Responses to U.S. Designation of al-Nusra Front

On December 10, 2012, the U.S. listed al-Nusra Front as an alias for al-Qaeda in Iraq (now ISIS). The designation was met with a mixed response from Western and Arab media outlets. In the aftermath of the designation through December 2012, Al Jazeera published 14 articles that mentioned al-Nusra Front. Seven of the articles qualified the U.S. designation by putting ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorist organization’ in quotation marks.“Syria Rebels ‘Seize Key Aleppo Army Base,’” Al Jazeera, December 11, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/12/20121210104312760502.html; “Scores Reportedly Killed in Syria's Hama,” Al Jazeera, Nusra Front (Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) 39 December 11, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/12/20121211102930540995.html; "'Friends of Syria’ Recognise Opposition,” Al Jazeera, December 12, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/12/201212124541767116.html; “Scores Reportedly Killed in Syria’s Hama,” Al Jazeera, December 11, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/12/201212124541767116.html; “Syrians Back AlNusra Despite ‘Terrorist’ Tag,” Al Jazeera, December 14, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/video/middleeast/2012/12/20121214164411696160.html; “Syrians Decry US Blacklisting of Rebel Group,” Al Jazeera, December 15, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/12/201212157416500378.html; Mark Perry, “The ‘War on Terror’ and the Arab Spring,” Al Jazeera, December 17, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/12/2012121674256897741.html; “Syria ‘Secures Chemical Weapons Stockpile,’” Al Jazeera, December 23, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/12/201212221532021654.html. Three referenced the designation without the quotation marks, while the remaining four did not reference the designation at all.Zeina Khodr, “Stalemate Stokes Anger at Rebels in Aleppo,” Al Jazeera, December 11, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/12/20121211125010153551.html; “UN Says Syria Conflict Is ‘Overtly Sectarian,’” Al Jazeera, December 11, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/12/2012122015525051365.html; “Brahimi Meets Syria’s Assad Amid Violence,” Al Jazeera, December 24, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/12/20121224101635166809.html; “Children ‘Killed’ in Syria Army Tank Attack,” Al Jazeera, December 26, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/12/20121226102221539127.html. In an op-ed titled “The ‘War on Terror’ and the Arab Spring,” Al Jazeera correspondent Mark Perry claimed that the U.S. designation reflects “a profound misunderstanding” of current events in the Arab world. Perry recommends that “Instead of being afraid, we should be filled with pride: These people are so dedicated to the idea of liberty that they're actually fighting for it.”Mark Perry, “The ‘War on Terror’and the Arab Spring,” Al Jazeera, December 17, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/12/2012121674256897741.html. The New York Times did not use quotation marks to describe the terrorist designation,Michael R. Gordon and Anne Barnard, “U.S. Places Militant Syrian Rebel Group on List of Terrorist Organizations,” New York Times, December 10, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/11/world/middleeast/us-designates-syrian-al-nusra-front-as-terrorist-group.html; “Al Qaeda in Syria,” New York Times, December 10, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/11/opinion/al-qaeda-in-syria.html; Mark Landler, Michael R. Gordon ,and Anne Barnard, “U.S. Will Grant Recognition to Syrian Rebels, Obama Says,” New York Times, December 11, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/12/world/middleeast/united-states-involvement-in-syria.html; Mark Landler and Michael R. Gordon, “Obama Says U.S. Will Recognize Syrian Rebels,” New York Times, December 11, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/12/us/obama-says-us-will-recognize-syrian-rebels.html; Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt, “Syria Uses Scud Missiles in New Effort to Push Back Rebels,” New York Times, December 11, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/13/world/middleeast/syria-war-developments-assad.html. nor did the Wall Street JournalNour Malas, “Syrian Rebels Win Broader Support,” Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2012, http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324296604578175311307111792; Nour Malas and Jay Solomon, “U.S. Formally Recognizes Syria’s Main Rebel Group,” Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2012, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324339204578173272657834096; Samuel Rubenfeld, “US Lists Syrian Al-Qaeda Linked Group as Foreign Terror Organization,” Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2012, http://blogs.wsj.com/corruption-currents/2012/12/11/us-lists-syrian-al-qaeda-linked-group-as-foreign-terror-organization; Alan Cullison, Nour Malas and Jay Solomon, “Russia, in Shift, Sees Rebel Victory in Syria,” Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2012, http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323981504578176752775162778. or the Washington Post.Anne Gearan and Karen DeYoung, “U.S. Embracing New Syrian Opposition Group,” Washington Post, December 10, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-designates-syrian-group-as-terrorist-organization/2012/12/10/6544b6d0-42e4-11e2-8061-253bccfc7532_story.html; Jennifer Rubin, “No Good Options in Three Hot Spots,” Washington Post, December 11, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2012/12/11/no-good-options-in-three-hot-spots/; Karen DeYoung and Babak Dehghanpisheh, “Dozens Killed in Attack in Central Syria,” Washington Post, December 11, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/dozens-killed-in-attack-in-central-syria/2012/12/11/021d3440-43d6-11e2-8061-253bccfc7532_story.html; Jennifer Rubin, “Morning Bits,” Washington Post, December 12, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2012/12/12/morning-bits-9/; Allen McDuffee, “Syria and Chemical Weapons: What Can the U.S. Do Now?” Washington Post, December 12, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/thinktanked/wp/2012/12/12/syria-and-chemical-weapons-what-can-the-u-s-do-now/; Karen DeYoung, “U.S., NATO: Syrian Forces Fired Short-Range Ballistic Missiles at Rebels,” Washington Post, December 13, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/syrian-forces-fire-scud-missiles-at-rebels/2012/12/12/ee60e58a-448b-11e2-8061-253bccfc7532_story.html; Walter Pincus, “Sorting the Terrorists,” Washington Post, December 12, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sorting-the-terrorists/2012/12/12/38d06ede-4314-11e2-9648-a2c323a991d6_story.html; Max Fisher, “Qaeda-linked Syrian rebel group is feuding with WordPress on Twitter,” Washington Post, December 13, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/13/qaeda-linked-syrian-rebel-group-is-feuding-with-wordpress-on-twitter/.

In Time’s first article covering the terrorist designation, the author put ‘terrorist’ in quotation marks while describing the designation.Tony Karon, “While U.S. Recognizes Syrian Opposition, It Designates One Anti-Assad Group as ‘Terrorist’,” Time, December 11, 2012, http://world.time.com/2012/12/11/why-the-u-s-has-designated-one-anti-assad-group-as-terrorist/. The article’s sub-headline states, “One of the most effective anti-Assad militias has just been designated a ‘terrorist’ organization by the U.S.” Tony Karon, “While U.S. Recognizes Syrian Opposition, It Designates One Anti-Assad Group as ‘Terrorist’,” Time, December 11, 2012, http://world.time.com/2012/12/11/why-the-u-s-has-designated-one-anti-assad-group-as-terrorist/.