Al-Nusrah Front (ANF) was formed in late 2011 when then-al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sent ANF leader Muhammad al-Jawlani to Syria to organize terrorist cells. In April 2013, al-Jawlani pledged allegiance to AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. ANF split from AQI and became an independent entity. 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.
ANF’s stated goal is to oust Syria’s Assad regime and replace it with a Sunni Islamic state. ANF is concentrated in and controls a portion of territory in northwest Syria, where it is active as an opposition force, and exerts varying degrees of influence over local governance and external plotting. ANF has carried out multiple terrorist attacks throughout Syria, often targeting civilians.
On May 15, 2014, the U.S. Department of State designated ANF as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended. Previously, on May 14, 2014, the Department of State designated ANF as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 13224, as amended. As a result, all of ANF’s property, and interests in property, subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with ANF. It is a crime to knowingly provide, or to attempt or conspire to provide, material support or resources to ANF.