Only a matter of time before they start lobbing rockets at Israel.
Syria’s most prominent jihadist organization, the Nusra Front, is creating a base for al-Qaida in the heart of the Middle East from which waves of terrorism and radical subversion will likely ripple out and threaten regional and global security.
This is according to a report issued this week by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center near Tel Aviv.
A team of researchers from the center spent a year composing the 150-page document, which charts in remarkable detail the rise of the Nusra Front as well as its structure, leadership, size, scope of operations, ideological goals and growing geographic spheres of influence.
The report provides assessments of the threat the group poses in the near-, medium and long-term future.
Dr. Reuven Erlich, the head of the center, told The Jerusalem Post there was no doubt that the Nusra Front posed a significant strategic threat. He emphasized the quick pace of its growth in Syria and compared this to the time it took al-Qaida to become entrenched in Afghanistan in the 1980s and ’90s.
“What took 10 years to happen in Afghanistan occurred in Syria within a year or two,” said Erlich, a reserve colonel who served in a range of capacities in IDF Military Intelligence. “Syria is in heart of Middle East and in the backyard of Europe, and borders Israel. Geo-politically, it’s more central than Afghanistan and Pakistan. This makes the threat potential very high.”
He cautioned that Syria would soon begin exporting terrorism.
“If we compare this to a plague, at the moment we’re looking at the incubation phase in the body,” added Erlich, who also lectures at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. “But after incubation it will spread – to the region and then to the whole world.”
The Nusra Front plans to target Israel from the Syrian Golan, the researchers said, adding that the organization “can be expected to establish an operative terrorist infrastructure in the Golan Heights, a continuation of military infrastructure it is currently constructing in Deraa,” the southwestern city where the anti-Assad uprising began in 2011.