Jabhat Ansar al-Din (JaD)


Jabhat Ansar al-Din (JaD) was formed through a merger of four Salafist factions in the Aleppo area on July 25, 2014.* JaD and its sub-groups are closely affiliated with al-Qaeda, and while JaD was one of the founding members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), it broke from the group over ideological disagreements in 2018.* JaD joined the initial Hurras al-Din (HaD)-led operations room “Incite the Believers,” alongside Ansar al-Tawhid and Ansar al Islam, in 2018.* JaD then joined the subsequent anti-HTS, pro-al-Qaeda “So Be Steadfast” operations room created by HaD in 2020.* HTS alleges that JaD no longer exists outside of a limited media footprint, having been routed during anti-HaD operations in 2020 and 2021.*


Abu Abdullah al-Fajr (leader),* Ramiz Abu al Majd (senior official)*

Base of Operations

Idlib and Latakia provinces in Syria (currently); Aleppo, Idlib, Hama, Homs, and Latakia provinces in Syria (previously)*



Membership Size and Relevance

JaD was formed when four groups largely comprised of foreigners merged in 2014: Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar; Harakat Sham al Islam; the Green Battalion; and Harakat Fajr al Sham al Islamiyya, bringing together Chechen, Saudi, and Moroccan foreign fighters.* All four constituent factions believe in forming a caliphate, and while they worked alongside al-Nusra Front on the battlefield, they did not subsume themselves to Nusra command.* While some activists claim that JaD still fields many soldiers, HTS leaders assert that the group has collapsed in recent years along with the broader collapse of HaD, and now exists only as a media outlet.* JaD has a long history of al-Qaeda sympathy. In 2016, JaD released statements mourning the death of its “brother” Harith al Nadhari, an al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) official killed in a U.S. drone strike, and published similar statements following the killing of another al-Qaeda leader in Idlib in 2016.* JaD was a founding member of both pro-al-Qaeda operations rooms founded by HaD in 2018 and in 2020.*

Recruitment and Propaganda

Upon its formation, JaD attempted to portray itself as a neutral third party between the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front and ISIS, while still engaging in the same state-building and proselytizing work as the other two larger groups.* The factions that formed JaD published pictures of their members running Sharia courts (i.e., settling disputes between others), and conducting religious courses for both children and adult throughout the northwest.*

Violent Activities

JaD fought alongside al-Nusra Front from its founding until 2018, when it joined the HaD operations rooms.* Prior to officially forming, some of the component groups of JaD had fought alongside ISIS, particularly during the siege of Kweires airbase.*


  • JaD “media activist” interview, October 2014: “Among our goals are the project of an Islamic Caliphate and the rule of God’s law in the land.”*
  • JaD “media activist” interview, October 2014: “We have no relation with IS (original: ad-dawla). We don’t fight them and they don't fight us. But anyone who says that Jabhat Ansar al-Din is affiliated with IS is lying.”*
  • An August 2014 manifesto states that one of JaD’s key aims is the establishment of “the rule of the law of God,” in Syria.*

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On May 8, 2019, Taliban insurgents detonated an explosive-laden vehicle and then broke into American NGO Counterpart International’s offices in Kabul. At least seven people were killed and 24 were injured.

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