(WASHINGTON) — The State Department has added the leader of the al Qaeda-affiliated Syrian opposition group al-Nusrah Front to the terror list, making him a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist.”
According to the agency, Muhammed al-Jawlani “was specifically tasked by al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI),” to carry out “the overthrow of the Syrian regime and the institution of Islamist shari’a law throughout the country.”
Under his leadership, al-Nusrah Front has carried out multiple suicide attacks throughout Syria, mainly in Damascus, killing innocent Syrian civilians.
Al-Nusrah was already a designated a terrorist group, but this announcement targets al-Jawlani specifically.
“The violent, sectarian vision of al-Jawlani’s al-Nusrah is at odds with the aspirations of the Syrian people, including the overwhelming majority of the Syrian opposition, who seek a free, democratic, and inclusive Syria and have made clear their desire for a government that respects and advances national unity, dignity, human rights, and equal protection under the law – regardless of faith, ethnicity, or gender,” the State Department said Thursday in a statement.
Additionally, the Department of Treasury has also designated four Assad Regime Senior officials, Syrian Arab Airlines and the privately-owned Addounia Television Station as sponsors of State terror, subject to sanctions.
Making clear that all U.S. citizens are prohibited from “engaging in transactions” with al-Jawlani, the State Department condemned terrorist ideology and urged Syrians to speak out against the terror leader and al Qaeda affiliations.
“Extremism and terrorist ideology have no place in a post-Assad Syria, and all responsible Syrians should speak out against al-Qa’ida and other extremist elements,” the State Department said.
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Mohammed Tawfeeq and Gul Tuysuz, CNN
Steve Almasy, CNN
Ben Westcott, CNN
Ralph Ellis and Steve Almasy, CNN