03:38 GMT02 August 2021
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    Jihadists from the Nusra Front militant group are preparing to create their own Syrian caliphate similar to the one proclaimed two years ago by their terrorist cousins from Daesh, Die Welt reports.

    The German newspaper explains that the terrorist group, which emerged as the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda in 2012, has provided "Daesh (ISIL) militants in Syria with stiff competition in its own fundamentalist ranks: now, the leader of the Nusra Front has also proclaimed the creation of his own 'state'."

    Showcasing the rivalry that has developed between the two terror groups to be perceived as the true adherents of fundamentalist purism, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri emphasized in a new 10-minute audio recording that the 'new caliphate' would have nothing to do with the "renegades and extremists" from Daesh.

    That might seem rich coming from the leader of the Nusra Front, a Wahhabist terrorist group accused of committing war crimes across Syria; alongside Daesh, the Nusra Front has been excluded from the Syrian ceasefire which went into effect in late February.

    Die Welt warns that al-Zawahiri has found support for the new caliphate idea not only from Nusra Front leaders, but from militants of other Syrian armed opposition groups, as well "and even among those that are [currently] fighting each other."

    In his latest address, the terrorist leader called on supporters of the vision of a caliphate to unite. He added that the entire Muslim world has high hopes for Syria, where the 'Arab Spring' has paved the way to the caliphate. He also noted that he would be willing to give up his supreme authority to see the realization of the new fundamentalist state, and to provide Nusra fighters with complete freedom of action.

    According to Die Welt correspondent Alfred Hakensberger, "the news does not bode well, either for Syria or for Europe and the United States." The terrorists plan to establish their new 'state' within a two year period. "The Daesh caliphate has already shown the bloody consequences that could result if al-Qaeda were to establish its own state," the journalist added.

    The Nusra Front presently controls a large portion of the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib.  According to Hakensberger, this is likely to become the center of their caliphate, with the militants "already establishing a so-called 'administration of liberated areas there', and continuously expanding it."

    Beginning in 2013, Nusra Front has sent significant numbers of its fighters and top terrorist leaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Syria. Among them were Abu al-Khayr al-Masri and Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, two of the terrorists suspected of perpetrating the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Al-Masri previously served as the former assistant to Zawahiri, and is married to one of Osama bin Laden's daughters. A third senior figure who has come to Syria was Khaled al-Arouri, believed to be related by blood or by marriage to Islamic State founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

    Given the Syrian army's successful series of advances against both Daesh and Nusra Front terrorists in recent weeks, supported by Russian air power, it's unclear how long any possible copy-cat Syrian 'caliphate' would actually be able to last.


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    Syria, Al-Nusra Front, Daesh, caliphate, self-proclaimed nation, Wahhabism, religious fundamentalism, terrorists
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