Syria's Al Qaeda-linked rebels plotting to kidnap UN workers, may be behind 2013 UN hostages
The Associated Press obtained letters Wednesday that confirm that one of the Al Qaeda-linked Syrian opposition groups has been plotting to kidnap UN workers.
Nusra Front leader, Abu Mohammed Al Golani, is allegedly the leader described in the letters that were obtained by Iraqi Intelligence and given to AP Wednesday along with the first known photograph of the extremist leader.
One of the letters obtained read, "I was told by a soldier that he observed some of the workers of the U.N. and he will kidnap them. I ask God for his success."
Other parts of the letter describe further plans for kidnapping and killing other foreigners, along with Syrian and Iraqi civilians. Though one UN worker earlier this year was kidnapped for 8 months and an additional 24 peacekeepers were held as well, it is not yet confirmed if these cases are linked to Al Golani and when the letters were written.
Some parts of the letters also lay out tentative "plans for succession should Al Golani be killed. A man called "Hajj Rashid" is described in the letter to be his deputy "until there is a Syrian man qualified to take the position." Nusra front is comprised of both Syrian and foreign fighters.
However, one nuance in the discovery of the letters is the poor Arabic in which it is written: Al Golani is believed to have been an Arabic teacher before joining Al Qaeda, and "most hard-line Muslims try to write in classical Arabic." However, the letters were not sound grammatically and written in dialect rather than classical Arabic.
Al Golani is believed to be 39 years old, but little is known about the Nusra leader. Hey may have been born in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights based on the origins of his name. According to Iraqi intelligence, Al Golani is a native of Syria and joined Al Qaeda after moving to Iraq. He is further consider a "close associate" of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Al Zarqawi from Jordan.
- Syrian opposition infighting: Nusra issues ultimatum to ISIS
- Syrian state TV says head of Al Nusra has been killed even as opposition denies claims
- Qaeda-linked groups in Syria ponder entering Lebanon
- Al-Qaeda in Iraq admit that Syria's Jabhat al Nusra is part of their network
- Al Nusra Front pledge allegiance to Zawahiri