Abu Muhammad al Julani, the emir of Al Nusrah Front, delivered a short statement today concerning his organization’s future. He read his message in a video that was rebroadcasted by television stations throughout the Middle East, publicly showing his face for first time. In previous appearances on Al Jazeera and other stations, Julani’s image was obscured.
Julani’s group will no longer be known as Jabhat al Nusrah (or Al Nusrah Front), but instead as Jabhat Fath Al Sham (“Conquest of the Levant Front”). The move is being spun in press reports around the globe as Al Nusrah’s official “break” or “split” from al Qaeda.
But a careful examination of Julani’s speech reveals that his wording was nuanced and he never explicitly renounced or truly broke from al Qaeda.