Jabhat Al-Nusra (JN) is an Al Qaeda (AQ)-affiliated Sunni militant Islamist group in Syria whose aims are to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's regime, establish an Islamic state, and expel the minority Alawite and Christian communities from Syria. The group has claimed responsibility for nearly 600 attacks–such as ambushes, kidnappings, assassinations, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and suicide bombings–in major city centers including throughout Syria which have resulted in numerous innocent Syrians being killed.
In early September 2014, JN abducted 45 UN peacekeepers in Syria claiming that the troops were captured because the UN ignored “the daily shedding of Muslims’ blood in Syria” and accused the international forces of cooperating with the Assad regime. JN also issued three demands to the UN, including a request to be taken off the UN terror organisations blacklist, compensation for three members killed in the fighting against the peacekeepers and humanitarian assistance. All 45 peacekeepers were later released after being held by JN for two weeks.
In January 2015, JN claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a café in Tripoli, Lebanon, that killed at least seven people and wounded 30.
In March 2016, a video emerged of Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda appearing to confirm that he is being held hostage by JN. Yasuda has been missing since mid-2015, when he disappeared after entering Syria as a freelance correspondent. In the video, Yasuda appears to be speaking under duress and seeking the government of Japan’s help. The release of the video in the public forum, through an intermediary, appears to be a calculated move by JN to leverage the Japanese government to pay a large ransom.
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