The same al-Qaeda in Iraq that came roaring back to life after Obama abruptly pulled all U.S. forces from Iraq.
DUBAI (Reuters) – The Iraqi wing of al-Qaida announced that a rebel group at the forefront of the rebellion in Syria was its branch in that country and that both groups would operate under one name, according to the US-based SITE Intelligence Group.
The leader of the Islamic State in Iraq, Abu Bakr Baghdadi, said his group and Syria’s Nusra Front – which has been blacklisted by the United States – would now jointly go under the name of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the SITE Intelligence Group reported.
The predominant Islamist element in the Syrian uprising has created concern for regional and Western powers and deepened the Shi’ite-Sunni divide in the Middle East.
“It’s now time to declare in front of the people of the Levant and (the) world that the Nusra Front is but an extension of the Islamic State of Iraq and part of it,” the SITE monitoring service quoted Baghdadi as saying in an audio speech issued on jihadist forums on Monday.
Experts have long said that Nusra Front was receiving support from al Qaeda-linked insurgents in neighboring Iraq. The group has claimed responsibility for deadly bombings in Damascus and Aleppo, and its fighters have joined other rebel brigades in attacks on Assad’s forces.