Australia blacklists Syrian rebel group for al-Qaeda link
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Australia blacklists Syrian rebel group for al-Qaeda link

Canberra outlaws supplying funds for Islamist terror group Jabhat al-Nusra, following US State Department example

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Illustrative photo of al-Qaeda-linked fighters after an attack on a Syrian army convoy in March, 2013. (screen capture: YouTube)
Illustrative photo of al-Qaeda-linked fighters after an attack on a Syrian army convoy in March, 2013. (screen capture: YouTube)

Australia on Saturday branded the Syrian Islamist militia Jabhat al-Nusra a terrorist group and said it would work to deprive it of assistance from its better-known affiliate, al-Qaeda.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced that Canberra would follow the US State Department’s lead in categorizing al-Nusra as a terror organization and make efforts to suppress its terrorist activity through sanctions.

“There is evidence that al-Nusrah [sic] has direct links with al-Qaeda in Iraq, which supplies it with weapons, recruits and equipment,” Carr said.

“It is a group with around 5,000 fighters in Syria and a history of suicide attacks and bombings,” Carr continued. “Australia is taking a leading role in the push to starve al-Nusrah of funds and reduce its capacity to carry out terrorist strikes.”

Listing al-Nusra as a terrorist organization outlawed raising or supplying funds or assets for al-Nusra by Australian citizens, and violators could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

“Assets identified as owned or controlled by al-Nusrah must be frozen and details of those assets immediately notified to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,” the ministry said in a statement.

Australia’s policy change towards al-Nusra followed the US State Department’s decision in December 2012 to put a ban on “knowingly providing, or attempting or conspiring to provide, material support or resources to, or engaging in transactions with, al-Nusrah Front [sic].”

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