The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, has released a 26-page document summarizing its operations in the month of August. The propaganda document, which is written in English and titled “Monthly Harvest,” provides an overview of the group’s military operations and proselytization efforts throughout Syria.
The file was released on Al Nusrah’s Twitter accounts earlier today. It is not as slickly produced as other English-language jihadist publications, such as those released by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). But it is intended to showcase the scope of Al Nusrah’s activities.
The monthly summary was produced by Al Nusrah’s “correspondent network,” which includes seven Twitter accounts devoted to specific regions and an eighth Twitter page that retweets the reporting from the other seven. The regional Twitter correspondent pages cover Aleppo, Idlib, Deraa, Homs, Hama, Al Qalamoun, and Deir az Zour.
The document highlights Al Nusrah’s fight against the Assad regime and its allies, including Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran. One entry for Al Qalamoun, where there was heavy fighting between Hezbollah and Al Nusrah, reads: “The promise of victory is in sight. Here are your brothers in Jabhat al-Nusra and other groups debilitating Hezbollah and the regime’s army be deterring their advance in the barren mountains of Hawsh ‘Arab.”
Al Nusrah provides links to videos and other online files throughout the publication. But in some cases those links were either not included or were accidentally deleted. For instance, there is no link or picture associated with Al Nusrah’s entry describing the fight against Hezbollah in Al Qalamoun, despite the fact the publication reads, “Here are your brothers ….”
Another entry contains a picture with a caption that reads, “In collaboration with Jund al-Aqsa, Jabhat al-Nusra targeted with 6 tank shells, a resort hotel containing Hezbollah members in the city of Idlib.” Jund al-Aqsa is another rebel group that appears to be closely allied with Al Nusrah. And a third entry says that Al Nusrah killed two Syrian “officers and a number of Hezbollah members.”
Still other military-themed entries show Al Nusrah capturing small arms and other weapons, using heavier weapons in its fight against Assad, allegedly shooting down a MiG fighter with anti-aircraft artillery, firing mortars, and planning raids.
Al Nusrah’s pamphlet includes several photos taken at the “Al Farooq Institute for Islamic Studies” in Idlib.
Al Nusrah’s “Monthly Harvest” also devotes a significant amount of space to the organization’s dawa, or proselytizing, and “charitable” works. For example, one photo shows Al Nusrah holding “a polio children vaccination campaign in the Western areas of Deraa.”
Such efforts are intended to win over the support of the local population and demonstrate that the group’s plan for governance according to sharia law would benefit Syria. Al Qaeda is attempting to inculcate its radical ideology in several Muslim-majority countries. In many instances, the local population has resisted rule according to al Qaeda’s sharia laws. And the charity efforts by Al Nusrah and other al Qaeda branches are part of the international organization’s attempt to overcome this hurdle.
A number of photos, with accompanying captions, are devoted to trumpeting Al Nusrah’s “Al Farooq Institute for Islamic Studies” in Idlib. The school indoctrinates young recruits in al Qaeda’s ideology, including the jihadists’ radical Islamic jurisprudence. The al Qaeda branch has set up other schools for similar purposes.