 25 others as part of the “Chechen Network.” The Chechen Network was accused of plotting to blow up the Eiffel Tower and conducting chemical attacks and attacks on malls and police stations in France. In 2006, Arif was convicted and sentenced for his role in these planned attacks. After his arrest, Arif publicly declared that al-Qa’ida was planning to attack an American military base in Spain using chemical weapons.

Status: Allegedly killed in late May 2015 as a leader of Jund al-Aqsa

August 22, 2014:

Abdul Mohsen Abdullah Ibrahim al-Sharikh

Al-Sharikh is a senior ANF leader and al-Qaida facilitator based in Syria.  He moved to Syria in the spring of 2013 with other al-Qaida fighters and joined ANF, later becoming one of its top strategists.  In this role, al-Sharikh has used social media posts to demonstrate his aspiration to target Americans and U.S. interests.   He is included on Saudi Arabia’s list of most wanted terrorists.

Prior to his work in Syria with ANF, al-Sharikh served in early 2013 as chief of al-Qaida’s Iran-based extremist and financial facilitation network before the return of already designated al-Qaida facilitator Yasin al-Suri to the position.  Al-Sharikh has also previously served al-Qaida as a key financial facilitator in Pakistan.

Status: Killed in Airstrike on October 18, 2015

Hamid Hamad Hamid Al-‘Ali

Al-‘Ali has raised tens of thousands of dollars to help ANF purchase weapons and supplies as well as directed donors in Kuwait to send financial and material support to the terrorist organization.  Al-‘A1i has traveled to Syria to deliver funds to ANF and used students in Kuwait to courier funds to the group.  Al-‘Ali has also facilitated the travel to Syria of individuals wishing to fight for ANF and provided these individuals with money to deliver to the terrorist organization.  Al-‘A1i has referred to himself as an “al-Qaida commando” and has raised money for ANF and al-Qaida.

Status: Allegedly based in Kuwait

September 24, 2014:

Nusret Imamovic

A Bosnian terrorist leader operating in Syria. After his arrival, Imamovic actively supported violent extremism, and is now believed to be fighting with al-Nusrah Front.

Status: Allegedly based in Idlib

August 5, 2015:

Sa’d bin Sa’d Muhammad Shariyan al-Ka’bi

As of early 2014, al-Ka’bi reported that he had set up donation campaigns in Qatar to aid with fundraising in response to a request from an ANF associate for money to purchase both weapons and food. In that same time period, an ANF official requested that al-Ka’bi act as an intermediary for collecting a ransom for a hostage being held by ANF, and al-Ka’bi worked to facilitate a ransom payment in exchange for the release of a hostage held by ANF.

In 2013, al-Ka’bi worked closely with U.S.- and UN-designated Kuwaiti ANF fundraiser Hamid Hamad Hamid al-‘Ali and received funding from him to support ANF. Since at least late 2012, al-Ka’bi has provided support to ANF in Syria.

Status: Allegedly based in Qatar

May 19, 2016:

Abdullah Hadi ‘Abd al-Rahman Fayhan Sharban al-‘Anizi

Treasury designated Kuwait-based Abdullah Hadi ‘Abd al-Rahman Fayhan Sharban al-‘Anizi (al-‘Anizi) for providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, al-Qaida in Afghanistan and al-Nusrah Front in Syria between late 2013 and late 2015.

Al-‘Anizi sent money for al-Qaida in early 2015.  In mid-2014, al-‘Anizi provided funding to support the movement of al-Qaida members from Pakistan.  In late 2013, he made plans to solicit funds from donors to help move al-Qaida extremists from Pakistan to Syria.  As of 2010, al-‘Anizi served as a communications conduit for al-Qaida senior leadership. 

In 2014, al-‘Anizi obtained money to support al-Nusrah Front and made arrangements to send funding to al-Nusrah Front in Syria.

Status: Allegedly based in Hawali, Kuwait

Abd al-Muhsin Zabin Mutib Naif al-Mutayri

Treasury designated Kuwait-based Abd al-Muhsin Zabin Mutib Naif al-Mutayri (al-Mutayri) for providing financial, material, or technological support for, and financial or other services to or in support of, al-Nusrah Front.

As of 2015, al-Mutayri was an al-Nusrah Front supporter in Kuwait who was collecting money for the group from other Gulf-based facilitators.  As of 2013, al-Mutayri worked with al-Nusrah Front facilitators to collect and deliver funds to the organization.  Between 2012 and 2013, he also provided funds to individuals traveling to join al-Nusrah Front in Syria.  Since 2012, al-Mutayri has provided funds to al-Nusrah Front, used charities to raise money for the terrorist organization, and worked with al-Nusrah Front facilitators to collect money to support the organization’s fighters in Syria. 

Status: Allegedly based in Kuwait

Mostafa Mahamed (Abu Sulayman al-Muhajir)

Treasury designated Syria-based Mostafa Mahamed (Mahamed) for acting for or on behalf of and providing financial support to al-Nusrah Front.

Mahamed occupies a senior leadership position in al-Nusrah Front and was subjected to targeted economic sanctions by his home country of Australia in August 2015.  Mahamed has recruited Australians to fight for al-Nusrah Front and has solicited funds to finance al-Nusrah Front’s terrorist activities.

Status: Based in Idlib, Not a Member of HTS

September 16, 2016:

Omar Diaby

Omar Diaby leads a group of French foreign terrorist fighters in Syria. The group of approximately 50 fighters has participated in terrorist operations alongside the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) group, al-Nusrah Front. Although assumed killed in August 2015, Diaby, re-emerged in May 2016, claiming his death was a ploy to allow him to travel to Turkey for an operation. Diaby came to the attention of French intelligence due to his involvement with a French extremist group and his online propaganda video series. Diaby’s videos have been credited as the chief reason behind why so many French nationals have joined militant groups in Syria and Iraq.

Status: Based in Idlib, Not a Member of HTS

November 10, 2016:

Abdallah Muhammad Bin-Sulayman al-Muhaysini

Abdallah Muhammad Bin-Sulayman al-Muhaysini was designated for acting for or on behalf of, and providing support and services to or in support of, al-Nusrah Front.

As of late 2015, al-Muhaysini was an accepted member of al-Nusrah Front’s inner leadership circle.  As of July 2015, Abdallah al-Muhaysini served as al-Nusrah Front’s religious advisor and represented al-Nusrah Front in an Idlib Province, Syria, military operations room.  He has been involved in recruiting fighters to join al-Nusrah Front and helping to form a new al-Nusrah Front “state” in northern Syria.  In April 2016, Muhaysini launched a campaign to recruit 3,000 child and teenage soldiers across northern Syria for al-Nusrah Front.

Al-Muhaysini has played a crucial role in providing financial aid to al-Nusrah Front.  Between 2013 and 2015, al-Muhaysini raised millions of dollars to support al-Nusrah Front governance efforts in Idlib Province, Syria.  As of early October 2015, al-Muhaysini had set up institutions providing financial aid to terrorist groups, including a highly successful campaign that he claimed had secured $5 million in donations to arm fighters. 

Status: Based in Idlib, Not a Member of HTS

Jamal Husayn Zayniyah

Jamal Husayn Zayniyah was designated for acting for or on behalf of al-Nusrah Front.

As of late 2015, Zayniyah was al-Nusrah Front’s emir of al-Qalamun, Syria and Lebanon.  As al-Nusrah Front’s emir of al-Qalamun, Zayniyah was responsible for planning operations in al-Qalamun and Lebanon.  Zayniyah was also responsible for al-Nusrah Front’s abduction of a group of Christian nuns in Ma’alula, Damascus Province, Syria.  As of mid-2015, Zayniyah had established himself as an intermediary for the negotiations over hostages, including 16 Lebanese soldiers, held by al-Nusrah Front.

Status: Unknown

Abdul Jashari (Shaykh Abu Qatada al-Albani)

Abdul Jashari was designated for acting for or on behalf of al-Nusrah Front.

Jashari is a Syria-based al-Nusrah Front military advisor who has also helped to raise funds for the families of al-Nusrah Front fighters.  During the summer of 2015, Jashari led al-Nusrah Front military operations in northern Syria.  Previously, during the summer of 2014, al-Nusrah Front emir and SDGT Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani appointed Jashari as leader of al-Nusrah Front’s military operations.

Status: Military Leader in HTS

Ashraf Ahmad Fari al-Allak

Ashraf Ahmad Fari al-Allak was designated for acting for or on behalf of al-Nusrah Front.

As of April 2016, al-Allak was an al-Nusrah Front military commander in Dara Province, Syria.  He has provided support to al-Nusrah Front military operations in southern Syria by mobilizing al-Nusrah Front fighters and weapons.  He has also served as the al-Nusrah Front emir of Saraya, Syria and Dara City, Syria.

Status: Unknown

February 23, 2017:

Iyad Nazmi Salih Khalil (Abu Julaybib al-Urduni)

Khalil was designated for acting for or on behalf of ANF. 

As of early 2016, Khalil was ANF’s third highest-ranking official and appointed as the group’s emir for Syria’s coastal area by ANF emir and Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) Abu-Muhammad al-Jawlani (al-Jawlani).  As a senior ANF official, Khalil took part in discussions among the group’s senior leadership regarding ANF’s overall strategy and the feasibility of establishing an emirate in Idlib, Syria.

For at least two years prior to being appointed emir for Syria’s coastal area, Khalil served as ANF emir of Dar’a, Syria.  Under his leadership, he empowered ANF’s security and intelligence operatives responsible for assassinations, ran prisons notorious for torture, and encouraged the looting of vehicles and possessions of Free Syrian Army members.

Khalil was originally sent to Syria with six other individuals in 2011 by former al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) official and current ISIS leader and SDGT Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to establish what would eventually become ANF.  Prior to his involvement with ANF, Khalil joined AQI in the mid-2000s, and remained close to AQI’s former head Abu-Musa’b al-Zarqawi until Zarqawi’s death in 2006.

Status: Killed in Airstrike on December 29, 2018

Bassam Ahmad al-Hasri

Al-Hasri was designated for acting for or on behalf of ANF. 

As of June 2016, al-Hasri served as ANF’s emir of Dar’a, a position he took over from Khalil starting in December 2015 at the behest of al-Jawlani.  As emir of Dar’a, al-Hasri oversaw the group’s military operations in southern Syria.  Previously, al-Hasri served as a religious advisor for ANF.  Al-Hasri has longstanding ties to al-Qa’ida, and was released in 2011 by Syrian authorities after spending six years in prison for his association with the group.

Status: Unknown

March 14, 2017:

Muhammad Hadi al-`Anizi

Muhammad Hadi al-`Anizi was designated for providing support and services to ANF and AQ.

Al-`Anizi, a terrorist facilitator and financier based in Kuwait, has provided extensive material and financial support to ANF since at least 2014.  In late 2015, al-`Anizi solicited donations for ANF fighters in Syria and sent approximately $20,000 to an ANF member in Syria.  In late 2014, al-`Anizi worked with an ANF associate to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars to ANF members in Syria.

Al-`Anizi has also provided extensive material and financial support to AQ since at least 2007.  In late 2015, al-`Anizi sought assistance from AQ financier and U.S.- and UN-designated terrorist Sa’d al-Ka’bi to facilitate the travel of AQ-associated individuals.  In mid- to late-2014, al-`Anizi obtained passports for an AQ associate in Syria, provided medical supplies to an injured Syria-based AQ associate, and was appointed as AQ’s representative in Syria by AQ senior leadership.  Prior to 2014, al-`Anizi provided financial support to his brother, AQ facilitator and SDGT Abdullah al-`Anizi, who used the money to fund terrorist operations.

Status: Allegedly based in Kuwait

April 13, 2017:

Tarek Sakr

Tarek Sakr is a Syrian-born Canadian citizen who has conducted sniper training in Syria and periodically travels to Turkey. Sakr has been linked to the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and SDGT al-Nusrah Front, al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria.

Status: Unknown

July 28, 2021:

Farrukh Furkatovitch Fayzimatov (Faruq al-Shami)

Fayzimatov utilizes social media to post propaganda, recruit new members, and solicit donations for HTS. Fayzimatov organized community fundraising campaigns to purchase equipment for the benefit of HTS, including motorbikes.

Status: Based in Idlib

May 2, 2023:

Omar Alsheak (Abu Ahmed Zakour)

Omar Alsheak, more commonly known as Abu Ahmed Zakour, has been a leader or official of HTS and its predecessor terrorist group al-Nusrah Front in various roles since at least 2003. Omar Alsheak continues to occupy a position of leadership in HTS as a Shura council member, emir of the Aleppo army, and supervisor of the HTS economic portfolio abroad under the umbrella of the financial arm of HTS. As of March 2022, Omar Alsheak served as the HTS security department emir, and as of February 2019, as the financial leader of HTS’s predecessor terrorist group, al-Nusrah Front. As of October 2022, Omar Alsheak functioned as the General Relations Office chief and received situational updates from HTS military commanders.

Status: Senior leader within HTS

Rewards for Justice:

Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani

Rewards for Justice is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information on Muhammad al-Jawlani, also known as Abu Muhammad al-Golani and Muhammad al-Julani. Al-Jawlani leads the al-Nusrah Front (ANF), al-Qa’ida’s (AQ) affiliate in Syria. In January 2017, ANF merged with several other hardline opposition groups to form Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). While al-Jawlani is not the leader of HTS, he remains the leader of AQ-affiliated ANF, which is at the core of HTS.

Under al-Jawlani’s leadership, ANF has carried out multiple terrorist attacks throughout Syria, often targeting civilians. In April 2015, ANF reportedly kidnapped, and later released, approximately 300 Kurdish civilians from a checkpoint in Syria. In June 2015, ANF claimed responsibility for the massacre of 20 residents in the Druze village of Qalb Lawzeh in Idlib province, Syria.

In April 2013, al-Jawlani pledged allegiance to AQ and its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. In July 2016, al-Jawlani praised AQ and al-Zawahiri in an online video and claimed the ANF was changing its name to Jabhat Fath Al Sham (“Conquest of the Levant Front”).

Status: Leader of HTS

From The Archives: The Founding of Jabhat al-Nusrah

On January 22, 2012, a new post on the Shamukh al-Islam Forum teased a big announcement from Syria. It included the below banner:

Urgent: Soon… The Expected Historical Moment – Glad Tidings to the People of al-Sham!!

A day later, on January 23, Jabhat al-Nusrah announced itself via its al-Manarah al-Bayda’ Foundation for Media Prouction, which included an audio message from the leader of the new group Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani.

Now… Glad Tidings to the People of al-Sham – al-Manarah al-Bayda’ Foundation for Media Production presents “Declaration of the Support Front (Jabhat al-Nuṣrah): For the People of Syria from the Mujahidin of Syria in the Fields of Jihad”

A week later, I wrote a short analysis of the video, maybe the first, if not one of the first to look at the group before it became more well-known by the end of 2012. Interesting reading it back now a decade later, considering where its successor group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham is today and how Jawlani now is front and center compared to the first few years when he wouldn’t show his face. Here is the original video release:

Jabhat al-Nusrah’s original logo