Jabhat Al Nusra and #Al_Qaeda: the riddle, the #ruse and the reality - The National
In this context, Hayat Tahrir Al Sham invited western and regional journalists to visit and see for themselves. Mousa Al Omar, a celebrity Syrian journalist, made a visit after the group’s invitation. He recorded a video from Idlib affirming that Al Qaeda does not exist in northern Syria. His remarks prompted dozens of Syrian activists to attack him as serving as an apologist for Al Qaeda, after which he filmed a new video defending himself against “the campaign” and asserting his position.
The tendency to downplay the existence of Al Qaeda is often well meaning, such as to prevent the regime from using it as a pretext to raze Idlib, where around two million people live. But, as the responses from Syrians to assertions that Al Qaeda does not exist in the north show, the solution is not to whitewash the group or give it a free pass. Nothing is analytically useful or morally honourable in advancing the group’s propaganda, especially before it proves that it has truly abandoned its ways.