The Al Qaeda terror organization has confirmed the Syrian Al Nusra Front group is a member of its international network.
Al Nusra is the largest member of the 13-faction Islamic Front for the Liberation of Syria -- the radical jihadist division of the opposition forces fighting to end the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Speaking for Al Qaeda’s Iraqi branch, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the confirmation in an audio speech posted Monday on jihadist Internet forums. .
“It’s now time to declare in front of the people of the Levant and [the] world that the al-Nusra Front is but an extension of the Islamic State in Iraq and part of it,” Baghdadi said.
The statement was translated by the SITE monitoring service, which noted the two groups are to be combined and called the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.”
The United States last year officially added Al Nusra Front to its list of banned foreign terror organizations in December 2012, calling the group “an attempt by Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) to hijack the struggles of the Syrian people for its own malign purposes.”
On Tuesday, Bahrain became the first Arab country to blacklist the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization, a protégé of the Iranian regime.
The group was officially banned last month as a terrorist organization by the Bahraini parliament following a determination the group sought to overthrow the government in 2011.
Shi’ite Hizbullah’s alleged backing and training of radical Shi’ite groups against the Bahraini government was the main reason given for the decision, Al Arabiya reported.