Al-Nusra Front Pledges Allegiance to Al-Qaeda

On April 10, 2013, al-Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammed al-Golani released a statement rejecting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s claim that al-Qaeda in Iraq and al-Nusra Front had merged. In the statement, al-Golani pledged his allegiance to al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahri.

The New York Times covered al-Baghdadi’s announcement, but did not immediately address al-Golani’s response, including his public pledge of fealty to Ayman al-Zawahiri.Hania Mourtada and Rick Gladstone, “Iraq’s Branch of Al Qaeda Merges With Syria Jihadists,” New York Times, April 9, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/world/middleeast/Iraq-and-Syria-jihadists-combine.html. The Wall Street Journal covered both al-Baghdadi’s claim and al-Golani’s response in one article titled, “Al Qaeda Declares Stake in Syrian Rebellion.” Its author, Nour Malas, predicted that al-Qaeda’s now-open involvement in Syria would bring a schism to the rebel movement.Nour Malas, “Al Qaeda Declares Stake in Syrian Rebellion,” Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2013, http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323550604578412280884558740.

Al Jazeera reported on al-Baghdadi’s April 9 declaration,“Iraqi al-Qaeda and Syrian group ‘merge,’” Al Jazeera, April 9, 2013, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/04/201349194856244589.html. as well as al-Golani’s pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri.“Syria Group 'Pledges Allegiance' to Al-Qaeda,” Al Jazeera, April 10, 2013, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/04/2013410114851988704.html. The article on al-Golani’s response seemed to cover the announcement with a number of qualifiers: “A man claiming to be the head of a key group fighting the Syrian government has purportedly pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda…”“Syria Group 'Pledges Allegiance' to Al-Qaeda,” Al Jazeera, April 10, 2013, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/04/2013410114851988704.html. In covering al-Nusra Front’s declaration of allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri, CNN seemed to temper al-Golani’s pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda by emphasizing that al-Golani had rejected the merger with al-Qaeda in Iraq and stated his intention to continue cooperating with other rebel groups. The article opens: “A Syrian jihadist group appears to have pledged allegiance to al Qaeda's leader—but also stressed it can achieve a Syrian Islamic state only by working with other rebels, including secularists. The group, al-Nusra Front, also denies an earlier claim that it has merged with Iraq's al Qaeda affiliate, according to an audio message purported to be from al-Nusra general commander Abu Muhammad al-Joulani.”Saad Abedine and Jason Hanna, “Syrian Jihad Group Pledges Allegiance to Al Qaeda, Denies Merger,” CNN, April 10, 2013,http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/10/world/meast/syria-al-nusra-front/index.html.