Wasn’t it recently that John Kerry was offering to meet with the newly formed radical Syrian rebel group – the Islamic Front? Abu Khaled al-Suri is the leader of the Islamic Front’s largest faction, Ahrar al-Sham, who just acknowledged that he considers himself a member of al Qaeda, an admission that undercuts Western hopes that the new Islamic Front would be an acceptable counter to the rising influence of other al Qaeda affiliates in Syria.
McClatchy DC Ahrar al Sham’s conservative philosophy has been well known, but its ties to al Qaeda had been unclear until Friday’s statement, which al Suri made through Twitter. The statement cited al Suri’s close relationship with bin Laden and Zawahiri, and said that despite ISIS’ claims to be an al Qaeda franchise, bin Laden, Zawahiri and Zarqawi could not be held responsible for ISIS’ crimes or behavior. ISIS has used brutal measures, including beheadings, to enforce its harsh interpretation of Islam in the areas of Syria it dominates, a blood thirst that had earned it the enmity of many Syrians.