The Syrian terrorist group Nusra Front has announced that it is dropping its affiliation with al-Qaeda and renaming itself in hopes to stave off attacks by the United States and Russia.
The leader of the terror group, Abu Mohammed al-Julani, in his first recorded message, said that their new name would be Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Front for the Conquest of Syria/the Levant), the BBC reported. Al-Julani said that he hopes the rebranding would remove any pretext by the U.S. or Russia to attack the group
However, White House spokesman Josh Earnest dismissed the move, saying that the U.S. still had increasing concerns that the terror group was planning to launch attacks against the West.
“The United States continues to assess that Nusra Front leaders maintain the intent to conduct eventual attacks in and against the West and there continues to be increasing concern about Nusra Front’s growing capacity for external operations that could threaten both the United States and Europe,” he said.
Nevertheless, al-Qaeda said that it supports the move, with its second in command, Ahmed Hassan Abu al-Khayr, encouraging “the leadership of the Nusra Front to go ahead with what protects the interests of Islam and Muslims and what protects jihad” in Syria.