Muhammad al-Jawlani, also known as Abu Muhammad al-Golani, also known as Muhammad al-Julani, is the senior leader of the terrorist organization, the al-Nusrah Front (ANF), the Syria branch of al-Qa’ida.
In April 2013, al-Jawlani pledged allegiance to al-Qa’ida and its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. In July 2016, al-Jawlani praised al-Qa’ida and al-Zawahiri in an online video and claimed the ANF was changing its name to Jabhat Fath Al Sham (“Conquest of the Levant Front”).
Under al-Jawlani’s leadership, ANF has carried out multiple terrorist attacks throughout Syria, often targeting civilians. In April 2015, ANF reportedly kidnapped, and later released, approximately 300 Kurdish civilians from a checkpoint in Syria. In June 2015, ANF claimed responsibility for the massacre of 20 residents in the Druze village Qalb Lawzeh in Idlib province, Syria.
In January 2017, ANF merged with several other hardline opposition groups to form Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). ANF remains al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria. While al-Jawlani is not the leader of HTS, he remains the leader of ANF, which is at the core of HTS.
ANF has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under the Immigration and Nationality Act and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under E.O. 13224. The UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida Sanctions Committee has also added ANF to its sanctions list.
Al-Jawlani is designated by the Department of State as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224. He is also listed at the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida Sanctions Committee.