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].”