Oct. 12, 2017
Joshua Geltzer was quoted in Cipher Brief on Al Qaeda in Syria:
Last month, while speaking at an event at the New America Foundation, former White House counterterrorism director Joshua Geltzer called the threat posed by al Qaeda in Syria billed the jihadist group as the al Qaeda network’s “largest global affiliate,” with an estimated force of at least 10,000 fighters.
Al Qaeda’s Syrian offshoot developed in 2011 against the backdrop of Syria’s civil war. The group, then known as Jabhat al-Nusra or the al-Nusra Front, quickly emerged as one of the most potent rebel movements fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In January 2012, it released its first video outlining its objectives: overthrow Assad and institute an Islamic government in Syria based on Sharia law.
The U.S. State Department designated al-Nusra Front as a terrorist organization in December 2012, and the organization continued to serve as al Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria until last summer when its leader, Abu Muhammad al-Julani announced that his group was “splitting” from the al Qaeda network and rebranding itself as Jabhat Fateh el-Sham (JFS).